Tony was restless. It had been nearly a week since he'd even gotten to talk to Gibbs privately. He shifted in his seat. "Problem?" Gibbs demanded.
"No, boss," Tony replied. He tried to focus on the paperwork in front of him.
"McGee, Ziva, head home. DiNozzo, I'm not seeing a report yet."
"It's coming, boss," Tony sighed. He rubbed his temples. The headache had been building for three days and nothing seemed to touch it. It was a tension headache, no question. McGee hesitated. He pulled his aspirin out and set them on Tony's desk. Tony looked up at him gratefully. "Thanks, McGee." He chewed a couple of the tablets, not even noticing the bitter flavor. McGee and Ziva were gone a moment later.
Tony looked up from his work to see Gibbs watching him. Their eyes met. There was no sympathy in the cold blue eyes. Oh yeah, he'd set himself up for this one. Gibbs was pissed at him and Tony knew why.
"Sorry I missed the meeting, boss. I'll finish this up. You don't have to stay." Tony tried not to wince at how small he sounded.
"I'm waiting for your report."
Tony bit his lip. The headache throbbed behind his eyes in spite of the drugs. God, he needed a drink and a massage, not necessarily in that order. He rubbed uselessly at the back of his neck, imagining the smack he'd get if he asked Gibbs for a rub-down right now. Gibbs was standing in front of his desk a moment later. "Boss?"
"Never, never miss a meeting without my express permission, DiNozzo."
"Yes, boss." There was no question of that happening ever again. He never wanted to see that look on Gibbs' face again, even though this time had been a mistake. He hated budget meetings, but he hated disappointing Gibbs more.
"Go home, Tony," Gibbs said more gently. "Sleep off the migraine."
Tony blinked at the change. "Thanks," he said quietly. He grabbed his gear and left without looking back. Bourbon or beer? he asked himself. By the time he got home, he felt as if his ears should be bleeding. He laid down on the couch and tried to sleep. There were no windows in his living room, so the light could be more easily controlled.
He woke a few hours later, shaking from the nightmares. He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. He pulled his gun and cradled it next to his heart. He pulled his feet up onto the couch and closed his eyes. He shivered hearing indistinct voices and muffled thumps from the apartment above him. He couldn't take it tonight. He got his coat and went out to the car. It wasn't his beautiful baby anymore and that hurt. He still missed that car. He drove. He didn't know where he was heading until he was half-way to Gibbs' house. He snorted at his own sub-conscious. Even angry, Gibbs meant safety.
Tony slipped into the house, toeing his shoes off onto the mat. He drifted towards the basement. He could hear the television and the rasp of the sandpaper. Gibbs was here and safe and alive. Tony finally settled on the couch. He closed his eyes to cut out the soft light of the lamp on the end-table. "What's wrong, Tony?" Gibbs asked. With his eyes closed, Tony could smell the sawdust and sweat.
"I'm not sure. I just. . . it was come here or play with my gun and I know you hate that."
The sofa shifted as Gibbs sat down. The older man's hand wrapped around the back of his neck and tugged until Tony was laying with his head in Gibbs' lap. Gibbs petted the younger man's hair. "Nightmares?"
"Yeah. Sorry, boss, I'll go home. I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Jeffrey. Kate. My partner Lewis from Peoria. The suicide I couldn't save in Philly. God, Gibbs. I'm such a fucking mess."
"Yeah, well, you're my mess."
"You're anal retentive."
Gibbs snorted. "You never let it affect your work on a case." He ruffled Tony's hair. The tension started to drain away. "Tell me."
"I can still smell the blood sometimes. It's like I can't get it off of me." Gibbs stayed quiet and Tony found that more comforting than anything he could have said. "I don't regret shooting Jeffrey, but I really did like him. He said. . . he said I was the first person who treated him well. He didn't want to kill me any more than I wanted to kill him. Two people playing under-cover roles and we still shared more truth than I've shared with my best friends."
