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Rescue Pup

This version was saved 13 years, 7 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by PBworks
on October 3, 2008 at 5:17:19 pm

Disclaimer: I don’t own the recognisable characters in this fic. No money has or will be made from this.


A/N: I dunno if places like the Puppy Paradise exist but it would be fun/nice to think they do… so in this fic they do :P. I write in 3rd person omniscient so the pov swaps around, this is intentional.


Rescue Pup

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Chapter 1


Abby was grinning at him, Gibbs knew that look, there was mischief written all over her face. Two empty drinks cartons sat in the bin beside her desk: extra large ones.


“You know, these days you can get all kinds of puppies.” She started off on the random topic.


“Uh-huh. That’s nice Abby, I’m guessing you found something on the collar and leash.”


“Yup, hair. Can you guess what breed, Mr. Psychic?” She teased.


“Surprise me.” He couldn’t keep the smile from his face, she was just too adorable when she was playful, which admittedly was nearly all the time.


“Well, it only has two legs.” She hinted and he looked suitably bemused.


Her lips formed a slight pout, “Can we get a puppy, Sir? I know this place; they have all kinds of strays. I have this friend who got hers from there, he was a rescue pup, poor thing. Some of them just need lots of loving.”


“Abs.” He used a finitely patient tone.


“He was a cross, but adorable. She said you can get all kinds there though.”


“The hair Abs.”


Another pout: this one complete with the pleading eyes. Gibbs rolled his eyes, his grip on his coffee cup tightened imperceptibly.


“We’ll talk about the puppy later.” He reassured her. It was news to him that she’d ever wanted a puppy, in all the time they’d been together, there had been no mention of an interest in owning a pet.


“Human.” Her voice said chirply.


“Say what?” He sounded confused and mentally rewound the conversation. She was almost bouncing in her seat.


“The hair, it was human. Our puppy is of the homo sapien breed.” She swivelled her chair from side to side. “Male, blond. The rest is up to you.” Abby handed her boss the DNA profile. “Now about that puppy.”


The ex-marine was already walking away looking at the printout. “Later, Abby.”




The case was solved and a still slightly bemused Gibbs made his way home. DiNozzo had been uncharacteristically quiet, as Kate had dropped sarcastic comments, following the revelation that a human had used the collar. He was putting it down to the guy’s closeness to Abby though. He often wondered if the others knew the symbolism of the collars she wore to work, with Tony’s reaction he was guessing so. But it was like Kate had been unable to make the link, like Abby wasn’t ever seen without one collar or another encircling her neck. He smirked at that. Cheap dog collar and leash, a poor young guy who’d been unable to buy a proper one, he could pretend it was for a pet as he was buying it.


He pushed open the door and was greeted by his pretty goth girl, on her knees and naked as she always was when she was waiting for him to come home; it was the reason he always phoned ahead from the car to let her know he was on his way. Coming home would lose its appeal if he didn’t have this to look forward too. Her thighs were parted, but her sex was hidden to him under the leather chastity belt, that she insisted on wearing for him.


Reaching out he twirled one of her pigtails round his fingers. “Hey there baby girl.”


Abby grinned at him, turning her head to kiss his hand as she slipped easily from her knees and rose to her feet. They showed little affection at work, save for in indulgent looks and words, but at home touches and kisses were commonplace. She leaned in and licked at his neck, breathing deeply and inhaling his scent.


“I reeeeeally want a puppy.” She breathed into his ear, no more than a whisper, air tickling his skin.


He was powerless, a puppy sounded like a good idea. “Ok, go get dressed and we’ll go take a look at this place after dinner.”


She squealed happily, did a twirl, planted a kiss on his lips and ran off to their bedroom. She was going to get a puppy.




Lady Patience Puppy Paradise.


“Abby?” Gibbs wasn’t cross as such, his voice was more demanding than annoyed. “Is there something you forgot to tell me?”


“Didn’t I tell you they were cute?” Oblivious, she bent over and petted one of the pups on the head. “Oh look at that one, he’s a dapple, those bleached tufts are adorable.”


“Abby!” Patience was waning.


She turned to look at him, her face open with the genuine happiness she was feeling. “Would you prefer a female? I’m sure they have bitches too, probably keep them separate though.” She wasn’t sure if she would be able to deal with having a female pup, but if it was what her Master wanted, she would deal with it.


“No Abby, I don’t.” Gibbs was feeling exasperated at how oblivious she was, he couldn’t decide if it was a very careful act or if she genuinely hadn’t realised she was misleading him. He looked at her, giggling as she batted away one of the pups that was trying to sniff her crotch. He shook his head, took a hold of her arm and pulled her outside, leaving the pups to their mayhem and play.


“Did you see one you liked?” She grinned.


“You didn’t tell me they were human puppies.”


“I didn’t?” She frowned in thought a moment, “Oops.” Eyes wide and playful, her mouth quirked up into a not-quite-apologetic smile. “But you’ve gotta agree they’re cute, right?”


“Are you sure you want to do this?” It had been a long time since they had discussed their opinions on adding others to the relationship, but back then she had said categorically that she didn’t want to share him, or be shared. This was a turn around.


For the first time since she’d made the crazy comment she stopped and thought. They were cute, sure, but they were strangers and adopting a puppy was a big responsibility. She looked through the window as most of them played together. Her eyes drawn to a brunette head peeking out from behind a sofa, timid, frightened and isolated. She couldn’t even see his face but she could see the shivers that ran through him. He’d been mistreated, she was sure of it, that as much as he wanted an owner and to be taken care of he was scared to death of it. She turned back to Gibbs with resolve set on her face. “I want the brunette behind the sofa. He needs us.” Abby stated finally.


Oddly, the idea of owning a ‘human’ puppy wasn’t anywhere as scary as owning an actual pup to Gibbs. He almost had to laugh at himself. When she had turned to look at him, her eyes said it all. He peered through at the one she had picked out; he had crawled out a little and then had backed right back up. Something pulled at his insides, the same thing that had when he’d met Abby. He nodded, his smile gradually growing. “Ok.”


They went to find the woman they’d met on their arrival, really he should have twigged the minute he set eyes on her: she had dominatrix written all over her. Lady Patience was actually the name she went by too, and he could understand that she would need it, surrounded by a dozen human male pups, and however many female ones she kept. Gibbs had told her the one they were interested in adopting while Abby stood and bounced happily beside him.


The woman smiled, “Ah, Hero, he’s delightful, very timid though he will need a lot of tenderness. He was a rescue pup, very badly treated. Now, he holds down a full-time job and would like to keep doing that, but he really is obedient. He’s happy to be a pup outside of work. He is interested in other aspects of d/s too, but if you wanted to go that route I think you would need to build a lot of trust before he would start to relate to you in the human terms he requires to play sexually.”


Lady Patience went on to explain all about the care of their new pup, insisted on seeing ID, she made a note and told them that she would pay a house call to see how they were getting on. Gibbs was about to take offence but a gentle hand settled on his arm and he looked into his Girl’s sparkling eyes. The message clear and he nodded his agreement. She gave them a care and training pack and Gibbs had to work hard at not laughing at the ridiculousness of it, but she then pointed out to them that he wouldn’t be able to tell them what he needed.


Abby and Gibbs were left to wait in the lobby while she went to fetch their pup. It was testament to how well she knew her boys that she had known exactly which one they were talking about when they had told her.


The door was opened as Patience returned, the pup trailing behind her, leash pulled taught and his head down. He hadn’t even glanced up to see who his new owners were. Abby had to contain her exuberance, she didn’t want to scare the boy, it was softly-softly as she’d been warned. She crouched by him and held out a chocolate treat on the palm of her hand. Tentatively, the treat was sniffed curiously before being picked up in teeth and crunched. She left her hand there and he sniffed that too before licking it. The forensics expert’s face lit up with a smile and her other hand petted the short brown hair. It was only then that the face came up to look at her and her heart nearly stopped in her chest as all kinds of emotion flashed through the pup’s familiar eyes.


There was no reaction in the handsome face but the shivering increased. Abby stroked her hand through the hair and whispered soothing words, “Shh, Hero, it’s ok, we’re gonna look after you, it’s ok. Trust us pup.”


The fact she was there in the first place should have been enough to reassure Tony, but he was panicking slightly at a co-worker finding him like this, discovering his secret. Her gentle tone calmed him though, she was there to find a human pup, so him being one wasn’t going to be a big deal, he started to settle down, until his eyes flickered up and saw who she was there with. He yelped as he backed away from his boss. He was tugging on the leash to get away. Abby was one thing, Gibbs was another league altogether: the man he’d lusted after for two years wanted him to be his pup, he should be happy but he was just terrified at the idea.


Firmly in pup-mode as he was, standing up and running was out of the question even if he’d thought of it. When he let himself go deep like he did when he came to the pup paradise, he thought and acted like a pup. Some of the others had trouble letting go of their human attributes, but not him… but then his last owner had beaten it out of him. Abby looked up at her Master, almost heartbroken, silently pleading with him to do something.


Affection was not something Jethro was used to giving to anyone but Abby, there were occasional moments at work when he’d give a look like an indulgent parent to the young man in front of him. There had been a time when he’d harboured thoughts of what it would be like to dominate him even, but right now; the young man in front of him was worlds away from the DiNozzo who smart-mouthed him at work.


He came down to the frightened pup’s level; Hero, he had to remind himself, not Tony. “Hey, pup,” Gibbs deliberately lowered his voice, the way he did when he was soothing Abby after a heavy scene. “You want to come home with my girl and me, we’ll look after you, get you your own bed and blanket.” He dipped a hand in Abby’s pocket to retrieve another treat and held it out on a steady hand towards the shivering man-pup.


The whining huddled figure in front of them was enough removed from the Tony they knew at work that he was easily separating them, and as stupid as he should have felt talking to a grown man like this, the way he was reacting was enough to obliterate that. All he could feel was sympathy and anger at whoever had done this to him.


Hero eyed the treat almost suspiciously, but it stayed where it was, Gibbs didn’t move towards him and when he took a small step forward it wasn’t pulled away. The treat stayed on the hand where it was and bit-by-bit he crept forward until he was close enough to lean in and sniff at the hand. It had come from Abby’s pocket, it was the same as the one she’d given him, he sniffed again then took it into his mouth. Backing off a bit to eat it, the hand stayed where it was as he heard Gibbs almost cooing to him.


“That’s it boy, you like that? You’re such a good boy, Hero.”


When it was all gone he inched forward again to sniff at the hand. The whining had stopped and only the occasional shiver ran through him. He turned to sniff at Abby’s hand again.


Blinking up at them with the most adorable look on his face they could see the moment he decided it would be ok. Lady P had watched on fascinated, these two had listened to what she had told them and the patience they’d shown her pup convinced her that they would be the perfect owners for him. She handed Abby the leash with a satisfied smile and again the goth girl had to contain her excitement.


“Will you be ok at the other end or do you need a blanket.” She asked them as they all walked towards the door.


“We’ll be fine.” Gibbs reassured.


“Our house is secluded, and it has a lovely garden, Hero’s going to love it.” Abby chipped in happily; she showed no sign at all of being perturbed at the idea of having Tony DiNozzo on a leash.


The pup plodded along behind his new owners, shivering as the cooler air outside tickled his skin, it was nice though after the heat of inside. He was glad they’d parked close to the door, the knee-pads gave him some protection but he didn’t fancy much of a walk over concrete.


Gibbs was holding open the back door when they got there and he climbed up and in, onto the back seat. Lady P petted him on the head and said her goodbyes. Then Abby stroked his hair once and buckled the seatbelt around him in a way that would secure him on the seat without him sitting like a human. She stroked his hair again and shut the door on him.


Chapter 2


Tony had known Gibbs had moved, but he hadn’t known why or where to. He had thought it was to avoid the ex-wives, the last thing he would have guessed was that it was to move in with Abby. She had thrown his boss’s jacket over his lap so that anyone peering in wouldn’t get a shock at his naked state, not that he minded either way. He listened as the other two chattered in the front, the radio played and he watched streets pass by the side windows until they were out in countryside.


It was a thirty minute drive to the house; it was secluded and impressive with a tree-lined drive leading up to it. A sprawling single-level building from the outside it looked to have a separate garage as well as a double one attached to the house; he suspected one of them housed a boat rather than a car. Hero shifted slightly on the seat as they stopped to wait while double garage doors opened on automatic; that answered his previous musing: there was no boat. The door was opened and Abby smiled in at him.


“How you doin’ there boy?” She scratched behind his ear as she unfastened the seatbelt. Picking up the leash, she wondered how he was going to manage to get out of the car without hurting himself; it was fairly obvious he wasn’t about to stand. It seemed like he’d given it some thought or it had been something he’d done before, he slipped into the foot well, then eased himself out. There was a soft click as his hard-shelled knee-pads hit the concrete floor.


(Floorplan for house)


The concrete was hard but it didn’t hurt his hands, he was fairly used to it from the puppy paradise. Gibbs was already at the door, unlocking it with his arms full of the things Lady P had given them. He waited patiently as Abby shut the car door and locked it then with a little tug to the leash he followed her.


He didn’t enter the house until she gave another tug and a soft, “C’mon, Hero.” of encouragement.


As he stepped over the threshold his hands hit cool linoleum. His new Master had already disappeared from view and Abby was leaning down to unclip the leash. There was a mat for cleaning off shoes, which he simply stared at. He was a pup, his paws might be mucky but he wasn’t going to wipe them because pups didn’t do that. A memory swept through him like a Hurricane and he started to shake.


“Useless animal, trailing muck all through the house, look at it, look at the mess. I should rub your nose in it...”


He jumped and whimpered as a boot pushed against his backside, the force behind it sending him a good 4 feet from his starting point; he turned to face his tormentor, backing away to the safety to be found behind the sofa. More hateful words, “Useless, stupid, thick.” A hand caught his hair…


“Hush, puppy,” A caring female voice, but only random words filtered through, “it’s ok,” There was a hand in his hair and he tried to get away, was that whining noise coming from him? “You’re safe, Hero, its just me, Abby.” A soft hand ran in circles on his back. He stopped trying to actively get away from the hand, as the voice cut through the flashback and he recognised the scent along with the voice.


He blinked and looked up at her with haunted eyes. Abby continued to make the soothing noises as her insides clenched up painfully at the sight in front of her. She was torn between wanting to hold him until he knew he was safe and wanting to hunt down the bastards that had done this to him: she knew enough to commit the perfect murder and get away with it.


The whining quieted and her hand stroked his hair, she had no idea what had set him off, or how to make it better so they could avoid that trigger. The Goth girl just continued to murmur words designed to calm him, the way she would with a real frightened animal.


“C’mon, boy, lets go in.” She said softly, when he was calm enough once more.


That confused him: he thought they were inside. The hand ruffled his hair and she started through the door, on the other side of the threshold though, was that plush looking cream carpet. It was both inviting and nauseating: when he stepped on it; when he’d mucked it up; the niceness and kindness would be gone, there’d be trouble… and he’d regret it, it would be like before. He didn’t follow, just sat and looked at that carpet. He was aware of her calling to him and he cocked his head to the side and looked up at her with pleading eyes. ~Please don’t make me anger you, don’t make me dirty the carpet~


Abby looked down at him, he was making a soft whining noise, he didn’t want to come in, was he scared of being inside the house? That made no sense. She patted her thigh again.


“C’mon, baby, it’s warmer inside, you’re safe here.” She had never really noticed how much patience she had, but at that moment, she was thankful for it. Offering him a reassuring smile she sat herself on the floor, cross-legged on the carpet, she would just have to wait until he felt ready to take those last steps.


Gibbs had gone to his office with the things that Patience had sent with them. There was a lot of reading material and some bits and pieces that she’d said they would need for him, including a feeding and water bowl. The pack was full of information on “Hero’s” history, health, favourite toys, habits, favourite food. There was a section written by Tony about the way he sees his puppy nature that looked like it might prove enlightening. Lady P had also started a list of things that Hero was afraid of. Aside from the specific information, there was also a generic guide to training, grooming, health, toilet needs and feeding. He only flipped through it but Jethro was already suspecting there was going to be a lot of work involved; but it would be worth it.


He hadn’t heard his girl moving around and curiously, he set the books aside and went to see where she had got to. Blue eyes crinkled in slight amusement as he found her, sat with her back to the wall at the entrance to the mudroom that led off the garage. He looked from her to the human-pup who was sat on his haunches, still on the lino floor. It had been a good ten minutes since they’d arrived home.


“What’s going on?”


She smiled happily up at him. “Hero is just taking a little while to get over his nerves about coming in. It’s cool we’re just chilling out.”


Jethro crouched down, dipped his hand in Abby’s pocket and held out one of the chocolate treats. “C’mon boy, come and get it.”


Suspicious as he was, Hero knew that it was one of his treats in that hand, he could smell the chocolate. Eyeing the hand, the pup shifted forward onto all fours and took a minute step forward; cautiously watching the hand and the treat in it, then looking up to the owner of that hand. Inch by inch he made his way forward, until he was within nibbling distance of that hand. He sniffed at it, then gently picked it up in his teeth and crunched it down.


“See, boy, not so bad now was it.” Gibbs said with soft amusement.


The man’s hand stroked through his hair, and he realised there was softness under his paws. He heard the click of the door behind him and a sinking feeling made him turn, moving backwards – further into the house – as he looked down at the carpet checking for the dirt that would set them off, burst the bubble and start the shouting. There were a couple of scuffmarks, nothing too significant; but still he’d learnt that it didn’t need to be. He whined and backed up further, eyes coming up from the smudges of dirt to his new owners, who were both standing now. Bad puppy the voice inside his head told him.


They didn’t look angry though; if anything, they looked concerned. He was confused, hunching back into himself. His eyes dropped once more to the offending marks, shame and fear written in his posture.


Abby looked down at the frightened puppy, she followed his eyes, hoping it would give them some clue as to what he was so scared off.


“Sir, he’s looking at the carpet.” She said, speculatively. But it wasn’t just any part of the carpet. She crouched to look at it and brushed her hand over it. A light dawned on her face and she looked up at the grey-haired man from where she was. “He thinks he’ll get in trouble for getting dirt on the carpet?”


Gibbs opened his mouth to call that ridiculous, stupid, but he closed it again when he remembered some of what Lady P had told them. He shook his head, wondering when exactly he’d gone soft where Tony DiNozzo was concerned. He realised he’d always had something of a soft spot for the boy; it was what drove their relationship at work and the exasperation he would feel/display at the younger man’s actions and attitude.


“Hey, pup, y’know it’s cool… muck gets on the carpet… that’s what floor coverings are for… and steam cleaners.” Abby cut in, practically crawling across to Hero herself.


The thoughts that ran though the ex-marine’s head at that sight were not pure and innocent. His hands pushed into his pockets and he wondered how their new pet would deal with seeing his co-worker naked. It was probably best if they introduced that slowly; let him settle in first.


Hero tilted his head to the side in a way that she thought was just the cutest thing she’d ever seen. Her hand came up so slowly, open hand with the back of it to him; she stopped a foot away from his face, not wanting to scare him more.


He looked at the hand as it came up, flinching minutely, placated with the slowness with which it moved. It stopped and he looked at it, until curiosity got the better of him; he inched forward a little; until he was close enough to sniff the back of the hand. It smelt of her, a scent that was associated with friendship and smiles, a memory of a conversation about making her own perfume - eau de gunpowder. His whining stopped and he felt himself relaxing. Hero licked at the back of the offered hand and was rewarded with the sound of her delighted giggles.


“You’re such a cute pup.” She declared; and with the same hand, gently caressed his cheek.


Gibbs couldn’t help but chuckle at the pair of them. Once they had gotten Hero to relax around them and the house, there was little doubt that Abby and he would be up to all kinds of fun and mischief. He was looking forward to it with the sort of light-hearted dread that the Master of a bratty submissive usually felt when he saw that gleam in her eyes.


“Abs, why don’t you show Hero round the house and figure out where he’ll be sleeping.”


A real pup could have slept in the laundry room, but a human-pup, that was a different matter; he would likely need his own bedroom. He really had little clue about what to expect or what was needed. How his pup went from Tony to Hero and back again. They would need to know that, it would be important when it came to work as well as daily life.


“Okey dokey.” She said happily, grinned at the pup, and then stood up and patted her thigh. “C’mon boy, I’ll show you the den first.”


“I’ll be in the study, there’s a lot to read.” Gibbs informed her, knowing full well that within ten minutes she’d be there with a mug of hot coffee, just the way he liked it.


Hero padded round after her, the carpets were thick and plush everywhere except the kitchen, which had slippery tiles on the floor: he didn’t like it, he had to keep his body too tense to stop from sliding and they had stopped there for a little while so that Abby could make coffee. He’d followed her to the study but hadn’t gone in.


The house was big, bright and airy not what he would have expected from the Goth girl he knew from work: all except the den. The den had her art on the walls, neon prints of gunshot wounds and bloodstains. There was a comfortable-looking black leather recliner, video games, music system and lots of other cool stuff: he liked this room; it had Abby written all over it.


The family room was big and he knew he would have fun running round in circles in there, it had three large window panels, floor to ceiling and he could imagine himself lazing in the sun in there; or lazing on the scrumptiously soft rug in front of the huge fireplace, while they watched the big TV screen. The breakfast room was just that, it opened out onto a small terrace, French windows looked out onto the vast gardens and he felt his tail wag just a little at the thought of chasing butterflies on the grass. They didn’t go into the dining room; Abby had just waved at it and told him that they ate mostly in the breakfast room. He found it comforting and amusing that she alternated between talking to him like a person and a pet.


If he’d loved the idea of the family room the living room was so big and formal looking he hesitated about following her into it, only doing so when she beckoned him the third time. Three large modern cornflower-blue sofas were arranged in a U shape, the open part towards the even more impressive fireplace. French doors opened out onto a terrace here and he could see an outside cooking area and tables and chairs with closed parasols, there were also a couple of garden heaters. Beyond the terrace lay the garden that he’d seen from the breakfast room and it elicited another wag of his rear.


She called to him and he turned to follow her, directly opposite was the main entrance foyer and beyond the door the outside porch. He was already feeling a little disorientated and she was now talking about how she was going to show him the bedrooms. There was a powder room; 3 bedrooms; two bathrooms and a laundry room, all decorated fairly neutrally, clean and comfortable. Abby pointed out the sleeping porch to him, intoning that he might want to sleep out there when it was warm, where he could look up at the stars. The idea sent a shiver through him; he decided it would feel too much like being told he had to sleep outside. He gave a slight whimper and she petted him.


“Only if you want to, Hero. No one will make you.” Her voice was reassuring and still happy.


She was still happy with him, which was a relief: he just had to keep them happy, be a good pup and not make them mad at him.


They headed back towards the living area, but turned off through a door. “The Master Suite.” She told him, voice and face full of mischief.


