Two Wolves: 4. Cry, Wolf


The place seems eerie and empty without the fighters. Usually Tony spends the day in the gym, helping Gibbs, talking to the other fighters, and, when the equipment is free, doing a workout himself, just to get some exercise and alleviate the boredom.


Today, instead of that, Ellis escorts him back towards the hallway where the stalls are located. He nods his head at Tony’s stall, and Tony walks inside, wondering if he’s going to be locked up here all day and all night, and if he can stand the boredom of that.


Ellis leaves the door open, which is different at least, and Tony hears him walking off down the hallway to the chair at the end where the guards spend the night shift. A few seconds later, the radio blares out.


Tony figures it’s at least as dull for Ellis as it is for him. Ellis might have a gun and the opportunity to wear clothes, but he’s still just got to sit there, bored brainless, doing nothing all day. Maybe there’s a chance he can get the man talking and try and build some kind of bond with him. He knows Gibbs dislikes Ellis more than all the other guards, but it’s worth a try.


“Hey.” Tony stands in the doorway to his stall, leaning against the thin, metal partitioning. Ellis looks up and glares at him. “So, did you ever see the movie ‘The Great Escape’?” Tony asks, ignoring the less than welcoming reception. “See, Steve McQueen is the cooler king – they keep locking him up in the cooler, and he just sits there and throws a ball against the wall and catches it, over and over again. I wish I had a ball right now.”


Ellis just continues giving him that dark glare, clearly discouraging his attempts at conversation.


“I get it. You wish you were at the fight. Me too.” Tony shrugs. “But I guess someone has to stay behind to mind the ranch.”


“You wouldn’t last five minutes in the pit, pussy boy,” Ellis tells him. “I saw you last week, fluttering your eyelashes at Leroy and slobbering all over him out there. Made me sick. You’re a fucking fag, Tony.”


Tony fights down the cold, steely anger. “Watching two guys having sex makes you sick but watching one guy raping another is okay?”


“Getting fucked is the price for losing, but you turned it into a fucking fag-fest.”


“Oh, I get it. It’s okay as long as it’s rape. You want it nice and brutal. What we did out there last Fight Night looked too much like we might have been enjoying it, is that it?”


Ellis gives a nasty grin, and Tony immediately wishes Gibbs was here to head-slap him for letting this guy get to him.


“I was right – you are a fucking fag. You don’t have a clue about fighting, pussy boy. You’re lucky Leroy broke your fingers; you’re too soft for the pit.”


Tony nods pleasantly. “You’re probably right, Ellis.” No point giving this asshole any excuse to shove the butt of his gun into his face again. That pissed off Gibbs enough last time, and he doesn’t want to make their lives any harder than they already are.


He hears a low, soft moan from the stall with the injured fighter – the one Hurrell took down last Fight Night.


“How’s he doing?” he asks, changing the subject.


“How the hell should I know?”


“Would it be okay if I looked in on him?”


“Knock yourself out.” Ellis shrugs.


Tony walks along the hallway and goes into the stall where the injured man is lying on a mattress on the floor. The poor bastard looks even worse than before; his brown skin is a strange greeny-white colour, and his breathing is laboured.


Tony kneels down beside him, and the man opens his eyes and blinks at him a few times.


“Hey, how you doing?” There’s a plastic cup of water by the man’s head but his lips are chapped and parched. By the smell in the room, Tony is guessing that he’s soiled himself. “Are you thirsty?” Tony presses the cup to the man’s lips, and he takes a few sips. “You got a name, buddy?” Tony asks.


The man’s lips move but if he makes any sound, Tony can’t hear it. He leans in close.


“Rajul…Patel,” the man whispers.


“Hey, Rajul. I’m Tony.”


Rajul gives him a faded smile. He reaches up and beckons Tony close so he can whisper into his ear again.


“Tell my mom…so she knows what happened to me.”


“You can tell her yourself, when you get out of here,” Tony says firmly.


Rajul’s eyes are hazy, but he manages to shake his head. “No. Tell her I love her. Love her so much.”


Tony fights down another surge of anger. So many lives are being so pointlessly ruined and for what? So that a baying mob can be entertained every Fight Night? He supposes it’s the same mentality that people have at dogfights and cockfights. The people who attend aren’t indifferent to suffering – they attend because it’s what they want. They actively crave it and seek it out.


“I’m sorry, Rajul. I have no idea what these sick bastards get from watching people tear each other apart in the pit, but I’m sorry you got caught up in their twisted little game.”


“It has a long history.” Rajul smiles at him. “Bear baiting…gladiators…public hangings. I have thought about it often. Our world is modern…but our hungers are ancient. People like to watch cruelty in action…”


“Some people,” Tony says firmly. “*Some* people, Rajul.”


“There is darkness in us all. Have you never slowed down to look at a car wreck by the side of the road, Tony?”


Tony sighs. “I hear you, Rajul, but this is a whole different level of dark.”


“The human heart is both dark and light.” Rajul smiles. “It is for each of us to decide which weaknesses and temptations he gives in to, I think.”


“The wolf you feed,” Tony says softly. Rajul gives him a puzzled look. “Just a story Sam…a friend told me.” He winces slightly, remembering it was Hurrell who did this to Rajul, in retaliation for what Walid did to Steve. Actions and consequences, like so many dominos knocking into each other. Where will it end?


Rajul is clearly an educated, intelligent man who has given the nature of their situation a lot of thought.


“How did you come to be here, Rajul?” Tony asks quietly.


“History major…college…boxing…” Rajul is clearly fading.


“You’re still at college? You made a name for yourself on the varsity boxing team – that’s how they heard about you?” Tony guesses.


“Yes. I chased after vain glories and look at where it has got me.” Rajul gives a wistful little smile. “Tony…please.” Rajul grabs his hand. “My mother…she lives in Washington DC. She will be so worried about me. Please tell her my last thoughts were for her. I love her so much. Promise me you will tell her this.”


“I promise, Rajul,” Tony says quietly, squeezing his hand gently.


Rajul nods but seems unable to speak anymore. Tony pulls Rajul’s blanket back a little way and sees a large, dark bruise on his abdomen; he’s clearly bleeding internally.


Tony gets up and goes to the door. “This man is very ill,” he tells Ellis. “He needs urgent medical treatment.”


“Yeah?” Ellis grins at him. “Well, he isn’t gonna get it.”


“Are you really that callous, Ellis? There’s a man dying in there, and you’re just going to stand by and let that happen?”


“If he hadn’t been such a pussy in the pit, he’d be fine.” Ellis shrugs.


“It’s that simple? Survival of the fittest?”


“Oh, you don’t have any idea, pussy boy!”


“Do you even know his name? He’s called Rajul Patel. He’s studying history at college. He’s a real person, Ellis.”


“That so?” Ellis stands up, and Tony holds his breath. “Is Leroy fucking you?” Ellis asks unexpectedly.




“I think he is. What makes you so special, Tony? He never fucked any of the others.”


“What the hell does it matter if he’s fucking me or not?”


“It matters because you’re turning him into a pussy like you,” Ellis snaps. “Frank says you’ve gotta be in the gym when he’s training so he can keep an eye on you, and he says I’m not allowed to lay a fucking finger on you in case it upsets Leroy.” He spits on the floor in disgust. “You’re a fag, and you’re turning him into a fucking fag too.”


“Seriously? There’s a man dying in there and this is the conversation you want to have right now?”


Ellis glances into the stall at Rajul and then a big smile creases up his face. He turns back, and the expression in his eyes is so ugly that Tony feels a cold shiver creeping up his spine.


“I think we should give you a taste of what it feels like to win in the pit,” Ellis says.


“What do you mean?”


“I think you’re a big pussy who likes to take it up the ass. Bet your dick doesn’t even work. Bet you can’t get even get it up. Let’s see if I’m right.”


He pushes the barrel of his gun against the side of Tony’s head and forces him back into the stall, shutting the door behind them.


“Let’s see you get it up, Tony.”




Ellis grins. “Jerk off, spank the monkey, have a wank; let’s see if ya have the balls for it.”




“’Cause I’m bored, and you’re here, and you think you’re so fucking better than me…and because I wanna have some fun.” He gives a big grin.


“This is stupid. Rajul needs help, and you want me to sit here jerking off?”


“You calling me stupid?”


“No, I’m just saying…” Tony pauses, trying to figure a way out of this situation. “Look, Ellis, I don’t want to do this.”


“Aw, you don’t wanna do it! Poor little Tony! Let’s see what you do without big, bad Leroy here to protect you.”


“I don’t need Leroy to protect me!”


“Dontcha?” Ellis gives another of those leering grins. “I think you do. I think you’re his bitch. So let’s see if that dick of yours actually works, pussy boy. Let’s see you get hard.”


Tony feels an angry heat rising to his face. “No. I’m not a performing monkey, and I’m not going to jerk off just because you tell me to.”


“Yeah, you are.” Ellis strides over to Rajul and places his gun against the sick man’s head. “This is what it feels like to be a winner in the pit on Fight Night, when you have to get it up or someone dies,” he says, an ugly gleam in his eyes. “Now, I wanna see you cream all over your fingers. So jerk yourself off, or I pull the trigger.”






The scent of the sawdust and the roar of the crowd seem more vivid than ever tonight. Gibbs watches through the bars of the holding pen as the fight before his ends. Usually, Gibbs is in his pre-fight headspace and only notices them peripherally, but tonight he’s not in that headspace; he has too many other concerns.


Tony once likened Walid to a cobra, and he’s right. If Walid had a pit-name, then ‘Cobra’ would be it. Gibbs knows the game Walid is playing. He wouldn’t put poison in his drink, but playing mind games with his main competitor to throw him off his stride is much more his style. Walid is fighting as dirty as Gibbs fights in the pit, and, for the first time, Gibbs realizes who his real adversary is.


It isn’t the poor bastards he fights out there in the pit every week. It isn’t Ellis, back at the stable, doing God knows what to Tony right now, and it isn’t Scott, with his stupid fat face and his delusions of grandeur. It isn’t even Liam McIntyre – the fireman – the fighter everyone expects Gibbs to do battle with in the final. It’s none of them.


No, his true opponent is Walid, and he’s been an idiot not to realize it before. Ultimately, this contest is between the wolf and the cobra, and the cobra just made his next move. Last week, his move was to throw Tony into the pit against him. This week, it’s calling Gibbs out just before his fight in order to get into his head and destroy his focus.


Walid set up this entire tournament. He has all his pride and money invested in winning, and McIntyre is his chosen instrument for that triumph. Walid has been watching Gibbs in the pit for months now, and with each passing week it has become clear to him that the one man standing between him and his ultimate victory is Gibbs.


Walid knows that Scott isn’t his main adversary. He despises Scott’s greed and stupidity and no doubt rejected him as a serious opponent a long time ago. Walid wants a more worthy adversary, and that’s what he sees in Gibbs.


Gibbs could kick himself for taking so long to figure this out. Walid is playing a cold, calculated game of chess, moving his players into place, piece by piece.


The real fight doesn’t take place in the pit every Fight Night. The real fight takes place on a completely different battlefield, but that fight is every bit as dirty and the competition much more formidable than he ever imagined.


A wild cheer goes up from the crowd as the man he’s going to fight in the pit tonight is released from his pen. Gibbs can tell by the loudness of the cheers that he’s facing a popular fighter.


“Go-ri-lla, Go-ri-lla…” goes the chant.


“Tonight, ladies and gentleman, we have a unique fight in store for you,” the commentator announces in his usual tones of over-the-top excitement. “A gorilla versus a wolf!”


The crowd goes absolutely insane at that and a new chant goes up: “WOLFMAN! WOLFMAN! WOLFMAN!”


The doors to his holding pen are opened, and Gibbs charges out into the pit to be met by a wall of sound. It’s so deafening it almost overwhelms him for a moment. His popularity with the crowd has been growing week on week, but after his fight against Tony last week it seems to have reached epic proportions.


Last Fight Night, Tony turned the brutal post-fight rutting into an act of tenderness. He kissed and caressed Gibbs, shocking the crowd into silence. Afterwards, Gibbs broke his fingers, and he’s pretty sure that the crowd interpreted that as an act of retaliation towards Tony for not playing by the rules. The crowd now loves the wolfman both for his brutality and for putting the newbie in his place. They have no idea that he broke Tony’s fingers to keep him out of the pit and spare him this ordeal.


Now, it would appear, he has become a legend, and the crowd’s chants turn into an awed silence as he prowls around the edge of the pit, sizing up his opponent.


He can see why they’ve given him the name ‘Gorilla’. He’s not particularly tall, but he’s squat, with brawny shoulders and arms, and extremely hairy. Gibbs finds himself looking at the man’s face, straight into his dark brown eyes…and he catches himself. Usually, he focuses on assessing his opponent’s fighting prowess but tonight he’s distracted, and he can’t afford to let himself get distracted in the pit.


He tries to concentrate, and to figure out what his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses might be. The crowd is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. He can feel their eyes on him, watching his every move, and that’s wrong too. He shouldn’t be this aware of them. He shouldn’t be aware of anything but his opponent right now.


Tanner gave him a shot of something half an hour ago, and he can feel his heart racing and a familiar sense of anger rising up inside. This is his place, his moment, and his chance to right so many old wrongs. He has killed Hernandez and the drunk driver who took his mother from him countless times in this pit. Tonight, he thinks of Steve and of Prince Freak up there who killed him and who lords it over this sick tournament like some dark and twisted emperor.


Gibbs can’t help himself. He glances up at the stands and sees Walid sitting on his throne, stroking his neat little goatee beard with his fingers. Walid sees him looking and inclines his head towards him, acknowledging him as his opponent with a vicious little smile.


The gorilla takes advantage of his lapse in concentration and throws himself at Gibbs, succeeding in bringing him down to the ground. Gibbs kicks out savagely, slamming his opponent in the balls until he howls with pain and lets him go.


Damn it. Gibbs gets to his feet and skips out of reach, kicking himself mentally. He can’t afford to be distracted. He must focus.


The gorilla lumbers to his feet and pursues him around the pit. He isn’t fast – Gibbs is much faster and more agile – but he has a certain brute strength, and Gibbs senses a wily cunning.


Gibbs feints a left, then ducks around the gorilla, jamming his elbow into the man’s kidneys. He can do cunning too.


The gorilla is angry, and he lets out a roar of intent. The crowd, as one, seems to lean forward in their seats, spellbound by the contest.