Tony fell silent, waiting for the question. It took him a few minutes to realize that Gibbs wasn't going to push him. He turned his head to press his face more firmly against the old sweats. They smelled of sawdust. He didn't remember when that had become a comforting smell. "He told me about his father hurting him. And I. . . I told him my father was too drunk to hurt anyone. But that's only partly true. He never hit me." Gibbs' fingers tensed and released as if he were scratching behind the ears of a particularly lazy cat. That was fine with Tony, he liked the kneading motion.
"I was thinking about Lewis. About watching them dismember his body. They thought he was trying to get me to turn evidence against the family. God, Gibbs." Tony felt the tears drip from his eyes. "I tried to stop them; tried to talk them out of killing him. I tried to convince my boss that I could get him to be a department mole for us. He wouldn't listen and Lewis wouldn't listen to me when I told him to get out." Tony pulled his knees up to his chest. "I'm useless."
"Tony." Gibbs' voice was calm. "You did all you could for him."
"I should have done more!"
"Blown the op? Killed someone?"
"Maybe." Tony's voice sounded wrong to his own ears. Gibbs stroked his hair gently.
"You made the right choice. He made his choice too. You have to let it go, kiddo."
"I'm not that controlled, boss." Gibbs' fingers tugged in light reproof. "Jethro," Tony corrected himself. They were friends here, that mean first names. He smiled into the soft cotton under his face. "God, I wish I could just shut it off. It's too late to get a date."
Gibbs' hand settled warm and comforting against Tony's cheek. He rubbed against it like an overgrown cat. "Is that why you go out?"
"Rather have fun than spend all my time in the office." Gibbs' finger brushed against the corner of Tony's lips and Tony turned to place a kiss on the work-roughened pad of it. "Or watching television."
"You're flirting again," Gibbs said mildly.
"Habit. You don't mind?"
"Never have. You want to come downstairs or should I tuck you in?"
"I don't trust myself alone right now," Tony replied. "Stay with me?"
"The guest room bed is small."
"I wasn't planning on the guest room. Heck, we could just stay like this for a little while?"
"Yeah. I miss the cat."
"My first wife had a cat. Irritating little thing. It meowed if it didn't get attention. It scratched the sofa and attacked the rugs."
"Why do you miss it? Sounds like it was a pain in the ass."
"It was," Gibbs admitted. "But it was cute and warm and didn't mind sitting with me when I wanted to read and not talk."
"Softened you up for me, huh?" The younger man's eyes were starting to close. There was something nice about being petted, surrounded by the soft scent of wood and what he knew as Gibbs without thinking about it. Gibbs' fingers were stroking him again.
"You gonna purr for me, Tony?"
There was something in the tone that invoked a warmth that curled through the cop's stomach. "You want me too?" He made a little "grrr" sound and Gibbs chuckled. "You have all night to stop that."
"Petting or laughing?"
"Either. I like both of them."
"You getting sappy on me?"
"Nah, not me." Tony arched into the fingers that stroked his neck. "God, that feels good."
"Yeah, I am." Tony felt the smile slide onto his face. He whimpered as Gibbs moved down to start a gentle massage of his back.
"You're too tense, Tony. You need to relax. Come on. Upstairs. Let me do this properly." The young man smiled as he forced himself upright. "Don't look at me with that smile."
"Because I might do more than give you a rubdown if you keep that up."
The smile grew wider. "Really?"
Gibbs laughed, shaking his head. "Do you really have to keep breaking all my rules?"
"Rules are made to be broken, Jethro. Especially rules about the heart." The former Marine gripped the back of Tony's neck. "But never at work," Tony added. Jethro smiled at him, making his heart flutter. "Make me stop thinking?"
"Upstairs." Gibbs steered Tony into the master bedroom. "Now get that suit off before it chokes you." Tony did as he was told, hanging the suit up carefully so as not to get lectured on neatness. By the time he looked back there was a beach towel across the bed. He did his best not to react to the fact that Gibbs was checking him out. "Lay down, arms at your sides so I can get that knot out of your back."
"You offer Ziva that last time she was here?"
Gibbs frowned. "She hasn't been here."