The mood of the décor changed as they entered this hallway, the carpet was a rich plum colour, sumptuous. She tapped on the door off to the right and told him it was the walk in closet. They stepped into the main bedroom and he nosed around the bed. Three of the walls were painted a lilac shade while the fourth wall that the bed backed onto was the same plum as the carpet. The soft comforter on the bed matched the feature wall, while the plump pillows that sat atop of it were a mix of the two colours and a couple of shades in between. A plum faux-suede chaise lounge stood against the far wall, an archway into a well lit, purely plum room cut into that wall. She didn’t go there though; she turned and taped a door he hadn’t seen that was in the wall adjacent to where they’d come in.


“Playroom, pup, but you don’t need to worry about that.”


He wagged his tailed and trotted off towards the plum room where the light was flooding in, it turned out to be coming through French doors. The room was a fairly large snug.


“Ah, you like that room do ya.” She had followed him to the archway and watched him as he nosed around the large beanbags on the floor and the futon style sofa-bed that was folded up. She watched him contemplatively.


Hero could smell her all over the room; it was calming as he sniffed at the beanbags. He looked up at her with a cute tilt to his head and she smiled at him. Crossing the room she sat down on the low sofa and called him to her.


Hero hesitated before padding across to her; she ruffled his hair and fussed him. He enjoyed the attention and nuzzled his nose into her hand. Things would be ok so long as he didn’t anger them, wouldn’t they?


“You like the house, pup? It’s home now. I was sooo lucky, it was my grandmother’s she left it to me. It’s so big and it just needed that little something to fill it up, and now we have it. Now we have you.” She continued to pet him as he listened. Abby had seen the way his tail had wagged when he looked out onto the garden. She smiled at him, “You want to go out in the garden, have a sniff around your new territory?”


Hero wagged his tail at that thought, it was a sunny evening, and the grass looked so lush and inviting.


Abby went to the door that led out onto the terrace and unlocked it, pushing it open, she didn’t even need to call him or pat her thigh, he was already on his way out through the door… more space to explore.


Chapter 3


Gibbs returned to his office, looking at the pile of things he’d brought in with them from the car. Curiously, he opened the carrier bag: there was a squeaky chew toy that was shaped like a squirrel, it had teeth marks in it suggesting Hero had played with it a fair bit; a small loosely stuffed blue rabbit, with grubby ears; another pair of kneepads that looked a bit more for indoor use than the ones the pup had already been wearing; another bag of the chocolate treats, they were a cookie base with a layer of chocolate on the top, made for humans not animals but they served the purpose; he was surprised to see a pair of leather hand mitts that locked around the wrist, he would have to read the notes to see what they were about; and finally, there was a complicated set of straps that he worked out was a harness, some dog owners preferred them as there was less chance of harming their animal than by pulling on a leash attached to a collar, that hinted at a stubborn streak. He had a smile on his face as he went through the items.


In the second bag were human clothes, wallet, keys, shoes and toiletries. That made sense, when Hero became Tony he would need clothes to wear. It made him take a moment to consider how this was going to affect their working relationship. He sighed and sat down.


Opening the file, he came to the piece that Tony had written, he recognised the scrawl. It was like an essay and he wondered if Patience required all her ‘pups’ to write one when they first came to her.


My human name is Tony, but I have the spirit of a puppy inside me… his…my puppy name is Hero. I’ve had a good five years to come to terms with my need to let out my inner pup and I think I now understand him well. We share a few traits but are quite different in other ways, although essentially we are the same ‘person’. Hero is a flat-coated Retriever, I gave it some thought and when I’m in puppy mode that’s the self-image I have. I’m not a full-grown dog, still young and still discovering the world around me.


It’s possible that some would think, mistakenly, that the pup is a role I take on… a role-play for a few hours then back to my life… an escapism. It’s much deeper than that; it’s part of my soul, my spirit. If anything, Tony is the role-play and the puppy is the real me, people have to get really close to me to see that though, I think. Is that right? I’m not even sure anymore; there’s probably a balance to be found there somewhere. Day by day I act the part of the human, I go to work and do the things I do, I act the playboy like I have hundreds of conquests and drool over anything in a skirt. Really all I want is to run around in a garden and chase butterflies and squirrels (they’re the enemy you know… people think it’s cats but they’re not as bad as squirrels, you’ve really gotta watch out for them.). I’m not saying that I want to do without the human side of me, but I would like the opportunity to let my puppy personality shine through even when I’m in human mode, I just don’t feel comfortable enough with anyone now to do that though.


Hero was hurt badly, ended up needing a trip to the vet, I was rescued from an abusive relationship and the only way to totally escape it was to relocate. I tried not being a pup, almost two years I spent trying not to be, but I started to get depressed at having to act all the time. That’s when I heard about the Puppy Paradise, and I decided to check it out.


Hero is still hurting inside, naturally a submissive pup, obedient, affectionate and loving, but I’m also timid and scared as a result of my previous owner. I like to chew and nibble at toys and other things, can be quite silly and energetic when I’m relaxed sometimes a little stubborn when I’m frightened. I like exercise just as much as I like lazing about in front of the fire and I like to be petted. I’m always eager to please and would love the companionship of an owner, someone to care for me and who I can play with. I’m still wary of men and find women easier to relax with although my human sexual preference is actually more towards men. Shouting voices make me very scared. I’m a stray and I just want someone to love me despite all my nervousness and insecurities, I really want to find a home.


My human side does have an interest in bdsm play, but having been badly burned that trust will be hard to earn back enough that I will be able to let myself go. I want to serve and please, have a Master or Mistress as well as an Owner, someone who makes both puppy and human feel safe enough that I can be myself without all the acting.


The essay was signed with a drawn paw print that made Gibbs smile despite how much of a rollercoaster it had been to read. It was enlightening to see in print the way Tony thought of himself, and that the man he worked with was essentially a lie; he suspected the playfulness was all real though, even if the womanising wasn’t. It was heart wrenching that he’d been hurt so badly that he was still scared by things related to it and that he had tried so hard to deny what was obviously his nature. He rubbed at his face, he wanted Tony to be his boy as much as he wanted Hero as his pup but it was obvious that was going to take a lot of hard work. He had so many questions for Tony but they would have to wait until he was back on a human level.


The ex-marine had decided he needed to lighten his mood a bit, he had just turned his attention to book, Caring For Your Human-Pup when there was a tap at the door and it was pushed open.


As expected, Abby came in with a cup of his favourite coffee, the richness of it teasing his nostrils; she leaned down and gave him a kiss on the cheek as the cup was placed on the desk. She smiled at what he was reading while giving him a brief shoulder rub. With a smile still on her face she straightened up and left the room, the door closing with a ‘click’ behind her.


He watched the sway of her hips until the door closed behind her, then with a relaxed smile began to read.


The booklet was A5 sized and about 45 pages long. He scanned down the index, it sounded fascinating and he began to read in earnest. The first section provided an inset into what Tony got out of it, why he liked to be a pup and what he wanted from an owner when he was. It was insightful; there was a sub-section on communication and training that he read twice.


He realised, as he read, that he had a lot to talk with Tony about. Things he hadn’t even considered, like using the bathroom. He wondered if the personal information would answer some of them questions. It took him ages to read, some parts he read more than once, making mental or written notes. The coffee had been sipped at as he read and when he’d finished with the booklet he downed the rest of the cooling liquid.


With a heavy sigh he started to read the hard stuff. It started off with some personal information, age; pup breed; favourite foods; favourite toys and games; the trigger word that was talked about in the guide for switching from pup to human and back, which turned out to be using his names, Tony for human, Hero for pup; and there was information about his previous experiences. A detailed account of the abuse he’d suffered and the resulting things that it had left him afraid of as well as explaining his odd behaviours. When he moved on, Gibbs’ blood ran cold as he read a doctor’s report on injuries that Tony had sustained. He didn’t know how Lady P had got hold of it but it made for sickening reading; he was going to have to take a good long look at the guy’s medical records when he went in to work.


He rubbed at his face, “Oh Tony.” His blood had gone from icy cold to boiling with rage. He banged his hand down onto the desk. If he ever laid sight on the bastard that had done this to his boy, he would rip them apart, bit-by-bit, slowly!


He took some deep calming breaths. It had been a while since they’d returned from the puppy paradise and they all had to be getting hungry.


Some how he managed to calm himself enough that he could go looking for Abby and Hero, so he wouldn’t scare the poor pup. Leaving the office he wandered until he reached the living room and through the French windows, spotted them in the garden, the dying sun’s rays still providing just enough illumination. He stood a moment and watched Hero sniffing at the ground and some flowers. He couldn’t help but smile.


Chapter 4


He pushed open one of the doors and stepped out onto the terrace, his girl’s eyes turned straight towards him, a delighted smile on her face from where she’d been watching Hero explore the garden. She crossed to him and offered her lips, Gibbs accepted and kissed her softly, not lingering or deepening it with his tongue; not right now.


“How’s he been?” He asked, as he pulled her into his arms, her back to his chest, and they both watched the curious pup.


“Good, mostly.” She was thoughtful a moment, “He really liked the snug.”


Gibbs smiled and kissed her temple, “That’s because it smells of you, and he recognises you as safe, as a friend.”


He could almost hear her frown.


“Do I even want to know what was in that file?” Abby asked him.


His smile faded, “You won’t want to, but you need to. It’s not pretty, baby girl.”


His tone spoke of emotion in a way she wasn’t used to hearing from him and it caused her to turn to look at him. His eyes were sad, and if she’d wanted to hunt down the bastard before…well now she just wanted it destroy him totally. She could; she could make it so he’d never existed, or wished he hadn’t, and when she was done Gibbs could finish what was left. The thoughts of vengeance made her feel better for a moment; of course she hadn’t read that file yet.


“Where’s he going to sleep?” She asked.


“I’m not sure. He has issues about being isolated or left alone, I’d prefer to keep him close.”


“He could sleep in the snug.” She offered with a smile, choosing deliberately not to examine the reason behind those issues just yet. There would be time later. “Will he sleep as Hero or Tony, do you think?”


“I’d be happier if it was as Tony for now.” He twirled her dark pigtail round his finger. “I think the snug would be perfect. You don’t mind? I know it’s always been your space to get away when you needed to.”


She shook her head, making those pigtails swing back and forth cutely. “He needs it more than I do.” She said, “It can be his space. He really didn’t like the idea of the sleeping porch. I was a bit surprised at that, but it makes sense with the isolation thing I guess. And the other bedrooms are too far away.”


He nodded and kissed her cheek again. “Time to eat, you better call him in.” He told her and headed inside.


She nodded, turning to watch him disappear through the French doors. Hero was still sniffing his way round the garden, there was the distinct lack of excitement that she would expect in other pups, but the curiosity was undeniable, and there was the occasional wag of the tail. She smiled wistfully before whistling to him.


“Hero,” She patted her thigh. “Come on, boy”


He turned to look at her when he heard her call his name, at first thinking there had been something bad about his exploration, but she was happy when she patted her thigh and called him to her. He made his way over to her slowly. As he reached her she turned and went in through the door they’d come out of. He hesitated, looking up at her, a nervous set to his body. She called to him again.


“C’mon, pup, it’s ok, muck’s allowed, remember.”


His tail wagged a couple of times and he went inside. She shut the door behind him, shutting them both inside.


Gibbs went to the linen closet and picked out a blanket before heading through to the snug, suspecting that Abby would call Hero in through there; since that was where he’d been most comfortable. He’d been right, and they were there when he passed through the archway. It almost broke his heart though, as the pup looked up at him then nudged his way round to hide behind his girl’s leg.


He tried to look as kind and harmless as he could, it wasn’t an easy thing for a man like him. The ex-marine moved to sit down on the futon and placed the blanket beside him. He raised his hands, palms up to call him over, “Come here, Hero.”


The pup peered out at him. Abby looked down at Hero and put her hand in her pocket before passing Gibbs the last of the treats she had. He held out the treat on the flat of his hand and waited patiently.


Slowly, bit-by-bit, Hero edged his way out, unable to resist the draw of the treat. He looked at it suspiciously, but as he sniffed at it nothing bad happened. He knew Abby was there still and he could smell her all around him. He took the treat.


“Good boy.”


He was praised, and the man’s hand stroked his hair.




Hero tilted his head to the side, unsure.


A hand pressed down on his rump, gentle but insistent “Sit.”


The word came again and he shifted back onto his haunches.


“Good boy.” More praise and more hair stroking.


He couldn’t help but wait for the other shoe to drop.


Gibbs looked up at Abby, wondering if he should ask her to leave them to it. He didn’t need to decide though, as if sensing the question, she moved through the arch and into the bedroom. Not too far but far enough.


He softened his voice as much as he could, “Tony, I need you to come up.” He urged quietly, the blanket lay ready, and he continued to soothe the dark hair. “Come on Tony, come back to human.”


He could almost see the moment the shift happened, puppy characteristics turning to human and a blush crept over Tony’s cheeks.


The older man picked the blanket up and draped it around strong shoulders.


“Welcome back.” He told him, he could see the embarrassment in DiNozzo’s face and body as he pulled the blanket round him.


His eyes had dropped, and he looked like he didn’t know what to say.


“Tony, look at me.” He urged, softly.


There was a flutter of something across his face before he looked up.


“It’s ok, you’re safe here.”




“You’ve nothing to be embarrassed about, we were there looking for a pup.”




Gibbs’ hand stroked lightly down his cheek, “You’re part of the family now, Tony, we want you here as long as you want to be here.”


The look of hope, of hardly daring to believe the truth crossed the younger man’s face. He turned away from the gentle hand, shifting to sit on the ground; he started to take off his kneepads. He was trying to think of a joke, or some bravado to bluster his way through the situation.


“Look, why don’t you take a shower, I’ll fetch your clothes and we can talk about it. There’s a lot to discuss.” His voice took on a tone of dominance. He sensed a moment of protest building and stood, looking down at the brunette on the floor. “We will talk about it.” He held his hand out to help Tony stand up.


DiNozzo looked at the hand a second before putting his own in it. He stood and straightened up with a wince; he’d been on his knees a bit too long without stretching. He expected his hand to be dropped when he stood up; but instead he was enfolded in an embrace, unsure how to respond he hesitated before returning it with his free hand, the other holding the blanket closed. Before he had time to worry too much it was over and he was released.


Holding the blanket around him, he followed his boss out of the room and into the Master bedroom, surprised to see Abby sat on the bed looking at him with a mixture of happiness and concern.


“I’ll be right back.” Gibbs said, disappearing out of the room.


“Abs…” Tony started to say, before he could say more he had his arms full of Goth Girl. He’d let go of the blanket to wrap his arms around her and it fell to the floor, he didn’t care as she held him.


He felt like he owed her some explanation, they were close friends and there was a whole part of him that he’d not shared with her. To be fair, he didn’t know about her and Gibbs, but he did know about her interest in kink so it wasn’t a huge leap for him.


Abby pulled back and placed a kiss on his cheek, leaving a smudge of red lipstick. “It’ll all be ok, Tony, I promise.” She told him, then ushered him towards the bathroom.


The shower felt good as water poured over his body, carrying away dirt, it left behind his embarrassment though. He knew it was crazy, after all… they’d not laughed or poked fun in any way, not to mention that they were even at Puppy Paradise in the first place. He lathered his hair with shampoo for a second time, the leaned back under the luxurious strong spray as the suds were washed down his back towards the drain. He was clean, but he stayed where he was a bit longer. He had to find a way to face them. Gibbs was his boss, it was crazy, how the hell was he going to be able to look him in the eye at work after this?


But Gibbs’ words kept coming back to him…“You’re part of the family now, Tony, we want you here as long as you want to be here.”


He really wasn’t sure what to do or make of it all.


He finally shut off the water, stepping out he found a towel and dried himself off before wrapping it around his waist. Tony headed back towards the bedroom; his clothes were laid out for him on the bed, and shoes sat on the floor below. He got dressed quickly, returning the towel to the bathroom before trying to remember his way through the house and not knowing where they would even be.


Everything looked very different in his human mindset and from the different height. He managed to find his way out of the Master Suite, but a wrong turn took him towards more bedrooms. He turned back the other way and was soon in the big living room. French doors looked out onto the terrace as the sun was almost gone from the sky.


“Boss? Abs?” He called out, and then murmured, “Beam me up, Scotty?” It was like being a strange land, he felt like an alien. How on earth could they afford to live in a house like this?


Just when he was looking around and feeling very lost, a pigtailed head appeared around a door jam.


“Hey, through here.” She said chirpily


“I guess you really weren’t joking about the chastity belt.”


She chuckled, “actually, Gibbs hates them.”


“Oh I just bet he does, I heard he struggles to operate a bra let alone a chastity belt.” He grinned; his joke was lame even by his standards. He half expected to hear an exasperated ‘DiNozzo’, maybe complete with a smack round the back of his head. Instead, he was greeted by the sight of his boss…cooking!


Gibbs just smiled and shook his head. Abby had grabbed Tony’s hand and pulled him towards the kitchen table. She started to chatter at him about work, each making their random quips where appropriate and more frequently where they weren’t. He occasionally glanced towards the stove towards his boss; obviously the forensics expert didn’t have a problem with him being there but he couldn’t gauge the other man’s mood.


When dinner was served, as hungry as he was, Tony found it hard to eat. He would feel eyes on him as he pushed the food around on his plate. It looked and smelt good, and it tasted great from the few mouthfuls he’d had. But there was a lump in his throat, a big one, that made it hard to swallow around. He was nervous of what was going to be said later. It was so hard to figure out his boss even though Abby was pretty much an open book, and as much as he’d fantasised about Gibbs in the past, he could hardly let himself believe that it was finally going to happen. He had so much baggage and he was going to have to tell the older man all about it; that would change everything, he knew it would. No one could keep looking at someone the same way when there had been something that huge shared.


Gibbs was tempted to tell Tony to eat up, but knew that hassling him over it would probably only make it worse; so he tried to make the small talk he usually would with Abby and not put any pressure on him by watching him…even though that was against all his instincts.


The meal finally finished, DiNozzo had not even eaten half of it; but at least he’d eaten some. Abby started to clear the dishes away and Gibbs got to his feet.


“Come on, Tony, let’s go talk somewhere more comfortable.”


He hesitated, looking up into brilliant blue eyes then over at Abs where she had started to wash dishes. When he looked back he saw that those eyes weren’t going to let up, and like a rabbit caught in headlights he slowly got to his feet, a little wide eyed and his smart-mouthed humour having disappeared yet again. Where was his comfortable blanket of bad jokes when he needed them?


He followed as he was led quietly to the family room, he remembered the rug and thoughts of curling up on it in front of the fire; he raised a small wistful smile. Tony noticed belatedly that Gibbs had sat on the sofa and was studying him. He forced his smile bigger, but knew it must look false. He sat himself down on the seat that was patted in indication for him to do just that.


“Tony.” It was hard to know where to begin, Abby had been the one to approach him about her and Gibbs having a relationship and they’d really just fallen into step with each other easily. But his boy had been hurt and was wary. He had to do it right and that wasn’t his strongest point in relationships.


“Boss?” The brunette asked after the pause became uncomfortable for him. “Look, it’s ok, I know this isn’t what you were probably expecting and knowing Abby when she took you to get a puppy… I was the last thing you expected to go home with and it’s ok, really. I could use a lift home though, if it’s ok, or I can get a cab and then we don’t need to mention it again, if you’d prefer. ”


Gibbs stared at him, and shook his head, “Tony. You’re not going anywhere so you can quit the defensive talk.”


That left the younger man blinking dumbly at him. Where the hell was his witty humour when he needed it? Abandoned in his hour of need.


“I meant what I said before.” Jethro shifted minutely closer to his boy, not wanting to spook him. He reached over and put his hand on top of DiNozzo’s. “You’re part of the family now.”


Tony looked at the hands and then up into his bosses piercing ice blue eyes. He was struggling with this, he could only keep the barrier up so long in the face of such persuasive words; but he’d fallen for them before and he wasn’t going to let it happen again.


Gibbs could almost feel the battle going on inside the other man, he was feeling exposed and vulnerable but he was clinging on to the last shreds of his defences. He tried a new angle. “Tell me why were you at Lady P’s?”


Trapped, that was how he felt at that moment, the truth couldn’t be denied, Gibbs had his folder after all, and they’d spoken with the woman. She would have told them all about him. He brought his hand up to rub at his face, closing his eyes against that gaze. “You know why.”


“Tony, I want you to tell me.”


His head shook slightly, “I…” When his eyes opened they were looking down at his lap and they stayed fixed there on the joined hands.


Gibbs’ hand squeezed the one that he was holding in reassurance, he was there and he wasn’t going to leave until he heard what he wanted… he wasn’t going to leave once he did hear what he wanted.


There was no point in denying it, what good could that do? And they had to work together. He started to wonder if he put in for a transfer would it be accepted or would his boss make him stay out of some twisted way of making him suffer.


“I was lonely, I needed to be around people who understood and… I hoped that I’d find someone who would take me home. Lady P does checks on people, I felt safer going to her.”


“Before you went to her, how were you feeling?”


He tried to pull his hand free, he didn’t want to talk about it, but the grip wouldn’t give. His shoulders slumped and he sighed. “I was depressed. There was this big gap and I couldn’t fill it. I…” He shook his head. “Didn’t matter how much I tried to deny that side of myself it was always there.”


“Did going to Lady P’s help?” Gibbs had to fight the urge to pull Tony into a hug, to wrap his arms around him and stroke his hair. He wanted to make it all right, to drive away the shadows and monsters of the past. He pushed down that thought because that could only make him angry at the abuse he’d suffered. He wondered how much it had cost him to confide that side of him to the guy in the first place. Another thought to push away until later.


“Some. She was kind, and sometimes she’d let me follow her round. But the other pups could be rough and I didn’t like that. Then I’d see Owners come and pick one out and take them off home with them, it was always the more lively pups that were picked. I sort of resolved myself to knowing that I wouldn’t get picked, was kind of scared of it to be honest. You’d never know what kind of owner you were going to get, but Lady P would always do her best to match them right.” He brought his eyes up to meet Gibbs’ then, “She must have thought you guys would be a good match for me.”


Jethro nodded, understanding the realisation that had just occurred in his mind. “What did you get out of it? How did it help?” He asked curiously, stroking his thumb over the hand he wasn’t gripping quite so tightly now that it was no longer trying to pull away.


The eyes dropped from his again. “I could switch off and forget. It was all about playing, eating, sleeping and being petted. Work didn’t exist in there, the problems from outside didn’t matter, I could leave them behind when I took off my clothes and strapped on the kneepads.” His cheeks burned at the mention of getting naked.


“But the loneliness stayed?” It was a question, but it wasn’t.


The brunette nodded sadly, without looking up.


“Tony, look at me.”


Hesitant eyes came up to meet his, unsure and afraid of what they’d see when they did. But all he found was concern, compassion, understanding and something that could only be equated with tenderness. He thought that look on his boss’ face would make him cry, but somehow he held onto it.