The gorilla is the hardest opponent he’s ever fought – but they’re reaching the closing stages of the tournament so that’s hardly surprising. The summer is over and there is a definite chill in the air now. In a few weeks’ time the fighting season will finish – and what happens then? Tony’s broken fingers should keep him out for the rest of the season if…if Tony survives that long.


The thought of Tony being alone with Ellis preys on his mind. It reminds him of when Ellis took Tony out to clean the stalls and unload the supply truck. He wasn’t able to focus all day because of that and put in his worst training time ever. Supposing he allows the same thing to happen now?


The unthinkable hits him. All this time he’s been worrying about what might happen to Tony. Now, for the first time, he realizes he should be worrying about what will happen to him.


Maybe this is the night he loses and has to succumb to the ultimate degradation of being raped out here by this hairy-assed gorilla of a man.


Maybe this is the night the wolfman goes down.






Tony looks at Rajul, who looks back at him from wide, dark eyes.


Ellis digs the gun into the injured man’s temple. “What’s it to be, pussy boy? Are you gonna wank for me, or do I paint the wall with the Paki’s brains?”


Tony grabs his cock and desperately tries to think of his favourite jerk-off fantasies. They usually involve either Jennifer Lopez, because fundamentally he’s an ass man, or Leroy Jethro Gibbs, because when he’s going gay it has to be with a real man and not a twink. He’s never been attracted to twinks.


He closes his eyes, leans back against the wall, and thinks about Gibbs’s ass. He’s been looking at it enough this past week, and it’s a damn fine ass. It’s hard and tight, and he wonders what it’d be like to slide his cock into it and make Gibbs scream with pleasure.


The idea of reducing Gibbs to helpless moans during love-making is a definite turn on, and he feels his cock start to harden.


“Whoa! Pussy boy has a man’s dick after all!” Ellis says, breaking into the fantasy. His cock wilts as he loses focus. He needs to concentrate; Rajul’s life depends on it.


“Shut up,” he snaps, opening his eyes.


Ellis winks at him. “Aw, look at it. Does it only work under certain conditions? How do you think it’ll be in the pit, Tony? You think your dick will work out there, with everyone screaming at ya?”


“If I get the same drugs as everyone else…”


Ellis roars with laughter. “Aw! Pussy boy’s dick only works when he’s on drugs! You’re not a man, Tony; you’re a useless fucking fag who can’t get it up.”


He reaches out and, with casual brutality, backhands Rajul across the jaw. The injured man makes no sound. His head snaps sideways and then slowly rolls back again, and he gazes at Tony with pity and resignation in his eyes.


“Do not blame yourself, Tony,” Rajul wheezes. “You are a good man.”


Tony grabs his cock again, determined to obey Ellis’s insane demands and save Rajul’s life. This place makes them all complicit in its evil: Hurrell, Gibbs, and now himself. They all sacrifice little pieces of themselves to protect their essential core, but how much do they lose in the process? Is it worth protecting, or is it valueless by the time everything around it is dark and rotten, corrupted by the evil that pervades every single aspect of this place?


He remembers night times with Gibbs, alone in their stall. It’s the only time he experiences real intimacy with the man – not during the hand jobs but in their aftermath, when Gibbs allows himself to be held. That’s the only time Gibbs will open up even a little and actually talk to him. He’s not surprised; Gibbs never was exactly great at talking.


He remembers the feel of Gibbs’s hard, pulsing cock in his hand. Tony has often wondered what it would be like to take it in his mouth and explore it properly. He’s already felt it in his ass, but that situation was just about hurt and humiliation, no matter how much they both tried to alleviate the worst of it.


If he was alone with Gibbs, somewhere fancy – a hotel maybe – he’d take him to bed, take his time, and make love to him slowly…


His cock is hard, and he rubs it purposefully. He can do this! He thrusts into his hand, thinking about Gibbs and what it would be like to feel Gibbs gently pushing inside his body, making love, not fucking. No pit, no sawdust in his hair, no crowd of gawking spectators. Just the two of them…


“You thinkin’ dirty thoughts about Leroy?” Ellis whispers in his ear.


Tony jumps, startled. He was so engrossed he hadn’t heard Ellis moving towards him. Ellis stands in front of him, looking down on his erection, and it immediately starts to wilt again.


“That the best you can do?” Ellis sneers.


Tony tries to get back into the mood, imagining rolling over on top of Gibbs, and now it’s his turn to slide into Gibbs’s open body, and Gibbs is so relaxed, so responsive, and it feels so good to thrust into all that tight heat…


“Shoot, or he dies, Tony,” Ellis whispers ominously into his ear. Tony whacks his hand frantically up and down his semi-erect cock. “You’ve got thirty seconds. You don’t cream by then, this sucker takes a bullet for you. Thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight…”


Tony looks at Rajul who looks back at him with that same weary, resigned look in his eyes.


“Tony, I am dying anyway. Do not have this on your conscience – it is not your fault,” Rajul tells him.


“Eighteen, seventeen, sixteen…”


“You’re not going to die,” Tony says stubbornly, working away at his cock, trying desperately to reach climax.


“Ten, nine, eight…”


Tony bucks up into his hand, feeling his climax close…so close… He imagines Gibbs growling into his ear while he thrusts his hard cock into him, over and over again…




He comes. His come spurts out over his fingers in little bursts, and Tony leans back against the wall in relief.


“Well done, pussy boy. Well done.”


Ellis grins at him, and then he turns, points the gun at Rajul’s head, and pulls the trigger. Rajul’s head explodes in a flash of red, his blood spurting out over Tony, mingling with the come on his hands.


“You fucking bastard…why did you do that? I did what you said! I did what you fucking well said!” Tony sobs, shaking uncontrollably with shock and outrage.


“Like he said, he was dying. I’d have shot him later anyway. Might as well do it now.” Ellis shrugs. He glances at the blood-stained stall, and at Tony’s come-covered fingers. “Now clear up this fucking mess, pussy boy.”






Something bad is happening to Tony; Gibbs can feel it in his gut. He wishes he could block Tony out of his thoughts, but he can’t. Whenever he tries to stop thinking about him, the anxiety just comes back ten times stronger.


The crowd is cheering, screaming out obscenities and urging him to fight harder.


Gibbs makes a mistake. He feints left but doesn’t follow through fast enough. The gorilla grabs him around the waist, sinking his fist into Gibbs’s ribs over and over again. Gibbs elbows back, getting the man in his ample belly. The gorilla growls and lets go.


That was a stupid, rookie mistake. If Tony had made it, he’d have slapped him stupid. Damn it, what will Scott do when he finds out about the lie? Does he already know?


Some of the crowd, fickle as ever, have gone over to the gorilla’s side.


“Wolfman’s going down, down, down! Gonna take a beating, Wolfman! Gonna take a fucking, Wolfman!”


Gibbs glances up towards Walid again. Scott is sitting with Walid’s entourage, leaning forward, his elbows resting on his knees, gazing down at him intently.


The gorilla leaps on him and throws him into the sawdust. With his weight advantage, if he gets on top of him and lands a few punches then this will be over, and who will be left to protect Tony from Scott’s vengeance then?


He rolls sideways just in time, and the crowd gasps as the gorilla throws himself down onto empty sawdust.


The crowd lapses into a shocked silence. They aren’t used to seeing him this vulnerable. Usually his opponents never get close, and the gorilla is good, but he’s not that good. Under normal circumstances, Gibbs would be beating him easily.


“Come on, Wolfman! You can beat the fucking gorilla!” someone in the crowd yells, but he can hear the uncertainty in the voice.


He has to find a way to do this. He has to stop thinking ahead and focus just on now. That’s always been one of his strengths.


He takes a few seconds to regroup, watching the gorilla carefully. He’s got brute strength and low cunning but not much else. He’s not that smart, and he’s definitely not fast. He’s much younger than Gibbs though – aren’t they all? Gibbs has always relied on wrapping up his fights relatively fast, knowing he loses the advantage the longer they go on. He simply can’t compete with someone two decades his junior in terms of stamina if he lets the fights drag on too long. He has to have swift, decisive victories or he’s lost. He’s already tired, and he’s got bruised ribs and a cut on his forehead that’s dribbling blood into his eye. He has to win soon, or he’ll go down.


He can find the anger, but he can’t keep hold of it; the worry about Tony just gets in his way. He tries to remember Shannon and Kelly, and his mother, but images of Tony alone with Ellis keep haunting him.


A different emotion rises up inside, one that is even more powerful than anger: Protectiveness. If he doesn’t win, then he can’t keep Tony safe. It’s as simple as that. He’s not fighting to avenge the dead anymore; he’s fighting to save the living.


He takes a run at the gorilla, jabs him hard on the jaw and lands a kick to the man’s balls. Then he runs around him as the gorilla blunders to regain his balance. He jumps the man from behind, rams his knee into his ass, kicks the back of his knees away, and forces him to the ground. Now he has him; he can’t afford to lose this advantage.


He goes down with him, jumping on him before he can get up, and lands two hard blows to his jaw. The gorilla roars out his anger and distress, but Gibbs is ruthless and takes no notice. He has Tony to think about; he has to win this for Tony.


The gorilla is pushing up, trying to shove Gibbs off him, and he’s strong…but Gibbs has someone to protect and that makes him stronger.


He fights with all his might, wrestling with the gorilla in the sawdust, ignoring the punches he’s taking and landing his own with clinical precision, knowing how hard to hit and where to make the gorilla stay down. The man’s eyes are already losing focus, and soon he stops flailing and lies back in the sawdust, surrendering to the inevitable.


The referee is coming over, but Gibbs keeps punching until he’s told he’s won. Then he stops immediately and steps back.


He doesn’t acknowledge the crowd’s loud cheers, or their hollering, whistling and celebrating.


Gibbs only cares about one man in the crowd. He glances up at Walid, who smiles down at him, inclining his head in acknowledgement of his victory.


Then Walid turns to Scott and says something to him. Scott leans forward, frowning, and Gibbs realizes Walid only intended to tell him about Tony’s lie if he won. That’s his penalty for winning, for staying in the competition.


He can’t think about it right now; he has one more thing he has to do.


Usually he gets down on his knees and performs this part of the fight without thinking about it, getting the job done as quickly as possible.


This time though, it’s as hard for him to access that part of himself as it was for him to focus on his anger. When he kneels down behind the gorilla, all he can think about is the quiet, gentle intimacy of Tony’s chin resting on his shoulder as he lovingly rubbed his cock with his fingers. All those nights alone together in the stall, with Tony whispering those words of encouragement in his ear. It wasn’t the lonely, angry masturbation he had become accustomed to. It wasn’t the brute force of rutting in the pit with some man whose name he doesn’t even know. Tony gave him something else; something sweet, loving and…human.


Damn it. Tony has somehow humanized him this past week. Gibbs had shut himself down in order to survive, but Tony coaxed him back with his strength, his wit, his loyalty, and his sheer charisma. It’s like waking from a dream to find he’s still living a nightmare; what the hell does he do next?


In the end, he does what he has to do. If he doesn’t, then someone will die, either himself or the man lying in the sawdust in front of him. He finds the strength from somewhere, and for once he thanks Tanner for his damn drugs. He thinks of the sweet curve of Tony’s ass, and the soft warmth of his body pressing into his during the nights they spend alone in the stall, and his cock hardens.


He completes the deed and then withdraws, leaving the gorilla lying in a dazed heap in the sawdust. He gets up, shoots a baleful look up in Walid’s direction, and then stalks back to his holding pen.


As he leaves, he can sense the crowd’s disappointment that he didn’t break anyone’s fingers tonight.






Tony is still shaking as he mops up the blood and brain matter from the stall. It takes a long time before the stall is clean, but he’s glad about that as it gives him time to calm down.


He works for hours, until the stall is sparkling. Then he washes Rajul’s body and wraps it carefully in the blanket; it’s the least he can do for the man.


“I will find your mother, Rajul,” he tells the corpse. “I will let her know that your last thoughts were of her, and I will tell her how much you loved her.”


When he’s finished, he goes cautiously to the door of the stall. Ellis is sitting out there, rocking his chair back on two legs, his feet up on the wall, his radio still blaring out.


“I’d like to go back to my stall now,” Tony says quietly.


Ellis grins at him. “Go ahead, pussy boy.”


Tony walks quickly back to his stall and closes the door. He grabs his blanket, drags his mattress over to the wall, and sits down, his back against the wall, wrapping the blanket around himself.


He wants Gibbs back. He wants to know he’s safe, and that he survived out there. He wants to put his arms around him and hold him for as long as Gibbs will let him. He needs the sheer human comfort of another person’s gentle touch. How has Gibbs kept people at arm’s length all this time? Tony suddenly has all the more sympathy for Sam and all the more admiration for Gibbs. He can see why Matt and Greg turned to each other and clung on so desperately. This place is brutal.


Tony has been here for one week. Gibbs has endured five months of this, fighting week after week in the pit, fucking week after week in the pit. Is he doing that now? Is he out there, fucking some hapless loser right now?


Tony could barely make himself come with an audience of two…how the hell does Gibbs do it? The drugs must help, but what must it do to your soul to go through that every week?


Tony never, ever wants to know what it’s like. He nurses his broken fingers to his chest, thankful beyond belief for what Gibbs did for him last week, back in the pit.






Gibbs is chained up as usual and escorted back to the truck. He can see Scott walking across the grass towards him, his fat belly straining at the edges of his white shirt, jiggling as he walks. He’s angry; Gibbs can see that. He’s furious.


Scott strides towards him, reaches him, and smacks an angry fist across his jaw without pausing. Gibbs’s hands are chained to his waist, so he has no way of breaking his fall, and he falls down onto the grass on his side. He can feel the cut from where Scott’s ring caught on his face, and the warm flow of blood on his skin.


“You lied to me, Leroy.” Scott crouches down beside him, and his little piggy eyes are mean and dark. “Tony DiNardo is Tony DiNozzo. You pretended you didn’t know him, but you’ve been working with him for the past ten years. He’s your right hand man, your second in command. He’s one of your closest friends. And you lied to me!” He sounds genuinely hurt.


Gibbs lies on his side, saying nothing. There’s nothing to say.


“Damn it, Leroy!” Scott rocks back on his heels. “I liked you! I liked you, and you lied to me.”


“So? You throw me into that pit every week. Why the hell do I owe you any kind of truth, Scott?”


“I’m angry.” Scott heaves himself to his feet and looks down on Gibbs with a petulant expression in his eyes. “I’m really very angry and disappointed about this, Leroy. There will be repercussions.”


Gibbs is unsurprised to hear it. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Walid lurking nearby with his entourage, a cool little smile on his smug, handsome features.


