Distress

Chapter 8: Talk

The case took a week to solve and it was after eighteen hundred hours on the next Friday evening when Gibbs finally let the team go with orders not to come back to work until Tuesday. Tony left with the others, but then reappeared a few minutes later, walking slowly to a stop next to his own desk to square a pile of papers on the corner. He glanced over at the only person left working.

Gibbs was watching, and when their eyes met, he asked the silent question.

"Told them I forgot something."

Gibbs nodded. Waited.

Tony still had his backpack on and his right hand was toying with the edges of the papers, but he finally got out, "You wanted to talk. Should I come over tomorrow?"

Not one person in a million could have seen that Gibbs made his decision in that moment. Tony felt it in his bones.

"Tonight." Gibbs checked his watch, missing the way a little of the tension left Tony's body. "My place at 9?"

Tony checked the time for himself, flipping his phone open, wondering if he should offer to wait.

"Got a problem with that, DiNozzo?"

"No, no problem, boss. Gibbs. I guess I'll just...see you there." And he spun around, went back into the still open elevator, and to avoid Gibbs' eyes, looked up at the ceiling while the doors closed.


Tony drove home and changed, on autopilot, trying not to think about the upcoming talk. Work this week had been reassuring, more normal than the week before. Gibbs had even complimented him once, which was nice, but otherwise had been his usual gruff, straightforward, all-knowing self.

The car was in the drive, and so when Tony got to Gibbs' house, he let himself in through the unlocked door. More lights were on than usual...kitchen, hall, and living room, plus he could see the glow from the basement and light coming from upstairs. He listened but didn't hear anything, no clue as to where Gibbs was. He was betting on the basement and headed for the partially opened door just as he heard footsteps padding down the steps from upstairs.

"Gibbs?"

"Right here." Gibbs appeared. He had on an old t-shirt and even older jeans, old enough that they weren't as baggy as some of his newer ones. They looked good. He looked good, and Tony knew he was in trouble.

"You want to grab us a couple of beers?"

"Sure." Squelched the automatic response. I'm on it. Too much like work.

When he returned, Gibbs was standing by the couch. Tony handed him two beers and Gibbs smiled a little. "You figure this is a two-beer talk?"

Tony returned the smile and said, "I figure it might be a more than two-beer talk. But if it is, we're probably going to want to go get the bourbon."

Gibbs nodded but his smile hadn't lingered. He seemed serious and kind of distracted. Tony wondered if maybe this was how Gibbs did nervous. Not an emotion he had seen in Gibbs often. Ever? In any case, Tony didn't blame him. Looking around, Tony sat on the edge of one of the upholstered living room chairs, pulling it closer to the couch and placing his spare beer on the coffee table. Gibbs sat across from him, on the front edge of the couch, as if he might get up at any moment, but he left the coffee table where it was so that there was nothing blocking the space between them. Tony took this as a good sign.

"So. We are going to talk. You invited me here to talk."

Gibbs nodded, but didn't say anything. He finally said, "I don't know how to start. Maybe we should forget it. This was a bad idea." He started to stand.

Tony stayed where he was, having half expected this, but held calming hands up. "Gibbs. Gibbs. Just...just talk to me the way you usually would, okay?"

Gibbs—impossible to think of him as Gibbs in this moment—sat back down slowly, rolled his eyes. "When do we talk like this at work?"

"Just sit down. Ask what you want to know. Say what you want to say. Bark, growl. Just don't head slap me."

Gibbs seem to think about that. Lifted the beer to his lips and polished the first beer off. Dropped the empty onto a side table and shifted himself on the couch again. His ass was just barely on the edge and his hands rubbed a single path down his thighs before stilling. Practically fireworks, in Gibbs' body language. "How many...how have...have you been... with...men before?"

Tony answered right away, openly. "Never more than one night. So really, just sex. But I don't think that we would be here now, talking, if what we were...are...doing...is just sex." He met Gibbs's eyes with a question in his own, "Right?"

