Crime and Conflict

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Tony was playing solitaire on his computer. He knew Gibbs would kill him if he found out, but there just wasn't anything to do. Their latest case was closed and the reports had been written and submitted. There was paperwork to do--there was always paperwork to do--but none of it was urgent. Right about now Abby was probably recreating the siege of Troy down in the lab.

At the moment, Gibbs was videoconferencing with Lt. Cmdr. Coleman over a case they'd closed months ago but which was only now going to trial. Gibbs was going to have to testify and Lt. Cmdr. Coleman was, theoretically, prepping him for that performance. Tony was expecting him to be in a truly vile mood when he finally escaped, which was why Tony had his paperwork minimized, ready to fill his screen with a single mouse click.

"Tony DiNozzo!"

Tony clicked automatically and spastically, even though he'd known instantly that it wasn't Gibbs calling him. Warily, he leaned out from behind his computer to find Bill Richards, his old lieutenant from the Baltimore PD, walking through the NCIS bullpen towards him.

Richards was just the same, despite the years that had passed. He was tall, a couple of inches taller than Tony, a trait which he'd never failed to employ when he felt a little intimidation was in order. He had the reddest hair Tony had ever seen, before or since, but the effect was somewhat mitigated by the fact that it was also visibly thinning. Instead of going the comb-over route, he favored a brush cut. Tony had always suspected that Richards was trying to look vaguely military; it wasn't any more convincing now than it had been then.

Even the cheap grey suit and the way Richards shoved his hands into the pockets and rocked back on his heels was the same. The grin was new, mostly because it was aimed at Tony this time. He'd seen Richards use it before, usually on recalcitrant suspects. Its appearance now sent up all sorts of mental flags, as did the large envelope that Richards had pinned under one arm.

"Lieutenant Richards," Tony acknowledged cautiously. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kate perk up and decided to head her curiosity off at the pass. Standing, he caught her eye. "Kate, I'd like you to meet my former lieutenant from Baltimore, William Richards." He turned back to their visitor. "Lieutenant, this is my teammate, Special Agent Caitlin Todd."

"So formal, Tony," Richards said heartily, slapping him on he shoulder. Tony winced a little. "You want me to call you Special Agent, too?"

Tony let that go. "If you're here to see Gibbs, it'll be a few minutes. He's in a meeting," he said instead.

Richards looked surprised. "Gibbs? Who's Gibbs? I'm here to see you, Tony."

"Special Agent Gibbs is my boss," Tony said, a little incredulously. "And why would you be here to see me? You weren't exactly sorry to see me go."

A brief flash of irritation passed over Richards's face, but was quickly smothered under that grin again. "You make it sound like I slammed the door behind you," he said, placing a hand to his chest and taking on a mock wounded tone. "I was just happy to see you moving up in the world. You like being a Fed?"

"I like it fine," Tony said shortly. He eyed the envelope warily. It was the only reason Tony could think of for Richards to be so determinedly friendly. He and Tony had never been on good terms. Not for any particular reason, but if there'd been a decent excuse and a replacement in the wings, Tony suspected Richards would have arranged his transfer to another precinct. They'd just always seemed to rub each other wrong, right from the beginning. Might have been the blustering insincerity, Tony thought with a mental snort.

"So hostile," Richards commented. He leaned to the side to peer past Tony at Kate. "Is he as confrontational now as he was when he was under me?"

"Confrontational? Tony?" Kate laughed. "No. Definitely not."

Richards raised his eyebrows and returned his attention to Tony. "Mellowed out, have you? Or it is just because she's a woman?"

Kate looked up at Richards, irritated. "Trust me," she said coolly. "No one around here needs to cut me any slack."

Richards shot Tony an amused glance. "Finally found a woman that doesn't go for that charm of yours, I see."

Tony resisted the urge to cross his arms over his chest. "I assume this isn't a social call," he prompted.

"Ah, no." Richards looked distinctly uncomfortable, like he was trying to swallow something slimy. "I have a...favor to ask."

"A favor," Tony said skeptically. "What sort of favor?"

Richards let the envelope drop from where it was pinned under his arm into his hand and held it out. "I need you to look at a few pictures for me. Tell me if you see anything significant."

Frowning, Tony took the envelope. It was unsealed, just a convenient package for the contents. Shaking it a little, a thin stack of photos slid out of the envelope and into Tony's hands. They were badly lit and a little blurry--obviously not professional. The top photo was of a picturesque suburban house. White paneled walls, dark roof and trim--it was hard to tell the exact color, thanks to the lighting, a small backyard with what looked like a little garden, and a tiny patio. Sliding glass doors led from the house to the patio.

In the second picture, the glass doors were broken. The shards caught the flash of the camera and made white stars in the glossy print, making the scene that much harder to discern. Despite that, the man caught halfway through the shattered doors was clear enough. His shirt was dark and his pants marginally lighter--probably blue jeans. He was gripping the aluminum frame of the glass door, probably to steady himself as he stepped through. His hands were black against the bright metal. Gloves.

"This is evidence," Tony said sharply, looking up at Richards. "You want my help on a case."

"We catch something, DiNozzo?"

Tony's head whipped around to find Gibbs jogging down the stairs from MTAC. His hands were conspicuously free of coffee cups. Not a good sign. The question was, how far into his meeting with Lt. Cmdr. Coleman had Gibbs run out of coffee? Judging by his diamond hard expression and the look he shot Richards, far too early on. By now he was probably caffeine deprived, embroiled in administrative details, and had been forced to repeat himself multiple times for more than an hour.

Standing in the middle of the room with an outsider cop and a stack of completely non-NCIS-related photographic evidence in one hand, Tony suddenly felt like he had a bull's-eye painted on his forehead. "No, boss," he said quickly. "This is Lieutenant Richards, Baltimore PD. He was--"

"Your previous supervisor," Gibbs finished briskly. "I know, DiNozzo. I had to talk to the man to get you out of his department and onto my team."

Tony blinked. He had been going to say "He was just asking if I'd look at something for a BPD case," but with Gibbs in this kind of mood Tony wasn't about to correct him. "Right," he said smoothly instead, "I forgot about that."

Gibbs came to a stop facing both Tony and Richards, so that the three of them formed a triangle. His gazed touched almost tangibly on the envelope and the pictures. Tony knew for a fact that Gibbs had taken in all the details while he was still coming down the stairs, which meant that this was an intentional tactic. Whether it was meant for Richards or for himself, Tony didn't know. What he did know was that this triangle formation of theirs practically arrayed him against Gibbs, which was a very bad thing.

Tony wasn't a profiler, but he knew people. More importantly, he knew Gibbs. So he chose to take that little flicker of the older man's eyes as a request for information and took two steps closer to him rather than just holding out the photos. "It's a BPD case, boss," he said, deliberately placing himself firmly within Gibbs's camp in the standoff.

Not one iota of the tension left Gibbs's shoulders, but he caught Tony's eye as he accepted the photos. There was a possessive kind of satisfaction in his gaze. Tony quickly dropped his eyes to the stack of photos, as if to study them, but all he was really looking at were Gibbs's fingers curled around them.

"You want to explain why you're distracting my people with cases well outside of our concern?" Gibbs asked coolly.

Raising his eyes, Tony was silently amused--though not surprised--to find Richards wilting under the force of Gibbs's regard. After a moment, however, he rallied. "It's a cold case," he explained earnestly. Obviously, he gets that Gibbs isn't going to respond to overdone friendliness, Tony thought. Richards wasn't bad at the earnest thing. "One that Tony worked when he was with the PD," he went on. "It's a double murder: a mother and her daughter."

"The Cardmans," Tony said abruptly. His hands literally itched for another look at the photos now that he remembered, but he'd handed them to Gibbs and he wasn't about to risk taking them back. Instead he pinned Richards with a sharp glance. "These weren't part of the original evidence."

