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Rescue Pup - Chapter 13

Page history last edited by nate 10 years, 10 months ago

A/N: This fic isn't abandoned but it's giving my muse some difficulties - please be patient and I'll hopefully get back too it soon :)





Chapter 13



Tony woke slowly, surrounded on all sides by comforting warmth.  He hummed and shifted, suddenly becoming aware that the warmth under half of him was more solid than a mattress.  His fingers curled and gathered in a handful of t-shirt.  There was a moment of panic that was soothed by the steady rhythm of the heart in the chest under his ear.   A slow smile settled on his face. 


The warmth behind him shifted and an arm that was slung around his waist tightened slightly then relaxed.   The brunette’s smile grew.  They’d fallen asleep and he’d had a sound sleep, he didn’t recall any nightmares and from the light that filtered through the curtains, he figured he’d slept fairly late too.


He was content to just lay there and enjoy the moment.  He couldn’t help but reflect on the day before, it had been so much fun; so relaxed and comfortable like they were a real family.  He shifted slightly, certain parts of his body suddenly reminding him of the hot body he was pressed against.  He tried to ignore it; half hoping it would go away if he didn’t pay it any attention.  


The threatening hard-on didn’t go away but it didn’t get any worse.  That was until the warm hand that was wrapped around him started to run up and down his side.  He bit down on a groan.  Was Abby awake or was she acting as she would with Gibbs? Perhaps in her unconscious state she actually thought he was Gibbs.  That could be awkward.  He didn’t realise that the worry of that had caused him to tense up. 


The hand that had been rubbing his side shifted and started to rub soothing circles on the back of his shoulder. Soft lips pressed against the back of his neck.


“Ssh, bro, relax, it’s fine,” her soft whisper tickled his ear.


Abby was awake and the realisation of that did wonders to relax him back into his waking state.  He gave a soft sigh of relaxation and snuggled into Jethro’s chest.  He could almost hear the smug smile from behind. 


It was so quiet and peaceful like that, that the steady heart beat soothed him back into a light doze. 


Tony awoke again some time later to a large hand gently running through his hair.  He took a deep breath and let it go with a hum of appreciation at the touch. 


Gibbs’ lips tugged up into a smile.  There could be nothing more perfect than waking up with his pup in his arms and his girl managing to somehow curl around a bit of each of them.  It was Sunday and they didn’t have to move, he was grateful for that.  He was also more than aware of the fact that they hadn’t been woken up by the whimpering and pained moaning that had been the mark of Tony’s nightmares during his time sleeping in the snug.


“Mornin’, Pup,” Gibbs rumbled quietly, his hand not stilling in its motion.


Tony smiled and shifted to look up at him. “Morning, Boss.”  Then he realised the absence of his rear heater and asked with a slight frown, “Where’s Abs?”


“She had to use the bathroom so since she was up she went to make breakfast.  Well, more like brunch,” Gibbs told him with an easy smile.  “You sleep ok?”


The brunette smiled, sub-consciously pushing into the petting hand. “Yeah, like a log.” 


“Good, you needed it.”


They were quiet for a few moments, just enjoying the comforting touches.


“Y’know any time you want you can sleep in with us.  You’re not restricted to the snug or your room,” Gibbs told him.


Tony felt his cheeks heat slightly and was torn between pushing more into the petting hand and burying his face in the warm chest.  


Sensing the sudden uncertainty, Jethro brought his other hand up to tilt Tony’s chin up to meet his eyes.  “Mean it, pup. You’re family now, and this is as much your bed as ours.”


The brunette nodded slowly, taking deep breaths to keep himself calm and feeding off the peaceful, steady energy.  He gave a small smile, “I’ll try to remember that.”


Gibbs gave a small nod back, “We’ll remind ya, don’t worry ‘bout that.”





(A few days later)



“I really liked her,” Tony said sadly.


“ATF agent involved in illegal weapons and murder, what’s not to like?” Kate asked sarcastically.


Tony looked up at her from putting things away in his desk, before looking back down.  “So, quick to judge, Kate,” he said shaking his head.


“Sure, she has flaws, sure she’s going to prison,” he walked around his desk and sat on the one next to it looking at Kate, “but my instincts told me that she has good qualities as well.”


“Two of them wouldn’t happen to live under her shirt, would they?” Kate asked with amusement.


He stood and crossed to stand in front of her desk across from her, talking seriously, “You’re not going to believe this but, when it comes to women, I actually look for more complex things under the surface.”


“Really?” she asked almost sarcastically.


“Really!” Tony confirmed.


“Like when you were tonguing that he-she a couple of weeks ago?” Kate asked snidely, “lots of complex things under that surface.”


Tony’s smile remained but his eyes darkened with hurt before his smile fell away completely.  “I gotta go,” he said and turned back to his desk to pick up his rucksack.


Kate watched with a smug triumphant smirk on her face.


Grabbing his rucksack up, he was already hurrying away from his desk as he swung it up onto his back and almost bumped into Gibbs heading towards them from the elevator with a cup of coffee in his hand.  Gibbs narrowly dodged out of the way looking back after Tony as he left in hurried silence. 


Shaking his head as he walked passed Kate he asked seriously, “What’s wrong with DiNozzo?”


She looked up from her desk, sat back in her seat and replied smugly, “He’s conflicted.”


Gibbs didn’t reply, barely even really registered her comment, he simply turned his attention to the computer programme that was running on his workstation in his search for an identity for the terrorist that had infiltrated their building.


Tony half hoped that Gibbs would turn around and follow him, or at least wait a suitable sense of time before gathering his own things and heading home.  He was disappointed when his boss still hadn’t come home nearly three hours later.  He needed to be grounded, needed to be told that who he was and what he wanted was ok.  Abby was concerned about him but he couldn’t explain it to her the same and so he’d shut himself away in his room.


At first he’d paced back and forth, then he’d showered, and then he’d paced some more.   Kate just didn’t get it, he didn’t have a problem with Voss being a transsexual, it was the fact she was a murderer that had grossed him out, that she’d killed an NCIS agent.  But now, now he was having his own crisis, the way she said it implied there was something so fundamentally wrong with him wanting to be with a man and he couldn’t take that.  Just like he couldn’t take it the first time she’d had the dig at him. 


He’d had hateful things spouted at him before when his sexual preference had been found out.  Try being a bisexual jock in school and see how quickly you get used to fighting your corner.  No time to get all emotional about it.  But this was different.  Firstly, they were adults and secondly they were friends.  A person’s opinion always counted more when they were a friend.  Their friendship was based on mutual teasing, they were like siblings and he trusted her to have his back.  So while he expected teasing, because lets face it the great profiler Caitlin Todd had no idea he was remotely bisexual, he hadn’t been prepared for the undisguised disgust in her voice.  She was more disgusted in what he’d done than Tony himself was even with their different reasons.  That had hurt.