“I think,” Scott muses, “That it’s time for your precious Tony to experience what it’s like in the pit, don’t you, Leroy?”


Gibbs’s stomach does a sick flip. “His fingers are broken…”


Scott kicks him hard on the leg, and he shuts up. Scott looks down on him, a spiteful expression on his face, like a child getting his hands on someone else’s candy.


“Oh yes, his fingers. I see now that you broke them to keep him out of the pit. No doubt that’ll be a big disadvantage to him when I put him back out there next week.”


“You can’t do that, Scott!”


“Yes I can, Leroy. I own you, and I own him, and I say that he’ll fight in the pit next week. Prince Walid suggested it, and he’s right; it’s a fitting punishment for your deception.”


With that, he puffs out his chest and turns and stalks back towards the pit.


Walid wanders over, still smiling that cool, cruel smile. He takes off his sunglasses and looks down on Gibbs, a pitying expression on his face.


“Ah, Jethro, how sad. It looks like you are going to lose your dear, loyal boy. You know, as a special treat for him, I think I’ll arrange for him to face Mac in the pit next week. It seems fitting – the fireman versus the wolfman’s boy. It’ll mean Mac fighting twice, as he already has a fight scheduled, but I doubt Tony will cause him to break into a sweat. In fact, he’ll be a nice little warm-up for Mac.” He gives a little chuckle.


“I think, also, that I will arrange for you to watch from a special vantage point next to me, so you can see every single piece of the action. Maybe we’ll even see the wolf cry, hmm? I think I’d like that.” Walid puts his sunglasses back on with another smug smile. “Enjoy your week with Tony, Jethro, for I very much fear it will be your last.”






It feels like such a long wait for the fighters to return. Even though Gibbs was certain he’d win, Tony is worried all the same. Anything could have happened to him out there, and Gibbs’s certainty is no guarantee that he’ll come back safely.


At some point Ellis turns off his radio. Maybe he’s gone off duty and another guard has started his shift out there. Tony doesn’t want to look into the hallway for fear of starting a new altercation, and after the way the last one ended that’s a risk he doesn’t want to take.


So he just sits there, with his back against the wall and his arms around his knees, hugging himself, and waiting.


It seems like hours. It probably is hours. Finally, he hears a noise in the hallway, and the sounds of the fighters returning to their stalls, one by one.


He squeezes his arms more tightly around his knees, waiting for Gibbs, hoping for Gibbs, worried beyond belief that Gibbs might not return. He has no idea what he’ll do if that happens.


At long last, the door opens, and he looks up, heart in his mouth, to see Gibbs standing there.


He looks like shit. He’s got butterfly stitches in a cut over his eye, there’s a laceration on his jaw, and there are several dark red bruises on his ribs. Worse than that is the look of utter defeat in his eyes. He clearly won, or he wouldn’t be here, so why does he look so defeated?


Tony gets up, slowly. Gibbs just stands there, unmoving, gazing at Tony. Behind him, the door is slammed shut and locked.


“Boss…are you okay?” There’s no reply. Tony moves towards him. “Boss, you’re freaking me out. Are you hurt?”


Tony remembers the dark bruising on Rajul’s body; if Gibbs is bleeding internally then there won’t be any medical treatment for him. They’ll just dispose of him the way they disposed of Rajul.


Tony stands in front of Gibbs, mapping every new bruise on his skin, his gaze raking over every single injury to assess its severity and find out what’s wrong. Still Gibbs makes no reply; he looks all locked up in himself, as if he can’t speak.


“Jethro?” Tony reaches gentle fingers to touch the side of Gibbs’s face. He can smell the soap from the post-fight shower Gibbs just took, and he’s relieved he doesn’t have to smell some other guy’s scent on him. Gibbs clears his throat and seems to come to. He looks tired and old.


“I failed you, Tony,” he says wearily. “I got this all wrong. I’ve been fighting the wrong damn fight all this time.”


“I don’t understand.”


Gibbs looks battered and worn. His skin is pale, making the bruises stand out in stark contrast. Tony traces his fingers from one bruise to another. “Was the fight harder than usual?”


“Yeah. I was distracted.”


“By what?”


“Worrying. About you.”


Tony nods, understanding. “You think I make you weak.” That’s what Ellis as good as said earlier, and maybe it’s true.


“No!” Gibbs jerks away from his gently questing fingers. “I mean…it was harder to get into the right headspace to fight. I kept wondering what Ellis was doing to you.”


“I’m fine.”


“You don’t look fine.” Gibbs looks straight at him, those sharp blue eyes missing nothing, as usual. “You look like someone walked across your grave.”


“Ellis didn’t touch me.”


“He doesn’t need to touch you to hurt you.” Gibbs shrugs. “I know that.”




“Doesn’t matter.”


Tony has a suspicion that it probably does, but now isn’t the right time to push. He changes the subject. “Did Matt win his fight?” he asks, remembering how desperately afraid Greg was that his lover would lose.


Gibbs frowns, looking confused, as if he doesn’t even remember who Matt is. Then the memory seems to kick in, and he nods. “Yeah, he did.”


“That’s good. Greg was worried because…” A thought occurs to him. “Did Greg win too?” he asks, thinking it’d be ironic if Matt won and Greg didn’t after all the worrying Greg was doing.


“Yeah. They both won. Scott had a good night tonight.” There’s something about the way Gibbs says it that makes Tony shiver.


Gibbs goes over to the basin and runs some water into it. He scoops out a handful and drinks it. Then he straightens, squares his shoulders, and turns to look at Tony again. Tony can see the bad news in his eyes before he even says a word.


“Scott knows we lied to him about who you are. Walid told him, as punishment for me winning my fight tonight. Scott’s going to put you in the pit next week. Walid says you’ll be fighting McIntyre.”


He says it all in a flat monotone, delivering the bad news in typical Gibbs style, as quickly and efficiently as possible.


Tony rocks back on his heels. “Okay.”


“Okay?” Gibbs looks furious. “O-fucking-kay?” He turns and slams his fist against the wall, the first display of emotion Tony has seen from him since his return. “You have no idea what it’s like out there, Tony. Facing me in the pit is nothing like how it’ll be against McIntyre.”


Tony shrugs. “What do you want me to say, Gibbs? It’s not in my control. If it happens, it happens, unless I can find a way to steal a cell phone in the meantime…”


“Christ, you and the goddamn cell phone! Won’t you ever give up about that?”


“No! And I don’t know why you’ve given up, either!”


“I haven’t! It’s just a lousy plan!”


“Then come up with a better one!”


They stare at each other for a long moment, an atmosphere of tense fury in the air, both of them irritated by the other’s failure to understand. Then suddenly, in the middle of it all, Ellis’s radio starts blaring out again.


“No! Fuck it! NO!” Gibbs howls, putting his head back and screaming in frustrated rage. “Not now. Not fucking now!” He storms over to the door and bangs on it over and over again with his fists. “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”


Tony can see a vein bulging in Gibbs’s temple, and he’s not surprised the man has finally reached breaking point. He’s just surprised it took this long.


“You shut up, asshole!” Ellis roars back from the hallway. Then the sound is turned up, blaring out so loudly it’s impossible to ignore. Gibbs begins beating on the door with his fists in a frenzied rage. Tony gets it; the frustration, the helpless impotence of their situation, and the fact that none of it is in Gibbs’s control…it’s all boiled over into this display of raw fury.


“Hey…you’re looking at this the wrong way,” Tony tells him quietly.


Gibbs just stands there, pounding his fists pointlessly against the door.


“It’s boring as hell in here – but good old Ellis is providing us with some entertainment. Listen…” Tony holds up a hand. “This is good stuff. Sam Cooke – ‘Wonderful World’. I love this song, Gibbs.”


Every single muscle in Gibbs’s body is screaming out his tension, and Tony isn’t sure he’s even listening.


“This song reminds me of one of the best scenes ever, in the history of movies. Did you ever see the movie ‘Witness’, Gibbs?”


Gibbs stops pounding and stands with his forehead pressed against the closed door, his body shaking, sweat pouring off him.


“There’s this great scene in the barn, where Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis dance to this song, and the sexual tension between them is electric! They come from two different worlds, and there are so many reasons why they can’t be together, but you just want them to kiss.”


“Don’t know much about a science book, don’t know much about the French I took, but I do know that I love you, and I know that if you loved me too, what a wonderful world this would be…” Tony sings along to the song blaring out from the radio.


Gibbs turns to look at him, an incredulous expression on his face. “A movie? You’re talking about a movie at a time like this?”


“It was a great movie, Gibbs!” Tony grins. “One of the classics. And this is a great song. It always reminds me of that scene.” He hesitates and then decides to go for it. What is there left to lose anyway? “I had such a crush on Harrison Ford back then.”


“Harrison Ford?” Gibbs raises an eyebrow. “You mean Kelly McGillis.”


“Her too.” Tony grins. “Beautiful woman. But Harrison Ford was more my type.”


Gibbs frowns. “There something you’re not telling me, DiNozzo?”


Tony laughs out loud. “Oh, plenty, trust me, Gibbs, but I think maybe you’ve always known about this, on some level. Harrison Ford is one of the greats. He has that cool, macho thing going on, like Steve McQueen. I always loved his movies.”


“You’re trying to tell me you’re gay? You?” Gibbs looks incredulous.


“Bi,” Tony corrects. “I love the pretty girls too. Not the pretty boys though…I like my guys older – tough and hard-assed – like Harrison Ford. And like you.”


He holds his breath, watching as Gibbs processes that. There’s no reply. Gibbs is just looking at him, his chest heaving up and down.


“If you’ve been beating yourself up about what happened in the pit last week, then don’t.” Tony shrugs. “I’m a long way from being a shy little virgin with guys, Gibbs. I’ve done that before. Lots of times.”


Gibbs still makes no reply, but there’s a dark, brooding look on his face.


“Not that I’m saying that was good sex, because it wasn’t. It was crap sex. The crappiest sex I’ve ever had, and I never thought I’d say that about sex with you.” Tony grins. “’Cause in my head, sex with you was always going to be wild and intense and blow my mind – but in a good way. I never figured it’d happen in a pit full of sawdust, at gunpoint, with people watching, and some weird ‘fuck or die’ scenario going on.”


Tony knows he’s babbling because he’s so nervous and because Gibbs isn’t saying a word. Maybe now wasn’t the best moment to come out to him, but they’re running out of time, and he doesn’t want to waste what little they’ve got left.


Gibbs is still standing there, just staring at him, that same dark look on his face. Maybe it’s time to try a different tactic.


“So…do you want to dance?” Tony asks, holding out his hand.


That at least elicits a response, even if it’s one of incredulity. “Dance? In here? Are you insane?” Gibbs looks like he’d rather go back out into the pit and fight again.


“Sure. Why not? Ellis has gone to all that trouble to provide the entertainment, I’m going to hell in the pit next week, and you’re all beat up on the outside and fucked up on the inside. Seriously, Gibbs, in the circumstances, all things considered – what else is there to do but dance?”


Tony doesn’t miss the tiny hint of a smile that quirks on the outer corners of Gibbs’s mouth.


“You’re an idiot, DiNozzo.”


“I know. ‘I don’t claim to be an A student, but I’m trying to be…’” Tony sings. “‘For maybe by being an A student baby, I can win your love for me.’


He moves closer, still holding out his hand, watching Gibbs closely. Gibbs looks as if he’s torn between his two wolves, various different expressions warring on his face, and Tony knows it’s down to him to make sure the right wolf wins.


Tony moves his hand and snaps his fingers, dancing in time to the tune. “C’mon, Gibbs – dance with me…”


He grabs Gibbs’s hand and pulls him into the centre of the stall, swinging him gently, to and fro. At first Gibbs is stiff and resistant, and Tony waits for the explosion of anger…but it doesn’t come. Instead, something inside Gibbs seems to break, and he suddenly throws back his head, gives a loud, howling laugh, and starts moving in time to the music.


It’s just a moment, one brief moment in time. It doesn’t last long, and yet somehow it also seems to go on forever. Tony can almost feel Gibbs’s light wolf rising to the surface, fur ruffled, teeth bared, but alive and kicking all the same, still there after months of being shut out, pushed down, and denied.


Gibbs is laughing, his feet are moving, and he looks almost happy. They both know that nothing awaits them but a whole world of hurt, but they have now, right now, and they’re going to seize the moment.


The song comes to an end. Their feet slow down and then stop, and they both stand there, looking at each other, still holding hands. The atmosphere in the tiny room is suddenly electric, and Tony can feel all the individual hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. Screw Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis – their sexual tension has nothing on him and Gibbs right now.


“Hey! We’ve gone from ‘Witness’ to ‘Dances with Wolves’,” Tony says to diffuse the tension. “Get it? That would be you – the wolf – and me doing the dancing. Now that was another great movie…Kevin Costner…never felt the same about him as I did about Harrison, but…”


Tony trails off. Gibbs isn’t listening. He’s just looking at him, an expression of hungry intensity on his face, his eyes fixed wolfishly on Tony’s lips. Tony has that feeling you get when the rollercoaster reaches the top and pauses, hanging on a precipice, and you want to get off the ride so badly…but at the same time you also want to experience the terrifying thrill of plunging over the edge.


Then it’s too late, and he’s in free-fall as Gibbs moves in close, grabs his shoulders, and kisses him hard on the mouth. Gibbs is a force of nature, wild and unrestrained as he wraps a fist in Tony’s hair to keep him still, pulls him in, and works his lips open.


Tony wraps his arms around Gibbs’s body and returns the kiss, opening up his mouth to Gibbs’s tongue, his own questing just as furiously in Gibbs’s mouth.


Gibbs pushes him against the wall, devouring him with his kiss. Tony slides his hands down and cups Gibbs’s buttocks, kneading them rhythmically. He can feel the hardness of Gibbs’s erection against his thigh, and his own cock rising up to meet it.


There is nothing else but Gibbs’s lips on his, and Gibbs’s hard, fighter’s body pressed against him. This is nothing like it was back in the pit. This is real desire, both of them wanting the other, and each of them lost in the moment, blocking everything else out.


Tony pushes Gibbs back, but only so he can throw himself onto the mattress and pull Gibbs down on top of him. Neither of them can bear to be out of physical contact for even a second, needing the skin-on-skin contact like they need to breathe.


Tony rolls over on top of Gibbs, and Gibbs winces, reminding Tony of his sore ribs.