“You don’t have to be lonely anymore, you belong with us now. We’re your family and this is your home, Tony, and you’re free to be who or what you want when you’re in it.” Gibbs’ voice was sincere.


DiNozzo swallowed as he looked into those eyes, he wanted to let himself fall for the man, he really did, but it was so hard. He’d found him attractive the whole time he worked for him, harboured a crush and an almost idolisation of the man, he was like a god to him and his approval mattered, his praise mattered, he never wanted to let him down; he wasn’t sure that he could help the latter happening though, if he belonged to him, he was a disappointment as a pet, that much had been beaten into him. He looked away, tried to tug his hand free again but it wasn’t going to come free.


“I can’t.” He said, almost desperately.


“Why? Give me a good reason and I’ll let you go, but it has to be a damn good one.” Gibbs’ voice was calm and reasonable, that was comforting and he tried not to let himself be pulled into the need for that.


His other hand tried to peel the fingers away from his, but it was an exercise in futility.


“Why, Tony?”


“Work will be awkward. Don’t you always say that we shouldn’t mix work and relationships?”


“When have I ever said that? And work will only be awkward if we let it be that way. It isn’t for Abby and I.”


“I…” Never: he couldn’t remember Gibbs ever having said that! “She isn’t in the field with you though.”


“You’ll have my six the same way you always do, Tony, and I’ll have yours. That won’t change. If anything you might actually start doing as your told.” He gave a soft snort to show he knew that wasn’t going to happen. “Now tell me why.”


Tony shook his head, “Please…”


“Not letting you go, Tony, not unless you tell me a damn good reason why.”


“Gibbs…” His plea seemed to fall on deaf ears; but even without looking he could feel those eyes on him. He sighed. “I’m not… I can’t…”


Tony wanted so badly to belong to the man, words couldn’t even describe how much he did want that; but it could only end badly. He turned his face away as tears prickled at the backs of his eyes. He wasn’t going to cry, he couldn’t, not now.


The hand that wasn’t holding his was gently touching his chin and turning his head to face that gaze. He was powerless to resist, the touch was barely there but it didn’t need to be. The tears broke free as his hold on them gave way. His eyes didn’t come up to meet blue, “I’m not a good pet.” He shook his head, “I don’t want to disappoint you… please.”


Gibbs’ fingers slid up to cup the smooth cheek at the admittance, he had guessed what was behind the resistance, and he had been willing to push as much as he could, without getting heavy, in order to hear it. The bastard had done a real number on Tony and it made him ache inside. “It’s not for you to decide, and from what I’ve seen, you’re a damn good pet and I want nothing more for you to belong to me. I know it’s hard, I know you’ve been badly treated.”


Guilty, embarrassed wet eyes looked away.


“It’s not your fault, Tony. The way you were treated wasn’t your fault and you didn’t deserve it… no one does.” He was finding it hard to keep the anger out of his voice at the way his boy had been treated.


DiNozzo was shaking his head, he couldn’t let his guard down, he couldn’t let Gibbs’ work his way past it. This just wasn’t happening.


The hand that had been holding on to his came up and cupped his other cheek, holding his face gently between them. “Look at me.” Soft words that, for some reason, he just couldn’t disobey. His eyes met blue again; blue that no longer looked bright and piercing but was now sad and stormy. Tony swallowed the lump of emotion in his throat, could feel his sticky tears drying on his face as a gentle thumb stroked over them.


“I’m here, Abby’s here, we’re not going anywhere and we don’t think any less of you for what happened, for what was done to you. It wasn’t your fault.”


Tony closed his eyes a moment, took a deep breath and opened them again. He wished he could believe that, he really did. Gibbs seemed to believe it though and maybe that was what counted.


“Let me take care of you, let me give you what you need, what every pup needs.”


“You… you really want to own me?” He just couldn’t get his head around it.


“Tony, I already do, have felt like you belonged to me for a long time, just never recognised it. I want you here, part of our family, the three of us. We can take it as slow as you need, baby steps. We can stick with the pup-play as long as you need, but what I really want is for you to be my boy as well as my pup.”


DiNozzo was fairly sure his gulp was almost comedic loud at those words. “Y…you want to be…you want to be my Master?” His heart was beating furiously in his chest at the thought, fear and excitement, joy and nerves, all mingled together so he wasn’t entirely sure which was strongest.


Gibbs nodded and smiled; “I think you’d make the perfect subbie bro for Abby, as well as being the perfect pup.”


That made his cheeks heat up again, his eyes dropped as he flushed red. His boss chuckled and he looked back up, questioningly.


“You look cute when you blush, Tony.” Was the explanation he received.


A smile tugged at his lips in response, even though he tried not to, he couldn’t help it. There was just something about hearing his boss calling him cute that made him want to grin.


“I’m not going to rush you, we can go as slow as you need. Ok?”


There was a moment’s hesitation when Gibbs thought that Tony might actually refuse and ask to be taken home again, he was relieved when he started to nod.




“Good boy.” Jethro smiled at him, his eyes brightening.


And the smile that he received made it all worth it, the brunette knew it wasn’t going to be easy, just getting to that point had been hard enough. The ex-marine wouldn’t put up with his evasiveness and that both scared and relieved him. He would no doubt fight being emotionally exposed, but part of him wanted it because he so wanted to be with them.


“So what now?” He asked, uncertainly.


“Now, we all curl up and watch a film until bedtime, you want to choose?”


Tony focused on the word bedtime and his posture shifted.


“Don’t panic pet, you get your own room.” Gibbs had been expecting it, somewhat and moved to head off the reaction before his boy could pull away.


“Thanks.” Tony sighed and relaxed again.


“knock knock?” Abby’s cheerful but quiet voice came from the doorway.


Gibbs waved her in and she grinned, holding up the bowl of popcorn.


“What are we watching?” She asked, deliberately avoiding mention of the obvious fact that Tony had been crying. She sat down beside him so they were flanking him.


“Tony was just about to pick.”

Chapter 5


The movie finished and Gibb’s glanced sideways at the other two on the sofa with him. Tony gave a small sheepish smile at the way Abby was curled up with her head pillowed on his shoulder. The older man gave him a genuine smile that was part to reassure and part because the two looked so goddamned sweet like that. He leaned across and stroked his girl’s cheek.


“Abs, baby girl, bedtime.”


His voice was so soft and so full of love that it made Tony almost ache inside; only the sleepy weight against him stopped him from trying to break away from the scene. She was stirring though and making the most adorable murmurs. He was sunk, he knew it, even if he could walk away from Gibbs, there was no way on earth he could walk away from Abby. It wasn’t sexual, not really, it was deep friendship – he cared for her so much and she meant the world to him.


Fully awake she lifted her head and gave a soft pouty smile, “I missed the end.” Her voice more husky, from sleep, than it usually was.


The other two couldn’t help but chuckle.


“Baby girl, you’ve seen that film more than two dozen times, you know the ending in your sleep.” Her Master admonished affectionately, as he pulled her to her feet.


DiNozzo couldn’t have kept the smile off his face with the best will in the world. He wasn’t expecting the hand that was held out to him though. He looked at it and then looked up into the warm blue eyes of the person it belonged to. That same affectionate look was on Jethro’s face and it made him swallow, as his own smile disintegrated with his nerves. He had to force himself to take the hand, sliding his own into it and letting it pull him up to stand with them. His insides twisted themselves up inside and he couldn’t be sure that his hand wouldn’t be shaking if it were to be released at that point.


He received a small nod and a pleased smile, it made his breathing hitch minutely but he thought he covered it well.


Gibbs kept hold of both his and her hands, almost pulling them along in his wake. Tony’s hesitance holding him a couple of steps behind and stretching the arms out; it almost served to emphasise the guidance that was taking place a metaphor for more than just being led to bed. Where as Abby’s sleepiness made her trail slightly, the occasional yawn escaping her pretty lips.


They stopped outside the door to the Master Suite and he felt uneasy, Gibbs had promised him his own room but they seemed so far away, if felt like some kind of exile. His stomach felt heavy at being separated from them because the physical distance would make him feel emotionally distant; that he wasn’t good enough to be with them and that for all his boss’ talk of it being his home, he was still an outsider; a guest to be put in a ‘guest bedroom’. Not that he wanted to climb in bed with them - the thought of that sent him into an internal panic


“You want to sleep in the snug, Tony?” Abby asked him, gently. “The sofa folds out into a futon.”


It was almost as if she’d read his mind, his eyes flickered to her face and he felt a wave of both relief and apprehension. He’d liked the snug, it smelt of her and that was comforting, it was close enough that he wouldn’t feel isolated from them. But, was it too close? What if he had nightmares? What if they had sex and he could hear them? He didn’t know whether to be turned on by that last thought or not.




The calm soft baritone caught his attention and he realised he’d got so caught in his thoughts he’d vagued off. He blushed.


“You don’t have to, if you’d rather choose one of the other rooms?”


“No!” He said a little too sharply, a wave of hurt rushing over him and making him almost snap in desperation. His cheeks reddened further, but the other two were looking at him with something close to understanding written across their faces.


“Sorry,” he murmured. “The snug will be fine, so long as you kids behave yourself.” He gave a small smirk a hint of his usual self shining through.


The other two chuckled softly, neither one really fooled, the usual DiNozzo would be trying to get them to misbehave and making jokes about how he could watch, eat popcorn and maybe sell tickets; while trying to think of a way he could use this to play a prank on Kate or McGee. He was trying, but at the same time, it was that which highlighted the differences between the man they were used to and the one who was letting them see his vulnerability.


“Deal.” Gibbs chuckled, “for tonight, anyway.” He winked at the brunette and pushed through the door, once more leading them onwards.


Abby busied herself, pulling out the sofa to make a bed and then putting covers on it and finding him pillows.


“Anything you need?” Gibbs asked him as they watched her; she was too efficient to even dream of interrupting her with an offer of assistance.


Tony shook his head, “Just the bed will be fine, thanks.”




They left him alone in the snug, separated from them by only a partial dividing wall and a doorless archway. Abby had hugged him and kissed him softly on the cheek, he’d expected that. But he hadn’t expected the full on hug that he received from Jethro or the way it had made him feel so accepted and cared for. When they’d left him he didn’t move for what seemed like ages, staring at the wall that separated the quietly talking couple. His mind was a whirling mess as the low lighting cast shadows around the room.


Tony unfastened his shoes and slid them off, then slid under the covers in his clothes. This all could still be temporary, anything could happen and he needed to be able to make a quick escape when it all went wrong. He couldn’t relax and he couldn’t let his guard down.


The exhausted agent had repeated that mantra over in his head as he lay there, trying to find sleep and failing miserably. His body seemed to be taking the command, not to relax, literally. He could hear soft snores coming from the other room and from the tone of them determined that they most likely belonged to Gibbs rather than Abby, but he was no expert on gender identification from snoring. It was rhythmic and soothing and he let it lull him.


His mind was still screaming at him to runaway now while he still could. The suspicious devil on his shoulder proclaimed that they might be nice now but it was only a matter of time before they turned on him. It reminded him about his ex. Taunting him with memories of how good it had been in the beginning and then how it had turned sour when he’d started to trust and give himself to the other man. But the devil wasn’t alone and the tiny timid voice of hope kept repeating that it was Gibbs’, his boss, the man he trusted with his life everyday at work and Abby his best friend; they wouldn’t hurt him, it declared.


Somewhere amidst the internal battle he’d fallen asleep. The dream gripped him, wrapped around his sleeping mind and played with it. Gibbs and Abby, treating him with care, looking at him with that affection and understanding. He let himself fall, gave himself to them and then it all came crashing down. A treat, to draw him in and reassure him, became a cruel hand hitting him. A booted foot, not quite kicking him but, pushing him forcefully away as he’d come for attention. An ‘accident’ on the floor led to a night spent locked outside, naked and shivering.


He was shaking, a firm hand on him and he tried to scrabble away from it. Words drifted through the haze and they were insistent. He whined and whimpered trying to get away.


“Tony!” The word cut through the dream, commanding but still gentle. “It’s ok, you’re safe, wake up.”


With a yelp, he was awake. The watery light from early morning filtering through a gap in the curtains, he looked up at his boss and he wanted to just die. How had he thought he could do this? It was just stupid; he couldn’t let them close they would just hurt him. Maybe not intentionally, but they would. He shook his head sadly, eyes dropping as tears steadily made their way down his cheeks, unnoticed by himself.


A strong embrace wrapped around him, Tony tensed at the strength he could feel in it.


“Ssh, it was just a bad dream, I’ve got you now. No one’s going to hurt you ever again, pet, I promise.” Gibbs told him, kissing his hair.


The nightmare was still vivid in his mind and the tenderness made a lump form in his throat while a lead brick weighed down his stomach. All he could do was sob, he didn’t want this…but he did. He wanted to be safe and he wanted to be with them, but it would all go wrong. Even with the best intentions in the world, they would see him for what he really was and then they would hate him too.


The kind words that were meant to soothe only made the ache inside worse. If only he was worthy of that, if only it were true. He knew he didn’t deserve it though.


At some point exhaustion had pulled him back to sleep, surrounded by a strong body and soothing words that had only made his pain worse. When he woke up, Tony was disorientated and alone. He thought it had all been some warped dream, but his face was sticky with dried tears and the covers held his boss’ scent. He whimpered quietly before he realised and bit down on it. He looked at his watch, it was time to get up and ready for work. Work… that was just going to be the most fun experience of his life…not!


He almost wished he could roll the clock back to Kate teasing him about kissing the he/she, that would be preferable to the thought of facing this. Hell, a firing squad would be preferable to him at that point in time.


The brunette groaned as he got up off the futon, wondering if he should fold it all away, he realised he didn’t know how it went, so he tidied the bedding and left it. He’d picked up his shoes and headed out. When he passed through the archway, his eyes fell on a fresh towel sat on the bed with an unopened toothbrush and razor placed on top, beside it was a blue button up cotton shirt; he guessed the arrangement was meant for him.


The shoes dropped to the floor, he gathered up the towel, toothbrush and razor and headed into the bathroom. He desperately tried not to think about the acceptance and consideration involved in the act of leaving the things out for him, swallowing the lump in his throat, he went through his morning regime in the unfamiliar bathroom.


Tony was clean, he was dressed and groomed and he stood in the Master Bedroom staring at the hallway that led to the door into the rest of the house. He knew at some point he’d have to show his face for breakfast but he just wasn’t ready to do it. Didn’t know how he was going to get through it all. He felt like he was back at square one.


He was an NCIS agent, he could do this; he’d covered for himself before. All he had to do was find that mask again and fix it back in place. Taking a deep breath he pulled himself up straight and made his way, as confidently as possible, to the kitchen.


“Pancakes?” Abby tossed the question over her shoulder at him, not even looking when he walked in.


She was chirpy, bouncing along to music on the radio; it was pop…not what he ordinarily associated with his best Goth Girl. Her hips swayed making her short skirt swish from side to side and her pig tails moved with the off beat. Tony found himself not wanting to fight the warmth that was growing inside him and it was just confusing him more and pulling him apart at the seams.


“Pinch me, I think I just died and went to breakfast heaven.” He grinned and sat down at the table. He belatedly noted the absence of his boss. “I see an angel.”


She chuckled, softly, looking over her shoulder and shooting him an indulgent smile, hazel eyes sparkling.


“Ok, a fallen angel.” He laughed and it didn’t even feel too forced.


He watched her skirt and pigtails sway as she bounced to the tune and poured more batter into the pan at the same time.


A plate with a stack of pancakes on was set on the table and she grinned at him, “Breakfast is served. Dig in.”


She didn’t sit down, but went to the doorway and called cheerfully, “Breakfast!”


Tony’s stomach churned slightly, in the process of loading his plate, at the realisation that Gibbs would be joining them to eat. He tried to keep the smile on his face, tried not to tense his body. In his state of apprehension he poured a little too much maple syrup on the pancakes on his plate. He cursed softly just as his boss walked through the door.


The brunette swallowed hard, the man looked good in the morning and it wasn’t the first time that thought had occurred to him. Abby was talking and setting coffee on the table as she finally sat down and prepared her own plate. He didn’t hear a word she said though.


“Mornin’, Tony.” The calm baritone directed at him.


Gibbs was more concerned with getting coffee than the pancakes, priorities it seemed. He gave the younger man a smile and his voice had been full of an affection that made Tony reel, slightly off balance mentally. He stuffed a forkful of food into his mouth to avoid having to talk, settling for a nod. The memory of falling asleep in that embrace in the early hours of the morning playing in his mind like a scene from a movie.


The older man seemed amused by the way he was shovelling pancakes into his mouth and he forced himself to ease off. Pausing to take a drink of coffee. He swallowed and cleared his throat.


“I need to get my car.” He said, his voice almost shamefully quiet, a hint of apology. Ok, so maybe he couldn’t bluff his way through this like he had before.


Gibbs nodded, clearing his own mouthful before speaking, his fork almost dangling from his fingers as he rested his elbow on the table. “We’ll drop you off. Then you can follow us in.”


Tony nodded, “Thanks.”




It was odd being in the backseat of the car as a human, after the previous days journey. It felt like it had been days ago, not just the night before. He tried to relax, but found himself holding on to the seat belt as he watched the scenery pass by out of the side window. A country song played in the front and Gibbs was humming along while Abby pulled faces at his choice.


It was comfortable in a way that travelling with his boss and any of his other co-workers had never been before. He didn’t feel the need to be the light entertainment. Tony chewed on his lower lip, lost in his thoughts, unaware of the frequent glances that his boss kept making at him through the rear view mirror.


His car was where he’d left it, parked outside Lady P’s. They pulled up beside it and Gibbs smiled at him over his shoulder.


“There you go.”


He nodded, offering a shy smile back, “Thanks, I’ll see you at work.”


“You sure will.”


Tony hesitated before pushing the door open and climbing out. He rounded the back of the car and made his way to his own, clicking the remote to unlock it. He looked back and Abby blew him a kiss with a grin. He laughed and raised his hand in a small wave to both of them before climbing in.


They waited until he’d started his engine, before they manoeuvred the car back out onto the road, Gibbs actually drove sedately, checking that the younger man was still there. It wasn’t like he expected him to do a runner, but he just felt better keeping an eye on him.


They reached the office together, meeting him at his car. Abby got her kiss on the cheek from the boss and they headed inside. Tony had worried about what would happen, how it would happen, but as they stepped through the doors the other two seemed to go through an immediate shift into ‘work’ persona. Abs wasn’t as obvious as Gibbs was, but it was noticeable. They rode the elevator together and she gave a small salute as they got off and she made her way to her lab.


Tony headed to his own desk and Gibbs to his, NCIS was business as usual, it seemed.

Chapter 6


It had been a long day and Tony had switched back and forth between wanting to get to the end of it and dreading it at the same time. He knew he wasn’t pulling off this ‘pretend everything is the same as usual’ act. He kept feeling eyes watching him but when he looked up there was no one actually looking at him; so either he was getting paranoid or they were extremely good at looking away just before he could catch them.


They all knew, he was sure of it… McGee, Kate, Ducky… the random guy from the mail room. Ok, so that was getting a little silly, but really, it did feel like all the others could tell just by looking at him that yesterday evening he’d spent a good while crawling round on his hands and knees, naked, at his boss’ house. In front of his boss! Damn, but the thought of that made his face heat up.


For much of the day he’d had to force himself not to glance over at Gibbs desk or find an excuse to disappear off to the bathroom to hide. He’d wished they would get a case because sitting round doing paper work, surrounded by his colleagues just became harder and harder.


And then there was the dread, what would happen at home time? Was he expected to go back with Gibbs and Abby? Nothing had been said about it, at all. What if his boss had decided it was far too much effort and they would let him go home and pretend that none of it even happened. Would that hurt more or less in the long run? He didn’t know and he had no clue what was expected of him.


He’d heard Kate mutter to McGee at one point, “What’s up with DiNozzo today?”


Apparently he wasn’t being his usual annoying self. He wished they could just get over it and accept that everyone had their bad days. But Kate couldn’t handle it; she had just kept trying to bait him. On one occasion a glare from Gibbs had sent her back to her seat, the second time it had required a barked out, “Kate!” to send her scurrying away. He was miserable and confused; he didn’t know what he wanted.


The thought of being turned away now hurt, but the thought of letting himself relax, get involved and then finding out he’d been pushed aside or worse… well, that made him positively wish that he’d be told to go home alone at the end of the shift.


“Tony, take this to Abby.” A large caf-pow carton was set on his desk in front of him.


He looked up at his boss, hazel eyes reflecting the turmoil inside. He opened his mouth to say something but then closed it under the bright blue gaze. It wasn’t quite concern in those piercing eyes but it was definitely along those lines. He nodded, and got to his feet.


“Sure, thing boss.” He stood a couple of inches taller than his boss, at 6’2 but somehow the man’s demeanour always made him feel smaller. The man in front of him commanded respect, usually he did it quietly, short greying hair speaking of his years of experience and his attitude brooked no arguments. He made Tony feel young and stupid. He knew that under the other man’s clothes there was a good body, he was deceptively fit, a trained fighter - as any marine would be - but Jethro had maintained his physique and level of fitness. He was athletic and kept fit himself, sure, but he knew his boss could take him, anytime; the man had his six at work, but at home…?


The brunette shook his head to try and stop the thoughts, to stave off the shudder that threatened to crash along his spine. Picking up the soda he disappeared off towards Abby’s lab, hoping like hell that the others had missed the hesitation and whatever the hell it was that had crackled in the air between them.


Music was blaring out from the lab and Abby appeared to be commanding an invisible army or something. She looked amusingly serious and Tony had to pause a moment to watch, a smile on his face for the first time that day.


He finally knocked on the open glass door and stepped in. She turned around and grinned at him, clicking the small remote in her hand to turn down the volume. Then she spotted the soda in his hand and gave a happy noise as she bid it to “Come to Mommy.”


She patted the chair before she perched on her desk.


He sat down, unable to stop himself from looking at her a little warily. She was slurping happily on her caffeinated soda like she hadn’t had a drink in days. She let the straw go and scrunched her face up cutely as the bubbles tickled her nose.


“So, do you want me to come to yours with you after work and we can get some of your stuff?”


Tony wasn’t sure what he’d expected her to say, but it wasn’t that. He sat blinking at her, trying to formulate a response when he didn’t even know what he wanted to say.


Abby watched him a moment, “C’mon, Tony.” She urged, “Or did you honestly think that last night was a one off and you’d be left to just go home and back to your own devices? Gibbs can be possessive about his toys. You should already know that.” She gave him a cheeky smile as she swung her feet back and forth like a little girl.


He guessed the sensation of blood draining from his face must have been fairly visible as her look of amusement quickly changed to remorse and concern. The soda was set aside, she’d hopped down and was sitting sideways on his lap in a flash, her arms draped around his neck.