He had to give the man credit. Barely a pause. "Right."

Then there was a long pause. Gibbs said, "Your turn."

"My turn?"

"Yeah. Your turn."

Tony decided not to fight this battle. "Okaaaay...have you been with women since that first night?"

"Yes. Three times."

"Three times!?"

"Yes, three times. I wanted to check. You didn't, haven't?"

"Well, yeah, but I just didn't expect you...I just didn't know that you had."

Gibbs seemed genuinely confused. "How would you know?"

"I don't know, I'm an investigator. I just figured I would see you, I don't know, getting picked up or making a call or something."

"What about you?"

"Actually, now that I think about it...three times."

"Only three? It's been months."

"Yeah, well…" Tony felt defensive all of a sudden. "I...didn't accept every offer. In fact, I haven't accepted any since the second time we were together."

Gibbs was unreadable and his response was equally uninformative. "Huh."

Unsure of what to make of that, Tony continued on to the second part of his question, "So, was the sex any different those three times? Oh, and same woman or different women?" A thought occurred to him, "You weren't with any...men...were you?"

"No!"

"Okay okay, I just wanted to—"

"What about you?"

"No, no men. Honestly, Gibbs, I've only ever been with a handful of men, maybe 5, most in college, only once since I moved to D.C."

"Okay. Well, two different women. And about the quality of the sex. I would say that it was…the same. The same sex has always been for me since...since—"

Tony swallowed and took the step. "Shannon?"

Gibbs had continued to sit forward on the edge of the couch, elbows on knees. Now, he let his head drop between his shoulders and sighed, almost in relief. "Yeah. Sex is just sex since then. With my exes—" He interrupted himself, glanced up at Tony. "Honestly, I thought I was past all this."

Tony couldn't keep the horrified shock from his voice. "You thought you were past sex?"

Gibbs grunted, amused, and ran a hand over his face, "No, not sex. Just being at the mercy of it." He continued to speak even as his fingers massaged his forehead a little, like he was getting a headache. Tony wasn't sure he'd ever seen Gibbs give so much away in his body language, and he watched and listened, fascinated, even as he wondered which way this would break for him. "I figure this is one of two things. Casual. Or," he barely paused, "serious." The bright blue eyes were cold on his...defensive maybe? Tony continued to catalogue Gibbs' reactions even as he responded to his words.

"There is a third option." His own voice was hoarse, he noted. Tight with his own nervousness. He wanted this. More than he was comfortable with. So he couldn't leave it hanging out there. "We just stop now."

For the first time tonight there was no hesitation from Gibbs. "Not an option."

"What? Why?" Neither had looked away but still Gibbs moved so fast that Tony was almost surprised when he felt the heat of the other man's mouth on his, so welcome after weeks of abstinence. Lips sliding and pressing, hard, aggressive, against his own, tongue licking into his mouth, the taste of Gibbs. In the end, it was the calloused warmth, strength, of Gibbs' hand cupping his face that drew a small needy sound from Tony. At the sound, Gibbs drew away, sat back down. Again, very few people could have read the look in Gibbs' cool eyes, his calm face. Smug bastard.

With no other option but croaking, Tony cleared his throat, picked up an earlier thread rather than answering the latest question. "Your exes—?"

A small pause while Gibbs picked up his train of thought. "For a long time now sex has been...just sex. With the wives it was both a little better and a little worse."

Tony must have looked confused because Gibbs elaborated.

"Better cause it's always better once you know what the other person likes, but worse because I was always thinking. I just couldn't...lose myself." He looked up at Tony and for the first time, Tony felt like Gibbs was going to say something real. Something he wanted to say instead of something he felt he had to say. He held his breath and made sure that his expression was open, non-judgmental, and that he didn't blink. "I didn't know I wanted to. I didn't know I missed it, losing myself in another person. I...I didn't know. Until I had it again." The other man looked like he had stopped short of finishing his thought.