Since their wonderful family weekend, Gibbs had become distant and obsessed once again with finding the terrorist who’d held Ducky, Gerald and Kate hostage.  They were all angry about it, hell he’d shot Gibbs, but they hadn’t let it take over their lives.   Tony was floundering without the steady reassurance.  Even though Abby did her best to be there for him she wasn’t quite as good at pulling him back together when he was feeling like he would fly apart at the seams.


He paced the floor again before sitting down in his spot, back to the wall facing the door.  They may have decorated his room, it might be totally his now, but that little habit was hard to break. It was comfort, security, it was his spot. He was at a loss as to what to do, pulling his knees up under his chin and wrapping his arms around them. 


Abby was worried about her subbie bro.  He’d come home unhappy, agitated by something and then he’d shut himself in his room and not come out.  She’d tried knocking to ask him if he was hungry, she’d tried asking if he wanted to talk about it and had finally settled on just telling him that she loved him and that if he needed her she was there.  If she wasn’t so worried then she would feel rejected by him.


She was annoyed at Gibbs, it was late and he hadn’t come home again.  Her family was struggling.  With determination she picked up the phone and dialled his cell.  It took a while to be answered, he was either not near the phone or had been trying to decide whether or not to answer it.


When it finally picked up she launched into it, “Leroy Jethro Gibbs, I don’t care what this piece of crap did to your team, right now *you* are the biggest threat to our happiness. While you sit at work waiting for a goddamn hit your family is at home falling apart.  If you don’t get your ass home right this minute then there won’t be a home to come home to because you’ll lose us!”




“I don’t want to hear it, Gibbs, Tony needs you…has needed you for hours, and you aren’t here for him…he’s coming apart at the seams and you’re too caught up in that creep, giving him exactly what he wants,” Abby cut him off as shw continued to rant at him.


At the mention of Tony, he straightened, he’d wondered if something was wrong when the younger man had almost run into him as he was leaving, but he’d quickly put it out of his mind.  Abby was right, he’d let the computer programme consume his thoughts once again.


“I’ll be there as soon as I can, Princess,” he told her even as he was grabbing his jacket and heading for the elevator.


Tony was used to the floor but after a while it had stopped being very comfortable, so he’d got up and stared at his bed for a few long minutes.  He replayed the conversation over in his head…it was his bed and he could sleep in it when he wanted, there were no rules.  He climbed up on it in just his shorts and T-shirt and curled up in a ball at the furthest point from the door.


That was exactly how Gibbs found him twenty minutes later. He’d stood outside the door and listened and when he’d heard no movement he gently pushed it open to find Tony curled up on the bed.  He was asleep and shivering slightly.  Jethro silently slipped his jacket down his arms and off and draped it over Tony’s curled body.  He looked so small like that, nothing like the imposing six foot two inches that he could pull himself up to and certainly not the fun irrepressible playboy that they had all come to know and expect from him.


He gently ran his hand through soft hair, the lack of product meant that the younger man had taken a shower.  The tender action pulled a soft murmur from his sleeping boy and Gibbs felt his heart break at the thought that this could be his fault, after all the progress they were making.  It was like they took two steps forward and three steps back and they hadn’t even been together for a whole three weeks yet. With a small, sad shake of his head he sat down on the bed and eased Tony’s head onto his lap.


Tony stirred, the warmth under his cheek registering at the same time as the hand that was petting him.  It was all he could do not to wag at the touch.  Instead he stretched and glanced up at the owner of the hand.  Everything came crashing back to him and he flinched slightly, not able to cover it up quick enough.


“Ssh, Pup, it’s ok.  I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that you were upset.”


The brunette blinked wondering if he was hearing things.  “S’not your fault, Boss,” he said quietly.


Jethro let silence fall waiting until his boy was ready to explain what had happened, he was fairly sure it would come soon and without prompting but if he needed to push then he would.


“Am I wrong?” Tony asked, his voice little more than a whisper, “I mean, is there something wrong with who I am?”


“You’re perfect, pup, nothing wrong with you are.”


“Just, with the liking guys and girls…people think it’s wrong,” Tony continued.


“It’s the people who think that who are wrong, Tony.  Is there something wrong with me?” he asked with a gentle growl.


“God, no, Boss, Sir…I didn’t mean…” he trailed off as he realised the point. “Conceded,” he raised the tiniest of smiles that was little more than a quirk of the lips. “I’m sorry, I know I’m a pain in the ass.”


Gibbs shook his head and gave a light tug on the hair he was still stroking.  “Never, you’ve nothing to be sorry for, it’s what we’re here for.  You wanna tell me what caused this?”


“Kate,” Tony murmured.


A frown creased the older man’s face as he thought back to their earlier conversation.  “What exactly did Kate say?” he asked, somehow managing to keep the growl out of his voice.


“She was having a dig about Voss.  It’s not her fault, Boss, sometimes she doesn’t think and it’s not like she even knows about…well, anything.  She just doesn’t get it, for a profiler she’s pretty blind,” Tony told him, defending her despite his own hurt feelings.


“She never knows where to draw the line,” Jethro’s voice was like steel. “I’m sorry, Tony, I should have known something was wrong.  She told me that you were just conflicted and I was so absorbed in my own crap…”


“Twice in ten minutes, that a record, Boss? Wish I’d had a tape recorder, no one would believe me,” the brunette lightly quipped.  He was rewarded with a sharp tug to his hair and it actually made him chuckle as he looked up at Gibbs. “Sorry, Boss.”


But Gibbs was smiling slightly and amusement sparkled in his intense blue eyes. “Let you off, this time.” His spare hand moved to stroke along Tony’s side and rub over his shoulder and arm.  “You’re not the first to kiss someone who turned out to be our suspect, Tony, I know how it feels.  Like you’ve somehow consorted with the enemy.  You’ve gotta move passed it or every time Kate sees that it gets a rise outta you when it’s mentioned, she’ll keep poking at it…even if she’s off the mark about why it gets to you.”


“How did you…?” Tony started to ask with a frown.


“Kate isn’t the only one who can read people, Tony.  Been doing this job long before they even knew what a profiler was.  Besides, it’s not like I can see you having a problem kissing a woman who used to be a man, considering our current relationship.”


Tony gave a small smirk, “Not a problem at all.”


“That’s what I thought,” Gibbs acknowledged with a smile.


“So you don’t have a problem with it?” Tony asked nervously.


“With what, kissing a transsexual?”