“Sorry…just looking for this.” Tony fumbles around in the blankets and finds the oil he stole from Frank. “You want to catch or pitch?” he asks, between kisses. He draws back to find Gibbs staring up at him. “Gibbs? Jethro?”


Gibbs just pulls him back down and devours him with another hungry kiss, his hands exploring Tony’s ass, his cock rock hard between their bellies. Then, mid-kiss, he rolls Tony over, so now Tony is on his back, and somehow Gibbs has maneuvered himself between his legs, opening them with his hands. He presses a finger against Tony’s hole, circling it without pushing in.


“Okay…got it. I’ll catch,” Tony says with a grin.


Gibbs moves his hand to Tony’s cock, and Tony mewls with pleasure at the sudden firm touch. He looks up to find Gibbs grinning down on him, a feral expression on his face. Gibbs then proceeds to give to Tony the kind of exquisite hand job that Tony has been giving to him these past few days, returning the favour with interest. He takes Tony right to the brink of orgasm and then moves his hand away, leaving Tony whimpering in disappointment.


“Not yet.” Gibbs takes the bottle of oil from Tony’s hand and pours some on his fingers. Then he pushes Tony’s legs open again and slides a finger into his hole.


“Okay…that’s good for me,” Tony pants, opening up wider to let another finger in. He’s so aroused that he’s impatient, pulling Gibbs down on top of him, trying to get him to hurry it along.


Gibbs stops and pulls back. “No…this time we do it properly,” he says firmly, and he slides his fingers back inside Tony’s body and opens him up, stretching him until he’s wide and ready.


Tony wants him inside him so much he can hardly stand any more delay, and eventually he knocks Gibbs’s hand away, grabs his hips, and then guides his hard cock towards his waiting hole.


It’s tight, and his hole feels stretched impossibly wide around Gibbs’s big cock as it goes in, but it doesn’t hurt the way it did back in the pit last week. It feels so good he instantly wants more, and he pulls Gibbs into him so he’s fully immersed in his body and holds him there, never wanting to let him go.


Gibbs puts his hands on either side of Tony’s head and gently kisses his mouth again, kiss after kiss after kiss, soft, loving, warm, gentle and so intense. Tony knows what Gibbs is like when he’s focused, but he’s never been the object of that focus before, and it’s thrilling and scary at the same time.


Gibbs kisses his eyelids, his cheeks, and his forehead and then dives back into his mouth again, opening his lips with a sweet thrust of his tongue. Tony can feel Gibbs’s hard cock fully lodged inside his body, joining them together. His own cock is pressed between their bellies, pulsing urgently.


Gibbs takes his time. He kisses Tony repeatedly, not moving, his cock rigid inside Tony’s hole. Then he slowly moves his hips back and glides back in again. It’s smooth and controlled, and he never takes his eyes off Tony’s face as he moves inside him. He pauses on every inward thrust to kiss Tony again and then draws back. In and kiss…back…in and kiss…back. Tony reaches down and grasps his own cock, sliding his hand along it and rubbing hard in time to Gibbs’s thrusts. He lifts his head eagerly to meet Gibbs’s kisses, his body quivering with pleasure as Gibbs speeds up, his cock snagging Tony’s prostate with each deep thrust, making white sparks flash behind his eyes.


Tony comes, the moment lost in a sweeping haze of pleasure. Gibbs thrusts a couple more times and comes too, blinking almost in surprise as he shudders out an orgasm. He hangs there for a moment, looking down on Tony, and then he sighs and collapses on top of him, claiming another kiss. Tony wraps his arms around him, and they stay there for a long time, Gibbs lying on top of him, kissing his mouth gently. No tongues this time, just light, butterfly caresses of lips on lips.


Gibbs is shivering, and Tony isn’t sure if that’s from the sweat drying on him or the overwhelming emotion of the moment. It felt so intense and passionate, and he’s all too aware of how long Gibbs has been locked up in here, refusing to take comfort in sex or human companionship. He holds Gibbs tight against his own body, warming him until the shivering subsides.


Eventually, Gibbs withdraws and slides over onto the mattress beside him. Tony turns, tugging the blankets over them both, and they lie there in the dark, just gazing at each other. Tony’s hand is on Gibbs’s hip, and Gibbs’s leg is slung over Tony’s legs, skin pressed against skin. Their situation is just as hopeless now as it was when Gibbs returned from the fight, and yet somehow everything has changed and anything is possible.


Gibbs smiles tiredly and moves a hand to gently stroke Tony’s hair.


“How long…?” Gibbs’s voice is hoarse, and he coughs to clear his throat, but Tony knows what he’s asking.


“Ten years. Why else do you think I stayed and put up with such a bad-tempered bastard of a boss?”


Gibbs gives him a lazy grin and taps his hand half-heartedly on Tony’s head. As head-slaps go, it’s a pale imitation of the ones he’s used to, and yet it’s the first one Gibbs has given him in over five months and for that reason alone it makes Tony break into a wide, insane smile of happiness.


Gibbs wraps an arm around him and pulls him close and a little while later Tony falls asleep, his head resting on Gibbs’s shoulder.


It must be hours later when he wakes up and finds Gibbs still gazing at him in the dark. He wonders if Gibbs has slept at all, or if he’s just been lying there, looking at him all this time, watching over him as he sleeps.


“Whassup?” Tony whispers.


Gibbs levers himself up on his elbow and rests a hand on Tony’s chest. “I was the same as you…when I first got here. It’s been so long, I’d almost forgotten.”


Tony runs his fingers over the short grey stubble covering Gibbs’s head. He likes the feel of it, but he likes the way Gibbs bows his head and lets him do it even more. It’s like the wolf is almost tame.


“We stole the supplies truck, Tony,” Gibbs says quietly. He sits up, and Tony sits up too, gathering the blanket around them. “There was this Marine – Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Harris.” He glances sideways at Tony, a tiny smile on his lips. “He was about your age. Brave. Smart. Talked a lot. Liked movies.”


“I like the sound of him.” Tony grins.


“He could be a pain in the ass, but you got used to him after a while.” Gibbs quirks a grin back at him. “I knew he was someone I could rely on, so I told him my plan. I’d got talking to Pete, and I knew about the cell phone and the smart card. One day, Ben and me pulled supply truck duty on purpose, and we managed to steal that truck right out from under their noses. Had it all planned – went like clockwork. I got the fighters organized so some of them created a diversion in the gym. The guards ran off to handle it, leaving only one of them guarding us. Ben stole the smart card and got the doors open, and I knocked the guard out and stole his gun. Then Ben got into the truck beside me, and we drove straight out of there.”


Gibbs leans forward and wraps his arms around his knees, and Tony watches him, waiting.


“It was dark out there, and we didn’t have a damn clue where we were, but we were out. I drove us across the open land at about 100 miles an hour, looking for a road somewhere. We were free. I could smell the freedom, Tony. We were so damn close.” Gibbs drops his head and looks down at the floor. “Ben got the cell phone out of the box, and I asked him to dial your number.”




“Yeah. Knew you’d get McGee to figure out where we were and send help.”


“So what happened? I never got the call.”


“No, you didn’t get the call.” Gibbs is silent for a while, staring into space. “There was no service on the damn cell phone. I’m not sure where the hell we are, but it must be wilderness, out in the middle of nowhere. I kept on driving, but it’s private land, and there were no roads – not that I found anyway. It just goes on and on…miles of dirt track. Never even saw a road.”


He turns to look at Tony. “They found us. They shot out the truck’s tyres and surrounded us. Had us at gunpoint, so we surrendered. They brought us back to the stable, herded all the fighters out into the main room, and….”


“They killed Ben,” Tony says quietly.


“Yeah. I was winning too many fights by that stage for them to kill me, but Ben was expendable. They made him kneel down, and put a bullet in the back of his head. Then…” His hands form into tight fists, his body tensing. “Then they got Brian – the kid who couldn’t fight – the one they were always bullying. He wasn’t even involved in the escape, but they knew I liked him, so they made him kneel down in front of me…”


He pauses for a long time. Then he looks at Tony again, his face expressionless. “They lined up three of the other fighters on one side. Said I had to kill Brian, or they’d kill all the others. Three lives against one – my choice. I pull the trigger and kill Brian, or they kill the other three men.”


“Don’t tell me – that was Ellis’s idea,” Tony says quietly.


“Yeah. Like I said, he doesn’t need to lay a finger on you to make it hurt.”


“So you did it. You killed Brian.”


Gibbs nods. “Object lesson. I didn’t try to escape again.”


Now it all makes sense. Tony puts a hand on Gibbs’s shoulder and squeezes. No wonder Gibbs shut everyone out after that. It was too dangerous for him to get close to any of them and make them a possible target. Gibbs shut down not because he wanted to, but because he had to.


“See, way I am isn’t because I love the fighting so much – although you’re right – a part of me does love it,” Gibbs says, with the weary, brutal honesty of a man who knows his own weaknesses all too well. Gibbs glances at him sideways. “The way I am is because I’m just trying to keep everyone safe, only way I know how, Tony.”






Gibbs sits there, looking at Tony in the dimly lit stall. He feels like a tin can that Tony has been opening up, bit by bit, ever since he arrived here, and now the contents are spilling out all over the place, and he has no idea how to put them back. He doesn’t even want to try.


In opening up those parts of himself that he shut down, it’s like he’s lost control of the process. Now it’s all coming out, not just going back five months, but going back ten years. He’s spent an entire decade trying to deny what he felt for Tony, to keep it out and push it away, but he doesn’t have it in him to do that anymore. He can’t keep shovelling his feelings down and locking them up.


Tony is watching him, but then Tony has been watching him for the past ten years, waiting for him to make a move. Why the hell did it take him so long?


“What did Ellis do to you today?” Gibbs asks quietly.


There’s a haunted look in Tony’s eyes. Gibbs recognizes it because he’s seen it in Sam’s eyes, and Matt’s, and Greg’s, and reflected back at him in the mirrors in the showers all too often. It’s what this place does to you.


“Tony?” He squeezes Tony’s leg.


“That guy I told you about – the one Sam beat up in the pit last week…”


“After they shot Steve?” Gibbs can still remember the look in Hurrell’s eyes when he returned to the truck. He’d found a dark wolf of his own and fed it that night.


“Yeah. I got talking to him. He was pretty sick…dying. He said his name is Rajul. I asked Ellis to get him medical treatment.”


“That was never going to happen.” Gibbs wraps his arms around his legs, feeling very old and very tired. He’s been here too long.


“I know. I suppose I just had trouble getting my head around the fact that it is that brutal here, no matter how many times you told me. Anyway…Ellis shot him. Then he had me clean up the stall and the body. Took me a while.” Tony gazes at him almost defiantly in the dimly lit stall.


“That’s not all that happened.” Gibbs has been in enough interrogations to know when he’s not hearing the whole truth.


Tony sighs. “No. Ellis wanted to give me a taste of what it was like in the pit. I had to jerk off…he gave me thirty seconds, or he shot Rajul.”


“That sounds like Ellis.” Gibbs can feel his jaw tightening. He looks at Tony searchingly and sees shame there, but no guilt. “You did it, didn’t you? You managed it?”


“Yes. Just about did it in time – by thinking of you.” Tony gives him a ghost of a smile. “But he shot Rajul anyway. The bastard just turned around and shot him, in cold blood. Gibbs, how do you do it in the pit? How the hell can anyone do it?”


“Because you have to.” Gibbs shrugs. “You found that out, Tony. If you don’t someone dies; might be you, might be the other guy, but it’ll be one of you. So you have to do it.”


He doesn’t want to think about the pit and what he’s done there, and he really doesn’t want to think about what will happen out there next Fight Night, but he knows they’re both thinking about that anyway.


“What are we going to do?” Tony asks.


“I’ll think of something.” He turns his head to look at Tony, a little grin on his face. “Do not try and steal a damn cell phone.”


Tony laughs. “I won’t. But I’d rather die than be a puppet in this freak show, so if that’s what it comes to, that’s what I’ll do, Gibbs.”


“I hear you, Tony. Just give me some time to think before you do anything stupid.”


He feels like he’s waking up after a long sleep; not just a five month sleep, but twenty years, going all the way back to losing Shannon and Kelly. He thought he felt alive out there in the pit, but Tony just showed him a different definition of feeling alive, and he likes this one a hell of a lot better.


He gazes at Tony’s tousled hair and familiar features. He’s been looking at them a long time and trying not to see them for what they meant to him. Now he knows, but right at the point when it’s too late. They probably only have this one week left together and then it all gets blown to hell.


He moves the blankets aside, lies down, and places his head on Tony’s chest. Then he pulls the blanket up over them both and wraps his arms around Tony’s body. He holds him tight and listens to the steady beat of his heart under his ear.


Now he has him, he never wants to let him go.






Tony rests his fingers on Gibbs’s shorn head; the silver stubble is smooth under his fingertips. “Why do they shave your head?”


“Hair gives an opponent something to grab and bring you down. It’s a weakness you can’t afford in the pit. Frank shaves all the fighters the day before a fight.”


“I didn’t recognize you when I first saw you.”


“Didn’t recognize you, either.”


“No, but for different reasons.” Gibbs glances up at him. “You were too far gone, Gibbs. I wasn’t even sure you were in there.”


“You sure now?” Gibbs’s eyes are gleaming wolfishly in the dark stall.


“Getting there,” Tony says quietly.


“What’s missing?”


“Apart from your hair?” Tony grins, and Gibbs reaches up and slaps his head lazily again. It feels good to have some genuine intimacy with the man, an intimacy that isn’t about sex. God knows, he never exactly expected Gibbs to be playful, but drawing out the white wolf is proving to be a revelation. “Did you ever read the Narnia books, Gibbs?” Tony asks.


Gibbs has always been used to the way his mind skips around, so Tony isn’t surprised that he takes this particular change of subject in his stride.


“Yeah. Used to read them to Ke…” He stops short. “Used to read ‘em,” he amends, but they both know what he was going to say. Tony runs his thumb soothingly over the silver stubble on his head.


“My mom used to read them to me when I was a kid. There was this one bit that always got to me. It was when they had Aslan tied up on the table of stone. Mom used to laugh at me because they had him tied up, the rope cutting into his paws, and they were taunting him and mocking him and about to slaughter him…but the one thing that really upset me was that they shaved off his mane. He didn’t seem like Aslan without his mane. It showed how much they’d changed him, brought him down to their piss poor level, and made him weak.” He pauses for a moment, still stroking Gibbs’s shorn hair. “Nobody likes seeing their heroes that way.”


“I don’t have any magic from before the dawn of time, Tony,” Gibbs says tiredly.


