Chapter 7: Tony Goes Clubbing
Didn't happen often but every once in a while Gibbs had to leave home late on a Friday night to pick Abby up from some club or shadowy underground...establishment, to drive her home. He never got an answer as to what happened but he got the feeling it was because she wasn't leaving with who she thought she would be. One time, a person—gender was hard to identify—had tried to stop them but a dark glance and a single step closer from Jethro had caused the loud objection to trail off into a petulant, "What? Did you call your father, Abby?"
Not this Friday night, though. Tonight he had to call Abby, and the rest of the team. Body found offshore and was being transported through the night. They didn't have to go into the office until 7 tomorrow morning, but he wanted to give them a heads up. He wasn't especially thrilled at the idea of working with a hung over Tony and he had overheard him making plans with friends in from out of town. When Abby picked up and he only knew she had because of the cacophony of what only she might call music flooding through the receiver, he knew she was out tonight.
"Abby?!" He shouted into the receiver.
"Just a minute, Gibbs!" The music continued to pulse down the wire. They don't use wires anymore, do they? Finally, the noise cut off abruptly and he could hear cars in the background.
"Hi, Gibbs. Sorry about that? What's up?"
"Abs, we picked up a case—"
"D'you need me to come in now—"
"No, but first thing tomorrow. Okay?"
"Okey Dokey. Do you want me to—hey get your hands off of her!"
"Abby, you okay?"
"Fine, Gibbs, no problem. I have friends here. See you tomorrow." And the line went dead.
Gibbs shook his head, kept calling. Next, Tony. He hadn't seen much of Tony outside of work recently, not since the Voss case and the aftermath. Oh, Tony'd been around enough to make it clear that things were okay between them, back to normal, and Gibbs, for his part, had let him think that, letting him sit on the steps, even making steaks for them once. But things weren't okay. The first two times, as Tony had implied, could have been written off as "just sex", but the third…
Gibbs ran a hand across his tired face. Fuck. What the hell was wrong with him?
Shaking it off, leaving whatever this was for later, or to work itself out, he dialed Tony.
"Yeah, Boss?!" Tony's voice was loud over what Gibbs was almost certain was exactly the same noise that he had heard when he called Abby.
"Tony, we've got a case. Be at the office at 0700 tomorrow morning."
"Wait a second, Boss, I can't hear you!" Again, the long wait with the most hideous "hold" music ever. Again, the abrupt cut-off and the sound of cars.
"Wow, that was louder than I thought. We have a case, Boss?"
"Yeah, DiNozzo, but the body won't be here until tomorrow morning. Be in the office at 7." Gibbs could hear Abby in the background. "Tony is that Gibbs? Say hi for me."
Tony's voice held a smile. "Gibbs, Abby says hi. Do you—"
Gibbs just hung up, exasperated although smiling himself. Ducky. He dialed.
For Chrissakes, he couldn't help but think when he heard the same damn music a third time. What the hell was Ducky doing there?
"Yes, Jethro? Just a moment, let me step into the men's room. This music is terribly loud." Ducky continued to talk for the few minutes it took to get into the men's room.
"What the hell are you doing there with Tony and Abby, Duck?"
"Oh, did you speak to them as well? We must have a case. I don't think that Tony is drinking, Jethro. He can drive us into the office."
"Nah, Duck. Don't need you til tomorrow morning. 0700. Okay?"
"Yes of course, Jethro. I'll be there with bells on."
"Not necessary, Duck. Why are you there?"
"Oh, well, when I was leaving this evening, Tony and Abby were also departing for the day. Both had arranged gatherings of their friends—I believe Tony has frat brothers in from out of town and Abby, also, has a prodigal roommate home for the weekend and had assembled a group of friends in celebration. They decided that it would be enjoyable and potentially amusing to join the two groups together. They invited me, and I have to admit, it reminded me rather forcefully of the time that I was in Lisbon—"
"Duck, I don't need to know all this. Do you need a ride home?"
"Well, yes. I would appreciate that. We're at Enigma, on 7th. Tony is the group's designated driver so he said he would drive me home but I really am ready to go, and I don't want to spoil his evening—'
"On my way, Duck—" And, cutting off the sounds of his friends continued narrative, he hung up. Should he bother to call Kate, or just tell her when he got to the club? Ah, what the hell...he dialed.
Kate answered on the second ring. "Hello?" Blessed silence. Or rather the muted clink of forks and glasses and low voices.
"Kate, we have a body. Nothing to do right now but wait but be in the office at 7."
"Sure, Gibbs. Is there anything you want me to do before then?"
"Nope. Just meet us there."