“No… my having kissed someone… and then today with…”


There was a little growl. “Tony, I don’t have a problem with what you got up to before we got together.  Today was you just wearing your usual mask.  Not sure whose benefit it was for but it worked to our advantage.”


“I… Do you think there’s something wrong with me?” he asked uncertainly.


“Thought we’d just gone over that?” Gibbs asked slightly confused.


“No… not that, but I always seem to flirt with the wrong women and end up in deep kaka.  Y’know there was Voss and crazy lady who kidnapped me then Agent Stone, am I like some kind of crazy person magnet?” he asked with a curious frown on his face.


“Am I crazy?” Jethro asked with amusement. “And Abs?”


“Dunno, Boss, there are sometimes…”


Gibbs laughed and nudged his boy’s arm playfully.  “There’s nothing wrong with you, Tony, you just have to learn to interpret your gut in the right way, what you seem to think means you like someone apparently really means that you think they’re a psychotic killer. Channel your gift, pup,” he said with a grin.


Tony smiled at that and turned his head into the caressing hand to kiss the fingers.  “Thanks, Sir. You always seem to know the right things to say.”  And wasn’t that a revelation, when he’d always thought that his boss was rubbish at relationships. 


He started to sit up and Jethro gave him the room to move, amused, as Tony pulled his jacket around his shoulders.


Gibbs nodded with a smile.  “Hungry? I bet Abby is cooking up a storm worrying about you.”


And just like that Tony’s smile was gone. 


“Hey, what’s up now?” Gibbs asked concerned as he tilted the boy’s chin to meet his eyes.


Tony gave a sad look that skittered away from Jethro’s eyes.  “Are you going to punish me?”


Jethro frowned. “What for?”


“Hurting Abby, the rule… you said about respecting each other.  I shouldn’t have pushed her away like that…”


Gibbs pulled him into a hug.  “Not going to punish you, pup, think you do that more than enough on your own.” 


His large hand caressed Tony’s face and green eyes fluttered half-closed at the calloused fingers that slid over his skin.


“She understands, Tony, she knows it’s not easy for you to explain what’s going on.  And she knew enough to call me and pull my head out of my ass,” Gibbs said with a smirk.


Tony smiled at that. “Go Abs,” he whispered.


Gibbs gave his hair a playful tug but was smiling as he offered him a hand up that Tony gratefully took.  The hand surprisingly never let go and instead he was almost led by it through the house in a way that the younger man was starting to grow to like.  It was a whole new way of following Jethro and it was so reassuring to have that touch. He felt himself relax at the symbolism of it.


They entered the kitchen and suddenly his hand was freed in order to catch hurricane Abby as she flung herself into his arms. 


“Tony, I was so worried, are you alright, I made pancakes.  I know they’re not strictly a supper-type food but they’re excellent comfort food.  Do I need to kill someone?” Abby told him as she hugged him tight.


“No Abs,” he told her with a smile and buried his face in her warm neck, breathing in the unique familiar scent of her, “no one to kill and pancakes sound like just what I need.  I’m sorry I shut you out, I shouldn’t have done that, forgive me?”


“Silly boy, of course I forgive you,” she chastised but without any heat, her hand ran over the back of his hair as she held him.  “Y’know you can talk to me about anything, right handsome?”


He knew that, really he did but it wouldn’t have been fair to put her in that position. “I know, it’s just hard and I didn’t want to put you in an awkward position.”


She pulled back and looked at him, studying his face carefully as the hand that had been in his hair came round and lightly caressed his cheek.  It was a completely different sensation to being touched by Gibbs and he realised why they were both so important to him as a pair.  They were opposites of each other in more than just gender and he needed that.


“It was something Kate said,” Gibbs piped up, “he didn’t want you to feel you had to take sides.”


“Apparently not that hard to say,” Tony said with a small twist of his lips.


She nudged him gently, “Silly, bro, no contest, you’d win every time.  As long as I don’t have to…y’know kill Kate, she is my friend after all.”


“No killing, promise,” Tony smiled and kissed her forehead.  “Thanks, Abs.  Now… mushy serious moment over, I was promised pancakes,” he said with a smile and urged her towards the stove.


She gave him an amused smile before snapping off a salute and going to work with the griddle.



Chapter 14



Abby bounced into the kitchen snagging an orange from the fruit bowl that sat on the kitchen counter and sat down at the table with a flourish as she started peeling it. Two sets of male eyes, one brown and one green, turned to watch at her. 


“Well?” Tony finally asked, “What’s with the wicked grin and mischievous eyes, our little gothic princess?”


Gibbs gave a half smile that was hidden behind his coffee mug.


“Matt said the gang are all meeting up for Danny’s birthday tomorrow night. It’s gonna be the most awesome thing ever.  We’ve not been out in ages, we can get all dressed up…I mean, like par-tay,” Abby told them excitedly even as she peeled her orange finishing up her ramble by holding her free hand up index & little fingers pointing upwards while the rest were all folded in to make a ‘rock on’ symbol.


Tony shook his head, chuckling.  He’d not been out socially with Gibbs and Abby so didn’t know any of their friends, in fact he was pretty sure that no one even knew that he was, well, not that he was dating them but he was living with them and occasionally sleeping in their bed and all that.  He wasn’t quite sure what that meant, Jethro and Abs told him often that he was family, but he wasn’t too sure what that meant as there were many definitions of family and he’d never had any previous experience at what that actually entailed.


“Is Matt hosting or are they having it somewhere else?”  Gibbs asked with idle curiosity, taking an interest in his girl’s social life.


“Well, Matt was going to but then Danny is all…y’know how Danny gets when he’s worried about too many people in his house and…stuff, so he thought it might be better to pre-empt the Danny-ness, skip the freak out and the ‘we shouldn’t haves’ and skip straight to booking somewhere.”


“Where, Abs?” Jethro asked with a slight quirk of his lips, amusement twinkling in his eyes at her babbling.  He secretly could listen to her husky tones all day but sometimes she did wander off topic.


“Oh, didn’t I say?” she said with a sultry smile in his direction, green eyes sparkling.


“Nope, but I’m guessing somewhere snazzy considering the look on your face.”


“Snazzy, Sir?” she teased with a grin, “No one says snazzy anymore.”


He rolled his eyes at her.  “Well I do and that’s all that counts, isn’t it?” he said with a gentle growl to his voice.


Her eyes widened slightly at him but she was still smiling.  “Um yes, Sir, of course. And it’s only the coolest club ever.  I mean I’ve not been but I’ve heard of it by reputation and stuff.  Matt’s been loads but that’s because Danny is rolling in it and did I mention that Matt had said that rather than taking a gift the guests were all going to get one instead.  Isn’t that just the coolest way to hold a party and get people to come…”


“All the freeloaders you mean?” Tony chipped in.