“Sure you do. You’re Gibbs.” Tony grins down at him. He’s never yet lost faith in Gibbs, and he doesn’t intend to start now. He figures the white wolf inside Gibbs just needs more feeding to get up to full strength and when it does, Walid and the other bastards running this sick freak show had better watch out.


Gibbs glances up at him, a puzzled, almost bemused expression on his face. Maybe he’d forgotten just how much faith Tony has always had in him. Tony is glad he reminded him because Gibbs suddenly moves up, takes Tony’s head between his hands, and kisses him on the mouth. It’s long, deep, and slow, and so incredibly focused and intense that it makes Tony shiver.


After all these years of nothing, now it seems that Gibbs can’t keep his hands off him. Then again, that’s not surprising; Gibbs never does anything by halves. While he was keeping Tony out he was doing it with all his might, and now he’s letting him in, he’s giving that his all too. That’s classic Gibbs.


How long it’ll last is another matter, but not one Tony wants to think about right now. He is under no illusions about this. Gibbs is lonely and desperate; Tony isn’t expecting him to still want to be this close when that isn’t the case anymore…if that ever happens.


Gibbs finishes kissing him and looks down on him, his hands still cupping Tony’s face. Tony gazes back up at him, completely in thrall to the intensity of that dark-eyed gaze. It’s almost as if Gibbs’s white wolf is visibly drawing strength from him, drinking it in thirstily, and it’s so compelling Tony can’t look away. Then the moment passes, and Gibbs drops a more casual kiss on his mouth and releases him.


Gibbs moves over to lie down next to him, one arm slung possessively over Tony’s naked body, keeping him close. Tony moves in even closer; if they don’t have long, he wants to make the most of it.


They’re holding each other so tight that Tony can feel every rib and hard muscle in Gibbs’s body. Tony rests his chin on Gibbs’s shoulder, Gibbs rests his hand on Tony’s ass, and they fall asleep that way.


When the klaxon wakes them the next day, Tony knows immediately it’ll be different now. For a start, Gibbs leans across and presses a brief kiss to his hair before getting to his feet. Up until now, whatever intimacy they’ve shared at night has been forgotten during the day.


What’s also different is the way he’s treated by the people running this place. Nobody gave a damn about his training regime last week, but now, the minute he steps foot in the gym Frank comes over to him.


“Scott tells me you’re going up against McIntyre in the pit next week,” he says, looking Tony up and down with an assessing gaze. “You won’t win.”


“So people seem to think,” Tony replies stonily.


Frank gives a little bark of a laugh. “Even Leroy will struggle against Mac, and you’re no Leroy.”


“Don’t under-estimate Tony,” Gibbs cuts in from where he’s busy taping his fingers nearby. “He’s killed a trained Mossad Kidon, and he once took out an armed man while beat up and tied to a chair.”


“Thanks, Boss.” Praise from Gibbs is rare, so Tony laps that up.


“Besides, I taught him everything he knows,” Gibbs adds, patting Tony’s face lightly as he passes him by on his way to the boxing ring.


“He’s got a broken hand, he’s carrying too much fat and not enough muscle, and he has virtually zero experience in the pit. He won’t win,” Frank says again, shaking his head.


“Again with the weight jibes. I’m not fat, am I, Boss?” Tony asks mournfully, although in truth, standing beside Gibbs who has been in training for months, he can see the difference.


“Nah. Just cuddly.” Gibbs winks at him.


Tony looks at Frank, and Frank looks back at him, and Tony can see his own incredulous expression mirrored on Frank’s face. Did Gibbs just *wink* at him? Gibbs, who hasn’t cracked a smile for weeks, and who spends every day in the gym pounding a punching bag into submission with a grim expression on his face? Maybe that white wolf is closer to the surface than he thought.


“C’mon, Tony. Get that bubble butt in here,” Gibbs says with an impatient jerk of his head towards the ring. “I’ll go through some moves with you.”


Somehow, Tony doesn’t think these moves will be as much fun as the moves Gibbs showed him last night, but he strides over there and gets into the ring anyway. Frank follows.


Gibbs isn’t messing about. This is nothing like the tutorials Tony got back at NCIS, and he thought those were bad enough. But when he lands on his back with Gibbs straddling his chest for the fourth time in as many minutes he puts up his hands in surrender.


“Damn it – go easy, Boss.”


“McIntyre won’t,” Gibbs snaps.


Tony is about to growl a retort when McGuire calls him out to visit the doctor.


For once, Tanner doesn’t appear to be coked off his head. In fact, he seems irritable and depressed. He undoes the bandage around Tony’s fingers to check on them with jerky movements of his hands, making Tony wince.


“Fingers take about five or six weeks to heal. These are nowhere near healed. I’ll re-bandage them but it’s kinda pointless because Mac will probably just break them again the minute you step into the pit.” Tanner gives a shrug.


He puts a fresh bandage on Tony’s fingers, glances at his notes, and then back at Tony. “Look, let’s be honest, after Fight Night you won’t be in this stable, so there’s no point to all this, but Scott wants you to at least put up a fight to entertain the crowd, so I’m going to give you the maximum dose.”


He pulls a syringe from a box and fills it with liquid from a vial.


“Maximum dose?” Tony asks, gazing at the syringe anxiously.


“Yeah – we’ll get you nice and pumped up for the pit. I wouldn’t normally start a new fighter on a dose this high, but we don’t have time to finesse you, and it’s not as if Scott plans on keeping you anyway. This is just for the fun of it.”


“Fun for who?” Tony raises a sceptical eyebrow.


Tanner gives a nasty grin. “Well, not for you, Tony, that’s for sure.”


“Are there any side effects?”


“Plenty.” Tanner shrugs. “Look, we’re not asking your permission here, Tony. This isn’t some nice, safe clinical trial. Scott wants you doped up to the eyeballs, so that’s what’s gonna happen.”


“I don’t respond well to drugs,” Tony says nervously. “Even painkillers make me go loopy, so I really don’t think this is a good idea.”


“Aw – really?” Tanner says, in a tone of false sympathy. “Sorry, Tony, I think you’re mistaking me for someone who gives a damn.”


He nods his head at McGuire, and Tony finds his arm grabbed. He’s pulled off his chair and forced over the steel table. He can’t do anything. He can’t get away or refuse the drugs. He can only stand there, helpless, as Tanner jabs the needle into his ass and injects all that junk into his bloodstream. He hates that he has no control over what is being done to him, and he gets a taste of the frustrated anger Gibbs must feel about being forced to take this medication week after week.


His skin feels red and itchy even before he’s left the infirmary. McGuire escorts him back to the gym where Gibbs takes one look at him then grabs his shoulder and hauls him back into the ring and tells him to get fighting.


Tony doesn’t need any encouragement. He can feel the blood thumping in his veins, making him hungry for something, although he’s not sure what. He goes after Gibbs, fists flailing, but Gibbs is too fast and too good for him as usual.


Gibbs is talking to him, but he can’t hear anything except the sound of his own blood rushing through his body. He feels a huge surge of energy, and he bounces, feints, and swings as he pursues Gibbs around the ring, fists flailing.


Suddenly the floor disappears from under him, and he finds himself lying on his back looking up at Gibbs, and – damn it – his cock is ramrod hard.


“Shit.” He turns his face away, feeling his face redden. He’s used to being naked in front of the other fighters, but he’s never been hard before, and it’s embarrassing. His mind is full of images of shoving Gibbs up against a wall and burying himself balls deep in his ass; of holding Ellis down while he punches him, over and over again; of grabbing a fistful of Scott’s hair and crashing his head into the wall; of getting hold of that bastard Walid and….


“Tony!” Gibbs slaps him hard across the face. “Focus,” Gibbs growls in his ear.


“Can’t…oh shit…shit, Gibbs. How the hell do you survive this? I’m…I want to…” He gazes up at Gibbs helplessly.


“I know.” Gibbs pats his face gently where he slapped him. “I know, DiNozzo. You want to fight, and you want to fuck, and that’s all you want to do right now.”


Tony feels another surge of rage. He wants to shove Gibbs off, to push him down, to pummel him into the ground and then to fuck him through the floor. He heaves upwards and succeeds in dislodging Gibbs from his chest, but Gibbs just flips him over onto his front and sits on his back, holding him down with a vice-like grip on his shoulders.


“You have two choices, DiNozzo,” Gibbs hisses in his ear. “You control it, or you give in to it. What’s it to be?”


“Fuck you!”


Tony feels Gibbs grabbing a handful of his hair, and then his face is shoved down onto the floor.


“Find something to be angry about. Channel the anger. But never let the anger control you or it’ll destroy you,” Gibbs hisses in his ear. “Now, what are you angry about, Tony?”


“You sitting on my goddamn back!” Tony says immediately.


“Good. What else?”


“Being here! Being locked up. I hate being locked up. I want to…” A surge of helpless fury floods through his body, and he pushes up against Gibbs, only to find his face being slammed effortlessly back onto the floor.


“I told you – control the anger or it will destroy you.”


Tony doesn’t care if it does. He just wants to give into it, to fight, and fuck, and lose himself in the rage that’s coursing through his veins.


“What else?” Gibbs demands, forcing him to think.


“Vance and his refusal to damn well listen; Jenny and her stupid fucking vendetta against the frog and how she screwed me over because of it; the way McGee eats those Nutter Butters…crunch, crunch, crunch.”


“Good. Keep going.”


“Ziva, accusing me of jealousy all the time – what the hell is that about? What am I damn well supposed to be jealous of? The fact that she has a love life with CIRay, and I don’t after I split with EJ? Damn it – maybe I am.”




Gibbs’s fist is still tight in his hair, keeping him immobilized, forcing him to think when all he wants to do is fight.


“You! You and the way you’d go all lone wolf on us every single time Mike Franks came to town or something personal came up. I hate the way you always cut me out of anything personal, like I’m not the loyal schmuck who stuck around all these years, who always has your six, who covers for your sorry ass, and who pulled you out of a car when you were drowning.”


He feels another surge of anger and tries to push back and shove Gibbs off him again. Gibbs thumps his head forwards one more time.


“You’re not done yet,” Gibbs growls in his ear.


“Fornell…now I am jealous of him, and the way you talk to him, and hang out with him, while loyal schmuck over here doesn’t get a look in.” He pauses for breath.


“Don’t stop now. You’re on a roll.” Tony thinks he can hear a note of amusement in Gibbs’s voice.


“My dad – for all the lies, and the spin, and for making me believe all his stupid stories. For always telling me what to do, and how to do it, and for the eternal disappointment he feels about his only son not being the chip off the old block he wanted. And for never being there. For never damn well being there when I wanted him…for every single, lonely second of my fucked up childhood…”


He’s so angry he’s practically choking with rage.


“And my mom…my mom for dying and leaving me alone with him…”


He gives an angry sob, his body shaking with rage.


“That’s it. Get it all out, DiNozzo.” Gibbs’s voice is an anchor, keeping him grounded, bringing him back to himself. “And find a way to master it, or it’ll drive you insane. Trust me. I *know*. Now what else?”


“Pizza! I am so sick of all this healthy food. I want a goddamn pizza!”


That seems to break something inside, and Tony takes a few deep breaths, blinking as rivulets of sweat fall into his eyes. Gibbs is right; he needs to focus. Slowly, gradually, he calms down and gets himself under control. And slowly, gradually, Gibbs releases his hold on him, although he stays on top of him, keeping him down. Only when Tony is breathing normally again does Gibbs let him up and haul him to his feet.


Tony feels like a wreck. He rubs an arm over his eyes to wipe away the combination of sweat and angry tears. Throughout this entire humiliating experience, his cock has remained rock hard and vivid images of sex continue to flash through his mind.


“With me…now,” Gibbs orders, and he strides out of the ring and takes Tony to the restroom next door. A guard follows – one of the guards always follows Gibbs wherever he goes – he’s their prize asset. They do at least let him use the toilet unsupervised though.


Gibbs pushes him through the restroom door, one hand on his shoulder, slams him back against the wall, and then goes down on his knees and takes Tony’s hard cock in his mouth. It’s such a blessed relief to feel that warm pressure around his cock that Tony shouts out. He grabs hold of Gibbs’s head, but Gibbs shakes him off with a look of annoyance. Then he goes back to swallowing Tony’s cock clumsily again.


It’s not exactly the best blowjob Tony has ever had, but it’s one of the most welcome. It doesn’t take much before he can feel himself coming. Gibbs draws back, getting to his feet again as Tony shoots out onto the restroom floor. Tony breathes heavily and thumps his head back against the wall with a bang. It’s taken the edge off; now he can at least think straight.


“Better?” Gibbs slaps his cheek lightly, bringing him around, and Tony gives a tight, grim nod.


“Yeah. Thanks. And, you know, sorry.” He makes a little face.


Gibbs grabs his head, pulls it forward, and rests his forehead against Tony’s. “Never apologise,” he hisses fiercely, and Tony can feel his thumb rubbing up and down his neck soothingly.


“I know. Sign of weakness,” Tony mutters feebly, managing a little grin all the same.


“Good boy.” Gibbs pulls back, plants a little kiss on his mouth, and then turns and leaves. Tony takes another deep breath and then follows.






Gibbs watches Tony like a hawk for the rest of the day. Tony’s just about holding it together, but barely. He doesn’t blame him. He knows what it’s like to have the drugs make you think and feel things that confuse and enrage you, and Tony got a massive dose without any build-up. That has to driving him nuts.


Frank wears Tony out with a tough exercise regime designed to test his limits and that seems to help; the constant activity is an outlet for the aggression and sexual frustration.


Tony looks exhausted and subdued by the time they return to their stall later that night. He’s hard again, despite several more trips to the rest room during the course of the day when Gibbs knows he jacked off.


“That stuff I said earlier.” Tony runs a shaky hand through his hair, making it stick up even more than it is already. “I didn’t mean it.”


“Yeah, you did, and you’re right. I’ve been a shit to you.” Gibbs shrugs. “You have always had my six, Tony, and I have always shut you out.”


“That an apology?” Tony gives him a faded smile.


“No.” Gibbs glares at him. “But you deserved better.”


“Then why did you do it?”


“Anger: thought I couldn’t have you. Thought I shouldn’t want you. Fear: only been in love once before, Tony, and that nearly killed me; didn’t want to do it again.”


Tony looks startled, and Gibbs wants to smack his stupid head. “You didn’t figure it out? I thought you damn well knew! After last night…”


“I assumed you were just lonely. And, you know, horny.” Tony grins.