“I didn’t mean like that.” She tried to soothe. When I say possessive, I mean it in a good way.” She bit her bright red bottom lip. “He wants to be able to take care of you, like he does me. It makes him feel good… useful. That’s important for an old man like Gibbs.” She said sagely, then snickered softly at her last statement and it succeeded in teasing a small smile to his lips.


“Better not let him hear you say that.” He told her and pressed his forehead against her shoulder.


Abby chuckled softly, her husky voice playful, “Oh he likes it, it gives him an excuse to prove he can give it up like a teenager still.”


Tony gave a soft snort. “I bet he can.”


“I know it’s scary.” She told him in a moment of seriousness. “God, I was terrified at first. But he’s so… Gibbs. Y’know? How can you resist it?!” One of her hands ruffled his short brunette hair and she pressed a kiss on the top of his head. “He just wants to take care of you, Tony, both of us do.”


“It’s beyond scary.” He said so quietly she barely heard him. “I don’t know this Gibbs. What he expects, wants… how he reacts.”


In a way that only Abby could, she chucked him under the chin with her finger and made him look up at her.


This Gibbs wouldn’t hurt you anymore than the one you work with, Tony. You trust him to have your back in the field, you can trust him to do the same at home.”


He opened his mouth to protest but found a perfectly manicured finger placed over his lips, “It’s your home now too.” She gave a small sigh, “I know you’ll find it hard to let yourself trust him, to trust us. But you were at Lady P’s for a reason: because you needed something. And we want to give that to you, you’re a cute pup.” She grinned and bumped her forehead against his.


There was a war of words in his head; all the reasons why they couldn’t…or shouldn’t want anything to do with someone like him. He wasn’t worthy, didn’t deserve it, he was bad as a pet, boyfriend, sub, they would see that eventually, even if they couldn’t now.


“You belong with us.” She told him, cutting through the thoughts. “Just give us a chance to prove that to you.”


He squeezed his eyes shut, “Ok, I’ll try.”


Abby thought he sounded so broken, that all she wanted to do was try and fix the bad things that had been done to him. She made a silent resolution that she would find the bastard and turn his life into a living hell.


Tony pulled back slightly and looked up at her, “What now?”


“We move you into our house.” She said brightly, a smile lighting her pale face up and her hazel eyes sparkled happily.


The lump of panic caught in his throat. His eyes widened, they were talking about him moving in with them, just like that? Like it was no big deal at all, he hadn’t lived with another person in years.


“If you want we can set you up with one of the other rooms for your stuff and then sleep in the snug or your room, depending on how you feel?”


“I…Abs…” His voice was strained with pain and uncertainty.


She cupped his face gently with hands that were used to performing delicate actions. “Do you honestly think you could sleep at home, on your own, now?”


The Forensics Expert knew all too well what she was talking about; she’d been there herself when she first started to date Gibbs. After spending one night with him she wasn’t able to go home alone. She would get there and act like she didn’t miss him like someone had cut off her arm, and then she’d try and sleep… and fail miserably. The man had that kind of intensity, once you’d had a taster, you just didn’t want to be apart from him.


His hands came up and he scrubbed at his face. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”


She gave him a small solemn smile of understanding, “Not really.”




Tony and Abby stood just inside the hallway of his apartment. He was glad that their boss had told them he’d meet them at home. The declaration in the parking lot had made the brunette’s stomach twist and flip flop as if it didn’t know which emotion was more important: fear or excitement. He was afraid, not so much of Gibbs himself but of proving to be a failure to the man.


“I’m thinking: clothes, CD’s, movies, laptop, playstation…” Abby ticked off on her hand as she listed what she felt they needed to pack up to take with them.


He didn’t move though, his mind was too full of “what’ll happen when it all goes wrong and I’ve no where left to come back to.”


The black-haired girl took his hand and smiled at him, “We don’t have to take everything at once.” She informed him.


He doubted that they could, even if they wanted to, not without hiring something considerably bigger than his car. He gave her hand a squeeze, trying to remember that this was a good thing; that he was moving in with two people he’d cared about for a long time. But all he could think was about how many ways it could go wrong. Taking a deep breath, he nodded at her.


“PS2 first, then clothes, music, and we can fill whatever room is left with the rest.” He decided and pulled her into the living room. “I’ve still got the box for it, in the spare bedroom.” He told her and disappeared off to retrieve the packaging for his precious baby, while Abby crouched down by the TV and started to sort out the cables.


On his way back into the room, Tony hit the button on the stereo and the room filled with soft Jazz. She looked up slightly surprised and he gave her a small sheepish shrug, like he had no idea how it got there. He could do this, he could act like it was all going to be all right, because Abby was his best friend and she didn’t have it in her to intentionally hurt him… unless he did something very bad in which case she knew how to hide the body. He shuddered and smirked at that thought. Hell, he trusted her with his PS2 so she was obviously doing something right!


Clothes followed, they were taken down off hangers, folded carefully and then placed in a suitcase or bin liner, depending on whether they were smart clothes or just regular wear. Abby was working on shoes while he was folding clothes, selecting the ones she knew he wore often and leaving the ones he either didn’t or that she didn’t like. At the bottom corner of the closet a box caught her eye and she bent to retrieve it.


“Abs.” He called, her name, seeing her hand just as it made contact with the polished wood. She looked up at him expectantly and he shook his head, “Don’t… please?”


She didn’t know what it contained, but by the look on his face, she could respect his wishes. She gave a small nod, leaving it alone and joining him in the packing of clothes.


“Feels so weird doing this.” He said out of the blue.


There had been some good-natured teasing when they had uncovered out-of-fashion clothes that were bad enough in taste to make DiNozzo blush. Apart from that occasional banter and the odd question of “This one?” there had mostly been a comfortable silence between them as they worked. She knew him well and rarely had to check on what he wore most often.


“I know.” She gave him another Abby-smile, he hadn’t realised how many different kinds of Abby-smiles there were, but he was learning to treasure the new ones that he was just growing acquainted with. This particular one said that she totally understood and was filled with affection. He was surprised at how quiet she could actually be, he wasn’t used to this side of her, she was normally so hyper and could talk so fast and excitedly that usually it was impossible to shut her up. He loved her husky voice, but her silences were every bit as enjoyable.


Tony gave a weary smile, he was going to be powerless in all this, it was like driving a car that had no brakes: he knew that eventually the car would have to stop and that to do so would involve a crash, but he just couldn’t help but keep on driving right ahead. It wasn’t just Abby either, it was the same with Gibbs… maybe even worse because he’d had a crush on him for so long now.


Strangely, it took less time for the two of them to pack the majority of his clothes than it would normally have taken him to pack for a vacation. That sort of amused him.


Abby had made sure that there were some essentials left in the closets; underwear, T-shirts, sweats and a couple of work outfits. Just so he felt like he had somewhere he could come back to if he needed to. She didn’t think he would need them, but it was more a psychological thing. He wasn’t ready to give it all up, and she recognised that, but he needed someone to take care of him… to drive the loneliness away.


They carried the filled bags out into the hallway.


“Wow, I’m going to have muscles like The Hulk.” She declared with an amused grin and held up a flexed bicep for his inspection.


He grinned and gave it a squeeze, letting out a low whistle. “Impressive.”


“Thanks.” She grinned brightly, and made her way through to the other room, moving her body so that her pigtails and skirt both swung happily.


Despite the feeling of impending doom, he couldn’t help but chuckle at her. “Just so you know,” he called after her, before following, “I’ve always had a thing for big green chicks.”


She laughed loudly, “Tone-neee!” her tone sing-songed at him in amused chastisement.


After collecting a fairly large plastic storage box, he met her at the CD rack.


“Anything in particular or just…everything?” She looked at him and appraised how many they should be able to fit in the box. “I some how thought you would have more.” She looked back at the stack.


He gave her an impish grin, left the box on the ground and pulled open the top drawer of the sideboard that stood beside the entertainment unit. “This more like what you expected?”


She peered in, “Wow. I take it back; you are the god of music…I bow down to you almighty one.” she made ‘I’m not worthy’ actions, bowing down with both hands held beside her head facing him.


Chuckling, she straightened up and started to pull the CD boxes out, “Although, I really don’t want to know why you have the Lion King soundtrack.”


“Hakuna matata!” He declared tunefully but cut off without singing anymore.


They couldn’t fit all his CD’s in the box, she was fairly sure that they would have struggled to fit them in two. So, he’d had to select his favourites to take with him, even then they’d need to add a carrier bag full. They tidied the ones to be left behind into the drawer.


A bag of DVD’s was added to the growing pile, as was his laptop, books and some games.


The car loaded up, Abby directed Tony home without him having to ask. He was glad because there was no way he could have remembered how to get there from the last journeys.




Abs had called Gibbs on the way to tell him that they would be home soon and he came out to meet them as they pulled up in front of the house. To Tony’s surprise the ease with which he had been able to get through the packing hadn’t disappeared the nearer they got, as he’d half expected, and when he saw his boss on the porch, he actually felt quite happy. He climbed out of the driver’s side feeling nervous and shy all over again, but he had a small smile on his face. He felt triumphant that he’d managed to get over his fear so far and actually pack some of his belongings up.


Abby was already opening the back and her Master had moved to help her.


“You brought a lot of stuff.” Jethro observed casually, looking over the contents of the car.


Tony cringed, eyes dropping as he felt his stomach drop and insides twist into one giant knot; he’d thought the Goth Girl had known what she was talking about, but obviously not… the other man wasn’t expecting this. “Sorry.” He said automatically, tone quiet and apologetic, “Can take it back.”


The older man could have kicked himself, as he watched the tentative light that had been in those hazel eyes flicker out, as his gaze and shoulders dropped. He moved in front of him and gently rested a hand on the brunette’s shoulder, trying not to let it hurt when Tony flinched slightly. “I don’t want you to take it anywhere except inside. I just wasn’t expecting Abby to convince you so soon that this is where you belong, enough that she could get you to bring so much.”


When DiNozzo tentatively looked up, Gibbs felt an ache in his chest at the look on his face; pure kicked puppy. He hated that he’d been the one to extinguish the tiny spark that had been there when they arrived back. As if Tony were made of china, he moved his hands to gently cradle the younger man’s face. “There’s plenty of room for you and all your belongings, I meant it when I said this is your home now. You can bring everything you own and find a place for it all. I promise… and if there’s something you don’t have but need, then we’ll get it. Understand?”


There was a small nod in response that made Jethro suspect that it wasn’t really believed. All they could do was show him, as many times as it took, that they meant what they said.


“Let’s get everything inside and then we can decide where things are going.” Gibbs forced himself to smile encouragingly. His thumb stroking the other man’s cheek, wanting to kiss him gently to reassure him, but at the same time sensing it was too soon and that it would only spook him.


It didn’t take the three of them long to unload everything into the house. Tony was silent the whole time they worked at it. They would have to fix the damage that the ex-marine had stupidly just caused.


“So, any thoughts on which room you want as a den?” Gibbs asked the younger man. “We can paint it over the weekend if you want.”


That earned him a look of uncertain excitement and it tore at his gut, that something so simple could please the younger man.

Chapter 7


They had unloaded the contents of Tony’s car into the house and all his stuff had been piled in the entry hall. It couldn’t stay there though and Gibbs hoped that by getting his new pet to pick a room it would help him feel more at home and like he belonged there.


“So, do you know which room you want?” Abby had asked with a grin, she was almost bouncing with the excitement of having Tony living with them. She was already imagining the mischief that the two of them could get up to.


“I… any…”


“How about the big room with the en suite at the front of the house.” She’d suggested, remembering the reaction that he’d had to the sleeping porch, she figured it would be best not to give him the room that it was attached too, also the other room was right beside the laundry and she didn’t want him thinking that he was expected to do everyone’s dirty washing. “It has that big built in closet too for all your clothes.”


The brunette had nodded, he would go along with what either of them suggested; it was their house after all.


“That’s settled then.” Gibbs had smiled and reached down to pick up the box of CD’s, “Let’s get all this stuff in your room.”


There had only been a small hesitation from Tony before he’d picked up a black bag in one hand and a suitcase in the other, following his boss silently.


“Any idea what colour you might paint it?” Abby grinned, “I can help, I love to paint. It’s such a bright room. Not often you get windows set in three of the four walls.”


“I’m not sure.” He’d given her a shy smile and listened to her as she carried on chattering hyperactively.


That had been two hours earlier.


After moving all his stuff into his new room, the other two had left Tony to sort his things out and settle himself in. It had been so long since they’d seen him, though and he had to be getting hungry, so Gibbs sent Abby to ask if he wanted some supper. She knocked on the door and pushed it slowly open, peeping her head around.


Confused eyes looked around the room, it didn’t look like he’d unpacked anything at all. He was sat with his back against the wall in between the two front windows, a book cradled in his lap and his laptop on the floor in front of him. He looked up at her with the same small unsure smile that she had seen all too much of over the last day.


“Hey, you ok? Bossman sent me to see if you were hungry.”


He nodded, and noticed her looking at the laptop. “Battery died, I’ll take it in to work to charge it on Monday.”


Abby frowned, “Why not just plug it in here, bro?”


He looked at the laptop then back at her, “I… I didn’t… is it ok for me to do that?”


She nodded and came over to sit down beside him. “Tony, what have you been doing in here all this time? I thought you were unpacking.”


He looked around and then down at the book he was holding… he hadn’t got past the third page. “I didn’t feel like it just yet, so I thought I’d sit and read for a bit.”


The Goth Girl plucked the book from him and read the title, “Crime Scene Photography?” She screwed up her face, “Tony you could probably write the damn book on it. Talk about boring, wouldn’t you rather be watching movies or hanging out or something.”


He could only look at her for a good few minutes, the time ticked by and neither of them said anything, the colour first drained from his face and then he started to blush. “I… I thought…”


She scrunched up her face thoughtfully as she studied him, light dawned and she felt such a tightness inside at the realisation of just what he’d thought.


“I mean… it’s my room right, it’s what it’s for…”


She shook her head emphatically, pigtails swinging wildly, “Tony-boy, it’s your room, you can come in here if you want…but you don’t *have* to stay in here.” She couldn’t help it she hugged him tight to her and kissed his temple.


He chewed his lip and looked at her through lowered lashes, “I don’t?”


She shook her head again. “This is your home, the whole house, not just this room, you can do what you please… raid the fridge, watch TV, play computer games.”


“I didn’t think Gibbs would want me in the way.”


“Oh god, baby, you’re not in the way, you never could be.” She kissed his temple again, tossed his book aside and grabbed his hand. As Abby stood up she pulled him up with her. “C’mon, lets go get some supper and watch a movie, Jethro is choosing so there’s no saying whether it’ll be any good but I usually just humour him.” She winked, not giving him chance to protest she led him to the kitchen.


Tony helped her make sandwiches, she’d told him more than once to just sit down and let her do it, but he didn’t feel right letting her do all the work; besides, it was fun to help her and it stopped his mind from wandering off.


They put the last ones on the plate and Abby picked up the tray of food and drinks to carry them through to the family room. Gibbs smiled at them, and for a moment the brunette didn’t know what to do, before he finally allowed a small smile back. He watched the hand pat the sofa in indication for him and he looked at Abby. He didn’t want to keep getting in between them. He didn’t want her to start resenting his presence. He didn’t seem to have much say in the matter though as she sat down, pointedly leaving a space for him in between them.


Tony tentatively sat down, feeling more nervous than he had the night before. Abby grinned, nodded her approval and shifted the tray onto his lap before kissing him on the cheek, snagging her cup and a sandwich and curling up against his side. Gibbs could only laugh at the action and the stunned look on the younger man’s face.


Jethro leaned over and picked up his own mug and a sandwich, offering the nervous looking Tony a pleased smile of approval. He sat back to watch the film. It took a few minutes, but slowly he saw DiNozzo relax, out of the corner of his eye. He allowed himself a small smile of triumph as he cradled his hot cocoa.


The film passed comfortably after that, the younger man’s arm had come up to wrap around Abby and he’d started to feel drowsy, the movie wasn’t his type, a Western comedy, it didn’t matter, Gibbs liked it. It happened slowly, he was falling asleep, until he found himself dozing against his boss’s shoulder.


Tony was woke by a gentle hand caressing his cheek, momentarily confused by the action, he jerked awake. A slight blush stained his cheeks as he looked away, “Sorry, boss.”


Gibbs was only sorry that he felt the need to apologise. “Don’t be, it was nice.” He stroked his cheek again, and turned Tony’s chin back to look at him.


It was only then that Tony realised they were alone on the sofa and the TV sat in dark silence. As if reading his thoughts through his eyes, the older man’s eyes creased with his soft affectionate smile, “Abs went to bed.”


“Oh,” he nodded. His heart was hammering in his chest, a mile a minute. The blue eyes studied him closely and he could feel his body responding. “You probably want to join her. Y’know, a hot Abs in bed… who wouldn’t want to… not that I… I mean, she’s your…I’m just gonna shut up now.”


Jethro couldn’t help himself, he was chuckling at the floundering younger man. “Tony, it’s ok, you’re family now, remember.” He pressed soft lips to his temple and then got to his feet, offering his hand, “Bed sounds like a great idea. You sleeping in the snug again?”


His boss had kissed him. Leroy Jethro Gibbs had kissed him; Anthony DiNozzo. Ok, so it was only a small one and it was on his temple, but it was still a kiss. His dick took that moment to assert the fact that it really liked that thought and he had to bite back a groan that threatened to bubble up from deep inside. It didn’t matter that the kiss was over and that the other man was actually stood looking at him expectantly. Oh, there’d been a question, he remembered vaguely.


“I think so.” He slipped his hand into the patiently waiting one and was only partially pulled to his feet.


Gibbs nodded, “Ok.” He kept hold of the hand and set off for the bedroom, flipping off lights as they went.




Tony had actually stripped down to his shorts and a T-shirt before climbing under the covers that night. The ghost of a sensation of those lips against his flesh lingered on, even as he lay there in the darkness and listened to the muted sounds of the other two sleeping. He was tired, but he was fighting sleep, he was too scared of a rerun of the previous nightmare to just relax and let himself go.


He sighed and turned over for what felt like the millionth time. Finally, the restlessness proved too much and he climbed off the futon. Tony padded his way through the arch, heading for the hallway that would take him out of the Master Suite. Silent feet fell on the plush carpet as he made his way to his room. He thought that he might as well do something productive while he couldn’t sleep and started to unpack his clothes. It felt like a big step to him, but he absorbed himself in it and ignored the emotions that it was raising in him. The closet was just the right size for the clothes he’d brought and everything was meticulously removed from the bags and hung up, or refolded and placed on the shelves at the side.


He was tired and the weak light of the sky, that he could see clearly through the unshaded windows, told him that it was probably around 5am. It was Saturday morning and he should have been sound asleep in bed, the thought of a lie in made him yawn; the need for sleep had snuck up on him while he’d been working. Tony flipped off the light and curled up on the bare double bed. Sleep claimed him rapidly and he was pulled into a, thankfully, dream-free slumber.



Gibbs stretched out in the bed, the feel of tender lips against his flesh rousing him from his mind from sleep…as well as other parts of his body. He grinned and looked at the sleep-ruffled black hair as his girl was kissing his chest. He reached up and stroked a hand through the soft dark locks. Abby looked up from her task, hazel eyes slightly greener with mischief and grinned at him. She pressed a finger to his lips, to tell him to be quiet, before kissing her way downwards. He gave her a warning glare at being told what to do, but that softened as he remembered the man sleeping in the snug. His eyes crinkled in amusement as he watched her descent.


Her talented mouth moved over toned flesh that was at odds with the smattering of greying hair that covered it. She teased his navel, swirling her tongue around it before occasionally dipping inside. This was one of his favourite ways to wake up and she more than enjoyed giving it to him. They’d not had to do it in silence for a long time and that added a frisson of pleasure to the activity. Her hands gently pulled his shorts down as he lifted his hips and she couldn’t help but smile brightly at finding him hard for her already. They just had to hope that Tony wouldn’t come wandering through and get a view of more than he was ready to deal with yet.


If Tony was a puppy then Abby was a kitten at heart. She looked at the magnificent hard dick, tilting her head slightly to view it from different angles and then she pounced. One hand holding it steady while she lapped almost delicately at the head. She could feel the tension ripple through her Master as he fought to hold in his groans of pleasure. It felt good to her to be doing it, she almost felt like the powerful one in the relationship. She wanted to make him lose control, but at the same time she knew they couldn’t afford to freak her new bro out.


Gibbs buried his hands in her hair and held her head steady with his grip. He was aroused and amused by his girl; unable to stop his hips rocking up to push his erection between her luscious pouty lips. She took it like the good sub that she was, her mouth relaxing to let him slide in and out, but not so much that he lost any friction. She’d been talented when he’d met her but she’d only improved as she’d grown to know the things he liked, like the tiny licks around the frenum, and the barely there contact of her tongue over his slit.


She closed her lips around him and sucked, her playful tongue rubbing against the underside as her free hand came up to scrape her nails lightly over his stomach. His grip tightened and he growled soft and low in his chest. “Suck me.” he chanted in his head, as if she would some how develop telepathy and hear his order.


Abby started to bob her head up and down in time with her suction, the hand that had been holding his dick, moved down to cup his balls, stroking and squeezing them within their sac. She took him into her mouth in a slow sucking rhythm that made his toes curl. She focused her attention on making him cum.


Head thrown back and mouth open in a silent cry, Jethro shot his load in his girl’s mouth while she greedily swallowed and sucked every last drop down.


She looked along his body at him while she cleaned him off with small delicate licks. She was aroused too but she knew that it wasn’t her choice about whether that was relieved and if she was honest; she quite enjoyed the feeling of being on edge while she went about their daily life. With his grip still firmly in her hair, Abby followed the pull as he guided her upwards until she was lying on top of him.


He kissed her nose and then her lips, pushing his tongue inside and tasting himself in her mouth as he dominated the kiss. He gave a soft moan of approval, his tongue exploring and teasing hers, before breaking the kiss off and swatting her butt playfully.


“Shower, pretty girl.”


She gave a husky chuckle and clambered off the bed, wiggling her hips teasingly before she disappeared into the bathroom.




Gibbs took a few minutes to bask in the afterglow of his orgasm before climbing out of bed. He pulled on his shorts and straightened the covers before heading towards the snug. Finding the futon empty but Tony’s clothes still neatly piled up nearby, he frowned. He took a moment, idly scratching his stomach and then the back of his neck; perhaps he’d got up early and was already eating breakfast.


A quick check in the kitchen showed nothing had moved from the night before. Curiously, he headed towards the room they’d designated as Tony’s the night before. He carefully pushed open the door and stopped at the sight in front of him. The dark-haired man was curled up on himself on the bed, obviously cold without covers, the bed was still completely unmade. Gibbs shook his head slightly, noticing that black bin liners had been emptied and that the closet now stood open and almost full. He had a small sad smile on his face as he went over to him and rested his hand on the other man’s shoulder, cool from exposure.