Richards nodded. "They were mailed to the department two days ago. My people have been over them, but nothing panned out. I'm hoping you'll see something we didn't, since you worked the case."

"And you came down here yourself because?" Gibbs prompted.

Richards frowned and this time Tony could tell that it was a genuine expression, not one generated to elicit support from him or Gibbs. "I don't like cold cases, Special Agent Gibbs," Richards said. "I want to see this one closed."

Gibbs gave him a long, considering look. "Fill me in, DiNozzo," he said at last, holding the photos out for Tony to take them back.

"Hey!" Richards interrupted before he could get going. "This is Baltimore PD case. You don't have any authority here."

"You're on my turf," Gibbs said evenly. "If you're going to use my agents, you are going to keep me in the loop. Now, DiNozzo."

Tony took the photos back from Gibbs and flipped through them slowly as he spoke. "The victims were Lisa and Maryanne Cardman. Lisa was 55. Maryanne was her daughter; she was 24. They were found dead in their living room Tuesday morning by the daughter's ride to work. Coroner said they'd been killed between three and four a.m."

Tony remembered the house now. It had been just as nice and well maintained on the inside as it had been on the outside. Both Lisa Cardman and her daughter had lived there. Mr. Cardman had died three years before. "There wasn't any lack of evidence," Tony said aloud. "No fingerprints--we assumed then that he'd worn gloves," he tapped the outline of one gloved hand in the pictures, "but there was hair and fibers, footprints, even blood. The Cardmans fought. They trashed the entire downstairs, from the kitchen to the bathroom."

The wreckage had been impressive. With the help of the PD's technicians, Tony had carefully reconstructed the events leading up to the double murder. "The killer broke the sliding glass doors and came through the frame without bothering to unlock them. Maryanne was downstairs, probably awake. We don't know why, but we do know that she was alert enough to get to the kitchen by the time the killer got through the glass."

He could almost see the scene playing out in his mind. Maryanne sitting in the dark room, bathed in the light of the TV, hearing the glass breaking, running for the kitchen... She'd cut her bare feet on the glass from the broken door. The killer must have been barely a handbreadth away, but she'd made it past him.

"She got her hands on a knife. We think the killer was unarmed, but he was also bigger than her. Stronger. And she didn't really know how to use the knife." Tony paused his narration, staring down at the third photo in the stack. Having been taken from outside, it was too dark to show anything beyond the broken sliding doors. "She managed to cut him, though. There was blood in the kitchen. He hit her over the head with a coffee carafe. It was only a glancing blow, probably just stunned her, but it was enough for him to get the knife.

"Maryanne would have been dead then, except the fight woke up her mother. Lisa came down the stairs and got the killer upside the head with a broom," Tony smiled, inexplicably proud of the long-dead woman. But the smile soon faded, remembering her eventual fate. "It wasn't enough. She broke the broom handle, she hit him so hard, but it was just a broom. He left Maryanne and went after Lisa. Chased her around the living room while she threw just about everything that wasn't bolted down at him.

"She was probably heading for the front door when he caught up with her and knocked her into the downstairs washroom. But she didn't stop fighting just because she was cornered. Some how she got past him, but he got her by the hair as she went by. That's when Maryanne caught up to them. We think the killer used Lisa as a hostage, because he got them both back into the living room."

"He strangled Lisa. Probably while Maryanne watched." Tony couldn't take his eyes off the photos, though he wasn't really seeing them anymore. He didn't really want to see how Gibbs was looking at him right now. He wasn't exactly acting like a professional. The Cardman case wasn't the kind that haunted you--those tended to either be much bloodier or involve children--but even when he'd first worked it, he hadn't been able to shake the feeling that they should have lived. Anyone who fought that hard should have made it. "Maryanne he killed by accident. She was backing away from him and tripped over an overturned table. She went down hard, hit her head on the hardwood floor, and never woke up again."

Tony shook his head and forced himself to look up at Gibbs. "All that evidence, all that reconstruction, and we never could find the guy. There was DNA, but no one to match it to. Footprints and fibers and a hundred other things, all as common as dirt and impossible to trace. Every suspect we turned up had an ironclad alibi." He looked down at the photos in his hands. "Until now, I'd have said there were no witnesses, either."

At the bottom of the stack of photos was a file folder. "It's not the complete case file, of course," Richards said as Tony opened it, "but we really just need you to see if you can find the witness. There isn't anything in the actual photos that we didn't know already."

"Except the height, build, and coloring of the killer," Tony shot back.

Richards waved this off. "So, you'll help us out?" he said expectantly. The grin was lurking somewhere around the edges of his lips.

Tony looked at Gibbs and raised his eyebrows. The older man shot Richards a wary glance, but when he returned his attention to Tony there was a minute tilt to his head. "Until we catch a case of our own," he allowed.

Thanks didn't seem appropriate, even if Tony was certain Gibbs was doing this more for Tony than for the sake of interagency cooperation. So he just bobbed his head with a, "Gotcha, boss," and sat down at his desk, flipping open the folder that Richards had provided.

Richards was now leaning against the cubicle wall that bracketed Tony's desk and reading over his shoulder. Tony turned and glared at him. "You don't need to hang around," he said pointedly. "I am capable of picking up the phone and calling you if something jumps out at me."

"I just want to be around to answer questions," Richards said, grinning and giving Tony a buddy-buddy kind of punch to the shoulder.

A glance in Gibbs's direction was no help at all. The man had planted himself behind his desk and was concentrating fiercely on whatever was on his computer screen. Right. My problem, Tony sighed internally. The moment Tony dropped his gaze to the file, his neck started itching with the intensity of the stare being leveled in his direction.

Between Gibbs and Richards, it would be a miracle if he survived intact.


Tony closed his apartment door behind himself and leaned back against it for a long moment, eyes shut. He couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing that they hadn't caught a case that day. On the one hand, it meant he was able to look at the new evidence Richards had brought him. Tony didn't like cold cases either--he didn't know a cop who did. On the other hand, he'd had to put up with Richards hovering over his shoulder and Gibbs's near constant glare. Maybe he was glaring at Richards and maybe he wasn't, but with the man sticking so close to Tony the effect was the same.

Levering himself away from the door, Tony toed off his shoes and dropped his bag on the dining table on his way into the kitchen. There was beer in the fridge, thank God. He popped the cap off of a bottle and sucked back half of it still standing there in his jacket and holding the fridge door open. Lowering the bottle, he contemplated the remaining liquid for a moment before shutting the fridge and wandering back into the living room.

His jacket went over the back of one of the two chairs bracketing the table, but he didn't bother sitting. Instead he set his beer down, undid the buckles on his bag, and retrieved the envelope within. Richards's envelope. Tony kicked the bag under the table and started spreading the photographs out.

There were half a dozen pictures in all. One of the house, two of the guy going in, and three of him coming out, climbing the backyard fence and walking away. Tony leaned on the table and stared at the photos. There were fuzzy, out of focus, green splotches around the edges one or two of the pictures, but Richards's people had already identified those as leaves. It was in the accompanying file--the angle of the images had narrowed the source down to a tree in a neighboring yard.

Tony rubbed his forehead, conscious of a headache lurking. The original case had been frustrating, but never confusing. He'd only had one question, the perennial "whodunnit?" But now... Why hadn't the witness come forward five years ago? Why had they been in the tree in the first place? Why deliver the evidence now? Why mail it in instead of coming around to the police in person?

The second to last picture was the worst. The photographer had caught the killer nearly face on, but either their finger had slipped or the camera had jiggled, because the entire image was blurred. Tony could have Abby take a crack at it, but the Baltimore PD lab had already done their best and gotten nothing. Abby was good, but Tony didn't know if she was that good. The picture was probably irretrievable. But the witness...the witness had been looking through the viewfinder. The witness had seen the killer's face.

If only he had the slightest idea who the witness was. The Baltimore police had gone back and questioned everyone who had been questioned the first time and come up empty. If it was any of them, they weren't talking.