"With me." Tony said.

Gibbs didn't drop his head this time, but his shoulders slumped a little and he softly rasped out an affirmative. "Yeah."

"Hey, Gibbs?"

"Yeah?"

"I know we are supposed to be talking right now but could we take a break?"

"What? This...don't you want to—" Tony stood but didn't straighten, just leaned forward from where he had sat across from the other man and pressed his lips to Gibbs'.

And it was sweet. This kiss didn't seek to make a point, to compel. It was an answer to a question, and it was so sweet that neither man knew what to do next. Tony's hands and arms were held out at his sides, uncertain of where to land or what to do, afraid of any touch but the one where everything between them had risen up. Gibbs's body was frozen in place but his mouth was mobile and welcoming. He made his own little sound of pleasure and pushed forward a little even as he opened his mouth in invitation. Tony thought that he was starting to see that this was such a Gibbs thing to do, to be demanding and giving at the same time. Both men thought briefly that the taste of the other was now familiar, comforting and arousing both.

When the kiss ended, and neither man could have said who ended it, they parted just enough to be able to look each other in the eyes. Tony suddenly felt the stress of holding his body in a hunched position and moved to sit next to Gibbs on the couch, changed his mind at a panicked look from the older man, and went back to his position across from him.

"Okay, so do you want to know what I think?"

"Yes, Jesus I hope you have some idea of what to do next." The frustration in Gibbs's voice was almost funny, and Tony snorted a little.

"You, letting me lead? Has hell frozen over?"

At the glint in Gibbs' eye, Tony raised an eyebrow in warning. "No head slaps at home." Home. The word had impact, but Tony ignored it, plowed ahead. "Let's assume for a minute that we are going to keep...exploring...this...thing between us."

Gibbs gave a short nod.

"So maybe we should have some rules, rules that would give us some idea of what to expect maybe."

"What kind of rules?" Gibbs said with brutal honesty, "Like the one we are breaking?"

"We're not dating."

Gibbs expression said he was willing to break the rule, not pretend that he wasn't breaking it. Tony forged ahead.

"Well, obviously, we keep our personal rel— connection, out of the office, out of work."

"Meaning secret?"

"Well, that would be a separate rule I think. Even if we told someone, we still wouldn't want it to affect work, right?"

"Yes. So #1. Keep it separate from work."

"What about secret?"

Gibbs paused before answering. "How about for now. I don't know, Tony—"

"Okay, that's fair. Rule #2. Private between us until or if we change that."

Gibbs had one. "#3. Only on weekends."

"What? Why?"

"That'll help keep it out of the office." Tony seemed disappointed but agreed.

"Alright." Tony's turn. "No spending the night."

"What? Why not?"

"I never spend the night."

"Never?"

"There have been a few times where circumstances drew things out, but never at my own place."

This seemed throw Gibbs like nothing had until now. "Really?"

Tony raised his voice, stood up, suddenly panicked, "Gibbs if this is a problem, then maybe we shouldn't do this—"

Gibbs stood up too, hands out, "No, no, fine, Tony. If it's important you, but here's my own line:: no one else. I don't know where this is going but if you want to be with someone else, you will tell me. And this'll be over." He waved his hand between them, didn't seem angry. "No harm, no foul. I know you flirt and will still be...well, you, and that's okay. I trust you." Tony didn't think Gibbs had ever actually said the words before. I mean, he knew it, he was pretty sure, had been sure, but hearing it was good. "But if you want something else, someone else, you tell me."

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Yeah, fine. Sit down?"

Gibbs slowly sunk onto the couch again. Tony sat back down on his chair. "What about sex?"

"What about sex?" Gibbs seemed genuinely confused.

"Well, do you have any...concerns...about the sex?"