“Tony, time to wake up.” He told him, gently.


He jerked awake and away from the hand; hazel eyes wide as he looked up at Gibbs.


“What are you doing, Tony?” He asked the younger man.


“I’m sorry.” He blurted and scrambled off the bed and away from the other man. He came to rest against the wall between the windows, sitting on the floor; the exact place that Abby had found him in the night before, not the Gibbs knew that.


Jethro was confused, his brow creased in a frown, “Why?”


“I should have asked, I’m sorry, I was tired and I didn’t think.”


The wide, eyes looked frightened, Gibbs couldn’t help but notice, and there was a bad feeling in his gut. Tony thought he was in trouble. He approached as carefully as he could, and crouched down. He wanted to reach out and stroke the lightly stubbled cheek but didn’t think it would be the best move for right then.


As much as he didn’t want to ask, he knew had to, “Ask what, what are you sorry for, Tony?”


“I…sleeping on the bed. I should have asked first, but… I was…” He shut his mouth and his eyes dropped to the floor. “I know there’s no excuses, it won’t happen again, I promise. Please, don’t be angry.”


Gibbs could feel his heart breaking at the fear and sadness that poured off Tony. “Oh, pet, I’m not angry, it’s your bed, you can sleep on it whenever you want.” He was looking at the young man and feeling lost, how did he deal with this: the ghost of a cruel master who had made DiNozzo ask for permission before he was allowed to sleep in his own bed? How could you beat something like that when it wasn’t in front of you to do it physically?


“Y…you’re not? But… you said…” The eyes came up to look at him again, the fear had turned more towards distrust and uncertainty. He thought he was being tricked somehow and that hurt Jethro even more.


He reached out to stroke Tony’s hair in reassurance and was hit with a surge of hurt as the other man actually flinched like he was about to be struck. He wasn’t sure how he kept a lid on his emotions; he wanted to punch the wall in lieu of not being able to punch the bastard responsible for doing this to a normally confident and dynamic man. But he knew that such behaviour would only make things worse, so some how he held it in check.


“That’s not what I meant,” He said, his tone sad but tender, “I was referring to not making the bed before you fell asleep on it. I guess I don’t need to ask why you didn’t get some sheets and a comforter for it.”


Once more, the emotion-filled eyes dropped to the floor and Tony seemed to struggle to find a reply.


“It’s ok, I understand.” Gibbs said and held out his hand, “We’ll get through this, pet, we will, it’s not going to be easy, I know… but we’ll get there. This is your home now, you can sleep where you want, when you want, you don’t need permission to do that and you can have as many or as few blankets as you need.”


Tony was looking at his boss’s hand, slowly he raised his questioning eyes, they were full of hope and a hint of trust. He placed his hand into the other one, “I’m sorry, I’m hard work, I know what a pain in the ass I must be.”


“No apology needed, Tony. Family, remember.”


The response was a nod and they both got up together.




Tony was quiet through breakfast; the last couple of days had been intense and stressful in a way that was different to usual. All he could think of was how much he wanted to be down on his paws in pup mode. He wanted to escape from the thoughts and fears that were buzzing in his brain, they were making him dizzy and he just wanted it to stop for a while. But he didn’t know if he should ask, or how, so he said nothing; he just focused on eating the egg and sausage on his plate.


Abby had kept the conversation flowing between herself and Gibbs as she’d cooked and then while they ate, they gave the appearance of being relaxed but Jethro could feel the tension in the air. He was worried about Tony, and kept casting glances his way. At least he was eating this morning, not picking at it like he had that first evening. The guy had a lot on his mind, that much was obvious. Gibbs wasn’t without the need to think either.


Breakfast over with, Jethro took himself off to his office; he was going to read back over some of the information he had about Hero and see what he needed to do in order to avoid a repeat of that morning.


Tony insisted on helping Abby with the dishes, even though she protested that she enjoyed doing them. Gibbs’ had even chimed in that it was her who had declined the offer of buying a dishwasher. It gave her thinking time. She gave in to him though, because he looked like he really needed something to occupy his mind. There weren’t even that many dishes to wash and they were cleared, cleaned and put away quickly.


He sat at the table reading the morning paper, occasionally chuckling at the cartoons, while Abby made coffee for her Master. She disappeared off with it, and Tony was so lost in the paper that he didn’t realise she hadn’t returned.


In fact, Abby had been talking with Jethro in his office, he’d told her about that morning and she’d shared with him the conversation about the laptop from the previous night. He sighed, thoughtfully, she took the folder from him into the den to have a read of it, while he decided what to do. He came up with an idea.


The first Tony was aware of was the paper being pulled from under his nose and a notepad and pencil replacing it. He looked up into Gibbs’ face, a questioning look in his eyes.




Jethro held up a hand in order to stall the apology that was about to fall from his lips. “I want you to write down all your old rules.”


Tony blinked, looking down at the pad then back up at him. “All of them?”


“Every last one.” Gibbs filled himself another mug of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table with him. “Tell me them as you write them down.”


An hour later and Jethro’s blood was practically boiling in his veins. Tony had been so badly treated; some of the rules were just evil. It was like the man had invented them just to degrade and humiliate him. He could see the nervousness in DiNozzo, his knee had been fidgeting under the table while he’d been writing and sharing; a number of times his voice had grown so quiet and broken that he’d barely been able to hear him, but he never asked him to repeat what he’d said.


The truth was, Tony didn’t know why he was being asked to do this, he wondered if Gibbs was going to make him stick to the rules there as well. He hoped not, he hated them and some of them were just impossible to follow. Asking permission to go to the bathroom was inconvenient in itself, but not being allowed to wake his owner up meant that there were many nights he’d ended up messing himself and that again would get him in trouble. He’d flushed just at the thought of it.


He set pen down when he’d finished and looked at his boss expectantly.


“That’s them all?” He asked.


Tony nodded.


Gibbs pulled the pad towards him and pulled the three pages of neat writing off the top. He stood up and held his hand out to the other man. As nervous as he was, the brunette still slipped his hand into it and stood up. He led him out into the garden to the barbeque area.




Tony frowned slighty, uncertain of what he was meant to be ready for, he nodded anyway.


Jethro let go of his hand and produced a lighter from his pocket; he flicked it, sparking it into life. Waiting a moment, he watched the flame flicker then looked to Tony. “These aren’t my rules, pet. They aren’t the rules of my home and you don’t need them anymore.” With that, he touched a corner of the paper to the flame and watched as it slowly started to burn. “These rules don’t exist anymore, you understand?”


Tony was transfixed by the way the yellow flame licked at the paper, scorching it then turning it brown, then black before it became ash. When over half of the paper was alight, he watched as Gibbs dropped it onto the grill. He didn’t take his eyes away until all that was left was blackened ash.


He looked at his boss. He was terrified and relieved in equal measure, they weren’t the rules anymore, and while he could live with that he was scared, because it meant there were new rules and he didn’t know what they were. A warm hand slid into his again and he followed silently back inside to where they’d left the pad of paper on the kitchen table.


Gibbs pulled it too him and wrote on it in large letters.


Our Rules: Always have respect for yourself and others.


He turned the pad round to show him, “That’s all you need to remember here, pet. If you need or want something you either take care of it yourself or ask myself or Abs if you need help with it. If you want to sit down then you sit…wherever you want; if you want to sleep you can go to bed when and where you want; if you’re hungry, get something to eat. Anything, Tony; you’re not a guest or a slave here, this is your home.”


He pulled the sheet from the pad and folded it in half; he placed it on the fridge with memo-holders. “I’ll leave it here as a reminder. Ok?”


Tony didn’t trust his voice enough to speak, sure that it would crack with all the emotion that was welling up inside, so he nodded. The brightness in his eyes from unshed tears gave him away though. Gibbs came back to where he was sat and wrapped him in his arms, and held him tight. He let himself relax into it, resting his head against the strong shoulder and breathing in the scent that was pure Jethro. It felt good, it felt…right and the tears started to fall.

Chapter 8


Gibbs had held Tony for a long while, comforting him and allowing him the release of emotions. When he felt that he was done for the time being, he slowly eased back and wiped at the drying tears, pulled tissues from his pocket and handed them to the younger man with a caring smile.


“How often do you normally spend time as Hero?” He asked, stroking brunette hair as Tony blew his nose.


“Depends on what’s going on with work really. Sometimes it’s once a week, but occasionally it’s been 3 or 4 times in one week. I’d like more, it’s just that Lady P’s wasn’t exactly… convenient.” His voice was stronger, slightly more confident; the hint of apology just for his mere presence had receded.


Jethro nodded, “You need it quite regularly. It’s not an escape; I understand that, that it’s more a part of you than that. I think that my worry would be that you use it to avoid dealing with issues, that it becomes an escapism.”


Tony chewed his lower lip slightly, eyes not quite drifting away from the other man’s intense but kind gaze. “I try not to.”


He nodded, “We’ll be talking, I’m happy for you to get some downtime from dealing with crap, I have my own ways of doing that after all,” he gave a smile and a wink. “But, that doesn’t mean you have to deal with things on your own, I want you to talk to me about things… anything. I don’t expect you to be able to do it straight away, but hopefully you’ll be able to share things with me once you’ve had time to process them yourself.”


DiNozzo gave a smile, it was a shadow of what Gibbs was used to, but it was a vast improvement; a start. He nodded, “I’ll try, Boss.”


“You need some pup time now?” It was a guess, he could see the look in the hazel eyes and he could tell that the younger man needed something to enable him to relax and process the last couple of days in peace.


His reply was a somewhat self-conscious nod.


“All you need to do is ask, Tony.” He told him, gently, helping him up. “Let’s get your kneepads.”


Tony followed to the snug, the scent immediately soothing him. It was interesting how being surrounded by Abby could do that.


“How do you prefer to go into pup mode?” Gibbs asked him, curiously.


He gave a small cough to clear his throat. “I take my clothes off and then strap my kneepads on. Then I lie down for a few minutes to sort of adjust my mindset. It used to be a collar that would trigger the switch and I didn’t need time to really adjust. But the collar at Lady P’s was just a cheap insignificant one, designed to make it easier to lead me round.” He explained, his shyness slowly evaporating as he realised that Jethro was actually really interested and not just humouring him.


The older man nodded thoughtfully, “Do you prefer to be left alone while you adjust?”


Tony toyed with the kneepads, “Yeah, it’s easier, usually.”


Gibbs smiled, “Ok, I’m going to take a shower and get dressed. That should give you enough time.” He turned to head back through the arch.


“Thanks, Boss.” He said quietly to the retreating back.




Tony had waited a few minutes before he stripped off his clothes, he was embarrassed at the thought of being naked in front of them again, but he knew that once he was in his puppy mindset, he wouldn’t care. He was quickly naked, he ran a hand over the dark fur on his chest and smiled to himself, at least he was in good shape; he really didn’t have any reason to be embarrassed. He had a good body, he had worked hard for it after being told so much that he was ugly and worthless he was determined to prove that voice wrong. He pushed them thoughts aside and sat down on the futon to strap the kneepads on. The affect wasn’t instantaneous for him, not like it had been with the collar he used to have, but he could definitely feel the beginnings of falling into the headspace.


His posture shifted as he lay down on the top of the comforter, a mixture of pup and human in the way he was lying. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, it was almost like stepping back from his human nature as he moved through the transformation. A few minutes later his self-perception had changed completely, the world around him felt and looked different. It wasn’t like he was a separate entity from his human side but there were big differences, everything was simpler when he was a pup.


Hero stretched, yawning wide, his tongue hanging out slightly as he twisted onto all fours, front limbs stretched out. He let a full-bodied shake run along his back and end in a distinct wagging of his tail. He turned on his body warmed spot and trotted through the open archway, paws sinking into the carpet as he snuffled around the bed. And settled back on his haunches looking towards the sound of running water and the scent of cleanness. He twitched forward, on the alert, but didn’t quite move from his position as he waited for his owner to emerge.


The man came out with a towel around his waist, and he couldn’t help but back up slightly from him, he was still wary of him.


Bossman cast him a glance with a smile, as he busied himself getting dressed. Shifting from paw to paw as the towel was dropped on the floor, Hero moved onto all fours and crept warily towards where it was puddled; sniffing and nosing at it. A deep laugh made him jump and he backed away, keeping his eyes on the other man as he scuttled away on his butt whimpering.


Gibbs sighed and shook his head, quickly pulling on his clothes while Hero was cowering in the corner. His shirt tucked in he crossed to the pup and crouched down, holding his hand out in a gesture of friendliness.


Hero looked at the hand, tilting his head to the side. It was empty, no treat, there was nothing to draw him in. He let out a huff through his noise and shifted between his front paws. The hand that had just been sitting there reached up and patted his head. Bossman turned away with a smile in his eyes. He watched him walk away before shifting forward onto his paws and following warily at a distance.


He padded slowly, looking up at the man’s back, not really noticing where they were going until there was a door being opened. He smelt Abby, and his tail started to wag as he wandered into the room where she was relaxing on a big beanbag chair. When she looked up at him he could see she was happy to see him, it was in her eyes and the way she smiled at him. She patted her thigh and he looked up warily at the Bossman as he trotted around him to get to her, giving him enough room that the man wouldn’t be able to kick out at him.


Her hand was held out to him, it held a treat and he sniffed at it before picking it up in his teeth. He crunched it down and concentrated on cleaning all traces of it from her palm. She made a noise of happiness that he liked, so he did it again, and carried on doing it.


“I have to go out for a while, I have some chores to do. Will you two be ok?” Gibbs asked his girl.


Hero was too busy licking that hand to notice or care about what was being said.


“I’m sure we’ll be just fine, won’t we, pup.” The hand he wasn’t cleaning came up to ruffle his hair and he happily wagged his tail, his butt plopped down onto the floor. He nudged her knee with his nose and then rested his chin on it.


Gibbs laughed, and nodded his agreement, “You’ll be just fine. Try not to get up to too much mischief.” He crossed to her and leaned down to kiss her softly on the lips.


Hero looked up, eyebrows raised, without lifting his head, making a soft whining noise. Bossman made that rough chuckling noise again and petted his head. He turned his eyes back to looking up at her and she gave her own rough laugh as she stroked him.


“How about we go and play in the garden?” She asked him softly.


Hero heard… “wah wah wah….garden.” He was up on his paws and padded over to wait at the door, his tail occasionally moving in a restrained wag.


Abby watched the reaction and grinned, “Well ok then, lets get your toys.”


She made a detour into Gibbs’ office and gathered up some of the treats and the squeaky squirrel and stuffed rabbit. He trailed behind her and that reminded her that he was a damaged pup, that they would have to work hard at restoring his playfulness and his eagerness. She looked forward to the day that he would be bouncing ahead of her in excitement with his tail wagging furiously.


As she’d pulled out the two toys there had been a flicker of excitement that gave a tiny glimpse into the playful pup that Hero could be, but all too quickly it was buried again under that serious demeanour. It made her ache just a little bit more, wondering what kind of pup he was before he was mistreated. His attention seemed fixed on the rabbit and with a smile she held it out to him.


Ever so gently, Hero took the ear of the rabbit in his mouth and looked up at her expectantly.


“Well, ok then, let’s go get some sun and fun.” She told him.


Abby took him out through the family room, onto the lawn and threw the squeaky toy for him. “Go on, Hero, fetch.” She didn’t throw it too far; it wasn’t like he could bound after it like a real pup. The rabbit was dropped as he went after the squirrel and she was surprised at just how fast he was able to move, considering he was on all fours.


She knew that Tony’s ex had been cruel, that he’d done terrible things to him, but she didn’t know if he’d ever trained Hero. Some pups were hard to command, others were smart and picked it up easily, a lot depended on previous training and the key commands that had been used. She decided that it was probably best to wait and ask Tony about it.


The squirrel retrieved, he picked it up in his mouth and trotted back to her, he dropped it on the ground at her feet before shifting back onto his haunches and lifting his paw slightly. Abby smiled brightly, leaned down to shake the paw and then pet his fur. Chuckling she picked up the squirrel and threw it again, a little further.


As she watched him move, her mind turned over the events of the last couple of days. She hadn’t read very much of the file yet, but she’d read enough for it to sicken and sadden her. She was already compiling mental lists of what she was going to do to the bastard when she found him: when… not if. Abby considered the pup-boy as he stopped to sniff at some flowers. The start of this relationship was a far cry from when she and Gibbs had first got together. She moved to sit on the sun-warmed grass as she watched the distracted Hero go wandering off after a butterfly. He was focused on it intensely and she was amused to see that he was actually panting, his tail occasionally wagging.


She thought back to that night almost two years earlier. To all outward appearances she’d come across as totally confident when she made the approach, but she had really been very nervous.


Abby paced back and forth, she was giving herself a pep talk. Smoothing her top and tightening her pigtails, she took a deep breath and hit the up button on the elevator. As expected, Gibbs was still at his desk and everyone else had gone off home. She crossed to him with a bounce in her step that masked the inner fluttering of nerves.


“Hey, Gibbs.” She grinned and perched on his desk.


He looked up at her and smiled, “What can I do for you, Abby, shouldn’t you be off home?” He’d checked his watch and she’d almost backed out then.


Instead she shook her head, setting her bunches swinging. “I wanted to ask you something.”


Jethro leaned back in his chair and looked at her. “Well ask away.”


“I’ve been invited to this…thing… and I really need a date, I wondered if you would go with me.” She blurted all in one go, gesturing with her hands as she spoke.


He raised an eyebrow at her. “A thing?”


She nodded enthusiastically, “Yes!”


“Wouldn’t you prefer to ask someone nearer your own age, like DiNozzo?”


Abby shook her head, “Nope, I want you to go with me, Bossman.”


“What exactly is this ‘thing’?” He’d asked and she could feel him studying her, she knew she was right, she had to be; it would all be too embarrassing if she wasn’t.


“Well, it’s… a collaring ceremony.”


Both eyebrows rose at that, “You want me to be your date to attend a collaring ceremony?” His tone was still relaxed, with only a hint of incredulity peeking through.


“Yes!” She exclaimed, animatedly. “Exactly!”




It was cool, he seemed to know just fine what a collaring ceremony was. Abby almost danced in victory; she’d been right. “Because.” Was the only explanation she gave, even though she knew him well enough to know he wouldn’t leave it at that..


“Because, why?” He persisted and she felt her resolve crumble in the face of that attitude of his that had given him away in the first place.


“Because, if I go solo then my friends have threatened to set me up with this dom, and he’s totally not my type.” She scrunched her nose up for emphasis. “Besides, you’re hot and well… one look at you and they’ll be convinced. And did I mention that I think you’re hot?” She’d pointed at him as if to emphasise who she was talking about.


He hadn’t said anything for a while, he’d just studied her carefully, then slowly he’d started to pack away his things and switch his computer off. It was only when he got to his feet to put his jacket on that he’d spoken again.


“So, when is this ‘thing’?”


Abby knew she had to have a big goofy grin on her face at the memory. Her eyes found Hero; he was stretched out on the grass, the butterfly chase abandoned in favour of chewing on the squeaky squirrel. There was hope for him, there had to be. He’d been badly hurt, but she had to believe that they could help him recover. She couldn’t believe that his mask had fooled her for so long, they were meant to be investigators for god’s sake; but then, wasn’t Tony the master of the undercover ops?


She picked up the rabbit and crossed to where he lay, stretching out along side him, Abby stroked him gently as he chewed.


Hero raised his head to look at her, cocking it slightly to the side, she had bunny, and suddenly he had an important decision to make… squeaky or floppy. He held the squeaky in his front paws while he’d been working on chewing it into submission, but his attention was pulled back to the floppy. Tough call, he arched slightly though at the feel of a gentle hand stroking his back… that felt good and he was tempted to roll over for a tummy rub. But a flash of memory reminded him why he’d learnt not to do that.


He shuffled a little nearer to her on the grass and rested his chin on his left paw, looking up at her with both eyes before dropping them to look at bunny. With any luck she would make the decision for him… maybe he could have both? Oh, oh… there was a plan. Hero raised his head, and with one paw on squeaky for protection he made his move to retrieve bunny. Surprisingly, she didn’t taunt him with it, but gave it up freely, that confused him slightly as it dangled by one ear from between his teeth. He was used to having to earn bunny, he wondered if there was a new game and someone had forgotten to tell him the rules. He was a little suspicious but for now he was just going to enjoy the opportunity to have both toys.


Hero dropped the floppy between his paws and alternated chewing on one then the other. His tail occasionally wagged but then stilled. The sun was warm on his back and he was stretched out with Abby-girl who smelled familiar and safe. One paw on squeaky and the other on bunny, he rested his chin back on his paw and let his eyes fall half closed.


He hadn’t even realised that he’d dozed off until he woke with a start, there was a loud noise and he whimpered as he picked floppy up. If he had to choose, the floppy would usually win. He looked around but couldn’t see Abby-girl, there was a pile of daisies where she’d been and he snuffled at them before sneezing. Scared, he got up on all fours, abandoning squeaky to whatever fate might await him he made his way back to the house. The door that they’d come out through was still open and he slowly made his way back inside.


He moved slowly, hardly daring to make a sound, the noise had stopped but he was still worried. He’d dozed for a while it would seem and now they’d left him alone… it was all he really deserved. A soft whine bubbled up from his throat.


“Stupid mutt, all you do is make a mess, you don’t even deserve someone to take care of you.” The door slammed as Master left the apartment.


Hero made his way to the front door, he sat by it, bunny dangling from his mouth by the ear and he whimpered and whined. The longer he sat there the louder he got. puppy cries and sad eyes, Master had been right, it had only been a couple of days and already they’d abandoned him. He really didn’t deserve them, he should have known they’d go away again.


Distressed he took himself off towards the Master Suite, head hanging low, needing to surround himself in their scent, he found their huge walk-in-closet. Hero pawed at the laundry hamper until it fell over, he snuffled, immediately picking out their unique smells. He dragged a few items into a corner and curled up on them with bunny.

Chapter 9


Abby came out of the office and twirled a pigtail round her finger. It was always good to talk to her friends, but Matt could go on and on sometimes; it was especially annoying when she just wanted to get back to Hero. She went through the family room and out into the garden. She frowned when she saw the patch of grass, where she’d left the man-pup, was unoccupied.


She was baffled, stepping further out into the garden; they wrapped around the house and she followed it all the way round to see if she could find Hero. There was no sign of him outside. Chewing on her lip she returned inside, locking the door behind her, she started to go through the house room by room. This was bad, what would she tell Gibbs when he got home? She’d lost their new pup. Abby cursed herself and went through the Master bedroom into the snug; but there was no sign of him there either.


She’d checked the obvious rooms, the kitchen, Tony’s bedroom as well as the Master bedroom and the snug. She stood in the hallway scared and upset, how could she have allowed this to happen. She would have to go through every room methodically. Before she had chance to start her search, her Master’s car was pulling into the drive.