"Okay, have nice evening." Gibbs hung up without answering, smiling a little, knowing that Kate would make some comment about "her boss, who really needed to learn to learn some telephone etiquette." He wondered if she was on a date. Dwayne, didn't Tony say? He made a note to find out the last name and check this guy out.
He made good time, and when Gibbs got to the club, he didn't see Ducky waiting outside. And he was kind of curious...Tony's fratboy friends and Abby's bunch of weirdos—and he meant that in the nicest possible way—could be interesting…
He parked and made his way to the club. There was no line, and the bouncer did not check his ID, just tried to collect the $10 cover. Gibbs told him he was only there to pick someone up and after a staring contest Gibbs was sure to win, the man eventually gave up and stepped aside for Gibbs to enter.
He'd swear it was the same damn song beating into his skull. The inside was hot and heavy with twice-breathed air, but the faces and body language were sweaty and happy. There was a knack to reading a crowd, a bar or nightclub, and what he saw reassured Gibbs. The best ones were always well organized-had enough staff on duty, knew and catered to their audience, watched for and dealt with trouble. Gibbs made his way through the room, dark but for strobes and some spotlighting over the tables ringing the dance floor.
He spotted Tony first, his stomach dropping and unwanted arousal welling up without permission. Tony was dancing, and while he seemed to be with more than one person, Gibbs couldn't look away from him long enough to check. He was not dressed up, as Gibbs would have expected. Instead he was in jeans and a t-shirt, but not an old one, a white one that Gibbs was sure didn't come in a three pack. Probably would keep Gibbs in coffee for a month, what that shirt cost. Tony was smiling at the tall, willowy Goth girl jumping around and against him until he reached out and picked her up, biceps bulging, and spun her around. His head turned as if hearing a call and Gibbs watched him smile at someone nearby. Gibbs scanned the dancers and saw a tall blonde man, buzz cut hair, and bright blue eyes, dancing with another of Abby's friends, he guessed, but grinning and laughing at something as he called out to Tony.
Eyes back on Tony, Gibbs wasn't surprised to see Tony-mouth still moving, talking-start scanning the crowd himself. Tony was good—almost as good as Gibbs—at reading a crowd, and Tony liked to be aware of his surrounding as much as Gibbs did. In this case, though, Tony seemed to be looking for something or someone specific.
While he stood watching Tony, Gibbs had allowed himself to be gently buffeted by people moving past him coming or going, best way to go unnoticed. He was knocked rudely to the side, however, by a pack of giggling women squeezing between him and a nearby table. Perhaps it was the sudden move, but Tony's eyes were suddenly on his.
The minute Gibbs was out of the room, Tony threw on his clothes and left. He knew Gibbs would freak out this time, and that wasn't in his plan. As if he had one. He just had to do something, had to wipe out the memory of Voss' mouth, the scene at the bar, Gibbs eyes meeting his over the dead body lying between them. He hoped that maybe Gibbs needed him, or at the very least would want him. And he knew Gibbs felt guilty, out of control. So, he figured, he could give Gibbs control. And that was definitely some of the hottest sex of his life. And some of the sweetest. The memory of Gibbs mouth moving on his spine in the moments just before and after they...well, that was a really good memory, one that he'd replayed more than once in bed at night, hand between his legs.
And if what he wanted by going to Gibbs that night was to make an impact, it worked. He got a reaction. Where the first two times, they had continued to work without any perceptible difference, this time, Gibbs had changed how he interacted with Tony. He was cool, but not cold. He pretended not to hear things that would make him slap or touch Tony in any way, or banter. He paired them up so he wasn't with Tony as much. He brought others in on conversations he would have had with Tony alone. Oh, it was subtle. No one else noticed a thing. But Tony knew that he had affected Gibbs, or reached him, or demanded something of him, or received something. Something had happened that night that caused the man to pull back. Good. Tony thought, fiercely. Even if it meant it never happened again.
The place was crowded and there was no one to notice the two men staring at one another. Tony's dance partner had turned to include another woman in their dance and the two were now dancing together. Gibbs' attention was caught by this for a minute as the two women got close enough to qualify for entry level porn. Gibbs was no prude, and his eyes slid to Tony once again, catching the way one girl reached out for Tony's hand and slipped it around her back.
Jesus. Gibbs did not know what to make of it all. He could spend the whole day with the man and not be bothered by his antics and flirting and general Tony-ish way of being, but now...now…
he just wanted to fuck him. There was no kidding himself about this. He didn't want the women to come, so it wasn't some kinky three- or foursome fantasy. He didn't want to do it here, so he hadn't—thank Christ—stumbled upon latent exhibitionist tendencies. But in the relative dark of the club, colored lights and music pulsing all around, he had a preternatural awareness of Tony. He could smell him, as if he was standing right up against him. He could see, or envision so clearly that it was as if he was seeing, the fine detail of skin and bone and muscle as he crawled over him. Tony's cheekbones, high and prominent, were thrown into high relief by the strobes on the dance floor. Jethro wanted to rest his fingers on Tony's neck, wanted to stroke those fine bones with his thumb until Tony's eyes closed and then he wanted to force Tony to keep them open.