The knock on his door was abrupt but hardly unexpected. "Why am I not surprised," Tony said to himself, shaking his head. He opened the door to reveal Gibbs, a bag of Chinese food in his hands. "Funny, I don't remember ordering in," Tony quipped. He grinned suddenly. "And you definitely aren't the usual delivery boy."

"You didn't eat lunch," Gibbs said briskly. "You going to invite me in?"

"You need an invitation?" Tony asked. He stepped back from the door and shut it after Gibbs.

Two of the photos were shuffled aside to make space for three white cartons on the tabletop. "You don't usually take work home with you," Gibbs said as Tony brushed past him on his way to the kitchen for forks.

Tony shrugged. "Who knows when we'll catch a case of our own? I might not have much time left to look at this one." He handed a fork to Gibbs and hauled one of the two chairs around so that they could share the clear corner of table.

"Any ideas?" Gibbs asked, his attention apparently concentrated on forking up a piece of food from his carton.

"I've only had a couple of hours to check it out, boss," Tony said defensively.

Gibbs looked up at him. "I'm only making conversation," he said mildly.

Be a little more defensive, DiNozzo, Tony rebuked himself. "Sorry," he said aloud. He took a moment to eat, hoping the food would ease his twitchiness. Low blood sugar sucked. "I just can't help feeling like something should have jumped right out at me. This was my case. I knew it inside and out. Backwards and forwards."

"There might not be anything new," Gibbs pointed out. "I'm not saying you shouldn't look,'re thorough, and there's nothing particularly special about those pictures."

"Except that they mean someone was there," Tony said stubbornly.

"Except for that," Gibbs allowed. For awhile they ate quietly, their eyes drawn over and over to the pictures that dominated the table. "Do you miss it?" Gibbs asked at length.

"Miss what?"


Tony looked over at him quizzically. "I wasn't even there two years," he said. "It never got to be home, you know? Leaving wasn't a hardship. You know how it is--you move around enough, no place really feels like somewhere you belong." Ohio State had come the closest. God, but he'd loved university. He'd had his frat brothers and his teammates and okay, maybe he got put down for majoring in Phys Ed, but he also got cheered on the field. Besides, everyone who mattered knew that a Sport and Leisure Studies degree wasn't the bird course most people considered it. He'd thought for awhile that he might actually use that degree.

Gibbs was shaking his head. "It wasn't like that for me," he said. "I might have moved around a lot as a Marine, but I always came back here. The herd was always home."

"I thought you said you couldn't go back."

"I can't," Gibbs said shortly.

"But you always came back to the herd," Tony pushed.

"I came back here," Gibbs shot back. "Just because I considered the herd home doesn't mean I was actually able to go home. The herd is in West Virginia and it can't have more than one stallion. Colts are fostered out at twelve or thirteen, before they start getting it into their heads to challenge the herd stallion. Here had to be close enough. Clear?"

"Crystal, boss," Tony said, dropping his eyes to his food.

"Jesus," Gibbs cursed under his breath. Tony ignored him, instead poking at his dinner. A moment later strong fingers gripped his chin and lifted his head up to meet Gibbs's gaze. He wasn't quite glaring, but the look had the same intensity about it. "Yes, I wanted to lead Brian's herd," he said, not letting go of Tony's chin. "I felt I belonged there for a long time. Most of my life. But I got sick of waiting. I hated that all I was doing with my life was killing time. So I picked out my own herd. Now this is my home."

Tony jerked his chin out of Gibbs's hand and pushed his chair back from the table. "Excuse me if I don't find it reassuring to know I'm the consolation prize."

"Reassuring?" Gibbs's eyes flashed and suddenly he was out of his chair and coming around the table. His hand closed on Tony's arm and jerked him up out of his seat. "How's this for reassuring?" he growled, and with one hand on Tony's arm and one on his ass, Gibbs pulled him against his body and kissed him.

Tony kissed him back automatically, then with growing hunger as he got a taste of the urgency in Gibbs's touch. The older man was already hard, just from this. Tony rode the surge of pride, reaching up to slide his hands into Gibbs's hair, opening up for a deeper kiss.

They parted slowly, lips clinging for a moment. "Mine," Gibbs breathed against Tony's lips.

Reflexively, he opened his mouth to protest, but Gibbs just kissed him again, briefly this time. "Don't say you're not," Gibbs said. He took one of Tony's wrists in his hand and moved it around to the small of Tony's back, an echo of what could be a tighter hold and wasn't. "Don't try and tell me you don't like it when I hold you down and remind you who you belong to." He leaned in close, his cheek against Tony's, his lips brushing Tony's ear. "I know better."

Tony shuddered helplessly, his body arching to press against Gibbs without conscious thought. "I'm not supposed to want it like this," he protested. He gave his trapped hand a half-hearted tug, but there wasn't enough force in his withdrawal to make Gibbs so much as tighten his grip. It was just enough for Tony to feel the grip, to know that he was being held. He fought down another shudder, but he couldn't help the way his cock swelled in response.

"Why not?" Gibbs asked, cupping Tony's face with his free hand. His thumb brushed over Tony's cheek. It was all Tony could do not to turn his head and take it in his mouth. "What's wrong with wanting to let go and just enjoy?" Gibbs said. "Is it so terrible to trust someone else to take control?"

"You're not just taking control," Tony said hoarsely. "You're taking me. Owning me. You've said as much. How can I want that?"

"You need someone to tell you where you belong. You need to know where your place is. You've always needed that." Gibbs used his hold on Tony's wrist in the small of his back to press their bodies closer together, rubbing against him just a little. Tony's eyes fell half cloased; his mouth falling open at the shivers of pleasure that stole through him. "You understand me when I tell you like this," Gibbs said quietly.

Tony licked his lips and concentrated on speaking through the haze of hunger. "And if I told you that I don't want it to be like this? If I said that if it has to be this way, I don't want it at all?"

Now Gibbs tightened his grip and pulled Tony's wrist a little higher, far enough for him to feel the strain in his shoulders. "Then you'd be lying," Gibbs whispered.

Tony's breath caught in his throat. He stared for a moment into blue eyes gone dark with desire and then surged forward, closing the scant distance between them, and kissed Gibbs, full and wet and sloppy with haste. He began it...and then gave himself up to it. For the first time he let go, let himself enjoy being touched, allowed himself to respond without holding anything--passion, control, anything--in reserve.

Gibbs took everything he surrendered. Releasing his grip on Tony's wrist in favor of cupping his neck with one hand and his ass with the other, Gibbs deepened the kiss.

Heat ran through Tony's body like wildfire. His whole body ached, he was so hard. Had he really been holding so much back? Their endless kiss broke at last and Tony stared, shaken, into his lover's eyes.

"Shh," Gibbs said intently, taking Tony's face between his hands. "I've got you." And then, before Tony could say a word, "I'm not going to let go."

Tony nodded and let his eyes close again as Gibbs ran his hands down Tony's body to grip his hips. Together they found their way down the hall to the bedroom, Tony walking backwards, letting Gibbs move him. The bed struck his calves and Tony's eyes snapped open, startled.

Gibbs chuckled softly and tugged Tony's shirt out of his pants. "Arms up," he ordered softly. Tony complied and Gibbs stripped the shirt off of him without bothering with the buttons. Pants, briefs, and socks quickly followed, leaving Tony naked and Gibbs still fully clothed. Ducking his head, the younger man quickly reached out to undress Gibbs as well, but Gibbs caught his hands and used them to pull Tony's naked body up against his clothed one instead.

Buttons and creases pressed uncomfortably into his flesh and Tony couldn't believe the spike of lust that went through him when that registered. He rubbed up against Gibbs a little, feeling the rough catch of clothing on his bare skin, and slipped a thigh between Gibbs's legs to feel the hot ridge of his cock straining against his pants.