Abby was waiting for him at the garage door, nervously wringing her hands. Just one look at her and he knew there was something wrong.


“I’m sorry, he was asleep on the grass, and the phone rang so I came in to answer it. I was longer than I thought I’d be and when I went back out he was gone. I don’t know where he is, I’ve looked the places I could think, I checked the whole garden.” She told him all in one go, close to tears, “I’m sorry, Master.”


“Whoa, little one, slow down.” His strong hands gripped her upper arms with surprising gentleness, but it was enough to ground her and make her focus on him. “Where have you looked?”


“Our bedroom, the snug, Tony’s room, the kitchen, and I know he can’t be in the office or den, I was in the first and the door to the den was shut.”


Gibbs nodded, thoughtfully; it would all depend on his reason for running off as to where he could be. The obvious choices had been ruled out. “Where else can he hide, and still have a comforting scent?”


“I can’t think of anywhere I haven’t looked.”


They started towards the Master Suite; he had one arm wrapped around her shoulders reassuring her. He would deal with the issue of leaving the vulnerable pup unattended when they’d found him. “Did you check under the bed?”


“Under and all around.”


“If you were a frightened puppy where would you hide?” He asked her.


Her pale eyes momentarily flared a more green than hazel, a spark of something in her mind to be dealt with later. If she were a pup? Abby wouldn’t be a pup, she wasn’t very pup-like at all… more… kitten-like really. “Somewhere he can snuggle down but that has the smell of safety.”


Their eyes both moved in the same direction, simultaneously they started towards the closet. He put his hand out to slow her down. If he was in there, then her rapid approach could spook him even more. They calmed themselves down and moved into the closet, if they didn’t find him in there then he didn’t know where to look…they would have to go through the whole house in minute detail.


The first thing they noticed was the overturned laundry hamper. A trail led from it into the corner under Abby’s dresses. They both crouched down to look under there, what they found almost made her cry again.


Hero had practically made a nest of their clothes and had burrowed into them, he was curled up and shaking, but not from cold. She dug a hand in her pocket and offered the treat to Gibbs. Her guilty conscience not allowing her to be the one he trusted.


Jethro took the treat and moved a little closer, he carefully lowered his voice so that it was quiet and non-threatening, “Hey Hero, we were looking for you, this is a good hidey-hole.”


Hero hadn’t been thinking, he’d just been smelling them on their worn clothes and trying to be good and stay out of the way. They had to come back; it was their house, they lived there. But logic had little place in a pup’s confused and hurt mind. When he heard Bossman’s voice, he peeked out through the black fabric that was part shielding his face, one of Abby-girl’s swirly-skirts. It was a trick… it had to be.


Instead of moving forwards, he shuffled back, pressing himself into the corner as deeply as he could.


Gibbs patiently held the treat out on his hand, hoping to tempt the frightened pup. “It’s ok, Hero, no one’s going to hurt you. Abby’s here too, look.” He nodded towards her, “You’re safe with us, it’s ok, you can come out.”


Hero looked at the outstretched hand suspiciously, his head coming up slightly, more to be on the alert than any kind of success on the Bossman’s part. He remembered games like that, his Master’d lure him out and then there would be pain again. He remembered the overturned hamper and the clothes that he was lying on; he was no doubt going to be punished as soon as he came out. But when he needed to go, what would he do then. They were too close, and faster on two legs than him, he couldn’t get past them. A quiet whine found it’s way out before he could stop it.


With little success forthcoming, Jethro was starting to contemplate the wisdom of bringing him back to Tony while in a state like this. It would no doubt be emotionally jarring. He resisted the urge to sigh and made a slight shuffle forwards, Hero had already backed away as far as he could get, and with any luck the scent of the chocolate would coax him out.


Abby was trying to keep calm, but she felt so bad and to blame and it was obvious that Hero didn’t understand. She looked helplessly at her Master. He had such infinite patience in such situations; it never ceased to amaze her. She almost thought about crawling in there with the pup, it looked pretty comfortable in there after all.


Gibbs managed to get a little closer and placed the treat on top of the bed of clothes, then he backed off to where he’d started from. He watched the man-pup sniff at the chocolate treat, eyeing it with suspicion. Slowly, he picked it up in his mouth and crunched it down.


“See, it’s ok, boy.” He told him.


Abby gave him another treat and he held that out, placing it on the clothes still, but slightly further out.


He didn’t move right away, but looked at the treat as if he half expected it to jump up and bite him on the nose. He inched his way towards it.


Bit by bit, Gibbs coaxed the pup out of his hiding place, until he was sitting in the open and looking up at them, a little bemused and a fair bit frightened. Jethro attempted to reassure him by stroking his hair.


Abby retrieved the rabbit from the bed of clothes and held it out to the pup, and he hesitantly took it by the ear, looking from one biped to the other.


“I bet you’re hungry and thirsty, hiding in here all this time. Let’s get you some food and water.” Gibbs said as he got to his feet and patted his thigh for Hero to follow.


He made an aborted start, shifting forward but then halting, a repeat of the pat to Bossman’s thigh had him following at a safe distance.


In the kitchen, he sat back on his haunches and watched as bowls were filled with food and water and then placed on the floor on top of a mat that he’d not seen before. He looked at them, body set in preparation for movement, ready to go but not until he was given the command; he knew better than to just dive in.


Gibbs was waiting for the pup to make his move and go to the bowls but, as on edge as he was, he never moved. He frowned and rubbed at the back of his neck, he remembered the rules that he and Tony had gone over. It seemed you could only do so much in one day.


“Go on, boy, eat.” He told him, keeping his voice light and playful.


The magic words freed Hero from his spot, the bunny was dropped and his face was in the water bowl in seconds, tail high in the air as he leaned in to lap at the water.


His face was wet and he had crumbs around his mouth, there was laughter in blue eyes as Bossman crouched in front of him with a cloth to wipe at his face. Instinctively, Hero licked and nipped at the cloth as it passed in front of his lips. Laughter made him back up a bit, then a heavy hand was ruffling his fur. The cloth tossed aside, he watched it land on the counter.


Hero followed at a distance as his owner left the kitchen for the room with the rug. Hesitant still, he made his way almost painfully slowly to the soft rug and kept his eyes on the Bossman as he circled before settling down. The pup rested his chin on his front paws, raising his eyebrows to look up at the biped.


His anxiety levels were still high and he watched suspiciously, worried that the second he stopped paying attention that they would get angry with him and he’d find himself kicked until he turned his attention back to them or he’d be locked naked outside. He tried, but despite having slept in the closet, the pup found his eyes slowly closing.


Gibbs waited until he saw the body visibly relax, it was a sad sight to see, such open distrust in those sad hazel eyes. Haunted and hurt, he just wanted to hold him and make it better. He hoped there would come a time when they would have won over enough of Tony’s trust for him to be able to do just that. He watched those beautiful eyes slide closed, breathing evened out and slowed. A small smile crossed his face at the scene now in front of him; if he didn’t know better then he’d think that Hero didn’t have a care in the world. But he did know better, he knew a lot more than that.


Standing and stretching, he moved silently so as not to disturb his sleeping pet and went in search of his girl. Abby was no doubt off somewhere beating herself up over what had happened. Well, punishments were his job and he wanted to find out exactly what had happened before he considered whether one was deserved. It was likely he would discipline her just so she could let the guilt go. Sometimes it was about what *she* needed.


He found her in the snug; she was sitting on the futon where it had been folded back to a sofa, her knees pulled up to her chest hugging a Tony’s pillow to her chest. Her eyes lowered to stare at her bare feet.


Jethro hitched his pants slightly and sat down beside her. He waited for her to speak. She never said a word. Guilt and sorrow poured off her so thickly he could swear he could almost see it.


“I want to know what happened.” He finally broke the silence. His tone was like steel but laced with that quiet patience she’d come to know and love him for


Abby couldn’t look at him but she knew better than to not answer him, even such an indirect command to talk. “He was asleep on the grass. The phone rang and… I thought he would be ok. I didn’t think I would be very long. Oh god… I’m so sorry, Master.” Her eyes came up to look at him, pleading. “Things were going well and now… it won’t ever happen again, I promise.”


He studied her, silent as his ice-blue eyes and stoic face took her in, he was giving away nothing. “Who was it?”


It took a moment for Abby’s brain to back track and work out what he was talking about. “Matt.” She answered, “He just wouldn’t take the hint and ring off… I did try.”


“I’m sure you did.” His voice was emotionless, and she couldn’t tell if it was sarcasm or if he did believe her.


She was miserable and her eyes sank once more to the ground.


Jethro got to his feet and looked at her, “Up, my girl.” He commanded her, emphasising that she was his, ‘mine no matter what’ the hidden message.


In spite of her worry and internal hesitancy, her feet dropped immediately to the floor and she stood, placing the pillow aside. It had been a comfort, smelling as it did of the sexy Italian brunette. She didn’t look at him; her eyes fell again to the floor.


Gibbs knew what she needed and it wasn’t something they could put off. Abby couldn’t forgive herself until she knew he’d forgiven her, and forgiveness meant punishment had to come first.


“Strip and come to the play room.” He told her. Without waiting to see or hear her response, he headed for the room. Taking out his keys and unlocking the door that hid the contents of the room away, they’d been mindful not to spook their delicate new family member.




Abby knew the protocol, she slipped out of her clothes and took deep breaths before she knocked at the door of the playroom.


“Enter.” He called to her, not paying any further attention as he readied equipment for use.


She knew what was expected and sunk to a kneel six feet in from the door. This was a punishment so she assumed the required position; one hand gripped the wrist of the other arm behind her back and she leaned forward to press her forehead against the cool padded floor.


Gibbs paid her no attention, that wasn’t unusual for such a situation; he would give her attention only when he wanted to. She could hear him moving around, but didn’t dare look to see what he was doing; she knew better - he’d trained her better than that. She felt, rather than heard, the door open and guessed that he’d left the room.




Jethro left his girl kneeling in the playroom, he needed to check on Hero, the last thing he needed was for him to wake up and feel abandoned again. It was time to bring him out of it. He collected a blanket from the bedroom before heading to the family room.


The pup was still asleep where he’d left him. He crouched and gently ran a hand through the soft hair. The contact made the human-pup stir and sleepy eyes blinked open to look up at him. Gentle hands held his face.


“Tony, I need you to come up.” He encouraged, his voice little more than a whisper.

There was a slow blink and he could see the start of the transition. “That’s it, Tony, up you come. Good boy.”


The second time he spoke the name there was a shift in posture. The slight blush that had stained his cheeks the first time was evident again and Jethro wrapped the blanket around his shoulders.


“You ok?” He asked, Tony.


There was a small wary nod.


“You’re not in trouble, understand?”


Gibbs was talking to him like he was talking to a frightened child and the thought nearly made him laugh. Instead, he nodded again.


“Tell me.” Came the instruction.


Tony didn’t understand what was expected of him, his lower lip was pulled between his teeth and sad eyes looked into the other man’s face like he might find the answer there. All he found was patience and acceptance. It made him swallow the hard lump that formed in his throat.


“I…” He started, but aborted.


Still, Jethro waited, not hurrying him or repeating himself.


“I’m… not in trouble?” Tony asked, almost in disbelief.


There was a small smile on the older man’s lips, not much, just the slightest upturn at the corners. “I want you to tell me, not ask.” His voice like velvet covered steel, firm but soft.


His voice was slightly stronger the next time he spoke and almost sounded like he believed what he was saying as he told his boss what he wanted to hear. “I’m not in trouble.”


Gibbs nodded and pulled him into a hug. There was a moment of hesitation, then Tony was hugging him back solidly, filled with relief and the need for reassurance that the contact brought.


“We’re never leaving you, not unless you choose to walk away… maybe not even then.” Jethro murmured in his ear, as he held him and stroked his back through the blanket.


Tony wanted to tell him not to make promises he couldn’t keep, but he kept his mouth shut. He hadn’t been clever enough though, his boss was far too perceptive.


Pulling back slightly, but not giving up his grip on him, Gibbs studied the younger man’s face, an open book for anyone who chose to read at that moment in time. He realised just how closed off DiNozzo had been from them for so long, and the few glimpses that they’d seen of that hopeful puppy look: ‘please don’t hurt me… please don’t leave… please don’t say you’ll stay when you’re going to walk away and leave.’


“I only make a promise when I mean it, Tony. You should know that about me by now.”


A gentle thumb brushed at his cheek and he realised rather belatedly that his eyes were leaking; because there was no way he was crying… not again. It was bad enough knowing that he’d done it once, and then there was the blushing, but Tony wasn’t going to admit that it was happening again.


“It was all a misunderstanding, pup, Abby was on the phone, she thought you would still be asleep.”


That pulled a sob of a hiccup from the Italian and he looked almost mortified at the sound.


“I told you, you’re family now. I’ll tell you as often as you need to hear it; we’re not going anywhere. We care about you too much to hurt you.”


Another hesitation and then finally a nod of understanding, Tony fought to dry the wetness on his cheeks with the corner of the blanket. His efforts earned him an indulgent smile. “Go and take a nice long shower in your room’s en suite… better yet, a soak in the tub, no less than half an hour. Relax and then get dressed. You can set us up with a movie to watch.”


Tony obeyed, not even realising he hadn’t questioned the instructions until he was actually running the bath water. He blinked and shook his head, a small smile on his face; a glimmer of hope. Gibbs never made promises that he couldn’t keep. He just had to keep telling himself that. He was still struggling to believe that he wasn’t in trouble.




Punishing his girl was the last thing Jethro felt like doing after comforting his boy. He just wanted to curl up with either or both of them. It was hard and it was unwelcome, but it was necessary. He’d long since learned what Abby needed, this was one of them things; if he didn’t punish her then she would do it to herself. He really couldn’t handle her going all introverted on him too.


He paused outside the room to ready and remind himself why he was doing it then, with a flourish, he opened the door and stepped in. Gibbs clicked it shut behind him and turned the key. Slowly, he walked around the kneeling form of his raven-haired girl. She was beautiful and the position she was in highlighted perfectly the curve of her back that the large gothic cross adorned. He allowed himself a smile at the two cute little stick-figure angels that decorated her shoulder blades, it was quickly pushed away and he continued to circle her before coming to a stop, toe tips six inches from her lowered head.


He looked at her until he could see a shift in her body’s comfort level; whether physical or psychological it didn’t really matter, he suspected the latter. His girl could kneel for hours if she wasn’t paid attention to, but if she was being watched it was a whole other matter.


“Ask, my Girl.” He commanded. Nothing in his voice showed displeasure, but he was almost unapproachable, emotionally detached from the moment. In her logical mindset, Abby would know that wasn’t the case, but she’d had time to drop herself into that submissive mindset where logic wasn’t such a strong feature anymore.


“Please, Master, please correct me.” In contrast with his level tone, Abby’s husky voice was thick with her emotion.


She was already close to the point where the dam would break and he hoped he wouldn’t have to push to hard too get it to give way.


“What did you do?” He requested.


It wasn’t exactly a script that they used, but a format that he had found to work best. First, she had to ask for the discipline; he could tell her state of mind from that and whether or not she really was contrite. Secondly, she had to tell him why she required the discipline. This was not the part of their relationship that he enjoyed most, but it was a necessary evil, it kept his girl feeling secure in her position. He preferred to play for fun.


“I left him.” Her voice hitched, “I left Hero on his own, it scared him. Oh, God, he was so scared, I’m sorry Master, please… punish me so I won’t ever do something so stupid again.”


Her head never lifted from her position of supplication but the rawness in her voice told him what he would see in her face if he were to look in it.


“Stand.” He told her, watching to make sure that she was ok after the period of kneeling, he watched for any signs of a muscle cramp.


There were times when Abby could be graceful, but as she raised herself from her position, it was the furthest thing from her mind right then. She wanted to drop her eyes, but she knew the rules on that, so she fought to look her Master in the eyes. His expression was as unreadable as usual, his eyes weren’t hard exactly but they certainly brooked no disrespect or rebellion. Not that she had any intention of trying to talk her way out of this. There might be times when she did, but this wasn’t one of them, she felt too bad about what had happened.


For a moment, Gibbs simply had to stare at her, she was so beautiful, but the situation wasn’t right for him to take advantage of that right now; despite the way his cock was twitching in his pants.


Seeing something that obviously satisfied him, he moved away to gather restraints. Fur-lined, wide black leather, hardware… double buckle cuffs. Obediently, she offered him each wrist in silence, without being asked, and watched as they were tightened around them. She watched as he crouched, and remained still as hands fastened the remaining cuffs around each of her ankles.


“How long were you on the phone for, my Girl?” He asked simply as he straightened up.


Patient eyes of the long suffering Master and boss, studied her while she took her time to try and work it out. She blinked, her tongue flickered out to try and moisten lips that had dried with her sudden nerves.


“About thirty-five minutes, Master.” She told him, the reluctance to make the admission was obvious, but she had told him the truth regardless.


The toy of choice that was used during punishment was the two-pronged tawse, it was the only time they used it. It was vicious and Abby hated it, despite loving the other implements – some even more vicious. Gibbs wondered whether it was because it was the first thing he’d punished her with that had built the negative relationship with the toy. He was going to use one strike for every minute, but thirty-five was pushing the limit. It worried him, but he would use his judgement.


“Bench.” He instructed and moved aside to watch her cross to the spanking bench.


It was one of his favourite pieces in the playroom. It had so many uses and was quite versatile, despite its name. Padded shin rests could be fixed together but they were also on a pivot so that he could part the legs of the occupant to expose their genitals for play or use. A wide padded bar braced the thighs so that they were slightly beyond the 90 degrees, putting the sub off balance. The top was shaped, padded for comfort but acted as a brace for the upper body across the abdomen, a T-bar up the sternum left access to nipples, with a woman’s breasts hanging down on either side of it. The T-bar terminated in the shoulder and head brace; there were three ways this could be used, a solid insert left the surface flat, meaning the sub had to turn the face to the side; the cut out could be removed to leave an oval for the face to rest in it; or a chin rest that tilted the sub’s head up and left their mouth accessible for use. Attachment points were arranged at many places.


Gibbs waited until Abby had lowered herself onto the bench, face in the cut out oval so she was staring at the floor beneath the bench. He attached the ankle restraints first, clicking them into place. Then straps came up around the calves to secure the lower limbs. Next came the straps around the thighs, these ensured that the thighs couldn’t be squeezed together. There were times that he might strap her shoulders down, but this time he simply attached her wrist cuffs to the front legs of the bench.


He took a moment to admire her form before retrieving the tawse. “One strike for every minute.” He told her, “Count them.”


He knew that she knew the rules when it came to punishment, that counting meant she had to thank him also. He had her do this because it was useful to hear the changes in her voice, but also it kept her from entering subspace; it was a punishment after all.


No warm up with a punishment and he barely waited a heartbeat, as he moved behind her, before bringing the split leather down across her ass cheek with a solid crack.


Abby gasped at the sudden slash of fierce pain across her ass cheek. She counted, her voice emotional, but firm.


By ten Jethro’s arm was aching and his girl’s voice was hitching with a sob on every slash of the leather against her soft flesh. It was bruising, if this had been playtime he would be enjoying the thrill of marking that beautiful little butt. But it wasn’t. Bright red welts marred that perfect flesh. He took a moment to soothe over the flesh with his hand, feeling the heat that poured off it. Just because he didn’t want to punish her, didn’t mean that he would do a half-assed job of it. He was an all or nothing guy, if a job needed doing it was done well and to the best of his ability.


He kept one eye on the time, needing to make sure that Tony wouldn’t come looking for them. He shifted the strikes down to cover the thighs as well. Alternating, one side than the other, his girl was diligent and never messed up on the count, even when it became a struggle to get the words out around the constriction of emotion in her throat.


By twenty Abby’s ass and thighs were on fire with the pain of it, she wasn’t going to be sitting comfortably for a few days, and that was just fine by her, she wanted to remember what she’d done every time she came to sit down. She deserved the pain for hurting Tony/Hero. Her body shook with her sobs, her nose and eyes had streamed a small puddle under the bench and she didn’t even care that she would look a mess.


Gibbs could hear it in her count that she was nearing the breaking point. Just a few more and they would be there. Her cries of pain from each crack of the tawse were increasingly louder; he was glad they’d padded the room out to sound proof it.


He had only reached twenty-two when the wall crumbled and the words began to fall from Abby’s mouth.


“Please… sorry…. Master… forgive me… please… sorry….” It was a litany but it was also his cue.


He landed two more and she counted them out, interrupting her plea for forgiveness to do so. He put the tawse down and inspected her ass, the skin was blistering hot in places, welts and the start of bruises forming, there were a few places where the skin was perilously close to being cut but it hadn’t actually split. Before releasing her, he covered the abused flesh with a soothing balm that she had concocted herself, liberally rubbing it over her flesh. He released her in reverse from where he’d bound her, then slowly eased her back so that she was kneeling. Gibbs cupped her tear-streaked face gently with one hand and pulled a cloth from his pocket and wiped her cheeks and nose.


“I forgive you my pretty girl. And I trust you that it won’t happen again.” His voice soft, gentle and full of tenderness; the punishment was over and it was time for reassurance. “I love you, baby girl.” He told her as he helped her stand.


Abby heard the words and felt the weight lifting from her, the pain in her body was sharp, but it didn’t matter. She was forgiven and loved. She leaned in to him and he carefully wrapped her in his arms, kissing her hair and her temple.


“Ssh.” He told her as she sobbed, “it’s all ok, it’s over now, baby girl.”


“Love you… Master, th...thank you.” She managed to stutter out amongst her sobs.

Chapter 10


The bath had felt so good, the soapy water warmed Tony through, he’d added bubble bath and there was a good pile of foam on top of the water that he’d played with, lost in thought. His fingers had gone wrinkly and for some strange reason, that amused him. He didn’t often take the time to just relax like this; showers were just a means to getting clean. He needed a radio though, or better yet, a TV. He grinned at that thought. He could imagine the look he’d get from his boss if he mentioned that one. Occasionally, he’d topped the water up with more hot as it cooled, not wanting to disobey and get out before his time was up. When his watch beeped at him, he didn’t want to move, so he’d stayed a little longer. When he finally did ease himself out of the water, he felt heavy and almost boneless.


He shivered slightly at the tickle of cool air on his damp skin, before wrapping himself up in a towel and drying himself off. He was actually feeling happy as he dressed himself. Gibbs’ words kept playing themselves over in his head. The day had been such a roller coaster, but it would all be okay, they cared about him, he wasn’t in trouble, and they wouldn’t leave him. He just had to remember that.


Jeans and T-shirt on, he took himself through to the family room and started looking through the movies that they had. There were loads of them, and he just couldn’t understand how Gibbs never got his references. That made him frown slightly in puzzlement, he decided to ask about it later. His choice was an old black and white film from the fifties, it was a corny sleuth film but he loved it… knew it almost word for word.