So lost was he in these thoughts that he watched Tony disengage from his partners—moving his eyes away from Jethro's for just the few seconds needed to leave the girls with a brush of his lips on a cheek or a shouted word in her ear—and wind his way through the crowd without anxiety, with nothing but anticipation, actually. When Tony got close, he reached out and gently moved a woman out of the way to take the last few steps to his boss. She looked up in irritation but flushed and smiled when he apologized and smiled down at her. When Tony stood before Jethro, green eyes on blue again, he was no longer perfectly confident. Gibbs thought he looked uncertain, actually. His smile was hesitant but he spoke with DiNozzo bravado.
"Tony." They had to speak up to be heard over the music.
Tony looked over his shoulder, nodded his head toward the bar. "You want a drink?" Pleased with himself for not tacking a "sailor" onto the end like he wanted to. Sexual innuendo was always his default when was nervous.
"No." Gibbs looked around for Ducky, but not finding him, allowed his eyes to go where they wanted. Tony. "Thanks." He added. Tony's eyes were bright, skin tanned against the white shirt. He looked hot and sweaty and happy. Jethro wished he was responsible for that. Fuck. What was happening to him?
Tony just stood across from him, hands jammed into his pockets. He tried again, glancing back at the dance floor. "Dance?" He grinned at Gibbs, knowing how ridiculous the offer was.
Gibbs laughed and grinned back. "Yeah, DiNozzo, that's why I came. To dance."
Tony asked, for the first time, "Why are you here?" And then answered his own question almost immediately, in unison with Gibbs. "To get Ducky."
They both looked but Ducky didn't materialize. Tony decided to bail, even though he was starting to realize for himself how sorry he was that this thing that he and Gibbs had started was over almost before it had begun. Maybe he would have handled things differently if he had it to do over again. Then again, he didn't have a whole lot of experience with setting out to have even a medium-term relationship. "Well...thanks for coming to get Ducky."
"Not a problem."
The two men fell silent, aided by how difficult it was to be heard in the noisy room. Gibbs didn't know what else to say but he didn't want to turn away either. He saw Tony shift, knew he was going to say goodbye and walk away, and Gibbs swallowed, tried to think of what to say, and then Tony smiled, a goodbye of sorts, and Gibbs couldn't even smile back, just kept his eyes on Tony as if that would keep him there a few seconds longer, but Tony was turning and Gibbs reached out, and
It was a clumsy sort of non-movement. But the second Gibbs' fingers touched Tony's, flung out as they were at the last minute to try to catch the younger man, Tony's head spun around in shock. Eyes wide, he looked at Jethro. And now, for the first time, Tony was completely still, braced. Gibbs watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed. Gibbs' wasn't even touching him anymore, but even that brief connection had sizzled through both men. Gibbs could see it in the shining eyes, narrowed a little in thought or anticipation, felt it in his stomach, low, when Tony's eyes held his again.
Gibbs finally growled out, "After this case is over, maybe we should...talk?"
And whatever he saw in Tony's face then—something new and joyous and possessive—scared the ever loving fuck out of him. But it was gone as soon as it had come. Suddenly, when Gibbs felt as unlike himself, as uncomfortable and out of his depth as he ever had, Tony seemed to regain his confidence. His shoulders relaxed and his hands came out of his pockets. He looked around the club and satisfied, apparently, by what he saw or didn't see, he moved a little bit closer, letting the crowd move him naturally forward until he could complete the motion Gibbs started, slipping his fingers into the older man's palm and squeezing a little. Leaned forward to speak close to Gibbs' ear, "Yeah. I'd like that. Ducky!" and just as easy as that, they were not touching and Tony was regaling Gibbs with a sitrep on the evening, the club, and Ducky's dance with Abby, pulling Ducky forward with an arm around his shoulder and walking them through the crowd to the door.
And Jethro could feel the heat of Tony's words on his skin still. It wasn't until much much later that night, having had one drink at Ducky's and then come home, that he sat in the dark on his back porch, thinking hard. For the first time in...well, maybe for the first time ever, the basement felt too closed in. And it was then, sitting in the old aluminum folding chair with the plaid nylon straps that came from his uncle's camp, only then, that he allowed his hand to touch his cheek, feel for the imprint of Tony's breath on his face.