"Tony," Gibbs gasped into his ear. His hands tightened almost painfully on Tony's hips and then he pushed and Tony stumbled on the edge of the bed and fell into a sitting position. "On the bed," Gibbs ordered. "And watch."

Scrambling backwards, Tony found himself completely unable to take his eyes off Gibbs as the man slowly, methodically stripped himself of his clothing. Every article was carefully folded and set aside with precise movements. Tony drank in the sight of Gibbs's body and felt a strange anticipation coil up low in his belly. After a moment he realized he was half-expecting Gibbs to change. There wasn't really room for it in the bedroom, but the slow undressing and the power rising to the surface in Gibbs were the same.

"Look at you," Gibbs said, his gaze touching Tony's body like a physical caress. "So beautiful."

Tony had to laugh at that. "Beautiful is for girls, Gibbs," he denied.

Gibbs crawled onto the bed towards Tony. He should have been awkward on his hands and knees, but Tony could only feel his breath grow shallow and his heart speed up at the sight of all that carefully leashed intensity.

"That can't be right," Gibbs said. He crawled up between Tony's thighs and pushed him down flat on his back with a hand on his shoulder. "Because you," he trailed his other hand up the inside of Tony's thigh, "are most definitely not," he wrapped his hand around Tony's cock, "a girl."

Tony's first thrust into the tight circle of Gibbs's hand was completely involuntary. Let go, just enjoy, don't hold back. Gibbs stroked him roughly and Tony didn't even recognize the moan that dropped from his lips. So hoarse. So needy. And God, what it got him: faster, harder tugs on his cock and the brush of Gibbs's skin against his own as he squirmed and arched into the man's fist and quiet, intent words urging him on.

Tony's cock felt swollen and almost unbearably hot. Every movement of Gibbs's hands send sparks shooting along his nerves. He could hear himself keening softly, could feel his hands fisted in the bed sheets, but the only thing that seemed real was the tightness of his body. So close, so ready to come.

"That's it," Gibbs murmured. "Look at you, all spread out, so desperate. Come on, then, Tony," he gave his hand a sharp, almost painful twist. "Give it up for me."

It felt like something broke inside him. Tony sobbed with the intensity of his release. His come spilled over Gibbs's hands and his belly, hot and sticky and fuck, he liked that, liked the mess of it on his skin.

Eventually Gibbs let go of his sensitized cock and petted his thigh instead, fingers wet with come. Tony shivered a little, but he was spent. He looked up, satiation making him languid, and met Gibbs's dark gaze. Shifting a thigh, Tony found Gibbs still hard and slick with pre-come. Shivering again, Tony slowly stretched his arms up over his head.

Gibbs sat back from between his legs and tapped him on the hip. "Turn over," he commanded. "On your belly."

Tony turned, holding his upper body off the mattress with his elbows, and spread his legs without being asked. Gibbs made a soft, pleased sound and settled in close. Gibbs pressed against him from knees to nipples, his cock nestled into the crease of Tony's ass, his arms laid alongside Tony's on the mattress. Tony couldn't suppress his hum of satisfaction, nor did he really want to.

"You like that, don't you?" Gibbs said warmly. "You like having me pressed against you, the more skin the better."

"Yeah," Tony admitted. He knew he wouldn't be able to get it up again for at least another hour, but God, this was almost better. There were no distractions, no desperate urgency, just Gibbs's skin on his, the weight of his body on Tony's back, the hard length of him against Tony's ass. "Be even better to have you inside me," he suggested.

Gibbs chuckled. "You want that?" he asked and shifted a little, just enough to rub the slick head of his cock over Tony's hole. "You want to be mine?"

Tony closed his eyes and concentrated on the smooth, warm body behind him, the arms that came around him, the hands braced next to his on the bed. God, Gibbs smelled good. Like sex and soap and sweat. He took a deep breath. "I've always been yours, Gibbs," he said hoarsely. "I want you to make me feel it."

"That's my boy," Gibbs breathed.

Tony whimpered when Gibbs drew away, but slick fingers soon returned to tease him open. He breathed harshly, trying to control his moans, but fuck, Gibbs knew just how to touch him, even like this, his fingers twisting in Tony's ass.

A warm gust of air touched Tony's ear and Gibbs spoke, soft but intent. "If I wanted you quiet," he said, "I'd gag you."

Tony sobbed and hung his head. He wasn't hard, he couldn't get hard, not yet, but the thought of being gagged for Gibbs, bound for him, made his heart pound. "Gibbs," he gasped, and for a moment that was all that would come, just the man's name, over and over again. Then Gibbs's fingers left him and Tony heard the sound of a condom wrapper tearing and the dam broke. "Please, God, I want it, please, please, oh...oh fuck," he babbled, cursing even as he spread his legs and lifted his hips and let Gibbs slide inside him, so sweet and hot it left him breathless.

"So good," Gibbs muttered as he brought their bodies together again, back to front, and pressed as close to Tony as he could. "So tight. Jesus, Tony. I fucking love having you wrapped around me like this."

He pulled back slowly and Tony shuddered and panted at the slow drag of Gibbs's cock from his body. Its equally slow return forced a moan from the younger man. "Gibbs," he sobbed heavily. "It's so much. So much... Fuck. I want...I can'"

"Shh," Gibbs sank deep inside him and turned his head to mouth Tony's neck. "I won't give you more than you can take," he promised. "But I think you can take a lot, Tony. I think maybe you can take it all."

And all Tony could do was unlock his elbows, drop his chest to the bed, rest his head on his arms and spread himself just a little wider for Gibbs, because he wanted that. He wanted it, he wanted everything. Tony panted opened mouthed and shuddered with unrelieved pleasure as Gibbs rode him, slow and deep, and suddenly he knew. He could take it. He could. "Yes," he moaned aloud, deep and heartfelt.

"That's my boy," Gibbs panted. He buried himself deep inside Tony one more time and then tensed for one long moment as he came.

Tony lay there, feeling utterly wrecked, and listened to the sounds of Gibbs tidying up. Eventually he came back to bed with a damp washcloth. Tony let Gibbs clean him up and couldn't help but smile at the gentleness underlying the firm touches. "All done with the housekeeping?" Tony asked when Gibbs had disposed of the washcloth.

Gibbs snorted and gave him a smack on the hip. "Under the covers."

"Sure, boss," Tony grinned and held up the sheets for Gibbs to join him.

"You're self-satisfied," Gibbs commented, stretching out on his back.

Tony curled up on his side and reached out one hand to rest it on Gibbs's chest. "I've got reason to be."

"Hmmm?" Gibbs sounded half asleep already. He probably was.

"I can take it all," Tony whispered. He couldn't help but feel embarrassed at the pride in his voice. For a moment, he wished he hadn't said anything at all.

But only for a moment, because Gibbs's hand covered his and their fingers laced together. "Yeah," he said, sounding just as proud. "You can."

Tony grinned.


Tony woke slowly, swimming up from the depths of sleep. Blinking into the darkness of the room, it took him a moment to register that it was still nighttime. At some point as they slept they'd shifted until Tony was the one sprawled on his back and Gibbs lay face down, one arm wrapped securely around him. Tony ignored the needs of his bladder, which had woken him, and watched Gibbs sleep instead. He didn't look the slightest bit out of place there in Tony's bed. Even asleep, the man took possession of his surroundings.

Softly, Tony snorted to himself. Or maybe you just want him to belong here, he said to himself. Which was ridiculous. Even Tony didn't really belong here. It was just another stopping place on his way to...God knew where.

Shifting his weight carefully, Tony tried to slide out from under Gibbs's arm, but the sleeping man just tightened his hold. Tony laughed almost silently. "You trying to tell me something?" he whispered.

Gibbs didn't respond, of course, but he didn't really need to. The lingering soreness of Tony's ass spoke for him. Mine.

Tony leaned down and spoke, barely loud enough to hear himself, into Gibbs's ear. "Okay, okay. I know where I belong." He grinned, thinking back a couple of hours. "But you might have to remind me every now and then."