“It’s been five months, and I never touched any of the other fighters outside the pit or let them touch me. You were the only one, Tony, despite all the damn drugs. I’d never have let anyone else get close the way I let you. You think if it was McGee in here with me, I’d have let him touch me like that?” Gibbs feels irrationally irritated by the fact Tony hasn’t figured it out. “Christ, Tony, I’ve been in love with you for just as long as you have with me!”


“Love? Leroy Jethro Gibbs actually uses the ‘l’ word?” Tony gives him a smug, shit-eating grin.


Gibbs rolls his eyes. “Shut up and get your ass over here.”


Tony comes easily into his arms, and it feels so good to have him there, where he belongs. Gibbs kisses him, loving the softness of his mouth, and the way his lips open up to let him in.


He pushes him down onto the mattress, finds the oil, and spreads it on his fingers. Tony lies there with his legs open, looking up at him, his lips swollen from kissing and his hair sticking up in points. Gibbs gets hard immediately, just looking at him.


There’s always been something so sexual about Tony. It’s something about his mouth, and the way he moves; something about how he loves to tease, and how he’s always stood too close on purpose, getting into his space to demand his attention; something about the way he’s always danced around him, taunting him to get a rise out of him and invite a head-slap; something about the gleam in those mischievous green eyes and his constant need for Gibbs to notice him.


Tony exudes a sensuality that has been driving Gibbs nuts for years. He’s always wanted to tame that teasing mouth and to sink his cock into Tony’s ass and make him scream with pleasure.


Gibbs strokes Tony’s soft, golden skin with oily fingers. He trails them over his chest, circles a nipple, and squeezes gently, loving the way Tony arches up into him, responding so eagerly to every touch.


Gibbs moves his fingers down and stretches Tony’s hole, eliciting little panting moans from him. When he’s done stretching him, Gibbs slicks oil onto his own cock and positions himself between Tony’s legs. He slides into Tony’s waiting hole, and at the same time grasps Tony’s cock in his oily hand.


“Oh shit…oil feels good…was rubbing it raw…” Tony hisses.


Gibbs grins down on him and begins to thrust with long, slow, powerful strokes, loving the feel of Tony’s warm heat milking his cock. He pauses to kiss Tony regularly as he thrusts, and Tony opens up even more, helping him sink balls deep into his body. It feels so damn good and before long they both come.


Afterwards, he drags Tony into his arms and lies there, his nose buried in Tony’s hair, inhaling the scent of him. It feels so good. He feels strong and powerful, as if nothing can defeat him, and yet he knows that isn’t the reality of their situation.


Tony turns in his arms and looks at him. “When you sucked me off in the restroom earlier, I got the feeling you hadn’t done that in a long time.”


“Yeah.” Gibbs strokes his hand along Tony’s thigh, unwilling to volunteer any more information than that.


“Look, I get it, neither of us likes talking about this kind of shit – that’s why it took ten years to get us here in the first place. But, see, the thing is, we don’t have another ten years to figure this out. We probably only have a few more days, and I’d like to fill in some of the gaps before the world comes crashing down around us.”


Gibbs shifts uncomfortably. “Liked guys when I was a teenager,” he says. “Jerked a few off. Sucked a few off. Then Shannon came along, and I never looked at another guy again. Never wanted to. Assumed it was just a phase.”


He’s quiet for a long time, until Tony nudges him. He swallows down hard. Talking about himself has never come easy to him, but Tony’s right; they don’t have much time, and he owes him this.


“After she died…” His voice comes out in a croak, and he clears his throat and tries that again. “After Shannon died, I didn’t think about it too much. I just chased after every redhead I could find in the hope it’d feel like it did with her all over again. Thought I could find her in those women, but she was long gone, and I ended up chasing shadows. Then you came along.”


Tony is quiet for once, gazing at him with rapt attention.


“And it blind-sided me.” Gibbs shrugs. “Thought I’d never feel that way about anyone again, least of all a guy. Wasn’t expecting it. Couldn’t accept it. And buried it down deep so it couldn’t fuck up both our lives.”


“Rule twelve,” Tony says quietly.


“There for a reason. Getting involved with Jenny nearly got us both killed. And besides, you never shut up about all the women you were dating. You sure as hell never gave any indication that you like Harrison Ford as much as you like Kelly McGillis.” Gibbs gives a little grin.


“Self-protection. I found out I liked guys at boarding school and then discovered girls at summer camp.” Tony gives a lascivious grin, clearly relishing that memory. Then the grin fades. “But my father always disapproved of every single thing I ever did, and I didn’t want to give him any more ammunition. So I kept it quiet – it’s easier that way. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem until I met you. Then I knew nobody else would ever do, so I was stuck following you around like a puppy for the rest of my life. But being near you was better than nothing at all, so I learned to live with it. Although sometimes I wanted to slap *you* upside the head to make you notice me.”


“Oh, I noticed you plenty, Tony,” Gibbs says in a rueful tone. “Just tried to pretend I didn’t.”


Tony starts to laugh, and Gibbs bites his shoulder gently. “What’s so funny, DiNozzo?”


“Just thinking…ten years, Gibbs! Ten long years we’ve had this between us, and we never once said a word about it. It took shutting us up together in a steel box and breaking us down with drugs to get us to admit we felt a damn thing for each other. There has to be an easier way of getting laid.”


Gibbs chuckles into Tony’s neck. “We’re both stubborn bastards.”


“So, you like pitching, but have you ever wanted to try it the other way around?” Tony asks, gazing at him curiously. “It’s good. I like it both ways.”


Gibbs tenses up. “No. Until they put me in the pit for the first time I’d never fucked any guy up the ass, and I’m sure as hell not letting any guy do that to me. I made a vow they’d have to kill me first.”


“Is that part of what motivates you to win?” Tony asks curiously.


“Yes,” Gibbs says firmly. He doesn’t like the quizzical look in Tony’s eyes. He knows Tony all too well; he’ll take that as a challenge. “Not gonna happen, Tony.”


Tony grins and wraps his arms around him, nuzzling sleepily into the crook of his neck. “Whatever you say, Jethro. Whatever you say.”








Tanner calls Tony into the infirmary twice a day to receive a cocktail of drugs. In the morning he gets injected, and in the evening he’s forced to drink a bottle of vile-tasting water that makes him choke with every mouthful.


Tony doesn’t have a clue what’s in the drugs being forced into his body, but he is all too well aware of the effect they’re having on him. Even within a couple of days of the regime of training and drug use, he can feel that his body is starting to become leaner and more sculpted. Despite all the jibes, he wasn’t fat before, but in comparison with Gibbs and Hurrell his body was much softer. Now he can feel it start to harden up – in every respect.


His constant desire for sex wars with his need to fight, and mastering it is becoming increasingly difficult. He’s lucky that Gibbs is here to help; Gibbs not only knows how it feels to be fed the same drugs, but he’s also exactly the kind of hard taskmaster Tony needs right now. Nobody else but Gibbs could get him to focus and learn how to control the extreme sensations flooding through his body.


Gibbs takes him into the ring every day and makes him fight, hard and dirty. He doesn’t ever let Tony get away with giving less than his all; he knows Tony too well for that. He also makes sure Tony knows there are repercussions for letting his anger affect his fighting. Every single time he loses it in the ring, Gibbs outmanoeuvres him, throws him face first onto the floor, and shoves his arm up his back. Tony is held there, Gibbs growling into his ear, until he gets himself under control again.


Gibbs might be a hard taskmaster in the ring, but he takes damn good care of Tony outside of it. He pulls Tony into the restroom twice a day or more to suck him off and is just as diligent at night, giving Tony exquisitely pleasurable hand jobs that help take the edge off his overactive libido. He also sinks his hard cock into Tony’s ass at least once a night, making love to him with an attentive thoroughness that sends Tony spiralling into an ecstasy that has nothing at all to do with the drugs.


But their days are numbered. Tony is aware that every passing day brings them closer to the end. It’s like having a gun pointed perpetually at his head, and that, combined with the massive intake of drugs, makes him increasingly jittery.


He goes ballistic in the ring one afternoon, throwing himself around and raving at the top of his voice. Gibbs circles him warily, avoiding his windmill-flailing fists, and then brings him down with a swift jab of his hand and a sweep of his foot. Once again, Tony finds himself chewing the mat while Gibbs holds him there, and once again Gibbs insists he go through a litany of all the things making him angry.


“Put the anger into the fight; shove it down and bring it out when you need it,” Gibbs tells him for what feels like the hundredth time. “Find every single damn thing you’re angry about, channel that anger, focus it, and use it against your opponent.”


Tony’s heard it all too often before, and he snaps. “I’m not like you, Gibbs!” he yells. “Anger’s your thing, not mine! You’ve practically made a career out of keeping it locked up and letting it out when you need it. That’s not me though, and I don’t damn well want it to be! I don’t want to end up an angry, miserable old bastard like you!”


He can feel Gibbs relaxing his hold on him, and he knows he just went too far but he’s too angry to care. Gibbs hauls him up by the hair and propels him out of the ring and into the restroom, Gibbs’s personal guard tagging along behind as usual.


“What’s going on?” Gibbs asks the minute they’re alone inside the restroom.


“I feel like a naughty puppy, or a toddler having a tantrum,” Tony snaps mulishly. “And I’m not either. I don’t want to be pinned down and slapped around by you.”


“I’m trying to teach you how to fight!”


“What’s the point?” Tony asks in despair. “We all know I won’t win against Mac. I’ll be beaten to a pulp, raped, pissed on, and then dragged back to his lair to be his regular nightly fuck toy. Shit, Gibbs – what’s the point of any of this? You, me, us – the little world we’ve created in here to get us through this nightmare – it’s all going to end in a few days’ time.”


“No!” Gibbs slams his hand onto the wall beside Tony’s head.


“Yes! And you not talking about it and pretending it’s not going to happen doesn’t help! We need a plan! We have to find a way to escape – we need to find a cell phone – we need to get the hell out of here, not just sit around and wait for the worst to happen.”


“No,” Gibbs says again.


“Look, I understand what happened before, with Ben and Brian. I get that it’s a huge risk. I’m just saying it’s a risk worth taking because I’m looking at something worse than death here.”


“No.” Gibbs shoves him back against the wall. “You can beat McIntyre, Tony. You beat Rivkin, and I’ve seen you take down plenty of bad guys. Mac is overconfident and over-rated. I’m working you so hard because I know you can beat that lumbering, puffed-up idiot.”


“No, Gibbs.” Tony rests his head back against the wall wearily. “They’re not even sure *you* can beat, Mac, so I don’t stand a chance in hell.”


“Half the battle is mental. If you believe you can beat him then you can. You need to find that killer instinct, Tony.”


“I don’t have it.” Tony shrugs. “I can be a bad ass, Gibbs, you know that, and I can take out the bad guys when I have to. I can even kill when necessary. But killer instinct? No. Killer instinct is what you’ve got – not me.”


“You’ve got something better, Tony! You’ve got the heart and courage of a lion. You rise to every single damn challenge. I’ve seen it!”


“That’s it? That’s all we’ve got to rely on? Me rising to meet the challenge?” Tony quirks a disbelieving eyebrow. “I thought you’d been spending these past few days thinking up a plan – some plan you didn’t want to tell me about for whatever goddamn secretive Gibbs reason. But you’re telling me THIS is your plan? Training me in one week – one damn week – to defeat a man who is built like a truck and who has pummelled every single opponent he ever met into the ground? Christ, Gibbs.” He shakes his head.


“No, Tony. No.” Gibbs takes hold of his shoulders and pulls him forward, looking into his eyes. “You can do this. I know you can. You said you had faith in me, and I’ve got it in you. I believe in you. You just need to believe in yourself.”


Tony stares at him uncertainly. If anyone could make him believe in himself it’s Gibbs, with those intense blue eyes and that “this is the way it WILL be” attitude. Gibbs has the kind of mental strength that means he could probably go out into the pit and defeat Mike Tyson if he really put his mind to it. That’s *his* skill.


Tony has his own skills; he knows he’s a fantastic investigator, a loyal friend, and that he’s a master of the arts of distraction and misdirection. But he doesn’t have Gibbs’s quality of sheer bloody-mindedness. He admires that quality in Gibbs because what he loves most are those aspects of the man’s character that he doesn’t possess himself; that’s part of the attraction.


“I once told you not to die, and you didn’t,” Gibbs tells him in a low, fierce voice. His face is right up close to Tony’s, his strength of will radiating from every pore in his body. “You had a fifteen per cent chance, Tony, but you lived because I told you to live. You beat those odds, and you can beat these.”


“So I can beat McIntyre just because you tell me I can?” Tony asks doubtfully.


“Yes. Yes!” Gibbs grasps Tony’s face between his hands, and his certainty is compelling. He leans in and kisses Tony on the mouth, and Tony can feel him transmitting his energy and faith into him. He responds to the kiss eagerly. He can do this! Gibbs is right! He DID survive the plague because Gibbs demanded it. This is no different. He can defeat Mac because Gibbs tells him he can. That’s enough.


Gibbs draws back, still gazing at him intently. “Yes, Tony? Yes?”


“Yes.” Tony nods. “Yes!”


“Good boy.” Gibbs strokes the side of his cheek with his thumb. “Now let’s get back to the gym. I want to work on your agility. You’re still too slow, and Mac is a big guy. He doesn’t move fast. Speed will be one of your greatest assets in the pit.”


“I have to piss. I’ll follow you,” Tony says, going over to the urinal.


Gibbs nods and leaves the restroom. As soon as he’s gone, Tony’s resolve starts to falter. It’s all very well believing he can defeat Mac when Gibbs is standing right in front of him, urging him on, but on Fight Night he’ll be alone out there in the pit, fighting for his life. He doesn’t have the months of experience that Gibbs has. He’s fought out in the pit once – and that was against Gibbs.


He understands. He understands that Gibbs has seen what happens to fighters who try to escape, and that he’s trying to keep him safe, but he meant what he said a few nights ago. He’d rather die than be Walid’s puppet in the ring, dancing to his tune. Gibbs might think the best way out of this is to fight and beat Mac, but Tony doesn’t agree.


He finishes pissing, washes his hands and then leaves the restroom…and stops. The guard who accompanied them has returned to the gym with Gibbs, leaving him alone. He could go to the infirmary; maybe he could overpower Tanner and use him as a hostage to make the guards surrender a gun…


He hears a noise from the big room at the end of the hallway and makes a quick decision. He creeps silently along the hallway towards the sound, and, as he gets closer, he realizes the supply truck has arrived and is being unloaded. He hides behind the door, watching as Pete finishes unpacking the crates and then goes over and accepts a cigarette from McGuire. The two of them sit there, smoking and chatting for a couple of minutes.