“Tony,” she whined lightly and nudged him with her elbow.  “Anyways, so it starts at eight thirty pm and runs right through until seven in the morning. Matt said they couldn’t get the whole place shut off on account of it being a business after all but they agreed to give him the lounge and lets face it with the amount of friends that those two have, it’s highly likely they could fill the place anyway.  But there’ll be entertainment and everything…” Abby trailed off to chew a piece of her orange already planning what she was going to wear.


“Abs,” Jethro asked with thinly veiled patience, “Where?”


“Oh, didn’t I say?”


“Nope,” Gibbs deadpanned.


“It’s called Restraint and it’s awesome.”


“I think we got that the first time, Abs. I don’t suppose you’ll be going by any chance then?” Tony asked with more than a little sarcasm.


We, Tony, we will be going.  We’re all invited,” she told them.


“Don’t need to ask what sort of place it is, do I?” Gibbs asked at the gleam in her eyes.


She shook her head and her pigtails danced.  “You must have heard me mention it, like a thousand times.  A few months ago I tried to get you to take me and you promised when things had quietened down at work.”


“I remember,” he nodded.


“I’m so looking forward to it. It’s run by Madame Lotus and her boys, they’re very well respected, you remember her don’t you, we met her at Matt’s collaring party. And the guys just can’t wait to finally meet our new addition,” she winked and chuckled.


Tony felt the colour drain from his face and his hands started to shake.  “No!” he declared a little too loudly, standing up so suddenly it sent his chair skittering backwards with a screech on the floor. “I can’t, I mean… I have plans.  Tomorrow.  I have something that I have to do,” he told them and left the room in a hurry.


Abby and Gibbs watched him go confused looks on their faces, but when they turned to look at each other the confusion was replaced by worry. 


“That wasn’t the reaction I expected,” she said quietly, “do you think he’s alright?”


“I dunno,” Jethro said, placing his mug down and starting to get up. “Maybe I should go and find out?”


“Do you think… maybe he’s ashamed of us? That he doesn’t want people to know he’s with us?” Abby’s chin had dipped and her face was full of sadness at the thought, her own insecurities showing for a change.


She hadn’t thought about it before, had just assumed that he would happily meet their lifestyle friends and fit right in.  They had some lovely friends and some that she was sure that Tony would get on well with.  But perhaps he hadn’t wanted people to know, it wasn’t like they worked together though.


Gibbs shook his head as he crouched to wrap his arms around her shoulders. He pulled her against his strong chest and kissed the top of her head.  “I’m not sure, princess, his mind works in funny ways.  We can’t know what he’s thinking right now, but I am sure he wouldn’t deliberately be hurtful.  Probably just spooked him with it, that’s all,” he reassured her as his own worries bubbled under the surface.


“You’re probably right,” she said with a sigh, “He might just be worried about what we’ve told them, or something.”  It didn’t feel right.  Tony was great with people, loved to meet new men and women alike, enjoyed having someone new to flirt with or tease.  It just didn’t make sense to her.


Jethro gently kissed her forehead then smoothed away her frown lines with the ball of his thumb.  “It’ll be fine, Abs, he’ll come around.  I’ll talk to him.”




Tony stared down at his hands, they were shaking so much and he could hardly believe it.  He felt like he was going to throw up and the minute he acknowledged the feeling it sent him dashing for the bathroom.   He’d retreated to the safety of his bedroom but it was quickly apparent that it wasn’t going to give him comfort this time.  Hunched over the toilet bowl he vomited back the dinner that he’d eaten only a short time before Abby had been called away to the telephone. 


He retched again and again until his stomach muscles ached, his throat and nose burned and his breath reeked even to him.  And then he retched again, nothing left to bring back.  He was sweating.  His t-shirt clung to his back as he tried to hold himself over the toilet.  Tony wasn’t sure if he was trying to stop himself falling on the floor or into the bowl, either way he wasn’t taking the chance of letting go. Besides, holding on stopped his hands from shaking so bad, if only it could do the same for the shivers that were racking his spine. 


The brunette squeezed his green eyes shut, tears leaking out from under them at the pictures that were in front of his eyes.  He shook his head trying to shake them away.  He’d trusted them, let them get closer to him than he’d let any one since… He could hardly believe that they would do something like this to him.   His breath hitched and he retched again.  Betrayal stung him as much as the memories that flooded his mind and body.


Tony didn’t hear the door open or hear Gibbs saying his name.


When a hand gently rested on his back he cried out, the hands that had been holding the toilet came up to wrap protectively over his head as he skittered backwards, his back to the wall. “No, please no,” he gasped out, his voice roughened from the acid burning his throat.


“Ssh, Pup, easy, Tony it’s me, it’s Jethro,” he tried to reassure, carefully inching his way towards the huddled figure.


Tremors racked his 6’2” frame as he curled in on himself.  He’d learnt that making himself small didn’t stop the pain but it minimised the areas that could be attacked.


Gibbs came close but didn’t touch the terrified man.  He’d not seen Tony like this even since he’d brought him home that day as a shaking pup.  He’d seen him sick and he’d seen him injured, but this was pain of a different kind.  This was about more than just not being ready to be introduced to their friends.  And Tony wasn’t responding, he was just shivering more prominently.


He reached out and touched Tony’s arm where it was protectively wrapped over his head.  His heart broke just a little as his boy yelped and flinched away as if he’d just zapped him with a thousand volts.  Gibbs felt at a loss, he didn’t know how to fix this because he didn’t know what exactly was wrong.


However, he did know what had triggered it off.  “Tony, listen to me,” he said as calmly and softly as he could, “You don’t have to go tomorrow night, no one is going to force you to do something you don’t want to do.”


Gibbs hated seeing his boy like this and he felt so damn helpless when faced with it. He didn’t even seem to make a dent in Tony’s panic.


Tony heard the words but the meaning was twisted in his head.  He trusted them, he still couldn’t quite believe that they’d deliberately set him up to get hurt. But then Abby had said about the club so the evidence conflicted.


“Can you hear me, pup?” Jethro asked again.


He shook his head, his arms not relaxing at all where they were folded over the top of it.  “No no no no no,” the brunette whispered quietly.  “I’ve been good, please don’t,” he pleaded.


Tony’s voice broke Jethro’s heart a little more; he’d never heard him so broken.  If he ever got his hands on the bastard that had done this to his boy, there wouldn’t be a body left to find.


“Sweetheart, I know you’ve been good,” he lightly stroked the topmost arm in lieu of not being able to stroke his hair.  “Not going to make you go or do anything that you don’t want to.”  He hoped that if he said it enough it would sink in.


The brunette gave a soft whimper. Tears dripping off the tip of his nose and splashing onto the denim of his jeans.