"You are a shitty liar, boss." The nickname earned him a smack to the head. It was comforting, familiar, and he'd never let Gibbs know that.
"We'll talk about that later. No work in here."
"Right, Jethro." Tony snuggled into the bed, wondering idly which of Gibbs' women had bought it. Jethro would never have bought anything so decadent on his own. Then, the cool touch of oil was followed by Gibbs' strong fingers. The calloused tips were familiar. They were as unforgiving as steel as they dug at his shoulders. He whimpered as the muscles released their tensions. His mind drifted. Lewis' body was the image that decided to torture him. He opened his eyes with a gasp, disoriented, breathing hard.
"It's just me, Tony. You're safe."
"I'm going to get you killed," Tony whispered. "And you won't even wear your god-damned jacket." He tried to pull his hands up, but Jethro's fingers wrapped around his upper arms and held him in place. "Everyone I care about dies."
"You are not responsible for Lewis' death. You are not responsible for Kate's death. I will not let you take on that guilt."
"What are you going to do? Order me to forget it! I can't."
"No, I am ordering you to *not* take responsibility for things beyond your control. You did not pull the trigger."
Tony sighed. "I killed Jeffrey. Talking to Lewis got him killed."
Gibbs growled and Tony shivered. "From what I read in the reports, Lewis made the decision to stay with the op even after you told him his cover was blown. Is that true?"
"You are not to blame for his actions. He should have disappeared. Hell, they should have pulled you out."
"It was too important. Besides, the boss thought I was a little slow." Gibbs' grip gentled and he went back to the kneading motion that would release the tight muscle between Tony's shoulder-blades. It was all Tony could do to shove a lid over those memories.
"Tell me about it. Whatever you can, just tell me."
"God, Jethro, let it go."
"Not until you do."
"It was just a bad op, that's all."
"I went in as Nino Fritelli. Nino wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was a good boy and followed orders. By the end of two months he'd managed to become Manny Leoni's most trusted runner. Nino couldn't read, but he could move packages and didn't shy away from roughing people up now and then. They said everything in front of me, boss. Manny would just chuckle and pat my cheek and send me off for my next job. He had me there as a body-guard when he didn't trust the lieutenant he was talking to." Tony shivered. "I passed on more information than anyone thought I'd get in that short of a time. By the end of six months, he barely went anywhere without me. Then, one day he found me talking to Lewis. Just bullshitting over a beer while I was waiting for him to come out of the rowhouse we were visiting. His old aunt I think."
Tony shuddered and the words stuck in his throat. "'He just wants to talk to me, boss,' I told him. 'Maybe he's just a nice guy.' He laughed at me and patted my cheek. He let him live that time. I left him a message in the drop not to talk to me again. He didn't listen and Manny nabbed him. They shot him in both knees to start with. Then Manny told him that he would die slowly because he was a dishonorable man."
"Why?" Gibbs asked in the quiet that had fallen.
"Because it was obvious that Nino was a little slow and he was trying to use him. If I'd been one of his lieutenants, he'd have just shot him in the head. But he thought he had to protect me, like I was his kid." This time Gibbs let Tony move his hand to wipe at his tears.
"And why do you insist on making that your fault? Would it have made sense to go in a different way?"
"No, he wouldn't have trusted a smart man. He didn't trust me too much, but when you're the one that takes out the trash, you have access to a lot of shit. He thought I couldn't read."
"And that if it came down to it, his lawyers could prove that you didn't understand the Miranda warning."
"Yeah." Tony sniffled. "God, boss. I was so jumpy that Manny wouldn't let anyone carry a gun around me for a month. I kept waiting for the bullet to my brain. And all I could see was them hacking away at his body before they dumped it. He was a good guy. And there wasn't even a finger to bury! His wife didn't have anything to put in the ground and nothing but my word on what happened."
Gibbs fingers moved a little lower down as Tony tried to force away the tears. "Just let it out. Let it go, Tony." The soft whisper was close enough to stir the hair on his neck and he turned his head more. He got a soft kiss on the cheek. "It's okay to let it out."