Then McGuire says something and jerks his head at Pete who nods, and the two of them walk off in the direction of the guards’ room, leaving the truck completely unguarded.


It’s a chance, and it might be the only chance he’ll get. One of Tony’s strengths has always been to see an opportunity and act on it, and he’s not about to pass on this one. He runs over to the truck, gets into the driver’s side, and fumbles for the box under the passenger seat. He hears voices and ducks down beneath the steering wheel, holding his breath. The voices fade, and he starts breathing again.


He takes the cell phone out of the box and jabs his fingers at it. “No service” – the message taunts him, and his gut clenches in frustration. He needs to go somewhere else…somewhere further away.


He grabs the smart card and runs over to the big doors. He slips the card in, and the doors slowly open. It’s not ideal. There’s no way to close them again behind him – that has to be done on the inside – but he doesn’t care. It’s a risk, but a calculated one. Right now, anything seems more appealing than what lies in store for him on Fight Night.


The darkness outside takes him by surprise for a moment; he always forgets they’re on a different daylight cycle, trapped away inside this big, steel structure. He takes a few seconds to get his bearings, and then he runs out into the night.


He hides for a moment, pressed against the outside of the building, looking around. Gibbs was right; it’s all wasteland. Clearly, this is some big plot of private, undeveloped land that Scott owns, right out in the middle of nowhere. Fine, then he’ll run. He’ll be much less conspicuous than the truck was when Gibbs drove that out; he’s one man on his own.


He leaves the comparative safety of the wall and speeds swiftly away from the building. His pale skin will be the biggest giveaway in the dark, and he needs to get as much of a head start as possible before they come looking for him.


He bends double and runs as fast as he can across the open ground. At least the drugs and training have given him speed, and the adrenaline helps. He finds some brush, hunkers down in the bushes, and tries the phone again. “No service”.


“Just have to keep running, DiNozzo,” he mutters. He hears a commotion in the distance, and he knows they’ve found the open doors, which means they’re probably aware of the missing cell phone too.


He remembers what Gibbs said about them being able to pack up the fighters and get them to a different location in a matter of minutes. If they do that, then it’s pointless him escaping. But if he can stay out of their reach for long enough to make the phone call, McGee will at least know where he is and come looking for him. It’s a start, if nothing else.


He runs again, even faster than before, but it’s dark, and he loses his footing. He rolls over sideways and falls down an incline. He comes to rest at the bottom of the slope and stays there, listening out for his pursuers.


Silence. He’s about to get up when he hears the sound of barking dogs, and his heart sinks. He might outrun or evade humans, but he doesn’t stand a chance against dogs. He’s never seen any dogs in the stable, but the fighters’ lives are so tightly corralled that’s not surprising. He’s never seen where the food they eat is made, either, but there must be a kitchen on the premises.


He has no intention of giving himself up, dogs be damned. He gets up and runs as fast as he can through the bushes, his chest heaving. He can hear the sounds of his pursuers behind him, much closer now, the dogs howling excitedly as they chase his scent.


A pain in his side makes him pause beneath a tree. He glances at the cell phone again, to find it still says, “No service.”


“Damn it!” He wants to slam it into the side of the tree in frustration, but that would defeat the purpose.


He heaves in several deep breaths and then sets off again. What will they do when they catch him? He remembers how they made Gibbs kill Brian. Would they do that again? Give Gibbs a choice – the other fighters or him? Who would Gibbs choose? He knows the answer without having to think about it; Gibbs would sacrifice the other fighters to save Tony’s life but the choice would break him, so either way they’d lose each other for good.


He runs as fast as he can, an image replaying in his mind over and over again of him kneeling, with a gun shoved into the back of his head. If he can just get far enough away, then surely at some point the damn cell phone will work. He glances down at it and almost falls over when he sees that there are two tiny connection bars; the service is faint, but it might work.


He crashes into some nearby bushes and shakily dials the number McGee gave him. It’s like one of those dreams where it’s so important to push the right buttons that he can’t do it. He makes a mistake the first time, his hands shaking from a combination of drugs, adrenaline and fear, but the second time he gets it right. He jams his finger onto the “Call” button on the screen and it starts dialling.


He looks up as he hears the barking of the dogs nearby and then down again – and his heart flips when he sees that the call is in progress. He only needs twenty-eight seconds. That’s all. Twenty-eight seconds for McGee to do the automatic trace.


He lifts his head and looks at the stars shining overhead in the dark night’s sky, counting softly under his breath. “Seven, eight, nine…c’mon. C’mon!”


The sound of the dogs is getting closer and closer. He doesn’t have twenty-eight seconds. Not even close. To buy time, he hides the phone on the ground under the bushes, puts his hands in the air, and walks out to meet his pursuers.


Suddenly they’re all around him, swarming all over him, surrounding him. He’s thrown face down, forced onto his stomach in the mud, and his arms are pulled behind his back and fastened there with rope. They pull it so tight that it cuts into his wrists, and he clamps down hard on the cry of pain. There’s a lot of shouting and confusion, and he struggles to breathe as someone big plants a knee in the small of his back.


“Found it!” one of the guards yells, emerging triumphantly from the bushes, cell phone held aloft.


Twenty-eight seconds…has it been that long? Tony cranes his head, looking up, and sees the display on the phone. “Call failed.”


At some point the phone lost connection. McGuire grabs the phone from the other guard, puts it on the ground and shoots it, in a pointlessly dramatic gesture, killing it completely.


The guard behind him shoves his face down into the mud, and Tony closes his eyes, his mouth full of dirt.


He’s failed.








Gibbs runs on the treadmill, one eye on the door. Tony never came back from the restroom, and he could kick himself for not waiting there for him and escorting him back. He just assumed he’d follow. Never assume! Never assume, damn it! It’s one of his rules. He went back to the restroom but Tony wasn’t there, and he didn’t like to draw attention to his absence in case it got him into trouble – but where the hell is he?


It’s been over an hour now – he can see that by the display on the gym equipment.


What’s happened? Why hasn’t Tony returned? Did Tanner catch him in the hallway and call him in for a medical? It’s a bit late in the afternoon for that; it’s nearly dinnertime.


A little while ago two of the guards were called out at a run, leaving only one remaining in the gym. They’ve never left so few guarding them before.


The anxiety is churning in the pit of his stomach. Something is wrong. His gut is setting off so many alarm bells that he can’t concentrate, and he jumps off the treadmill.


“Hey – Leroy! You have another fifteen minutes!” Frank yells at him.


“Stick it!” Gibbs stalks towards the door, but the one remaining guard steps in front of him, gun raised. He lifts the butt of the gun threateningly, aiming it towards Gibbs’s jaw, and Gibbs only just manages to jump back in time.


That’s unusual. They don’t normally dare touch him in case they injure him, and he can’t fight in the pit, but the guard looks anxious, scared…just like Gibbs is feeling right now.


“What’s going on?” Gibbs asks urgently. “What’s happening?”


“Shut up and get back to your training,” the guard replies, hefting the gun warningly.


There’s only one guard and there are several trained fighters in the room. Frank might join in and help the guard, but he never carries a gun, so he should be relatively easy to overpower. Gibbs glances around and sees Sam Hurrell walking towards him. Then Greg.


Maybe this is their chance. It’s an opportunity at least. He doesn’t want to think about Ben, or Brian, or his previous failed escape attempt. He moves forward stealthily, aware of Sam and Greg coming up behind him, and Matt over on his flank.


“Keep away, or I’ll blow your brains out,” the guard warns, edging back.


“You do that, and Scott will blow your brains out. I’m his champion remember?” Gibbs growls, moving in, feeling like he always does on Fight Night, in the pit. This is an opponent, an adversary, and not a very impressive one. Gibbs can take him out, no trouble.


He prowls closer, feeling himself going into his fight zone: Power…control…focus…strength…killer instinct…self-belief…


Even if the guard shoots him, the others will still be able to overpower him and get the gun so it won’t be wasted. It’s worth the risk. He glances over his shoulder to see the other fighters coming up behind, and he can tell that they’re all up for it. If he leads, they’ll follow.


He doesn’t hesitate. He throws himself forward…and at that moment the door flies open and a warning shot is fired into the air.


All the fighters scatter, running backwards as several guards charge into the room, all of them armed. The moment has gone, the opportunity lost, but Gibbs doesn’t have time to think about that because he sees someone being dragged into the room, covered in mud, his hands tied behind his back.


“Tony!” He runs forward but is sent flying backwards by a sharp crack to his jaw from the butt of a gun. Hurrell catches him and then wraps a solidly muscled arm around him, holding him tight to stop him running back again.


Tony’s head is down, and Gibbs can’t see if he’s alive or if they’ve dragged his corpse into the room.


“Tony!” he yells again, and this time that gets a response. Tony’s head moves, and he glances up, straight at him.


The relief at Tony being alive is soon outweighed by his fear about what they’re going to do to him. Ellis is unwinding some rope, menacingly, from a coil in his hands.


“Tony decided he didn’t like it here. He tried to run,” Ellis announces to the room. There’s a dark glow in his eyes that Gibbs is all too familiar with, and he feels a knot of anxiety form in his belly. “And I’m sure you all know how I feel about fighters who try to run.”


He looks at Gibbs and gives him a malicious smile.


“You over-played your hand, Leroy. We all had to go soft on this one because he’s your pussy boy. Well, not any more. Scott said to treat him like all the others after last Fight Night, so that’s what I’m going to do. No special treatment. He tried to escape, so he gets punished.”


He strides back over to Tony, grabs him by the hair, and pulls him up. Tony doesn’t make a sound. Ellis shoves Tony onto his knees, and Tony looks straight at Gibbs, an expression of mute appeal in his eyes. Gibbs knows what that appeal is about. He’s asking Gibbs not to lose it and go ballistic because he knows that’s the one thing Gibbs wants to do right now.


He can feel his fury rising up like a tidal wave, and he struggles to get out of Hurrell’s arms. Hurrell isn’t having any of it; he’s seen that look in Tony’s eyes too, and he knows what it’s about. He just holds on more tightly, and he’s a big guy.


Ellis unties the rope around Tony’s wrists, only to tie them again almost immediately, this time in front of his body. Then he throws the loose rope from the other coil upwards so that it catches over a hook in the ceiling. He ties that rope through the rope around Tony’s wrists, and then hauls him up so that his arms are stretched overhead, his whole body helpless and exposed.


“No,” Gibbs says quietly.


Ellis just grins at him and then slowly and deliberately removes the whip from his belt.


“I said no!” Gibbs storms forward, breaking out of Hurrell’s grip just as Ellis brings the first hard whip stroke down on Tony’s exposed back, leaving a long, red welt in its wake.


It takes three of the guards to catch Gibbs as he lunges at Ellis. They throw him down on the ground and sit on him, keeping him down.


Ellis jerks his head at the guard sitting on his back. “Make him watch. I want him to see this.”


The guard grabs the sides of Gibbs’s head and forces it up, so he’s looking straight at Tony. Tony looks back at him.


Ellis lifts his arm again and begins whipping Tony in earnest, putting all his might into each savage stroke. The sound of leather cracking onto skin is deafening, reverberating around the gym. The fighters are all standing in a subdued huddle over to one side and most of them are looking away. Some of them have their hands over their ears to block out the sickening sound.


Gibbs keeps his gaze fixed on Tony, and Tony holds that gaze. He doesn’t make a sound as the whip slams into his body, making him jerk like a fish on a line. He doesn’t move, and he doesn’t scream. He doesn’t do anything except look at Gibbs like he’s the only person in the room.


Tony needs him to be here, like he was that day, years ago, when Tony was dying of the plague in a hospital room at Bethesda. Tony can take any kind of punishment if Gibbs sees him through it. So he keeps his gaze locked on Tony. He blocks out Ellis, and the other fighters, and the guards, and Frank – who is standing by to one side, chewing anxiously on his thumb.


Gibbs doesn’t care about anything but keeping faith with Tony right now. He can’t stop this, but he can give Tony the strength to survive it. It’ll be bad – Ellis has been itching to do this for a long time – but Tony is strong. He’s always been strong enough to take Gibbs, even at his worst, so he’s sure as hell strong enough to take Ellis at his worst too.


The sound of that whip cracking down on Tony’s back is sickening. Gibbs can see flecks of blood spraying out with each stroke, and he struggles again, pointlessly, against the men holding him on the ground.


Tony’s head has started to hang down, but he’s still managing to maintain sporadic eye contact with Gibbs. He hasn’t uttered a single cry, and Gibbs feels a surge of pride, knowing that Tony won’t give Ellis that particular satisfaction. Then again, Gibbs has always known that Tony is brave; it was the first thing Gibbs noticed about him when their paths crossed in Baltimore a decade ago.


Tony is fading now. Gibbs has never known them whip a man so long before, and he has a sudden real fear that Ellis means to whip Tony to death. He wriggles and shoves and manages to dislodge the man sitting on his back, and then he tries to lunge over there to stop it, but he doesn’t get that far and is thrown back again. He gives a hoarse shout and reaches out, but Tony’s head is down now, and Gibbs can see that he’s lost consciousness.


Gibbs howls, over and over again, the anger and anxiety combining with his own helplessness to make him struggle pointlessly in the guards’ arms. And then it’s over. The sound of whip on flesh stops, and Ellis tucks the bloody whip back into his belt.


“That is what you get if you try and escape,” he tells the assembled fighters, in a tone of gloating. Nobody says anything. They just stand there, shell-shocked, gazing at him with barely concealed hatred.


Ellis takes out his knife and cuts through the rope holding Tony up, and Tony falls immediately to the floor and lies there in a heap. Gibbs can see that his back is covered in blood, the beautiful golden skin he caressed last night now ravaged by the whip. He looks like a dead bird, feathers broken, his hair lifting slightly as the breeze from a nearby fan rustles through it.


“Take him away – him too.” Ellis jerks his head, and the guards drag Gibbs out of the gym. He’s hauled along the hallway back to their stall and thrown inside. Ellis strides in after him. He’s stopped to pick up some chains somewhere along the way – the same chains they wrap them in when they take them to the fights.


He comes over to Gibbs, a vicious smile on his face, and wraps the chains around his wrists and ankles and then fastens them to the hooks in the wall. He draws back with a darkly satisfied look, and Gibbs can only stand there, chained and immobilised against the wall.