He was probably just imagining it, but Gibbs seemed to smile in his sleep, and when Tony lifted his arm gently, Gibbs let him slip out of the bed.

Coming back from the washroom, Tony realized he'd never shut off the living room lights the night before. Both he and Gibbs had been concentrating on other things at the time. Tony paused for a moment on his way to the light switch and looked down at the photos spread out on the kitchen table.

Lisa and Maryanne Cardman. They didn't appear in the pictures, but Tony could see them clearly in his mind's eye. Absently, he snagged a carton of cold Chinese food and one of the discarded forks. The photographs were a sudden wildcard in a case that would have been open and shut if they'd only known where to look. Who had been watching them? Had the photographer known there would be a murder, or was it just coincidence that he was there that night? Why mail five year old pictures now?

Tony froze, mouth full of noodles, fork hovering in the air above the now-empty carton. Chewing quickly, he set the carton down, dropped the fork into it, and reached out to flip over one of the pictures. The brand of photo paper that had been used was proudly emblazoned on the back. Wait a minute. That particular brand hadn't existed five years ago. He'd never have remembered, but the slew of commercials that heralded its release had been so fucking annoying Tony had never forgotten them.

These pictures weren't five years old. They hadn't been sent until recently because they hadn't been developed until recently, which meant that the person who'd taken them probably wasn't the person who'd developed them. Okay, so maybe the photographer had known what was in them and ha d been so horrified he didn't want to see it again, but then why not turn the film over to the police? Or maybe he'd thought it had implicated him somehow, but then why not destroy it?

Tony's mind raced. It was a thin lead, maybe not even a real one, but it was all he had. For the moment, at least, he'd run with it. So, assume the photographer had taken the pictures and then never developed them. Why? Because he hadn't wanted to? Because he'd been afraid to? Or because he hadn't been able to?

A flash of memory assaulted Tony:

"Mr. Simmons, please try and calm down," Tony said coaxingly. "I know you're upset, but you might be able to tell us something that will help if you can just relax and remember."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Simmons rubbed at his eyes with shaking hands. "I just...they were friends. I liked Maryanne a lot. I even asked her to pose for me," he waved one hand towards a sleek black camera; a pretty high-end model. "She couldn't. She said-- Well, she was busy, you know, always on the go. Maryanne was a real career woman. She was moving up in the world. We had a lot in common. She understood about art and I thought-- Well, she's gone now, isn't she?" He trailed off and stared down at his hands for a long moment. "I can't imagine anyone wanting to kill her. Maryanne was...amazing."

"I'm sorry," Tony said. "It sounds like you were close."

Simmons had been a little strange, a little too worshipful, especially given that none of Maryanne's other friends had so much as mentioned him. But they'd asked for a DNA sample and he'd given it to them without any fuss at all. Nothing had matched; he wasn't the killer.

I asked her to pose for me, he'd said. He'd had a camera. And, Tony remembered, he'd killed himself two days later.

The suicide had been investigated, of course. Coming so close on the heels of the murders, it had been more than a little suspicious. But the autopsy and the circumstances and the investigation had all agreed--definitely a suicide. He had, after all, felt very close to Maryanne Cardman. Everyone had agreed that her death had sent Simmons over the edge.

Tony wondered now if he'd gone over the edge a lot earlier, and the suicide had just been the sound of him hitting bottom.

He'd have to check in the morning, see who had inherited Simmons's things. Maybe that would tell him who had developed the photos. It was somewhere to start, anyway.


Katherine Simmons.

Robert Simmons, deceased, had left everything to his sister Katherine. Life insurance, house, worldly possessions, they all went to Katherine. Tony was a little surprised. He'd almost expected Simmons to have left everything to Maryanne Cardman. It was the kind of thing he'd expect from an obsessed man--a last act of intimacy--and there hadn't been enough time between Maryanne's death and Simmons's for him to have changed his will.

"Tony!" Richards hailed him from across the room. "You look like a man on the scent."

"I think you're mixing your metaphors," Tony said, leaning back in his desk chair, "but yeah, I seem to have a lead."

Tony picked up one of the pictures and flipped it over to show the back to Richards. "This type of photographic paper," he said, tapping the logo, "didn't come on the market until two years ago." He quirked an eyebrow, inviting Richards to follow his train of thought.

"So the photos were only developed recently," Richards said, hitching himself up to sit on Kate's desk. Tony grimaced internally. She was going to be pissed when she got in and saw that. "So what?"

Tony rolled his eyes and dropped the picture back onto the pile. "So it doesn't make sense for the photographer to take the pictures, sit on them for five years, and then develop them and send them to the cops. He knew what was on the film--if he was going to hand it over as evidence, why not five years ago? If he wasn't, why not destroy the film?"

"Sounds like you have a theory," Richards prompted.

Tony grinned. "I do. I think the pictures were taken by Robert Simmons. I think he witnessed the murder of a woman he was obsessed with and he bolted. Probably didn't even take the film out of the camera. He can't handle it, kills himself, and leaves everything to his sister--who lived in Michigan at the time and had no clue what went down just before he died. Fast forward five years, she's going through his things and finds the camera--film still in it. Maybe she figures seeing some of the last things he saw will bring him closer to her. She gets a nasty surprise and mails the pictures to the PD nearest her brother's old place."

"I don't know," Richards said skeptically. "I think you're reaching, and this doesn't get us any closer to the killer. Hell, why didn't forensics pick up on this paper thing if it's so important?"

"They did." Tony pulled the thin file Richards had provided out from under the photos and flipped it open. He tapped one of the pages. "It's right here. They list the brand and make a few comments about it, but it's not up to them to figure out what's important, just to give you the information. There's nothing unusual about the brand out of context, not even when it was made."

Richards scowled and Tony could see him thinking about chewing out the PD's forensics people. "Come on," Tony wheedled, as much to interrupt Richards's train of thought as to get what he wanted. "I got a feeling. It's worth interviewing her, anyway."

"Depends. Where's she live now?"

"That's the best part," Tony said, leaning back and lacing his fingers behind his head. "She moved into her brother's old place in Baltimore."

Richards snorted a laugh and shook at finger at Tony. "You were setting me up for that."

"Maybe," Tony allowed. "But I'm right, right?"

"All right, all right." Richards waved a hand. "We interview her."

"Interview who?"

Tony's head jerked around at the sound of Gibbs's voice right behind him. "Hey, boss," he said automatically. "Katherine Simmons, for the case Lieutenant Richards brought me yesterday."

"That why you're in so early?" Gibbs asked, rounding the cubicle to stare Tony down over his desk.

"Didn't want to waste too much company time," Tony said. Meeting Gibbs's gaze, he felt his mouth go dry.

Gibbs leaned down, bracing one hand on Tony's desk. "Next time you leave my bed," he murmured so quietly Tony had to strain to hear him, even as close as they were, "you wake me up."

Technically, it was Tony's bed, but he wasn't about to argue. When Gibbs was in it, it was his. "Got it, boss," he said at normal volume.

"Good." Gibbs straightened up and promptly smacked Tony upside the head. "That'll help you remember."

Tony glared at him and ignored Richards's snort of laughter. "Come on, Tony," the police lieutenant said, hopping down off of Kate's desk. "No time like the present."

"You going somewhere, DiNozzo?" Gibbs drawled, settling into his chair.

Tony paused in the act of buttoning his gun into the holster. "Baltimore, boss," he said hesitantly. "To interview Katherine Simmons."

"And what happens if we catch a case here and you're more than an hour away on some lark for the Baltimore PD?"

"It's not a lark," Tony protested. "It's a murder investigation."

"It's a Baltimore PD murder investigation," Gibbs said evenly. "You are NCIS."