“We’re not him, pup, whatever he did to you… that’s not us, we’re not going to do that.  You’re safe with us, I’ve got your six,” Jethro said again.


The hand that he’d expected to hurt him felt nice and that surprised him, it wasn’t doing what he’d thought it would.  It was a gentle touch, soothing.  He found himself relaxing despite himself.  “Why,” he asked as he shuddered heavily again, his voice hitching slightly with a silent sob, “Why would you want to do that to me?” he asked, voice full of quiet desolation.


Gibbs frowned, his fingers not stopping their gentle caress as he moved to sit beside Tony against the wall.  He couldn’t think their friends were that bad, could he?  Just what did he think they were going to do to him? He was silent for a moment as he tried to organise his thoughts and work out what could possibly be going on.  It was obviously an association with the past abuse but he didn’t know what or why.   Slowly, he was easing his arm around his boy, moving gently for fear of spooking him more, until he was holding him.


“Tony?” he asked, softly, and when that only received a shiver for a response, he tried again. “Pup?” The slight shift in the tension in the brunette’s body told him that he was listening. He had to stop himself from just blurting out, What did that bastard do to you?  Instead he enquired gently, “Tell me what you think would happen at one of these clubs?”


He had to know, he didn’t want to, but Gibbs knew it was important to find out.


The tears still dripped from his nose but he’d relaxed a bit, the tender hands on him soothing the taught muscles and driving away the urge to retch again.  He relaxed his arms further as he turned his head to peek at the other man through the gap.  Tony couldn’t help but frown at the question.  Maybe Gibbs didn’t know, that would make sense; he wouldn’t make him go if he knew.  But then he’d said he wouldn’t make him go if he didn’t want to anyway.


Tony didn’t know if he could say out loud the things that were in his head though.  Those fingers had somehow found their way under his defensive arms and were now lightly running through his hair.  He lowered one hand and tried to push away the tears, idly noting that he wasn’t shaking as much.


His mouth made several attempts at forming the shapes of words. Words that could start the sentence but none of them feeling right and going unvoiced.  He felt the frustration that a stutterer must feel and gave a sigh.  Gibbs was keeping silent now and he was glad for that.  He was strong and there, but not saying a word, he needed that.


The silence didn’t come easy to the older man though; he was fighting a constant war in himself not to just demand to know what else he had to kill that bastard for.  Some how he found the strength and patience from somewhere.  It helped, that bit-by-bit, Tony was starting to lean into him again rather than away.


“Before,” Tony finally started, his voice rough and throat a little sore and scratchy, “We would go to a club…well, I say we, he would take me…make me go.  I…” he trailed off.


The silence was deafening and Gibbs could swear he could hear his own heart beating as he waited for his boy to continue.


“I was…he would…” the tears that had stopped started to fall again in earnest and he tried in futility to push them away but they kept going.  He thought of something that Abby had said and decided to use that, “I was the entertainment,” he said shamefully.


In Jethro’s head there was a rage-filled “What?” barked out.  But if Abby had taught him patience, his boy was teaching him something else entirely.  “In what way, pup?” he probed gently, “What did he do to you?”


The words were like acid on his tongue, he couldn’t bring himself to use them.  If Gibbs didn’t know what happened at one of those places he didn’t really want to tell him what he was.  Didn’t want the man’s anger to be directed at him for letting himself be treated like that.  The shaking started up again, afraid that the other man would see the truth and not want him anymore. 


“Ssh, sweetheart, whatever it is, you can tell me.  You can tell me anything, Tony, I won’t love you less,” he urged, it was like coaxing a child, a very damaged and scared child.  Gibbs knew that physically Tony was a grown man, but emotionally, with everything he’d gone through, maybe there had been a certain amount of truth in the thought.


“I’m not a whore, I’m not,” Tony said desperately, turning fear-filled, wet green eyes on his boss.


He didn’t know how he kept the look of complete shock off his face at the sudden declaration, but he was fairly sure of his success.  Jethro pulled his boy in and held him cradled against his chest.  “Would never think that of you, my pup, never,” he told him with a steely conviction.


“He…made me.  I couldn’t stop him,” Tony hitched as he turned his face into Gibbs T-shirt.  The familiar scent grounded him almost as much as Abby’s now did but combined with the solid unerring presence, he felt the shakes settling down again.  “I was only allowed a collar.  B…bitches don’t wear clothes.”


Jethro was starting to think that he really didn’t want to hear where this was going, was starting to think that someone would get hurt when this tale was told.  He already felt like growling like an old guard dog.  “Go on, sweetheart,” he said as gentle encouragement, “I’m listening.”


Tony pushed at the tears again on the side of his face that wasn’t pressed against the other man’s warmth.  He knew he was soaking a damp spot into the fabric but Gibbs didn’t seem to mind.  He took a deep breath and forced himself to continue. “At first it was just to humiliate me. Then he would pass me off to his friends.  By the end he would just tie me up for all-comers…f…for anything they wanted.  I should have…I should have stopped it.”


Jethro was in pieces inside and he knew his girl was going to be destroyed when she found out what the animal had done to their Tony.  The guy had been cunning had started off with a little making it seem almost normal or a light kink and gradually increased until he doubted that DiNozzo would even have known which way was up. 


“You couldn’t have,” he told him as softly as he had in the beginning, “this bastard knew what he was doing to you, pup, he isolated you and slowly dragged you down, I’m betting you didn’t even realise he was doing it until it was too late.” His hand gently soothed as he pressed a tender kiss to his hair.  “That was him and while I can’t say that others like him don’t exist, you have to know that we would never do that to you.”


Tony knew that, he did…didn’t he?


“I…well, I do, but…I thought…” Tony stammered uncertain and ashamed.


Blue eyes closed in pain and emotion.  “Tony,” he breathed, “you’re ours and when you’re ready to share more of your body with us, we’ll cherish that for the gift it is.  But it will be ours and no one else’s.  There’s no way on this earth we’d let some other asshole put his hands, or anything else, on you.  And as for going out to a club, clothes are definitely not an option they’re a rule, no nakedness outside of our home and the shower at work.  You’re no one’s bitch, you’re our beloved pup and anyone who thinks otherwise will have to go through me.  Our friends are not his friends, they know their stuff, they can recognise coercion and believe in play being consensual all the way, you’ve nothing to fear from them either…in fact if I did wrong by you, they would kick my ass,” he told him firmly then softened again, “You understand?”


Chewing his lower lip, Tony peered up at him through his wet lashes and gave a small nod.  “Got it, Boss.”  He wiped at his damp cheek again, the tears having finally stopped before clinging to Jethro with a death grip.  “I didn’t think… I never thought…I…” He tried to say that he didn’t think that they were like that but when it came down to it and he’d been too full of fear to be able to think straight, he had thought it.  “I’m sorry,” he finished meekly.