Tony helped himself to a drink in the kitchen after hesitating about whether or not to do so. He’d read over their ‘no rules’ list and it had built his confidence to pull the fridge open. The house was quiet and the day was marching on, he sat in the family room waiting for the other two to show.


Finally, Gibbs wandered in and sat down beside him, he gave him a small smile. “Right then, on with the show.” He prompted.


Tony looked towards the doorway, “We’re not waiting for Abby?”


“She’s having a nap.”


“Oh.” Tony frowned and clicked the remote to start the movie.


As the film had progressed, the brunette had once more found himself edging closer to his boss. An arm had come around his shoulder and pulled him in to settle against the other man’s side. He gave a tentative look out of the corner of his eyes, but Jethro was absorbed in the movie.


“How come you never know what I’m talking about when I go on about a movie?” He asked as the credits rolled. He flicked it off. “You have practically every movie I’ve ever mentioned.”


The older man smirked at him but didn’t answer. He gave Tony’s hair a ruffle and got to his feet. Most of the time he’d known exactly what he was going on about, but it was fun to play dumb and watch the enthusiasm on the boy’s face as he detailed his favourite plots. He’d never tell DiNozzo that though.


“Time to make dinner.” Jethro told him, and left him sitting in front of the TV waiting for an answer that would never come.




Left to his own devices, Tony spent a little while flipping through the TV channels. There wasn’t anything of any interest on though. Bored, he flicked the screen off and wandered through to clean up the mess he’d made in the closet.


He felt a wave of embarrassment as he saw the scattered laundry across the floor and started to gather it up. He dumped it all back into the hamper and straightened it in it’s place. He retrieved Bunny and gave a small smile, carrying him by one ear as he left the room to return him to the snug.


As he passed through the Master Bedroom, he looked over at Abby; she was curled up under the sheet on her side. It pulled another smile out of him. The girl had so much energy; he couldn’t believe she took naps in the daytime. As he paused to watch her sleeping, she whimpered softly. Tony frowned. Did his best girl have nightmares? He remembered their had been times when she’d briefly mentioned something to Kate but…? She made the sound again and this time sounded in pain.


He quietly padded across to her and crouched beside the bed, brushing the locks of hair from her face. She smiled and her eyes opened, there was a flicker of surprise but then the smile grew. He wondered if she’d thought he was Gibbs. She hadn’t been asleep though, that was obvious. Suspicion stirred.


“You feeling ok?” He asked, quietly.


She nodded slightly, “Mmhmm, you?”


“I’m ok, feel like an idiot though. I just cleaned up the mess I made in the closet.” His eyes fell away in embarrassment.


“Hey, it’s ok.” Abby reached out to rub his arm and winced as the movement shifted the sheet over her abused flesh.


Tony caught her hand. “You’re in pain.”


He frowned, he went to move the sheet to check her but she stopped him with a quiet word.




He saw red; she was hurt, injured and there was only one other person in the house that could have done it. Gibbs, the bastard, had beat her. Rage like he’d never felt before coursed through his veins making his blood boil. He dropped her hand and left the room.


He found Gibbs in his office, the man looked up at him and started to smile until he saw the look on Tony’s face. He barely had time to know it was coming before the fist connected with his jaw, sending the chair and it’s occupant scooting backwards.


“You bastard,” Ice-cold Tony DiNozzo, like Jethro had never witnessed before.


He lunged for him. Gibbs was on his feet and deflected the fist that hurtled towards him. The Italian’s other hand came up to push at him.


“You beat her.” He spat, angrily. The flash of red fire that ran through him came out in words as strong as venom.


“I fucking trusted you… and you beat her so bad she hurts to move.” The angry tirade continued.


Gibbs didn’t respond, deflected another angry punch and caught wrists as hands came up to push him. Tony fought to pull his hands away.


“That what you’re gonna do to me?” Hurt and angry in equal measures, accusing hazel eyes narrowed and intent on the ex-marine. His hands continued to either try and escape the grip or inflict pain while still being held.


“Tony, she wanted it.” He finally, replied softly.


That calm patient tone of Gibbs that Tony usually loved just made him want to be sick.


“No! No one wants that.” Hot tears prickled at his eyes, “Finally, know why they call you a bastard.” He yanked his arms back to try and free them from the strong insistent grip that would no doubt leave bruises.


“Ask her Tony, she needed it. Needed to be forgiven, absolved or the guilt would have eaten her up.”


The brunette stilled as he looked at him. “What?” He asked, incredulous. He couldn’t be hearing what he was.


“She felt bad for what happened, she needed to be absolved of that or she would have just beat herself up over it.” Jethro explained, his tone still soft. He relaxed his grip on the wrists.


When Tony pulled back the next time, his hands came free. “No.” He whispered, his eyes dropped to his hands, then flickered back up to the older man’s face. Bile rose up and he felt like he was going to be sick. He’d hit Gibbs, his boss, and while he’d done nothing more than maybe raise a bruise, he was mortified. He ran from the room.


Heading straight for the cloakroom, Tony heaved his guts into the toilet bowl. His body was shaking. He couldn’t believe what he’d just done. What the hell had come over him? He retched again.


A gentle hand rested on his trembling shoulder and he peered up sideways from where he was huddled over the toilet, his eyes filled with shame and self-loathing. Concerned blue eyes looked back at him. Then the Gibbs’ other hand stroked lightly through his hair. He looked away and hit the flush.


“I’m so sorry.” He almost choked out the words in disgust with himself.


Gibbs helped him to his feet and gave a little half amused inclination of his head. “No need.”


“But I…”


“You were looking out for Abby.” The dom interrupted him. “Your intentions were admirable.”


Jethro filled a cup from the sink with water, passing to Tony. He rinsed his mouth and spat the water down the sink. Straightening up, he looked back at the other man through lowered lashes.


“I can’t believe that I…” he brought his hand up, stopping just short of the bruised jaw. “I’m sorry.”


The other man shook his head slightly, a slight upward curve to his lips that wasn’t quite a smile, “It’s fine, you’ve improved, but I’ve been hit harder.” His blue eyes twinkled slightly.


Tony flushed. “It’s not the point though, I should never have hit you. It makes me feel ill that I lost it like that.”


“It wasn’t without reason.” Gibbs continued to try and reassure him, his hands wrapping around his waist and pulling him in for a hug.




“Abby! That’s a good reason in my eyes.”


That brought a smile to DiNozzo’s face then, “I feel protective of her.”


“That’s good.” His strong hand slid slowly up and down the guilt-ridden man’s back.


“Even if it’s misplaced?”


He nodded and kissed Tony’s temple, “Even when it’s misplaced. It’s good to know that you’ll look out for each other.”


“She really wanted it?” He couldn’t get his head around that, why would anyone want to be beaten so bad they couldn’t move?


“She needed it, I didn’t enjoy giving her it anymore than you like the idea, but it’s what our girl needed. Punishment means forgiveness.”


“I’m sorry.”


“I know.” Jethro sighed as he continued to hold him.


“Are you going to punish me?” Tony asked quietly, afraid of the answer.


The shiver that went through his frame could be felt by the man holding him and Gibbs blinked, dumb-founded a moment, before pulling back to look seriously into stormy hazel eyes. His hands moved to firmly grip DiNozzo’s shoulders. “There’s nothing to punish you for, and even if there was, I would never punish you like that. I don’t have the right.”


“But, I hit you… and…Abby wouldn’t have been in trouble if it wasn’t for me.”


“We’ve already covered the hitting. As for Abby, that’s not your fault, she put herself in that position and she accepted her responsibility, which was why she needed punishing. Tony, none of this is your fault.”




Jethro shook his head, brooking no argument. “No buts. You hit me again we might have a rethink on the situation, but I’m fairly certain that’s never going to happen again. Is it?”


Tony shook his head, furiously from side to side; his voice was determined, as he replied, “Never!”


He could hardly believe he’d done it in the first place, it was like he’d been possessed or something. It scared him to think he could lose control like that. He brought his hands up again, noticing them shaking slightly. Gibbs saw it too and took the hands in his and brought them up to his lips to kiss them lightly.


“Lets go and check on Abs.” The older man offered.


The only reply he received was a nod.




Abby was looking towards the door, chewing nervously at her lip, Tony had been in a rage when he’d left the room and she had no idea what he might do. When the two of them came in together, she gave a sigh of relief and smiled up at them.


Her pup looked like he’d been through the ringer a fair bit and was that a bruise on her Master’s chin? She decided not to ask.


“How you feeling?” The brunette asked her as he crouched by the bed and picked Bunny up from where he’d been abandoned. He was blushing faintly at his behaviour.


“I’m ok, it’d be nice to have some company though.” She told him, patting the bed.


“Yeah?” He looked from her to Gibbs, who nodded as she responded by sliding over on the bed to make room for him.


A small smile formed on his face, it wasn’t much but it was something and he carefully lowered himself onto the bed and settled his head down on the pillow.


The proud looking dom, leaned over and kissed his girl on the cheek. Pulling back, he gave Tony’s arm a reassuring squeeze and then left them to talk.


“Are you sure you’re ok?”


She smiled indulgently at him. “Yes.”


“Did you…? I mean, Gibbs said you wanted it?” He asked her, not sure if it was really any of his business, but he had to know for sure.


Abby nodded, “Must be pretty weird to you.” Her hand found his and she held it, just to feel connected to him.


“I hit him.” His blush deepened and his voice was a mix of awe, shock and disgust.


Her eyes widened slightly and then her whole look softened, “My hero.” She smiled; thumb stroking the back of his hand. “You survived and everything.”


Tony gave a soft chuckle at that, “I know, incredible isn’t it?” He paused a moment, “He didn’t even get angry with me.”


“He rarely gets angry.” She told him. “It’s the sign of a bad dom, he says. If you can’t control your own emotions how can you hope to have control of another person?” She mimicked Gibbs.”


“I thought…”


“I know.” She cut off his train of thought, their eyes locked on each other as they both lay on their sides talking. “It’s easy to think the wrong thing though. We’ve been together a long while now; he knows me, knows what I need, sometimes before even I do. I trust him Tony, and you can too. He won’t hurt either of us. But thank you, because I know that if anyone ever did hurt me that I could count on you to look out for me.”


He gave a long heavy sigh and let all the emotion of the last half hour drain away.


“How did you realise you had a pup side?” She asked out of the blue.


Tony grinned at her. “It was a bit by accident really. Fooling around being told I was like an eager lil pup. I gave a yip, wagged my tail and licked her face. It was just a bit of fun but… something felt like it fell into place. I wasn’t very good at it at first. Y’know things like talking and using my hands. It was mostly just a cute fun thing back then. My Mistress at the time thought it was adorable. That was about five and half years ago now.”


Things hadn’t lasted with them but he still had such fond memories of his time with her, it had been a whirlwind of exploration. After their break up he had started looking into the pup culture and that was how he’d met his ex. He pushed that thought aside; he didn’t want to be thinking about him.


“That’s cute.” Abby concluded, with a smile.


He gave her a smile. “You’re not interested in giving it a go are you, Abs? Only, I wouldn’t have taken you for the puppy type…more…”


“Kittenish?” Her eyebrows rose with amused expectation.


He laughed, “Yeah, Kitten Abs. Where did that come from?”


“Watching Hero in the garden and then lazing out there in the sunshine. Could be company.” She smiled, brightly.


He grinned again, “wouldn’t we have to be enemies, y’know the kitty and the pup?”


She shook her head, “Course not, my gran had a dog and a cat, they were bestest buds. Of course, I would have to lick your ears clean. It’s like a compulsion.”


He laughed, “Have you told Gibbs? I have an image of him standing there saying ‘I live in a zoo’ or something, while we create mayhem.”


Abby chuckled huskily, “he’d love it, he’d get to pet us ‘til his heart’s content. I’ll probably talk to him about it though.”


Tony reached over and smoothed her dark hair back behind her ear. It was fun in the garden and it would be cool to have a play pal, but he also liked it when Abby looked after him. They would have to see how it went; he certainly wouldn’t deny her something like that, not when he got so much out of it.


They talked quietly for a good few hours, until they both gradually drifted off to sleep.


Jethro found them like that; curled on their sides, holding hands and sleeping softly. He smiled to himself and pulled covers up over the fully clothed man. Stripping down to his boxers, he climbed in on the other side of Tony. He smiled, pleased when the other man snuggled back into him, encouraging him to wrap an arm around and spoon up behind him.




Tony slowly drifted to wakefulness, a warm body beneath his, breathing softly, fingers curled in a hairy chest and a masculine scent teasing his nostrils. It took him a moment to realise where he was. Just on the verge of panic a strong arm gave him a squeeze, grounding him and making him hum softly. His eyes blinked open properly and focused on the bruised chin, then the piercing blue eyes that held him captive. He almost gasped at the sight of them, so intense and all focused on him.


“Mornin’.” Gibbs murmured.


He smiled, feeling part of his body wake up and backing his hips up so that the contact they had wouldn’t give him away. “Hey.” He whispered back. “I shoulda known.”


“Known what?” A confused look flickered across the handsome older man’s face. Even first thing in the morning, his hair still managed to look almost parade perfect. Tony wondered how he did that when his own stuck up every which way.


“That you’d keep the nightmares away.” He replied as he tried to bury his face in the warm shoulder his head had been resting on.


Gibbs smiled, “I’m glad.” His hand coming up to caress mussed brunette hair.


Beside them Abby snored softly, undisturbed by their conversation. DiNozzo’s eyes settled on his wrist and the bruise around it. He held it up slightly, “Kate’s gonna have a field day.”


“I’m sure you’ll think of something to deflect her in the wrong direction.” Jethro’s tone was amused and he was smiling in a way that lit his eyes. He couldn’t wait to hear that one in the office.


Tony groaned.


“What’s wrong?” Concern furrowed the dom’s brow at the sudden change from smiling to pained groaning.


“I need a cold shower.” He muttered, quietly.


The chest under him shook with a silent laughter, he looked up with a slight pout. Gibbs tried to straighten his face but his eyes gave him away, “Why would you want to do that? Why not just…take care of it.”


The pout gave way to utter surprise, then a slight blush, “I didn’t think…I mean… I…I’m allowed?” Disbelief coloured the stammered response, it caused the other man’s expression to soften then; humour all but vanished as he gently cupped the lightly stubbled cheek.


“Of course. I don’t have the right to impose those rules on you. You’re not my boy; I certainly haven’t earned that yet. ”


The brunette blushed slightly, turned his head and kissed the hand at his cheek. “We both know that’s not true. I’ve always been your boy.”


“You boys want some privacy?” A sleepy voice asked from the other side of the bed. Unashamed.


Tony buried his face in Jethro’s neck while the older man glared at his girl. He was embarrassed that she’d been listening to their conversation but also, it made things a little awkward with his boss.


“Baby girl, coffee would be good.”


There was a grumble then a very dishevelled looking goth girl eased herself out of bed, careful not to irritate her bruised butt. When they were alone, a hand gently eased the warm face away from his neck.


“I’m not ready yet.” The brunette told him, quietly.


Gibbs was nodding, “I know.” Soft lips pressed against his forehead. “There’s no hurry, pup.”


Chapter 11


“Someone had an interesting weekend, liked to play rough did she, Tony?” Kate’s voice teased as she stopped in front of his desk, just as he’d reached forward for his cup of coffee.


Hazel eyes glanced up at her, then down to the ring of bruising that was visible around his wrist. He gave her an innocent smile. “Why, Kate, I don’t know what you mean.”


She snorted, “It’s lucky she didn’t know you very well or she’d have left you in them handcuffs.”


“Au contraire, Kate, who said anything about a woman?” His eyes twinkled and he smirked.


Her mouth fell open at the comment, then snapped shut, he wouldn’t? Would he? He had to be ribbing her, but he looked like he meant what he was saying and she had no comeback at all. She opened her mouth again, still nothing would come out. She turned on her heel and walked away.


Tony was left grinning in triumph; he stretched and laced his hands behind his head as he leaned back in his chair.


“Someone call a vacation day and forgot to tell me, DiNozzo?” Gibbs snapped in his direction. He’d heard the brief exchange between his boy and Kate and had to school the amusement from his face, he’d known that he would be able to deflate or deflect the woman. It was almost poetic, since Tony had used the truth to confound her.


“No, Boss.” His arms dropped and he pulled the file on his desk into his hand as he stood up to brief Gibbs on what he had gathered so far.


“Good to know. Do you need a written invite to fill me in?”


He shook his head, inwardly cursing himself. He’d wondered if there would be awkwardness at work but it seemed it was all business as usual. The last thing he wanted was to piss Gibbs off at work though; he didn’t want to find out if that would go home with them.


“Right, well… A parking ticket put the Lieutenant’s vehicle outside the Bank of America, 2201 C Street North West, at fourteen hundred hours. The bank has surveillance inside and out, we’re trying to get copies of the footage to see who was actually driving the car.”


“Try harder.”




“Get down there and get that damn tape, DiNozzo.”




“You’re still here.” Gibbs looked at him, an odd mixture of patient annoyance.


He gave a small cough, “Well, there’s more.”


An enquiring eyebrow rose, “It’s just a block over from the Federal Reserve so, McGee and Abs decided to see if they were able to follow the cars journey using the cities camera surveillance system. It went off the grid at Jefferson Davis Highway and Washington Boulevard at Eighteen Thirty-Five.”


“Jefferson Davis and Washington?” Gibbs asked, his eyes reflecting that his mind was ticking over. That location was right by the Pentagon. He stood and pulled the drawer open, retrieved his weapon and holstered it. “Get me that bank tape, yesterday.” He grabbed his jacket and headed around his desk, “McGee, with me.”


The morning passed by in a blur, busy with the case, Tony hadn’t even realised that he’d totally skipped lunch until a paper bag bearing the logo of the local sandwich joint was dropped on his desk at just gone three pm. He looked up at the deliverer and found his boss looking back at him with a half-smile.


“Eat something.”


“Thanks, Boss.” He stretched, cracked his neck and pulled the bag towards him.




“You…” Abby grinned, pointing at Tony, “You are one wicked boy. What did you tell Kate?”


He tried to look innocent but couldn’t keep the smile from his face, “I just gave her something to think about.


“I had her down here for a full half hour trying to figure out whether you were teasing her.” She chuckled.


He gave a shrug and a slight boyish smile. Abby hugged him then mock scowled, “now I have to suffer her internal debates and act like I know nothing.”


He laughed.


“So, how are you doing, my own hero-pup?”


He looked down at one bruised wrist, face falling serious. “Not my smartest moment.”


“Hey, you did me proud.” She told him giving Tony a playful tap with her finger. “It’s good to know you have my back.”


“That’s what Gibbs said…”


“What? You don’t believe him?”


“Of course… well… sort of. Abby, I hit him.”


She gently cupped his face in her hands. “I wish we could have been there to protect you the way you protected me.” Her hazel-green eye sparkled with emotion.


“I didn’t protect you though, did I?” He said, bitterly.


The words no sooner out of his mouth than she kissed him softly on the lips, just a gentle meeting, no tongue. He pulled back looking startled.


“Your intention was there. And don’t look so stunned, pup, a girl’s allowed to kiss her subbie bro. You’re family now.”


“I just… I don’t want to upset Gibbs.”


She shook her head and smiled at him warmly, “He won’t be upset, babe. In fact, I think he’d be quite happy.”


He shook his head, “I… I have to go tell him the results… are they them?” Tony took a step back, pointing at the print out on the desk. He didn’t want to do this at work; he couldn’t run the risk of reducing himself to that nervous self-conscious sub. His boss would lose his temper with him.


Abby sighed and picked the paper up, “Yes, I can tell you conclusively that the car trunk had carried no explosives.” She grinned.


“None?” His tone reflected his shock.


She shook her head, “But… there were a few trace chemicals that corresponded with those that can be ‘used’ in them.”


He sighed, not looking forward to tell Gibbs the news, they had nothing at all on the suspect. How the hell could they prove the terrorist intent without forensic evidence?


He took the print out from her and disappeared off to let him know.




“We’ve got a dead suspect.” Gibbs declared, grabbing his gun from his desk. “I want everyone on it.”


The drive to the scene in the truck was as erratic as usual when Gibbs was driving, and they were all a little green when they climbed out at the crime scene. Tape had already been put up and the local LEOs were in attendance. As one, they grabbed their equipment and headed for the house, flashing ID as they passed by the cop on guard.


“You almost had me, y’know?” Kate told DiNozzo as they walked up the path to the suspect-turned-victim’s house.


“Huh?” He looked at her, holding his rucksack at his shoulder and adjusting his shades.


“That comment. About not being a girl.” She persisted.


“Oh?” Tony raises an eyebrow behind his designer sunglasses.


“Yeah, but then I thought about it, you don’t have enough style to be gay.” She smirked.


“That’s the trouble with you, Kate, everything’s black and white. You don’t see shades of grey. Kinda odd for a profiler, don’t ya think.”


Without a second thought, Gibbs smacked the back of Tony’s head. He realised the moment that he did it that he shouldn’t have. The younger man’s hand came up to his head and he jumped to the side, eyes wide and shocked. He froze there. Jethro felt an icy feeling creep up his spine.


“DiNozzo, are you working or not?” Kate called back.


“Kate! When you’re ready, you think you could actually help McGee catalogue the scene?” Gibbs snapped at her. He made sure she went inside before turning back to Tony. His hands came up and reached for him but didn’t touch. “I’m sorry, I should have thought.” His tone softened.


“I…I’m fine.” He stammered and made to head inside.


Gibbs gently caught his arm. “We’ll talk later.” He told him, softly.”




They were all exhausted when they made it back to base. Everyone wearily climbing out of the truck, except for Gibbs’ who seemed as fresh as he did first thing.


“DiNozzo, you’re with me. The rest of you, start sorting this evidence.” He barked and headed for the elevator.


Tony cringed, but followed, carrying his rucksack with him as he stepped onto the elevator. The doors slid shut and they started to move upwards. A few seconds later, his boss hit the switch to halt them. He swallowed hard and looked at the ex-marine.


“I’m sorry.” The brunette told him.


Jethro shook his head and Tony felt his stomach lurch.


“No, pup. I’m the one that needs to apologise.” Gibbs had been concerned. His boy had been quiet and professional at the scene after he’d smacked his head and it was always a worry when he stopped joking or flirting.


“But I… shouldn’t have…” He was interrupted when the older man held up a hand.


“I never thought. We’ve been able to carry on at work as if nothing is going on outside. But, inside you’ve already changed my role in your life. I’m not just your boss anymore. I’m more than that, I’m someone you’re starting to trust and doing that was as bad as outright beating you.” Gibbs shook his head, “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again. I promise you that. Forgive me?”


His mouth opened and closed, “Abby kissed me.” He blurted. Not sure why he felt the need to say it, but it seemed important to be honest.


Gibbs smiled, “Good.”


“Good?” His eyes wide, he’d been so sure that he would be annoyed with him about it.