"Christ, Gibbs," Richards interrupted, "we get it. You're a hard ass; you don't like me borrowing your people. Yadda yadda yadda. Now give us a break. Tony's the best person to interview this woman and you know it. You can do without him."

Catching Gibbs's eye, Tony realized there was more truth to Richards's words than he knew. Richards might not be a herd stallion, but he was a team leader, and he was trying to walk off with one of Gibbs's people. Not just any one of his people, either, but his--Tony grimaced internally at the term 'lead mare'. His second in command, his beta, whatever. All Gibbs's instincts had to be screaming for him to get up and knock Richards for a loop before either he or Tony took one more step.

Fortunately, Tony DiNozzo was the master of the double entendre.

He rolled his eyes, affecting exasperation. "You can ride my ass later," he promised. "For now, can I just get this done?"

Tony could almost see Gibbs's hackles going down. "I will take you up on that," he said darkly, but Tony could see the amused glint in his eye.

"Yeah, yeah," Tony said and grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair as he followed Richards out of the office.

When they were safely out of earshot, Richards turned a heavy frown on Tony. "He always push you around like that?" he asked.

Tony couldn't help the way his eyebrows shot up. "Gibbs? Just now?" He grinned and shook his head. "That wasn't pushy, that was just a little territorial. You haven't seen pushy."

The elevator arrived and the two men stepped on it. Richards punched the button for the parking garage. "He gets worse than that?"

"We're not even on a hot case right now," Tony said, shrugging. Suddenly he grinned, almost nostalgically. "He knocked me over and demonstrated how to break someone's neck on me, once. Man missed his calling as a chiropractor."

"Tony," Richards said, taking his arm and turning him so that they were facing each other. "You've got ground for a harassment suit, you know."

"You're serious," Tony said incredulously, staring at the lieutenant.

The elevator dinged as they arrived in the parking garage. Richards stepped out and held the elevator door while Tony shook off his incredulity and followed. "Yeah," Richards said as they threaded their way through the cars towards his. "I am. You don't have to put up with that shit."

"Gibbs doesn't have to put up with my shit, either. We've worked out a balance," Tony countered.

"Seems like the balance is pretty heavily weighted in Gibbs's favor," Richards argued.

"He's my boss," Tony said dryly. They arrived at the car and he waited while Richards unlocked it. The two of them slid into the seats and pulled the doors closed. "And you've been around all of 24 hours. You're not in any position to make judgments."

"I'm just saying, you've been here a long time. Twice as long as anywhere else. There are outs if you need them," Richards said, his eyes on the road.

"Oh, so that's what this is about," Tony all but crowed. "I finally break my two year record, so something must be wrong."

"Excuse me for trying to look out for you," Richards blustered.

"You're not trying to look out for me," Tony said. "It just rankles that not only did I leave for greener pastures, I stuck with NCIS. You wouldn't give a shit about whether or not I was happy with my job if I'd moved on after my usual stint."

Richards grunted but didn't argue the point. "So why have you stuck around?"

Tony stared out the window at the landscape streaming by. Why had he? He'd settled in faster at NCIS than at any of the police departments where he'd worked and he'd never really thought about it after that. His feet never got itchy and Gibbs has never leaned on him to request a transfer as one of his previous lieutenants had done. He fit in at NCIS and it had just never occurred to him to move on.

Maybe part of it was that he'd been chosen this time. There had been no transfer request and bureaucratic shuffling of him into an available space. Gibbs had personally selected him for his team. Tony had never expected that kind of validation. He'd ridden high on the feeling for weeks. But really, two years was long enough for it to wear off, to forget any lingering sense of obligation.

He just genuinely liked working for Gibbs, even when the man was being a bastard. Gibbs was hardest on them not when they'd fucked up, but when he knew they weren't living up to what they could do. Every time he yelled, it reminded Tony that this man believed in him. This man believed Tony could find the answers, solve the mystery, and crack the case.

If that meant it hurt twice as much when he really did fuck up...well, Gibbs never gave up on him, either. He had a dedication to his people that Tony had never encountered before. Maybe it was Marine loyalty. Maybe it was a centaur's commitment to his herd. Maybe it was just Gibbs. Tony didn't really care; he just knew he'd do damn near anything for Gibbs.

"In the past four years," Tony said, answering Richards's question, "I've learned more from Gibbs about being a good cop and a good investigator than in just over five years and endless retraining courses with the PD. Even my aim has improved." At the sacrifice of more than a few valued possessions. Jesus, but he hated that. Still, he couldn't argue with the results, not when he knew how often lives depended on his aim. None of which Richards needed to know. "He believes I can be a really good agent." Tony shut his mouth before the rest of that thought could slip out--He makes me believe it, too.

Richards shot him a quick glance. "You are a good cop, Tony."

Not good enough. "Yeah, well, we'll see how good when I talk to Katherine Simmons," he said aloud.


Being back in Baltimore gave Tony an uncomfortable sense of deja vu. Of course, he'd been back multiple times with NCIS, but today there were just a few too many parallels to the past. He was pulling up to a house where he'd once interviewed someone in a neighborhood where he'd investigated a murder, with his old lieutenant in the driver's seat. None of it felt right. He wasn't supposed to be here.

And yet, in a weird confluence of past and future, he was also just a few miles from the naval base. If the Cardmans had lived just a little further east the case would have been under NCIS jurisdiction. Of course, then he'd never have worked it in the first place.

Shaking his head, Tony slid out of the car and followed Richards up to Katherine Simmons's front door. Richards rang the bell and visibly composed his face into an approachable expression as they waited.

According to the stats Tony had pulled up, Katherine Simmons was 42. The woman who opened the door looked closer to fifty, but then, losing a family member could do that to you. Her expression was guarded and she peered around the door at them without opening it all the way. "Can I help you?" she asked.

"Are you Katherine Simmons?" Richards had injected a note of gentleness into his tone. It sounded strange coming from him.

"Yes," she said shortly.

"I'm Lieutenant Bill Richards with the Baltimore police department and this is my associate, Tony DiNozzo," Richards said. "We were hoping you'd be willing to give us a few minutes of your time."

Simmons shrank back from the door, easing it almost imperceptibly closer to being closed. "What do the cops want with me?" Her words were fast and defensive, erasing any doubt Tony had had that she knew exactly why they were there.

If he recalled correctly, Katherine had been Robert Simmons's older sister. Tony called up his 'little boy lost' smile and slouched up to stand at Richards's shoulder. "We're reviewing a cold case, Ms. Simmons," he said, "and to be perfectly honest, it's driving us a little crazy. You might be able to help."

She hesitated and Tony could almost see her weighing her desire to help them--and she did want to help them, or she'd never have mailed the photos at all--against whatever had prompted her to attempt to deliver her evidence anonymously. "Just...a few minutes," she said reluctantly, stepping back from the door. Tony eased in first, letting Richards follow him. Katherine shut the door behind them and gestured through an archway and into a sitting room. "Do you want something to drink?" she asked, clasping and unclasping her hands.

"No, thank you, ma'am," Richards said, settling himself in one of the armchairs.

Tony gave her another smile. "I wouldn't mind coffee, if you have it." She nodded and hurried out the room, smoothing her skirt absently.

"Coffee?" Richards asked when she was gone, raising an eyebrow.

"It's not for me," Tony said, walking over to the mantle above the fireplace. It looked like the fireplace itself had been sealed, but there were still pictures there. Katherine and an older couple he assumed were her parents, Katherine and Robert, Robert by himself. They were all older pictures, judging by Katherine's age. "She needed a minute to get herself together."

"Do we want her 'together'?"

Tony shot the lieutenant an amused look. "She's not the killer, Richards. Letting her calm down a little won't hurt."

"How do we know that?" Richards asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Because we'd have gotten a partial match off of Simmons's DNA five years ago," Tony returned. "Besides which, do you really think she could have overpowered two healthy women?"

Richards snorted. "Just making sure you weren't making any assumptions," he grumbled.