“Nothing to be sorry for, pup, it’s not your fault.  You got scared and that’s gonna happen some.  But we’re here for you and as long as you keep talking to us about what’s going on in here,” he lightly touched then kissed his head, “then we’ll be ok.”


“I’ll do my best,” he murmured.


“That’s all I ask,” Jethro told him, running his hand up and down his arm comfortingly.  “You don’t have to go tomorrow, I meant that.  And if you want me to stay home with you then I will.”


“Abby’s so excited about going,” Tony said sadly, he didn’t want to spoil it for her, for them.


“She’ll cope with going alone, she often does. She’s a popular girl,” Gibbs responded with a fond smile.


“But she shouldn’t have to,” his voice was quiet but when he spoke again it grew stronger, less uncertain. “I…I could give it a try.  You’d both be there, I can’t…I can’t promise not to freak out but I can’t avoid it forever. So better sooner, right?”


“Only if you want to, why don’t we see how you feel tomorrow and if you don’t feel ready then no big deal, Ok?”


Tony nodded.  Wetting his lips as he prepared to ask Gibbs for something.  The strong but gentle hands on him were calming and he remembered their past conversations about not being afraid to ask for what he needed.  “Could I…maybe…have some pup time tomorrow, please? Earlier in the day, not for the party.” It made him feel better to say that it was a party rather than a club, that it happened to be in the club didn’t matter.


“Sure you can, might be fun to play in the garden in the afternoon,” Gibbs told him with a smile.  “You think we can get up off the floor now?  I think I lost feeling in my butt.”


The brunette couldn’t help but smile a little at that.  “Ok…I should probably brush my teeth,” he wrinkled his nose up, “And Abs is probably worried, right?”


“You know Abby, we always worry her.”


Tony got to his feet and for the first time since they’d started this, whatever it was, he offered Gibbs a hand up. 



Jethro left his boy cleaning up as he moved through the house processing all he’d just heard.  He found Abby in the kitchen washing dishes. 


When she saw him, she turned fully from the sink, picking up a towel to dry her hands on and looking at him expectantly.  She didn’t expect the words that fell from his lips.


“You find that bastard, Abs, we’re going to destroy him,” the dark almost animalistic voice was a complete paradox to how he’d dealt with Tony.


Several emotions flitted across her face as she studied him.  “Yeah?” she asked, a mixture of hopeful and unsure.


“Yeah!” he confirmed.


“Oh goody, finally.” She rubbed her hands together the evil grin not reaching her worried eyes and then wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug that he obviously needed more than she did.



Chapter 15


Gibbs was up and out of the house before Tony and Abby had even woke up, curled in a warm nest with each other as they were.  An idea had struck him during the night and he wanted to get out and bring it to fruition just in case his pup did decide he could handle going to the club. 


He was home just before ten and started to cook up a storm for brunch.  It didn’t take long for the delicious smell of the food to filter through to the bedroom and rouse the sleeping duo.  It was Tony who had woke first, discovered that only one of his human heaters were still in bed with him and cracked his eye to look at the time.  His stomach growled as he smelt breakfast cooking and moments later Abby was complaining about earthquakes on the other side of the world or some nonsense.


Brunch was somewhat subdued compared to the way things had been recently.  Tony was quiet and thoughtful, and though hungry he spent almost as much time moving the food round the plate as he did putting it in his mouth.  Abby was watchful, worried, her bare foot had found his and was reassuringly rubbing lightly over it.  She didn’t know if it was helping but she had to do something.  Gibbs simply waited.


There were a few things that needed doing around the house before they could goof off.  Abby vacuumed right through while Tony happily washed their cars in the sunshine, his shirt off to better appreciate the warm rays.  Gibbs had retreated to his study to take care of some bills, he was first to complete his self-appointed task though and emerged in search of coffee.   Not in the slightest disappointed to find there wasn’t any, he set the machine in motion while he waited for his girl and pup to finish up. 


Tony came into the house looking a little soggy around the edges but a lot of his deep frown had eased and there was a light back in his green eyes, he was actually smiling slightly.  “I’m gonna clean up first,” he told Jethro when the man had held up an empty mug in question of whether he wanted coffee.


While the brunette was drying off and changing into a pair of sweat pants Abby had finished cleaning and was already in the kitchen sipping from her own steaming mug.  She smiled at him and was pleased when he smiled back.  Tony didn’t get chance to pour his own coffee, Gibbs was already out of his seat and pouring one for him before he had reached it. 


“Thanks,” he said with a genuine smile.


“So, coffee and then some puptime?” Gibbs asked as he sat back down at the kitchen table.


Tony’s smile grew even as it turned slightly bashful. “That sounds good, Boss,”


“Cool,” Abby concurred.




Tony had been thinking too much about the party that night and what it could all mean or turn out like.  The decision of whether to go or not seemed impossibly hard, it was worse than life or death; he just didn’t want to disappoint Abby, but he also didn’t want to embarrass them by freaking out.  Washing the car had allowed his mind to drift away as he’d hummed along to the music from the radio.  However, it was only as Gibbs helped him to slip down into the pup mindset that the worry over it completely melted away.  It was a relief as he finally let go of the tension.


Hero raised his head off the floor and flipped over onto his paws, he looked up at Bossman, and cowered back slightly as he tried to gage the two-leg’s mood. 


“You’re ok, Hero, no one’s going to hurt you,” Gibbs reassured the nervous pup.  Slipping a hand in his pocket and bringing it out holding a treat.


The pup couldn’t really work out what the words meant but they were spoken softly and there was a kind smile on Bossman’s face. The smell of his treats helped to pull him forward, led by his nose as he sniffed tentatively before carefully picking the treat up with his teeth. 


He crunched the chocolate and cookie based treat happily then licked his lips fully before licking a broad slobbery stripe over the Bossman’s still outstretched hand.


Gibbs chuckled, a grin splitting his face. He was starting to think that once they’d got past the post traumatic stress the delightful human-pup would be just as good for him as it was for Tony.   He reached up and gently petted the soft dark hair.


Hero rubbed into the hand and his eyes sparkled happily.


“I’ve got something for you, Hero,” Jethro told him and put his hand in his other pocket.


The happy eyes once again became nervous and Hero took a small step back.


“Hey, shush, it’s ok,” Bossman reassured.


When it came out it was holding a brown leather strap. Hero whined but the hand in his fur petted reassuringly and then the strap was being fastened round his neck.  It was almost enough to throw Hero out of pupspace and back to Tony, but the petting some how kept his paws grounded. 