They bring Tony in, two of them hauling him between them, their hands under his armpits. They throw Tony face down onto one of the mattresses and then leave. Ellis turns back to Gibbs.


“The only reason I didn’t put a bullet through his head is because I want to watch Mac pissing all over him in the pit on Fight Night,” he says with a grin. “Aw, did you think this would get your little pussy boy out of fighting Mac? No fucking chance! Scott will throw him into the pit half dead – he won’t care. Tony’s a troublemaker, and Scott just wants to be rid of him. After Mac’s through with him, he’ll be Walid’s problem, not ours.”


Gibbs makes no reply. He just gazes back at Ellis stonily. He’s not going to give him the satisfaction of a response any more than Tony did when he was taking that whipping so silently.


“Night night, sleep tight, Leroy,” Ellis says smugly, patting Gibbs’s cheek with his hand. Then he leaves the stall, shutting the door and locking it behind him.


The bastard has chained him here so that he can’t go over to Tony to help him, to wash his back, or even just to hold him. He can only stand here, tied to the wall, helpless.


“Tony?” he calls across the stall.


Tony doesn’t stir. Gibbs can see from the rise and fall of his chest that he’s still alive, but he’s out of it.


“Tony, I’m tied up, so I can’t get to you, but I’m here,” Gibbs tells him. He isn’t sure if Tony can hear or not, but he wants him to know that he’s not alone.


Tony gives a low sob of pain, and it’s too much for Gibbs; he pulls furiously on the hooks attaching him to the wall. The chains might be unyielding, but the hooks could be less secure.


He pulls with all his might, yanking his hands backwards, tugging on the hook his wrists are attached to. It moves, so he can tell it’s loose, and he keeps on heaving and tugging away at it with all his might. His rage lends him even more strength; he remembers what it feels like to stand in the pit, with the anger flowing through his body, and he finds that anger now.


He is furious that they touched Tony; that they dared to hurt someone he loves. He connects with that rage, feeling it surge through him, and then with one massive yank he pulls his wrists free. They’re still attached to each other, and his ankles are still attached to the wall, but his arms are at least free. He leans down; there’s some slack in the chain around his ankles, but a few tugs on that hook show that it’s attached far more solidly to the wall than the other one was, and he can’t get it to budge.


He gets down on his knees and inches slowly along the floor towards Tony. The chains tethering his ankles to the wall prevent him getting all the way there, but he gets close enough to grab the hem of a blanket and pull it towards him. He shakes it out and throws it over Tony’s body to keep him warm. Then he lies flat out on his stomach and reaches out his bound hands towards Tony. The stall is small, but even so, it’s still a stretch.


Tony’s arm is slung out, a little way from his body. Gibbs reaches out as far as he can and manages to get the tips of his fingers onto the side of Tony’s hand.


Tony whimpers, and Gibbs strokes the side of his hand gently with his finger. That’s all he can reach. “You with me, Tony? I’m right here. Close as I can get.”


Tony doesn’t reply. He just lies there, completely still, his face turned away. Then slowly, painfully slowly, he manages to move his hand just a fraction closer, and then a fraction more, until it’s close enough for Gibbs to take it between his hands. His wrists are bound but he can open the palms enough to gently capture Tony’s hand between them. Tony doesn’t move again for a long time, but then he slides his thumb sideways, stroking one of Gibbs’s fingers. It’s a tiny, shaky movement, but enough for Gibbs to know that he’s okay. He clasps Tony’s hand firmly in his own and holds it there.


The floor is hard on his belly, and he’s cold, and before long he gets cramp in his arms from holding them outstretched, but he has no intention of ever letting go.






It hurts. His shoulders and back are throbbing, aching and sore. He can feel a searing pain every time he moves, so he tries not to move. He closes his eyes and dozes, longing for the sweet oblivion of sleep.


In his sleep he sees a pair of wolves fighting, one light and one dark. They’re circling each other, teeth bared, snarling, and Gibbs is there, in the middle, caught between them. Then both wolves suddenly leap up at the same time, making straight for Gibbs’s throat. They tear away at his skin, ripping into it, and blood pours from the angry wound.


Tony comes to with a gasp, twitching as he wakes from the nightmare, and the pain immediately comes flooding back in, making him sob.




“Yeah.” He waits until the waves of pain subside a little and then moves his head, cautiously, to look down.


Gibbs is over to his right, stretched out on the floor, chained to the wall at the ankles. He’s holding Tony’s hand between his own bound hands.


“Sorry. Fucked up,” Tony mutters.


“What happened?” Gibbs’s blue eyes are gleaming vividly in the darkness of the stall.


“Guard was gone when I left the restroom. Heard the supply truck being unloaded. Pete and McGuire left it unguarded. Stole the cell phone. Used the card to get out. Ran like hell until I got a connection. Almost made the call…almost.” The sense of failure hits him again, made all the more intense by the pain. “Saw an opportunity. Took it. Sorry. You warned me.”


“Screw that,” Gibbs growls. Tony blinks, confused. “You did what I trained you to do.”


“And what you ordered me not to do.”


“Yeah…well…Rule 51.”


Tony blinks again. “I don’t know that one.”


“Never mind.”


They’re silent for a moment. Tony runs his thumb back and forth over Gibbs’s hand. “They’re still gonna make me fight Mac, aren’t they?”


Gibbs’s hand squeezes hard. “Yeah.”


“Definitely not gonna win now. Not that I was ever really going to win, Gibbs.”


Gibbs is silent.


“They whip you this bad when you got those scars?” Tony asks quietly.


“Not as bad.”


“So I’m gonna be scarred? Like you?” Not that it matters. He’s unlikely to survive much longer in view of what’s in store for him.


“Yeah. Worse than me.”


Gibbs sounds angry, and Tony isn’t surprised. Gibbs has always been protective of anyone he allows into his family, and Tony is a hell of a lot more than just family to him now.


Tony tries to bite back a moan as a wave of pain sweeps through him. “Shit…” He can feel Gibbs squeezing his hand again as he rides it out. “Shit…that hurts so bad.”


Tony closes his eyes, longing for sleep, but it doesn’t come. Everything hurts too much, and he can’t switch off. He needs a distraction.


“You still with me, Tony?”


“Yeah. Just hurts so much. Talk to me, Jethro.”


“About what?”


“I don’t know. Anything. Need to think about something else ‘cept how much it hurts.”


He hears Gibbs taking a deep breath. Then: “Used to take Kelly sailing; blue water, sun shining in the sky, taste of the salty air on your tongue, feeling the wind in your hair. Nothing’s better than that.”


Tony smiles, liking the word picture Gibbs just painted. He knows Gibbs is trying to take him out of himself, so he can think of himself someplace else.


“Better than sex?” he asks.


Gibbs taps his hand with his finger, and Tony laughs, knowing that’s the closest Gibbs can get to a head-slap right now. The laugh makes him hurt all over again and it tails off into a sob as the pain kicks in, rolling through him in agonising waves.


Gibbs squeezes his hand again, seeing him through it.


“Sailing’s good,” Gibbs says softly. “I’ll take you some day. You ever sail, Tony?”


“No,” Tony says through gritted teeth, trying to block out the pain. “Not really. I mean…I’ve been out on a boat a few times…been fishing…but never just been out sailing.”


“We’ll do it. One day. Take a boat out on the open water. Together. Alone.”


“Could we have sex out there?”


Gibbs gives a snort of laughter. “Anythin’ you want, Tony. I’ll take you out sailing and make love to you out in the open, under the sun.”




“Promise,” Gibbs says firmly.


“What was she like?” Tony asks softly, changing the subject.


Gibbs is silent for a long time. Tony can feel him running a finger in little circular patterns over the palm of his hand. Then, finally, he speaks.


“Kelly lived in the moment. When she was happy, you knew about it. When she was sad, you knew about it. And when she was angry…boy, did you know about it!”


“Sounds like her dad.”


“Yeah. Smart though, like her mom.”


“Tell me about Shannon.”


There’s another long silence. Tony knows how much Gibbs hates this, but all the same, he saddles up and gets on with it.


“Shannon was funny. She made me laugh. When I got angry, she knew how to diffuse me. And she could talk! God, she could talk. Never shut up sometimes.”


“Hah.” Tony smiles to himself. It seems that he’s not the only one attracted to the opposite in a lover.


“Yeah. She wasn’t anywhere near as annoying as you though.”


Tony pinches Gibbs’s finger hard, eliciting a half-laugh, half-growl in response.


They’re silent again. Tony manages to shift onto his side a little, ignoring the pain that sweeps through his body at the movement. He glances down on Gibbs.


“Tell me how you got the scar on your knee,” he says quietly.


Gibbs traces his fingers over Tony’s hand again, drawing little circles. The silence is even longer
this time, and then, finally, Gibbs clears his throat.


“Got knocked down by a drunk driver when I was eight. Walking home from school with my mom.”


“Christ, Gibbs…that’s…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”


Gibbs’s fingers continue their gentle caress over his hand, and Tony knows he’s saying that it’s okay.


“Were you badly hurt?”


“In the hospital a while.”


“Must have been bad to have left that kind of scar.”


“Yeah.” Gibbs’s voice is tight. “Couldn’t speak for weeks. Jack used to visit, try and coax me out of myself. Took a long time.”


“You were in shock. Probably too shook up to speak.”


“No. I was too angry to speak.”


Slowly, very slowly, Tony comes to a realization. “You were walking home with your mom?”




Another silence.


“Bastard drunk driver killed her, didn’t he?”




It’s Tony’s turn to squeeze now.


“My mom died when I was eight too. Cancer,” Tony says into the darkness of the stall, not looking at Gibbs. “She just faded away. Nobody even told me she was ill. I thought everyone’s moms lost their hair and looked that pale and thin. Like it was normal. Then Dad sent me away to stay with my uncle for a few weeks. When I came back, he dressed me up in a black suit and took me to her funeral. It took me a long time to understand she wasn’t coming home. I thought she was just staying at the cemetery, like she was on vacation or something.”


“Yeah, well, I’ve always thought your dad is a total shit.”


“He is. Still love him, but he is.” Tony gives a little laugh and then wishes he hadn’t. He closes his eyes and waits for the pain to dull down to a more manageable level. He ponders for a moment about Gibbs losing his mom at the age of eight and being brought up by his dad. Maybe it isn’t just the differences in Gibbs that he finds attractive; they have a lot in common too.


“D’you think there’s any way we could have this kind of conversation except after me being beat half to death and delirious with pain, and you chained to the wall, so you can’t run away?” Tony muses.


“Nah. You’d have to tie me down to make me.” Tony can hear the grin in Gibbs’s voice.


“Don’t think I wouldn’t. There’s no way I’m going through a whipping like that again just to get you to damn well talk.”


“Well, if anyone could ever get in my face and make me do something I don’t want to, it’s you.”


Tony is pleased with that compliment. His back might hurt like hell, but at least something has come out of it.


“They ever find him?” Tony asks quietly. “The drunk driver who killed your mom?”




“So you never got justice.” One last piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is Leroy Jethro Gibbs falls into place; Tony has never met anyone more obsessed with pursuing justice than Gibbs.




“But you’ve had revenge,” Tony says slowly. “Out in the pit, every Fight Night: ‘Find every single damn thing you’re angry about, channel that anger, focus it, and use it against your opponent…’” He quotes Gibbs’s words back at him.


“Yes.” Gibbs’s voice is steady and firm. “I’ve beaten that bastard over and over again, and Hernandez, and Walid, and Scott, and Ellis, and everyone who ever hurt me or the people I love.”


Where does it all end, Tony wonders? When someone has as much anger inside them as Gibbs – and as much to be angry about. He lost his mom, his wife, and his daughter – no wonder there’s so much pent-up fury in the man. But where does that end?


He’s feeling sleepy again. The pain is wearing him out, and his eyelids droop and open, droop and open drowsily. He glances down at Gibbs again, lying almost out of reach. Gibbs’s shorn head is angled to one side, and Tony can see the chains wrapped around his wrists and feet, tying him to the wall. It reminds him of a book his mom used to read to him when he was a child, a book that always used to make him cry.


His eyelids droop again, and this time they stay shut.






He’s been trying to keep everyone safe, but he can’t. It isn’t in his power. He wasn’t able to keep Tony safe, or Rajul, or Steve, or any of the others that this place has destroyed.


Gibbs stretches out, still keeping his fingers wrapped around Tony’s hand. Tony has been badly hurt, and he doesn’t stand a chance of beating Mac in the pit in a few days’ time.


“That was always a stupid-assed plan anyway, Jethro,” he mutters to himself. “You were playing by their rules. It’s time they start learning yours.”


He remembers what Tony said to him earlier. “Killer instinct is what you’ve got – not me.”


That’s what gives him his edge in the pit; the fact that he’ll die rather than submit, and he’ll kill if necessary. He’s a warrior. He’s fought in war zones, and he knows what any leader knows; you have to be prepared to lose your own life and your own people on the battlefield. Any victory entails risk.


He thinks back to that moment in the gym when he advanced on the guard, fully intending to attack him. He remembers how good it felt to look over his shoulder and see that Hurrell, Greg, and the others had his six. They’re desperate to escape. They’re just looking for a leader who’ll show them how.


He needs to start thinking like Walid. You don’t outsmart your enemy by playing the game by their rules. He’s given Walid an easy ride. He hasn’t shown him exactly what Leroy Jethro Gibbs is capable of.


Tony twitches in his sleep, and Gibbs strokes his hand gently until he settles down again.


Sam Hurrell is wrong. It isn’t a fight between the light wolf and the dark wolf. The real battle is to take those wolves and make them work together. Only by taming them, controlling them, and using the force and power of them both can he win this particular fight.


The white wolf is his love for Tony, for his family, and for the people on his team. It’s his acute sense of justice, and his urge to protect those who need him. The dark wolf is his anger, his killer instinct, his lust for revenge, and his desire to fight.


He needs both those wolves. It’s time to wrestle them into submission and harness their unique individual qualities to create one Big Bad Wolf – and then he’ll go and blow Walid’s house of freaks down.


Maybe Tony was right, and he does have some magic from before the dawn of time; or at least from before he was captured. At some point along the way he forgot who he was; it took Tony to come along and awaken a sleeping wolf to remind him.


Gibbs squeezes Tony’s hand, feeling whole again. Walid wanted him to cry; he should know that when you back a wolf into a corner it doesn’t cry – it comes out fighting, more dangerous than ever.


Gibbs smiles, baring his teeth. “Watch out, Walid. I’m coming to get you.”



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