"It won't be over until that bastard is dead, but that's not going to happen. He's just going to linger like a malignant stench." Gibbs' fingers were soothing, stroking. "You really do want me to purr."
"Oh, like that?"
"Yeah. Jethro?" Tony hated the fact that his voice was suddenly trembling. "Do I have to remember any more?"
"No. Hush, Tony. Just focus on my touch. I'll make you feel better. I'll put you so sleep."
"Is that all?"
"What else do you want?"
"I want to curl up next to you and stroke your cock until you come in my hand so I can watch you and store away the memories. Tomorrow, I want to kiss you senseless before I head into work."
Jethro groaned. "You are going to be the death of me, but damn I'm going to go happy."
Tony laughed, voice sounding rough to his own ears. "Better a heart attack than a bullet, babe."
A gentle kiss to the back of Tony's neck was his undoing. The tension ran out of his shoulders and he really started to feel the stretch of each muscle. He groaned a little when the talented, skillful fingers found a sore spot. A sharp slap to his hip woke him up a little bit later. He rolled onto his side. His lips curled up into a soft smile. Gibbs took the towel out of the way, then settled down on the bed. Tony cuddled next to him. Gibbs's hand stroked through his hair until he gave him a tired, teasing "rrrr."
"Go to sleep, Tony. I'm here."
"Told you what I wanted to do."
"You need to sleep."
Tony stroked down Jethro's chest, ruffling the grey hair there, with one finger. He swirled his finger around his belly-button. Then, he moved it lower until he was playing with the waist-band of Gibbs' BVDs. He stroked the rapidly hardening cock through the slit on the front. "This would be easier if there wasn't all this fabric in the way." That earned a soft chuckle.
"You're supposed to be falling asleep right now."
"Told you. I want to see you come and lick you off of my fingers so I fall asleep surrounded by you." The cock he was tormenting stiffened. A small groan worked out of his partner's lips. He nuzzled the softly furred chest. He was too tired to keep teasing and pulled the fabric out of the way so he could get a better grip on the warm, hard flesh. "I love the way you smell, sawdust, sweat, and coffee."
"You like sawdust?" Gibbs tried to keep his voice light, but there was a strain in it that made Tony grin.
"On you." Tony's hand worked Jethro's cock gently. "I love the way you taste, the slightly bitter flavor that suits your personality so well. I like the sound of your heart and the little growling sound you make if I try to move away in the middle of the night. I love the whine in the back of your throat when you get close to coming." The younger man lapped at the nipple that was closest to where he was sleeping. Gibbs groaned when Tony ran his thumb over the head of the very ready cock.
"Tony, I'm going to. . . just a little harder, please."
Tony shivered. Gibbs saying please was enough to make him ready to come himself. He did as he was requested and jerked a little harder. Gibbs arched and the sticky fluid pulsed out over Tony's hand and Gibbs' stomach. Tony licked his hand clean, eyes closed. He felt Jethro's hand close around his cock gently. The man always treated him gently, like he'd break if he was too rough. "I'm not fragile."
"Of course not."
"I mean it, Gibbs. I'm not."
"Maybe I like taking it slow, Tony. Maybe I like watching the flush work into your face and hearing the little whimpers when I won't speed up."
Tony groaned. "You're going to torture me." Gibbs' hand didn't move any faster or more roughly. He continued his gentle, slow strokes. Tony whimpered, hips thrusting into the gentle grip. "Jethro," Tony said, voice rough, "please." He panted in his breaths, fingers tugging on his lover's hair. "Please," he begged, eyes closed, mouth open, flush building across his body. Jethro stopped moving. "Bastard."
"Yeah, I am." Gibbs' started his rhythm again and Tony groaned into the chest that was now cradling his head. When Jethro finally let him climax, he didn't have enough energy to cry out. He gave a contented sigh and felt the chuckle in his lover's chest. "Sleep well, Tony."
"Night, 'ro," he mumbled, eyes already closed and breath deepening. "Love you."