The collar was buttery soft and had a tag dangling from it. 


“Just making sure that people know who you belong to if you go wandering off,” Gibbs teased lightly.


Hero slobbered over his cheek giving him enthusiastic licks of gratitude.  It made the Bossman laugh and the pup decided he really liked the happy bubbling sound and he would try to get the big to make the noise more often.


He was surrounded by the Abby-girl smell, it was possibly his favourite smell, but the Bossman was starting to smell good too.  Sun was shining in through the doors and Hero padded over to look out.  There was a little chuckle from behind him then the door swung open for him.


“Go on, go play,” the happy big told him and squeaky went flying overhead to land on the grass.


With one brief backwards glance, he took off across the lawn to retrieve it. 


Gibbs watched with amused affection as Hero scrambled for the squeaky Squirrel.  They’d have to get more toys for the pup, it was more than a little sad that he only had two and, as Jethro watched him chewing the toy into submission, he guessed that the poor thing had been mostly deprived of even them.  There were still so many questions about what the guy had done to him, he didn’t know if they would ever have all the answers but he knew Tony would tell them what he could when he felt ready.  He wandered out to perch on the wooden seat that over looked the garden; resting his elbows on his knees as he contemplated the last couple of weeks.


Hero had squeaky right where he wanted him, under his paws and was chewing at it insistently. The squeaker in it had long past its best and was now little more than puffs of air that made a slight noise, but he still persisted because he loved his squeaky and squirrels were evil, they needed to be chewed.  He lifted his head and noticed that Bossman was watching him, he looked sad; the happy face from earlier had gone away and while he didn’t look angry, Hero decided he didn’t like that face.


Hesitantly, he picked squeaky up in his teeth and carried it over to where the big sat.  His approach was slow and timid but he was also determined.  He remembered the happy face that Abby-girl had given him when he’d brought her the squeaky and he carefully dropped it on the floor between Bossman’s feet before looking up at him.  Eyes guarded but soft, then he sat back on his haunches and slowly raised one of his front paws.


Jethro had wondered what the pup was doing as he came wandering over. It was obvious that he wasn’t confident in his approach, but he was going to do it anyway.  His face lit up with delight as the toy dropped to the floor in such a way that it wouldn’t make it bounce.  The raised ‘paw’ surprised him a great deal and he reached out slowly with an open palm to gently shake it. 


“Clever, boy,” he praised and his other hand retrieved a treat. 


The worry melted away as the happy face returned.  Hero figured that if he could keep that there he would be safe.  The words made his tail wag and he had to shift to all four paws so that it wouldn’t scratch his butt on the ground.  He gently ate the treat, then gave a wary look up to check there was still a happy face, before determinedly licking the hand clean.


“Good, boy,” the two-leg told him and then stroked him gently like Abby-girl had done: all down his back, making him arch. It felt good and he gave a little wag of happiness.


Then he saw squeaky go flying again, he paused for one last lick of the big’s hand before taking off after it again.


It was some time before Abby-girl came out and joined them.  She managed to convince Bossman to sprawl on the grass with them either side of Hero and they both indulged in some welcome petting, both his head and his back.  Hero was feeling content and lazy, he closed his eyes with Floppy firmly between his paws and let the sun and petting sooth him into a doze.




It was strange coming back to himself again.  Tony still blushed at Gibbs sitting there, but the look on his face was full of affection and he didn’t think he’d ever seen that look directed at him before; it was the one he reserved for Abby.  He gave a tremulous smile that was more nerves than anything and the next thing he knew he was being wrapped in a warm blanket by strong arms.  The arms didn’t retreat once they’d achieved their objective and he found that he could really get used to being hugged by Gibbs.


“Thanks, Boss,” Tony told him quietly as he rested his head against the man’s shoulder.


“Feeling ok?” Gibbs asked gently.


Tony took a moment to assess how he felt and the smile grew more confident. “Yeah, I feel good,” he told him as if it was a surprise to feel that way. “Still gonna take some getting used to being naked around you though,” he said with a lightly teasing tone to his voice and his cheeks flushed a deeper shade of red as if to emphasise his point.


Gibbs smiled and ruffled his hair.  “Go take a shower, I’ll make us all something to eat.


The brunette gave a nod, “Ok” But made no effort to move from the strong embrace.


It made Jethro smile and he had to bite down on a laugh because he didn’t want to risk hurting his pup’s feelings.  He gave him a slightly stronger squeeze.  “The hugs will still be here after your shower,” he reassured him.


Tony looked a little sheepish but was still smiling as he made himself take a step back from the hug.  He clutched the blanket around him and looked every bit of a lost boy.  It made Jethro’s heart ache and he reached up to caress the side of the brunette’s face, pleased when the other man rubbed his cheek against his palm.


“Ok, shower…going…really am…” Tony said without moving.


Gibbs really did chuckle then, leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on Tony’s forehead.  “I’ll have Abby make coffee ready for when you’re done.”


That seemed to kick him into action and he scurried from the room to go get cleaned up.




Dinner was delicious and relaxed. It was a complete opposite to how tense brunch had been and Tony thought he could really get used to this whole being part of a family.  Abby rushed off to have a shower and start prettying herself ready for the party. They hadn’t mentioned it all day until that point. 


Gibbs gave him a curious look; assessing how he was doing.  Tony smiled back.


“I think I’m gonna go, give it a try,” he said, his stomach fluttering nervously. “For Abby, she was so excited, and I’ll be with both you guys. I know you’ll take care of me.”


“Don’t make yourself do it if you don’t want to. Abby wouldn’t want that,” Jethro told him, gently laying a hand over one of Tony’s nervously twitching ones on the kitchen table.


Tony shook his head. “I want to go. I want to deal with this because I can’t not go anywhere with you guys.”


Gibbs seemed satisfied and gave a nod. “Ok, go get ready then. You got something to wear or do you want to borrow something?”


“You know me, Boss, if it’s not in my wardrobe, it’s not worth having,” Tony said with a grin. 


He was nervous as he got up from the table and headed for his room but he also felt fairly light.  Tony imagined he was no more nervous at this point than if he’d been meeting their friends at a coffee shop or something.


The occasion seemed to call for leather pants.  Tony pulled them out of his closet and pulled them on, the soft fabric moulding to his ass and legs.  He remembered buying them several years ago for an undercover case he was on, he wasn’t sure if he was surprised that they still fit him but he was glad they did.  The choice of shirt wasn’t so straightforward though and he found himself going back and forth through the options several times.  In the end he settled on a black button down shirt and left it untucked so that it covered most of his ass and crotch area.  It was tailored enough to have shape but not tight so it didn’t cling and show off his muscles.