"Tony, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Well, guy/guy sex is...different...than guy/girl sex and I thought maybe—"

Gibbs snorted, but was a little pink in the face. "Tony, sex got us into this mess. I think we're doing okay. We'll figure it out."

Tony felt surprisingly buoyed by this assertion. "Oh. Well, okay then. So any other rules?"

"Not that I can think of right now." Tony stood, holding out a hand to keep Gibbs in place and walked around the coffee table to sit next to him. Gibbs had the same wary look he had before but this time Tony didn't let it stop him. He sat close, so their legs were touching, but sat on the couch cushion, comfortably leaning back. After a minute, looking at Tony over his shoulder, Gibbs shrugged and scooted back so that they were shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh.

Tony leaned his head back and blew out a deep breath, trying to relax. He considered taking Gibbs's hand but thought it would feel weird. Not too weird for him but maybe for Gibbs. Gibbs. Jethro? Damn, this was strange. He turned his head instead, enjoying the close up view of the other man's profile. When Gibbs didn't turn to look at him though, and in fact, seemed deep in thought, Tony leaned his head back again and closed his eyes.

With his eyes shut, Tony's whole world narrowed to the warmth at shoulder, arm, hip, thigh. He could smell the other man: deodorant, wood, coffee, sweat...no fresh scent of soap or shampoo, so he hadn't showered. He could hear Gibbs's breathing, deep and even. He felt himself relaxing, thinking he hadn't even needed the second beer which was probably warm now anyway.

He was so relaxed, he was truly surprised when Gibbs kissed him.

"Shhhhh." Gibbs murmured when Tony jumped. "Keep your eyes closed." Helpless against the feel of Gibbs's mouth, his low-voiced order, Tony subsided but he could feel his heart beating wildly, felt the surge of desire sweep through him, felt the triumph and excitement at being with the other man again, without feeling like it might all stop at any moment.

"Okay. Gibbs." The lips against his smiled and pressed a little harder. "You're in charge." Harder still, but then Gibbs backed off. Tony sensed the muscles in Gibbs' body tense as the other man leaned over farther, and Tony shivered as the calloused pads of the older man's fingers slipped behind Tony's neck, pushed under the neck of his shirt to touch the sensitive skin of his upper back. Tony arched a little, letting out an involuntary moan and Gibbs took advantage to really kiss him.

Fuck but the man could kiss. Strong lips drew out his tongue, sucked on each of his lips in turn. Gibbs's tongue was quick and hungry, and while his left hand braced against Tony's shoulder, his right cupped his face and pressed into his jaw, forcing Tony to open his mouth wider. Even as Gibbs took everything Tony had to give, and more, his right hand travelled up to touch along his eyelid, along his temple, down the side of his face to stroke lightly behind his ear. Gibbs drew the kiss to a close with smaller, almost more intimate kisses, sipping and teasing, as if he couldn't stay away. Like he wanted to move away, but couldn't. Tony was glad his eyes were shut because he felt the prick of tears. Gibbs's mouth moved to follow his fingers, making their circuit again. Eyelid, temple, down his face to kiss and nuzzle under his ear, down his neck.

When Gibbs opened his mouth over the hollow of Tony's throat, his hand slipped under Tony's t-shirt to touch his belly, to travel lightly up his side, to pass over the hardened point of his nipples until Tony couldn't stay passive any longer, sitting up and dipping his own head to initiate another kiss.

And now Tony did take Gibbs's hand, standing and pulling the other man up with him, slipping his own hands under Gibbs's shirt, pulling until their chests were straining against one another and hot hands explored and teased until they both panted with need.

"Stay here." Gibbs commanded against Tony's mouth. The feel of his lips, soft and slightly chapped, rubbing against his own, made Tony shiver. He stayed, watching Gibbs stalk around downstairs, turning off all the lights but the kitchen, even locking the door, before coming back to Tony, giving him one last choice.

"If you aren't upstairs in twenty seconds, I'm going to fuck you right here."

Tony smiled, unafraid.

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