Tony took a quick look out the window while they waited, but the Cardmans' home--former home--wasn't visible from here. Which made sense, he reminded himself. If he could have seen them from his own home, Simmons wouldn't have climbed a tree. Tony eventually sat in the other armchair, leaving the short couch for Katherine.

She returned a couple of minutes later with a tray bearing two cups of coffee, each on a saucer, a little dish of sugar cubes and a small pitcher of cream. Tony waited until she'd set the tray down and handed him a cup before doctoring it with one sugar and a little splash of cream. Simmons smiled and followed suit, though her own splash of cream was a little bit larger.

"So," she said, taking a steadying breath, "you said you were reviewing an old case. Can I ask which one? I don't think I've ever spoken to the police before."

"You haven't," Tony confirmed agreeably. "At least, not the Baltimore police. We originally interviewed your brother, Robert, but of course, that isn't possible now."

Katherine's cup chattered loudly against its saucer before she hurriedly set both down. "Oh. This would be about the...the two women, then. Down the street." She'd dropped her eyes to her knees and was twitching the folds of her skirt into perfect rows.

Tony nodded, despite the fact that she wasn't looking at him. "Your brother told you about it?"

She nodded sharply. "He called me. After the police came around. He was very upset. I think...I think that was mostly why he killed himself. Not entirely. Robert had...problems. But mostly, I think that was it. Have you," she swallowed visibly and dragged her gaze up to look at Tony, "have you got a lead on the killer? I... Maybe it's silly, but I feel a little like he killed Robert, too."

"We've got some new evidence," Tony admitted. "Someone mailed us some pictures." Deliberately, he dropped his eyes to his cup of coffee and let a little of the frustration he'd been feeling creep into his voice. "The killer is in them, but we still can't tell who it is. The light's too dark, they're a little blurred, and...well, cameras just weren't as good then as they are now."

"The pictures aren't enough?" Katherine asked, her voice very small.

Tony slowly met her gaze and shrugged helplessly. "I'm afraid not. We really wish we could talk to the photographer."

Katherine turned her coffee cup around in her hands several times and sighed heavily before setting it down. "Robert took the pictures," she admitted at length. "Unfortunately, it's impossible for you to talk to him."

"Ma'am," Richards interjected. "Can you tell us why you didn't want us to know you'd mailed the photos?"

She pressed her lips tightly together. "Did you think those were the only pictures on the roll? They weren't. Robert had been watching those women for a long time. He'd all but filled that roll of film with pictures of them in their house. He had boxes of pictures of them. Especially the younger one." She looked aside, a flush coming to her cheeks. "My little brother was already a suicide. I didn't need people thinking of him as a peeping tom, too. I thought I'd gotten rid of them all, but I kept the camera, and that film was still in it."

"You said Robert called you after we talked to him," Tony prompted gently. "That he was upset. Did he say anything to you? Anything that might help us?"

Katherine shook her head, her hands clenching in her skirt. "He just kept saying he couldn't believe that they--that she--was dead. He said that the police had taken a DNA sample, that he might be a suspect. He couldn't believe anyone could kill her, much less someone who knew her."

Tony perked up a little internally. "Ms. Simmons," he interrupted, "how did Robert say that?"

"Say what?" she asked uncertainly.

"That he couldn't believe that someone who knew her would kill her," Tony clarified. "Did he say it like he was startled that they'd ask him for a sample, or like she might have known the man who killed her?"

She frowned heavily and released her abused skirt to pat her cheek thoughtfully. "It was a long time ago," she said slowly, "but...I think maybe he knew she knew the man. Robbie, he said something like 'How could he hurt her'."

"A mutual acquaintance, then," Richards said thoughtfully.

"Thank you for speaking with us, Ms. Simmons," Tony said, setting his coffee up and rising to his feet.

Richards followed suit, fishing a business card out of his wallet. "If you remember anything else Robert said, you give me a call," he added.

Katherine took the card and stood to walk them to the door. As they stepped across the threshold, she reached out to pluck at Tony's sleeve. "Do you," she bit her lip. "Does anyone need to know about the pictures?" she asked at last.

Tony hesitated. This wasn't his promise to make. He glanced at Richards. The lieutenant opened his mouth, then seemed to reconsider what he was going to say. "This is a cold case, Ms. Simmons," he said eventually. "Not too many people are even going to notice that we've closed it. Those that do probably won't care much about how we found the guy. I don't think the pictures need to be general knowledge."

Some of the tension drained out of her expression. "Thank you, Mr. Richards," she said. "Good afternoon." She nodded a polite goodbye and closed the door firmly.

Together the two men turned and walked down the little concrete path to the street parking. "You did good in there," Richards said as they reached the car.

Tony snorted. "She wasn't exactly a tough nut to crack," he said dismissively.

"Still, you got her talking pretty fast."

"Interrogation is Gibbs's specialty," Tony commented. "Some of it must have rubbed off." Which was flippant, but better than admitting that he'd spent hours watching tapes of Gibbs questioning suspects. His style and Gibbs's weren't exactly comparable--for one thing, Tony knew he just didn't have the silent menace thing down pat--but there were techniques that he could use.

Not to mention the opportunity to watch Gibbs in action without having to worry about an audience.

Settling down into the passenger seat of Richards's car, Tony suddenly frowned to himself. "We didn't think this through," he said. "You need to go back to the PD to check out Simmons's acquaintances and I need to get back to NCIS. And we have only one car."

Richards turned the key in the ignition and shot Tony an amused look. "He doesn't have you on a leash, you know. You can, in fact, go wherever you please whenever you please."

"Yeah, like you'd buy that line if I was working on your clock," Tony returned. "Gibbs is already cutting me a lot of slack, letting me work this case for you."

"With me, Tony. Work this case with me," Richards insisted.

"Sure, with you," Tony said, rolling his eyes.

"And since we're working this case together, I'll give you a ride back to NCIS," Richards went on magnanimously. "I can have my people e-mail me the file while we're en route."

Tony concealed a wince. Gibbs was just going to love that. Unfortunately, he really did need a ride back to NCIS, and now that Richards had offered it would seem weird to turn him down. "Thanks," he said, not exactly enthusiastically.

Richards laughed. "Not looking back to getting back to the boss, huh?" he said, shooting Tony a conspiratorial glance.

Not with you in tow, Tony thought. He sighed deeply.


"DiNozzo!" Gibbs's bark greeted him the moment he stepped around the corner from the elevators. Looking across the cubicles, Tony just caught the transition of Gibbs's expression from irritated to truly thunderous. "Lieutenant Richards," he grated, "is there any particular reason you're still here, or do you make a point of wasting government money?"

Richards stuck his chin out. "I don't consider closing cases a waste of money," he said. "Tony needed a ride back in and I need to pull up a file."

Tony kept his head down, not entirely metaphorically, and slipped into his desk chair. The sooner he got those Baltimore PD records up on his screen, the sooner Richards could get the hell out of here.

"Might be a little easier to access a Baltimore Police file from the Baltimore Police Department," Gibbs replied, voice hard and dangerous.

"Boss?" McGee chimed in, looking confused but somehow also eager. Now is not the time to be helpful, McGee, Tony groaned to himself, but he didn't dare say it out loud.

"McGee," Gibbs said, not looking away from Richards, "go check in with Abby."


"Now, McGee."

He went. Across from Tony, Kate was typing intently. Tony would have bet money she was listening a hell of a lot more intently.

Richards looked amused at the byplay, but when he spoke his voice had an edge to it. "We've made it all the way into the 21st century, Gibbs. Our files are computerized. I had my people e-mail it over on the way here."

The sudden weight of eyes on him made Tony's skin crawl. Smiling weakly, he looked up and half waved at Gibbs. "Hey there, boss."

"What are you doing, DiNozzo?" Gibbs's eyes were positively flinty.

Tony swallowed heavily. "Um. Bringing up the Cardman case file?"

"And this is your job since when?"