When he was ready he found Abby messing with her hair in the Master bedroom.  She was dressed in a deep burgundy silk corset; it was boned and pushed her breasts up in a way he’d never seen before. Tony could have sworn he started drooling and he could hardly tear his eyes away from the milky-white flesh mounds.  Her skirt was layered black and burgundy lace and had a split that was just short of obscene. At her throat was a delicate collar he’d never seen on her before; it was black not more than an inch wide with a single ruby set in the front with a tag dangling from beneath it.  He guessed it was Gibbs’ collar and he was a little jealous, even though Hero had his new collar, it wasn’t like he was going to wear that to go out in; it was for when he was in pup space.


“You ok, Tony?” Abby’s soft, husky voice cut into his internal musings.


He blinked and looked up from the collar to meet her concerned eyes.


“I’m fine,” he said softly, “I like your collar, it’s really pretty.”


She beamed at him brightly. “Thank you.  Jethro gave it to me after we’d been together for a year. He said I’d earned it.”


Tony smiled at her. “I’m sure you more than deserve it.  I would have thought you were more an emerald girl than Ruby, but it really suits you.”


She came over to him and placed a soft kiss on his cheek, careful that she didn’t leave a lipstick smudge.  “You needing some kind of sign of ownership?” she asked.


He was surprised at her astuteness, but in a way he knew he shouldn’t have been; she’d always been perceptive. “It would be nice,” he admitted, “But I know it’s not exactly realistic, it’s only been a few weeks and collars are earned,” he said as he indicated the one on her neck.  He didn’t touch it, Tony knew better than to do that without the Dom’s permission.  “I’m just a little worried about looking ‘unowned’,” he explained.


“Hey, there you are,” Gibbs’ voice said from behind him and he turned to smile at the other man.


“Yeah, I was watching Abs try to decide between hair down or in pigtails. Personally, I think she should braid it. What do you think, Boss?” Tony asked, deflecting the difficult subject of moments before.


“Ohhh, I like that, Tony, you’re a genius,” she told him and kissed him on the cheek again before setting about putting in two sets of braids running along each side of her head to the back and meeting together to plait as one.


Tony grinned. “Could have told you that.” He was inwardly thrilled to have come up with such a well-received suggestion.


“I have something for you,” Jethro told him as he reached out and brushed his fingers over Tony’s cheek with one hand, the other hand came up.  He was holding a strip of leather thonging; metal dangled from it, glinting in the light.


Green eyes dropped to Gibbs’ hand barely daring to wonder about it.


“I don’t want anyone getting any ideas that you’re free to be touched, so we need to mark you as off limits.  It’s not a collar but it will identify you as under my protection.  Think of it as a pre-collar,” he added.  Gibbs was unsure if this was the right move to make, he didn’t know if Tony was ready for a collar yet or whether he even wanted one, but there was no way he was taking him out unmarked.


Tony grinned and took a step nearer, turning around so it could be fastened in place.


Jethro relaxed, pleased that he’d made a good move and set about wrapping the thong around the younger man’s neck.  He knotted it in the back and then gently turned Tony so that he could see how it sat.  It was perfect, the tightness of it meant that it would stay in the middle of that strong neck, the small metallic ‘G’ dangling and catching the light, but it wasn’t so tight that it would cut in. 


The feel of it was more than welcome for Tony and he reverently raised his hand to toy with the little silver tag, grinning like a loon.  He tentatively leaned in and kissed Gibbs on the cheek.  “Thank you,” he told him sincerely.


“You’re more than welcome, my pup, you look fantastic.  Now, are we ready to go?” Gibbs directed mostly at Tony since he could see that Abby was finished with her hair and raring to go.  She had a sappy look on her face as she looked at the thong around Tony’s neck and it made the older man smile.


The ride to the club… no, party, Tony kept reminding himself, was too long.  The nerves that had only been tiny before had grown and his stomach was twisted into one big knot.  The brunette thought that he was going to be sick or pass out; either…he hoped the latter as it was preferable.


They finally parked across the street from where the party was being held.  It was early and there was no line outside yet. Tony took several long deep breaths as he fumbled to unclip his seatbelt.  Abby had already bounced eagerly from the car and was stood on the sidewalk looking like she’d consumed a couple dozen red bulls. Gibbs was watching her with fondness as he climbed out.   Tony followed; slow and uncertain. 


Tony trailed after them, falling behind as they crossed to the entrance and the waiting doorman.  They’d reached the other side of the road and his feet had actually hit the pavement when he froze up.  Every self-preserving cell in his body screamed at him; he couldn’t do it.  He could not go in there and risk it all falling apart around him, he knew it would only take one wrong touch and he’d freak out and embarrass his owner and sis.


Gibbs seemed to notice the minute he’d stopped, having let him hang back on their approach.  He was by Tony’s side in seconds, a soothing hand rubbing his back.  “It’s ok, you’re alright, Pup,” he murmured gently in his ear.


“Can’t do it, Boss, thought I could…for Abs…but I can’t.  I’ll take a cab home, it’s ok… you and Abby go,” Tony told him, the fear was evident in his voice and it just about broke Gibbs’ heart again. 


Sometimes he had to remind himself he was meant to be a bastard, this wasn’t one of them because there was no way he was going to send Tony off home like that by himself.  “Abs,” he called to his girl.


She trotted over with a deeply concerned look on her face.  Tony felt bad for being responsible for putting it there.  “You ok, Tony?” she asked softly, leaning into him.


He tried to give her a reassuring smile but he knew that it had fallen way short of the mark.


“I’m gonna take Tony home, you go on inside and give Danny our apologies, tell him we’ll meet them for dinner some time,” Gibbs told her.


“No no, you don’t have to do that, Boss, you go…I can…” Tony started to protest.


Gibbs turned a full powered glare on him but the effect was somewhat counteracted by the concern and caring in his eyes. “You’ll do no such thing, you’re my responsibility to take care of and I fully intend to do just that. We’ll go home and watch a movie, understand?”


The gentle tone of voice had a back bone of steel certainty, there was absolutely no point in trying to argue and Tony was kind of glad even though he felt bad for Abby having to go alone again.  Maybe after he’d settled down at home he could convince Jethro to come back and join her.


“Understood, Boss,” he conceded quietly.


Abby launched herself at him hugging him tightly and kissing him softly on the cheek a couple of times.  “Take care, bro, I’ll bring you back some cake,” she told him knowing that Danny would probably give her a big lump to take home for the two men.


They paused for Gibbs to kiss her softly on the lips before the silver-haired man wrapped an arm around the shaking Tony’s shoulders, not caring what anyone watching might think, and led him back towards the car.  Tony had tried and that was what counted; they had made a break through by getting as far as they had in Jethro’s opinion.


[ readers]



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