“Yes, Tony, ‘good’. I’m glad that you two are getting on.” He continued to smile warmly at him; he reached up slowly and caressed his cheek.


DiNozzo’s eyes fluttered closed as he leaned into the touch, Gibbs really wasn’t mad at them, he felt so happy he could burst.


He felt lips brush his forehead and he sighed in contentment.


The elevator jerking to life snapped him out of his blissful reverie and it was back to business as usual.




Wednesday brought the investigation into the abduction of Gunnery Sergeant Bill Atlas. Tony’s paranoia took a back seat as they worked the whole day on the case, not even going home at the end of the day. Abby had gone alone to the party that she and Gibbs had been supposed to attend together, while the rest of them had worked into the night. His ears were had still been ringing from the explosion out at Quantico where the EOD had been training. He desperately wanted to please Gibbs, and so he’d offered to tail Sacco. He’d swallowed hard at the threat that if he didn’t check in every hour on the hour he needn’t come back. He knew his boss would know something was wrong if he didn’t. He wasn’t sure if Gibbs was pissed with him for flirting with the waitress at the bar or what, for much of the time he thought so; but Kate would have been suspicious if he hadn’t… he always flirted it was part of his deflection technique. Either way, the offer had been intended to make his Boss proud; instead it had caused everything to turn sour.


It had all gone horribly wrong, and he knew that Jethro would be so pissed with him for having let his guard down enough to be drugged. In hindsight, he was somewhat pissed with himself, he’d let a pretty face distract him enough for the drugging to happen. All he could think of when he was in the sewers was how he had to get out of there, had to prove to his Boss that he was a good agent. He was glad that Rule #9 had been slapped into his head, and even more glad that he had that neat little concealed knife.


Gibbs had come for him, like he’d known he would, but he’d done his bit to show that he had balls, he’d got them out of the cell and into a position where they weren’t completely helpless. If they’d stayed in there they may have been dead before his colleagues could get to them.


It had filled him with such warmth to know that Gibbs cared about him, that he’d worked flat out to find him. He’d been unable to stop himself in the elevator, babbling desperately, even in front of Kate, so badly wanting to hear his owner say it.


“Admit it, you were worried about me, right? …You don't have to say anything, I know… Okay. I want you to say it… You care, right?”


And Gibbs had just stood there the whole time, saying nothing, while his insides had churned themselves up in knots that his boss had just been concerned about not losing one of his team and didn’t actually care.


They stepped off the elevator, and he couldn’t hold it in anymore, his voice reflecting just a hint of his hurt. “So...you're saying you don't care?”


Gibbs had stopped and turned to him, in front of Kate and the whole bullpen. “Tony. As far as I'm concerned, you're irreplaceable.”


Tony’s heart had stuttered and threatened to stop. He felt ten feet tall. None of it mattered, being drugged, being covered in dirt from the sewer, being hungry and tired… it all paled away at those words and the look in Gibbs’ eyes.


Then it had all crashed down around his ears.


“Forget about it McGee. He's still alive.” Gibbs told the young agent as they rounded the corner.


Tony had seen that McGee was sitting in his desk and Gibbs was laughing. That mischeivous smirk on his face and his eyes had been lit up with amusement. He’d felt like someone had ripped him open and pulled his insides out. A flicker of hurt, a moment of a crestfallen look, it was all he’d allowed himself before he’d pulled the mask back on. Eyes a little duller, humour almost non-existant and almost silent in his work unless someone had spoken to him.


He’d kicked Tim out of his chair and focused on writing his report. He handed it over to Gibbs with no flourish, there wasn’t even attempt at gaining his pride, he just turned away mumbling that he was going home. No one had stopped him and no one said anything to him; why would they?


That was how he’d come to be there now. Having scrubbed red raw in the shower and poured his tears down the drain with the soapy water. He’d dressed in sweats and perched himself on the floor between the two big windows in his room, knees pulled up to his chest. He was all cried out. How could he have been so stupid and so damned naïve? Of course Gibbs didn’t care about him, of course he wasn’t irreplaceable at work or at home. He was pathetic, why would anyone actually be sorry if he was gone? They’d probably only been worried about the missing marine.


He kept playing the damn conversation over in his head, torturing himself with it. The laughter on his Boss’ face as he’d told McGee to forget it, the fact the other agent was already at his desk like he wasn’t coming back. He wondered if they would even have known or cared he was missing if he hadn’t been on the phone when he passed out. He thought he was all cried out, but he’d been wrong.


Tony had trusted them when they’d told him he belonged there, that he was family. He’d believed them when they’d held him and kissed him earlier in the week. And when he’d hit Gibbs and thought that he’d fucked up so bad there was no going back, he’d thought they were telling the truth when they told him that it was more than okay because he’d just been looking out for his family - for Abby.


It was all lies though, they didn’t care about him and he didn’t even know why they wanted him there. That part did confuse him, was it all some kind of cruel joke? Build him up so the fall would be harder and hurt more? Maybe they hadn’t intended for him to realise so soon that it was all a game. It hurt so much. It hurt more that Gibbs could lie to him so convincingly and then stab him in the heart just moments later… and laugh at it.


He pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes, trying to stop another wave of tears. He didn’t know what to do. Should he pack up his things and leave now? Or should he bide his time, sort out a new job on the quiet and sneak away? He cringed, there was no way he would ever find a new job without them going to Gibbs for a reference. His father was right, he was destined for the gutter and he’d been falling from grace since the minute he’d left the academy. There was a real theme developing, dominant males who would make him feel safe and secure then pull the rug from under him. Was he so bad that he didn’t deserve to be happy?


He had no idea how long he’d sat there for, the scene playing over and over, mixed in neatly with the quiet moments where he’d believed what they were telling him; that they cared and he was good and deserving. All he knew was that his ass was numb and his back hurt. He had to protect himself; he needed to make sure they couldn’t hurt him anymore than he already had been. He felt so stupid.




Jethro was confused and worried, he and Abby drove home while she talked at him about the party on Wednesday; they hadn’t had a chance to catch up until now. It was Friday evening, and they had the luxury of a weekend off, having wrapped up their active case that day. He should have been feeling relaxed, instead something was niggling at him. His gut was telling him that something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.


“Did Tony come by the lab this afternoon?” He asked, interrupting the stream of words.


She took a moment to think then shook her head, “Nope, he didn’t stop by at all today. And I really wanted to make sure he was okay.” She gave a little pout.


He tapped the steering wheel as he manoeuvred through traffic. He hated rush hour. “He was quiet.” He said with a frown. “He sat and wrote his report and didn’t clown around.”


“Hmm, that’s not very Tony.” Abby confirmed his thoughts.


“No… no, it’s not.”


That seemed to put his girl into a state of thoughtful silence for the rest of the journey home. She loved a good mystery but she was operating on limited facts. He was quite relieved to have the silence though, so he didn’t say anything. They left the majority of the traffic behind them in the city, the roads growing less and less busy the nearer they got to home.


When they pulled into the drive, they found Tony’s car parked out front. He frowned at him not having put the car away and parked in the garage.


Abby went straight to making coffee while Gibbs went looking for his boy. He couldn’t help it; no matter how hard he tried not to think like that…it always came back to down to the fact that he *was* his boy. The damn boy had got himself drugged and kidnapped and all he’d wanted to do was hold him for a long time. But after the initial euphoric response to his declaration of Tony being irreplaceable, he’d just faded into the background; working diligently and then leaving. It wasn’t like DiNozzo not to have a joke or a witty comment, to parade his success at escape or court sympathy for having been in the situation in the first place.


He checked the den and the snug first, thinking that he might find Tony napping after his ordeal. Both places showed no signs of him having been there. The next obvious place was his bedroom. The door was shut tight, that was unusual as it was nearly always open just a crack whether he was in there or not. Jethro knocked, then turned the handle and peered around the door. His gut instinct was confirmed when he found his boy in the position he always seemed to take up when in distress of some kind.


“Hey.” His voice gentled, whatever was wrong, he didn’t want to make it worse.


Tony looked up at his Boss, not caring that his face was still sticky from his tears. He was still hugging his legs but his laptop now sat on the floor beside him. His butt had long gone to sleep and he figured it must have been a good few hours that he’d been sat there if Gibbs was home from work now.


Jethro crouched in front of him, his hands hitching his trousers so they wouldn’t split or dig in uncomfortably. “What’s up, pup?” He asked, voice full of concern and a little of his confusion.


Despite his misery, or perhaps because of it, Tony laughed. “What’s up?” He asked, almost hysterically incredulous. “I’ve worked it out… the game… I’m not playing it anymore.” He said, adamantly.


Gibbs’ brow furrowed in confusion. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Tony.”


“The game!” Tony spat out and tried to stand up, realising that after sitting on the floor for a couple of hours his muscles weren’t very co-operative.


A strong hand came out to catch his elbow and help him stand; he pushed it away. “I’m not playing anymore.”


“Well that’s good,” Gibbs told him, “Because I have no idea what you’re talking about but I sure as hell am not playing any game.”


Tony wagged his finger at him, “Yeah, right…whatever.” He didn’t make an effort to push passed him though, opting to remain with his back to the wall.


“Really, Tony.” He frowned, “What are you talking about?”


“I’m not going to say it… I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of knowing what you’ve done.”


Gibbs shook his head, “Tony, at least give me a clue what you’re talking about.” He was at a loss as to what was going on, where this sudden change in attitude had come from. DiNozzo sounded paranoid and hurt, but he didn’t know about what and he didn’t seem about to enlighten him. How was he to put it right if he wouldn’t tell him what had happened?


“Don’t pretend like you care. Not now.”


Jethro reached out his hand to cup his boy’s cheek, but Tony flinched to the side, he lowered his hand. “You know I care, we’ve been over this, what happened to make you think I don’t?” He was at a loss and it hurt to think that after all the progress they’d been making that the brunette didn’t believe him.


Tony glared at him, speechless, he could hardly believe the audacity of the man to stand there and act like he didn’t know. He shook his head and finally moved around Gibbs. “I want to go home.”


“Tony, you are home.”


“No… this is all just a part of the game. Make me feel like you care so that you can have a good laugh at my expense. I’m not playing anymore; I want to go home.” He hadn’t meant to say that, it had tumbled out, he’d not wanted to give Gibbs the satisfaction of knowing it had worked; that he felt more broken now than he had the first day they’d brought him home. He wondered if it was too late to develop an alcohol problem.


“Game?” Jethro was annoyed at the insinuation, “You think I would bring you to my home, share intimate things with you and it all be a part of an elaborate game?”


For the first time, Tony hesitated, he turned and looked at him, raising his finger to point something out but found himself wordless. It had made such perfect sense, except… they’d both allowed him to learn something about them that no one else knew about, something so personal and intimate. He pulled his hand back and rubbed at the back of his neck.


“Tell me what’s going on in your head, pup.” Gibbs urged gently.


“McGee.” He said, quietly, feeling helpless.


“McGee?” He asked incredulous. “What the hell has McGee…” He went over the day’s events, and when the change had happened. All the pieces slotted into place and he groaned inwardly. He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I was teasing.”


“Teasing?” Tony’s eyes were wide remembering what had been said.


Jethro slowly approached, not wanting to spook him anymore than he had already; he stretched his hands out in front of him in placation. “Oh Tony, you really thought we could …would … replace you that easily? You’re a vital part of my team, I know I give you a lot of shit but that’s because I know what you’re capable of. I meant what I said; you’re irreplaceable, not just there but here too. You’ve no idea how worried I was about you… but I had little doubt that you would do everything in your power to get out of there and you did so well.”


“But…” He started to argue.


When Tony didn’t back away, he brought his hands up to cradle his face. “But what? I couldn’t pull you into my arms and hug you the way I wanted to. I couldn’t kiss you and tell you how proud I was of you. I wish to god I could have, maybe that way we could have avoided this misunderstanding. I forgot, pup, I’m not infallible, and I find it hard to remember that some things shouldn’t be joked about.”


“Proud?” Tony asked, uncertainly. He didn’t dare believe it was true.


“Yes, pup, very proud. You did good, Tony, real good. And don’t ever doubt that I care about you deeply.”


He closed his eyes, he’d thought he’d worked it all out, that it was a cruel game, but if it wasn’t…if it was real…what did that mean then? He gave a soft whimper of despair, realising how much of a crazy guy he’d come across as. He’d been looking for a new job even. He was such an idiot.


“It’s ok, pup.” Gibbs wrapped his arms around him and held him tight. “I’ve got ya, not going anywhere.”


Tony buried his face in the older man’s neck and allowed himself to feel the relief of being safe.


Chapter 12


“C’mon, up and at ‘em.” Abby bounced chirpily by the futon where Tony slept.


He groaned and cracked an eye. He still wasn’t sleeping the greatest and after the week he’d had, he really wanted to sleep in. “Aaabs,” he whined.


“C’mon, bro, places to go, shopping to do and stuff to be bought. We have plans this weekend.” She clapped her hands, “C’mon.”


He huffed out an annoyed breath. “What can be so important we have to be up at…” he paused while he brought his watch into focus, “eight forty-five?” He groaned again, louder.


“Painting!” She declared unfazed.


“Paint…” It took a few seconds for the information to trickle down into Tony’s brain and then he was jumping out of bed and standing in front of her. “As in my room type of painting?”


She bounced and nodded excitedly. “I hope you have an idea what colour you want, mister, or it could be a very long day. Oh and you better believe that I am *so* helping.”


“I have lots of ideas, but… nothing definite. I don’t need to shower, do I? I mean decorating is messy so what’s the point?”


She shook her head, her ponytail swinging back and forth. “Just go get some sweats on or something that doesn’t matter if it gets ruined.”


“I thought maybe blue…or green…” he called over his shoulder as he headed out of the snug, still rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Or browns maybe…”


Abby followed him with amusement, “Not pink then?”


He snorted. “Something masculine, Abs,”


Tony wasn’t surprised when she followed him to the bedroom and sat on his bed to wait while he sorted himself. He laughed and shook his head. The trauma of the previous day had actually left him feeling somewhat more relieved. After he’d got over his mortification, they’d spent a chilled out evening in front of the TV, both of them offering him reassuring touches and his best girl had repeatedly hugged him just to reassure herself that he was ok. She’d told him off as well, of course, told him not to scare her like that again.


He thought about the previous day while he carried his sweats into the bathroom, had a quick wash and shave and changed his shorts before pulling on his clothes. He attempted to tame his hair and failed and came out to find Abby staring around at the walls and ceiling.


“I think greens,” she said finally. “Like a pale green on three of the walls and then a deep forest green or something as an accent wall. That one should be the accent,” she pointed, “and we can get matching curtains and stuff too.”


He smiled at her indulgently and offered her his hand. “Breakfast, Abs?”


Gibbs was already drinking coffee and reading the paper in the breakfast room when they came in. He smiled brightly up at them and raised his mug.


“Coffee in the pot, cereal for breakfast. You sleep ok?” Jethro asked Tony.


Tony smiled back as he went to help himself to coffee. “It wasn’t so bad… until I was woke up by an uber bouncy Abby.” He chuckled.


Gibbs was happy as he watched his pup move around the kitchen; finally looking like he’d relaxed into their home. It made him feel like there was hope yet even after the previous day’s wobble.


Tony chatted and teased Abby animatedly as they ate breakfast, a number of times catching Jethro off-guard and making him laugh. They were like a proper family.




The trip to home depot was a very unique and interesting experience; Gibbs spent the entire time feeling like he’d taken two kids shopping. As Abby whizzed around, pushing and then hopping on the cart, and Tony took up pushing her when she ran out of steam. It was good to see the other man laughing and enjoying himself, all worries seemingly forgotten and he couldn’t help but laugh at them.


“Hey look.” Abby pointed and Tony veered to the side where she was pointing.


She picked up the set of stencils, “We could edge the walls with white bunnies.”


Tony laughed and tried to take them from her. “I don’t think so, Abby.”


“Aw, go on, they’ll be cute,” she teased huskily just keeping them out of his reach.


He ended up pinned tight against her, his reach longer than hers and he easily took the stencil from her hand. She laughed and kissed him on the cheek.


“Now…about that pink paint,” she chuckled huskily as she took off with the cart.


“Hey, no pink and no bunnies!” he called after her.


Gibbs chuckled and came up behind him to pat him on the back. “Better get after her, Tony. You’ll have all kind of glitz and girlieness, just because she can.”


The brunette laughed and took after the chuckling Goth. He found her holding up a pink and lilac bead curtain and a big grin on her face.


“Step away from the pink, Abby.”


She gave a look of fake innocence and lowered the bead curtain back onto the shelf. Turning away she spotted a pink light shade with fluffy pink edging. “Oh… perfect, look.” She gestured wildly.


Tony grabbed her arm and pulled her round to face him, laughing as he did so and shaking his head. “No pink and no fluffiness. Not unless you want your den and snug redecorated to match.”


Abby pouted. “But…”


He shook his head, still grinning at her, no colours that you wouldn’t be seen dead with.


“I have pink!” she told him with an even bigger pout.


“Your sixties bowling outfit doesn’t count… and neither does the career girl Barbie outfit.”


She folded her arms over her chest and glared at him sullenly. “Ok, no pink and no bunnies. How about spaceships and teddy bears?”


Tony laughed and shook his head as he pulled her in for a hug. “Love ya, sis, but not a chance.”


It was all so easy, fun and relaxed. He’d almost forgotten all the stress of the last few weeks. It was easy to have fun with Abby once he let himself.


Gibbs looked on, the indulgent doting partner, a sappy grin on his face even as an old woman walked past tutting and scowling in their direction at their antics. He shook his head and approached the two laughing ‘kids’.


“So, any decisions made yet?”


“Only that Tony is a spoilsport, I mean… no pink, no fluff, no bunnies…what does that leave?” Abby pouted at her lover.


“Butterflies?” Jethro offered helpfully, a smirk of amusement on his face.


“YES!” the Goth cheered, did a little twirl and set off looking for them, “perfect… Hero loves chasing them.”


Tony’s eyes widened and his cheeks heated slightly. He gave a little whimper and turned pleading eyes on Gibbs. “In the snug maybe but not in my room…”


The older man rested a hand on his shoulder and gave the muscle a squeeze. “You know she’s only playing with you, pup.”


When Abby returned with the cart the only things in it were two tins of green paint of different shades. The relief on DiNozzo’s face was priceless.


“Psyche!” she laughed huskily and hugged him. “I wouldn’t do that to you, bro.”


Tony grinned and flicked her ponytail. “Do we need brushes and stuff too?”




All Tony’s furniture and stuff had been moved out of his room and the carpet covered with polythene sheets. Gibbs and Tony had finished painting the ceiling two hours ago. In that time they’d had lunch and watched a movie. There was nothing else they could do while waiting for the paint to dry.


Determinedly, Jethro got to his feet and held his hand out for his girl and pup. “Come on, let’s get back to it.”


The fact that the room had been cream was an advantage, it meant an undercoat wasn’t really necessary and the good quality paint they’d bought should only need one coat.


All three of them set to work, pop music playing in the background. Abby bopped and Tony hummed along, Jethro laughed and worked with amused affection at the two, he didn’t know how he’d got so lucky.


Paint went on and chatter came and went, Abby stood back and looked at the wall she’d been working on.


“What do you think?” she asked brightly.


Tony moved to stand beside her with his paintbrush. “Looks good, but you missed a bit.”


Abby’s brow creased in concentration as she looked over the wall. “Where?”


DiNozzo had got the answer he wanted and with an impish grin dotted his brush against her nose leaving the tip covered in green paint. “Right there.”


She took on an indigent look, puffing up slightly as she pointed at him. “Anthony DiNozzo, that was uncalled for.”


He laughed and the next thing he knew she was daubing his cheek with her own paint.


“Hey!” he protested.


They dissolved into a paint fight, getting in hits with their brushes wherever they could, giggling and hurling teasing comments. It was all good fun and Gibbs watched and laughed along. Until Tony missed and his brush carried on to smear green paint over Jethro’s arm.


DiNozzo froze, laughter falling silent, looking at the paint and then back up to meet blue eyes. He swallowed and started to back away, suddenly terrified that their antics had gone too far and that punishment would follow.


But Jethro moved quick and his brush stroked down the scared younger man’s nose. It did exactly what it was intended to and Tony stopped in his tracks, going almost cross-eyed trying to see his painted nose. He met his Boss’ eyes and was surprised by the warmth and humour he found there. A small hesitant smile crept onto his lips and was encouraged by the one that pulled at Gibbs’ own mouth.


The laughter returned and they went back to work.


Tony had never had so much fun doing something so mundane and after a couple of coats of paint and a lot of laughter, the room looked fantastic. They were all covered in paint and completely exhausted.


He was pointed towards the en suite for a shower while Gibbs dragged Abby back to the Master Bathroom for the same reason. The hot water soothed Tony’s muscles but only increased the sleepy feeling. He stood under the spray for long minutes, scrubbing to remove the traces of paint from their playfulness. He towel dried his hair and dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt before padding his way through to the Master Bedroom.


Mindful that they’d just showered too, he knocked lightly on the door.


“C’mon in bro, it’s safe,” Abby’s mildly amused husky voice called out.


He smiled and pushed the door open. Tony found Abby propped up on pillows on the bed flicking through TV channels on the plasma screen that was hung on the wall opposite. He glanced around the room looking for his boss but couldn’t spot any sign of him.


“Looking for something, pup?” the teasing voice said in his ear from behind him.


He shivered at the way breath tickled his ear and turned to look at the other man. He shook his head. “Thought maybe you were still in the shower, boss.”


Gibbs held up the tray he was carrying. “I was cooking pizza.” He crossed the room and set the tray down on the nightstand. “Hop up on the bed and we can eat while we watch TV,” he instructed with a gesture.


Tony felt shy at the idea of being back in their bed after last time. But then he reminded himself they were going to be eating and watching TV, two of his favourite things. With a small almost coy smile, he climbed up beside Abby and she snuggled into him, bestowing him with the sweetest smile. He was still smiling back when the tray landed on his lap. Her body heat was matched on his other side as Gibbs settled himself on the bed, sandwiching him in, and snagged the first piece of pizza with a smirk.


“Dig in,” Gibbs urged.


Pizza was inhaled, the remains moved to the floor out of the way, and a basketball match on the TV was half-watched. It was cosy, comfortable and Tony felt like it was just so right. He was so relaxed with Abs curled up against his side and Gibbs holding his other hand. It was inevitable, that after the exertion of the day, his lids started to fall closed and he didn’t even bother to fight it.


Jethro smiled, somewhat smug and a whole lot of pleased as Tony’s gentle snores started to fill the room. He knew Abby would soon follow him into sleep. Reaching down to the bottom of the bed, he pulled the comforter up over them to keep them warm. He watched TV a little while longer until he knew that she was out for the count and then switched the TV and light off. Satisfied, Gibbs closed his eyes with a smile on his face.


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.

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