"Uh, it's not," Tony admitted. "I was just...helping."

Gibbs pressed his lips together into a tight thin line. "I think you've done enough helping."

Tony lifted his hands from the keyboard, but before he could push back from the desk Richards stepped in behind him and leaned over his shoulder. "Here," the lieutenant said, reaching out to the keyboard, "you've almost got it."

Tony froze, half surrounded by Richards, and met Gibbs's eyes over his computer monitor. The centaur's expression had gone completely unreadable, which told Tony that he was so angry he didn't dare let it show on the surface. Tony could see a muscle twitching in his jaw as Gibbs fought not to say anything.

Quickly, Tony pushed his desk chair sideways away from Richards and stood, stepping briskly around his desk. "I could use a cup of coffee," he said, already halfway to the break room despite the weight of Gibbs's gaze on his back. "I'll just...get some coffee." Later, he resolved, Kate was going to pay for the little smirk she gave him as he beat his retreat.

In the break room Tony let out a long breath and leaned against the wall for a long moment. Gibbs normally got irritable when someone tried to horn in on one of their cases, but this was ridiculous. It wasn't like Richards was any kind of threat--the case had never been theirs in the first place and Tony wasn't about to run off with Richards, personally or professionally. Gibbs knew that.

Didn't he?

You're mine or you're a threat, Gibbs had told him once. Tony moaned and thumped his head back against the wall. What if he couldn't help it? He'd tried to explain more than once that centaurs just didn't think like humans did about a lot of things. In the centaur world, a herd didn't have any say in who owned them. Tony was a part of Gibbs's herd. It didn't matter how often he tried to reassure Gibbs that he wasn't going anywhere; as far as Gibbs was concerned, Richards still had the ability to take him away.

At least the whole thing will be over soon, Tony told himself as he poured two cups of the sludge that passed for NCIS coffee. Richards will have a look at the file, figure out who Simmons and Maryanne Cardman have in common, and then he'll be gone.

That wasn't quite how it worked out.

Tony returned to the team's cluster of desks and found Gibbs regarding the plasma screen with a disturbing degree of satisfaction, given his mood when Tony left. Kate was out of her desk and reading the screen, too, which was strange. Tony sidled up to Gibbs and held out one of the cups. "Coffee, boss?"

Gibbs accepted the cup almost absently and promptly used it to gesture at the Navy dossier currently displayed on the screen. "Your Baltimore PD case just became an NCIS case, DiNozzo," he said. "Meet Seaman Jonathan Green, the only common connection between Maryanne Cardman and Robert Simmons."

"He's barely even a suspect," Richards grumbled. "It's been a Baltimore PD case for five years. You can't claim jurisdiction on a thread like this."

"Maybe not, but I can damn well insist on going with you to interview him," Gibbs said briskly. "And it's better than a thread. Seaman Green has had two charges of attempted rape brought against him while in foreign ports."

"We're investigating murder, not rape," Richards pointed out testily. "Besides, the charges were dropped."

Kate opened her mouth to reply, but Gibbs beat her to it, biting off the words. "Rape victims typically don't want to deal with an investigation. And it wouldn't be the first time an assault escalated into murder."

"He's not deployed?" Tony asked interrupted quickly.

There was a tense pause before Gibbs turned away from Richards to answer. "Nope. He applied for an extended leave, since he's had a couple of long deployments."

Tony's eyebrows shot up. A little grin curved his lips. "Let me guess," he said, catching Gibbs's eye, "his last long stint stateside was five years ago."

Gibbs half smiled back at him. "Got it in one," he confirmed. Simultaneously, he and Tony headed for their desks and retrieved their sidearms. Kate made a move towards hers, but Gibbs caught her eye and shook his head. They were already halfway to the elevator when Gibbs turned and called back, "You coming, Richards?"

Richards scowled but jogged a couple of steps to catch up with him. "This is still my case, Gibbs. I'll be doing the interview."

"Sure," Gibbs said, but his tone meant Like hell you will.

In the parking garage, Tony automatically stepped up to the passenger side of Gibbs's car. He'd expected Gibbs to go peeling out of the garage the moment he had the door shut, intent on getting to the seaman's home before Richards. Instead, Gibbs paused after he shut his own door and peered through the windshield for a long moment. Richards actually pulled out of the garage first.

"Boss," Tony said, confused, "what're we--mmph!"

Gibbs's lips on his were hard and insistent. The hand he'd used to pull Tony across the front seat and into range still gripped his neck, as if Gibbs thought Tony might pull away. Which was ridiculous. Despite the gearshift digging uncomfortably into his hip, the only thing Tony was thinking about was kissing back and sucking on Gibbs's tongue and holding in the sounds he wanted to make.

Suddenly Tony was released. He flopped back into his seat and looked across to see Gibbs with both hands on the wheel, eyes closed, visibly trying to kick his brain back into gear. Tony couldn't help the smug grin that curved his lips, but he did manage to swallow it by the time Gibbs opened his eyes and slipped the key into the ignition.

"Don't we want to get to Seaman Green before Richards?" Tony asked. The abrupt acceleration of the car threw him back in seat. Grabbing for the hand grip above the door, Tony held his breath as the car leaped into traffic.

"I know a shortcut," Gibbs said grimly.

"Oh God," Tony whimpered, closing his eyes.

"After all this time, you'd think you'd be used to my driving."

"Gibbs, no one could possibly get used to your driving," Tony said fervently.

There was a long pause. Tony looked over at Gibbs and found him glaring the road into submission, but there was a tension in his jaw that Tony didn't think was inspired by driving. "Do I make you feel unsafe?" Gibbs asked abruptly. The moment the words were out, he set his jaw again, as if waiting for bad news.

Tony could only blink in surprise for a moment. Well, that and cling to the hand grip as Gibbs spun them around a tight left hand turn and onto a narrow street that could have used some repaving.

Did Gibbs make him feel unsafe? A dozen flippant answers sprang to mind, no small number of them inspired by this latest adventure in driving, but something told Tony not to voice those. Instead he considered for a moment before answering slowly. "I worked in three different police precincts before NCIS and I never knew anyone who watches out for their people the way you do, boss. In this job, there are plenty of times when I don't feel safe, but when those times roll around I feel more confident when you're around, not less."

Apparently that was the right answer, because some of the strain went out of Gibbs's body. "You know that dominance isn't necessarily about sex," he said abruptly.

This conversation was starting to resemble Gibbs's driving style. "How would I know that?" Tony said uncertainly. "It's not like it's something we talk about a lot." And when they did, sex was usually involved somehow.

"I did tell you that Ducky, Kate, Abby, and McGee are mine," Gibbs said, "and I'm not sleeping with any of them."

It took Tony a long moment's thought before he could place that reference, but when he did he couldn't resist snorting. "I'm sorry, Gibbs, but I'd just had this whole dominance thing sprung on me. I had my mind on more immediate issues at the time," he said, shaking his head. Gibbs didn't say anything. Tony sighed and leaned his head back against the head rest. "So if it's not about sex, what was up with that kiss?"

"I said it wasn't necessarily about sex. Mostly, it's about being responsible for my people." Gibbs hesitated, then added grudgingly, "Taking care of them."

Well, that explains the 'unsafe' question, Tony thought. "So if the herd stallion takes care of the herd, who takes care of the herd stallion?" he asked aloud.

"By the time a herd stallion needs taking care of," Gibbs said tightly, "there's usually another stallion waiting in the wings, ready to do the job."

Tony shot him a sidelong glance. "Somehow I don't think you mean 'take care of' the way I did," he said dryly.

Gibbs met his glance with a sardonic look. "You'd be right. Stallions fight to the death for the right to the herd."

Tony froze, his breath stopping in his throat. To the death. To the death. Gibbs. "But no one's going to challenge you for us, right?" he said quickly, his voice a little higher pitched than he would have liked. He cleared his throat hastily. "I mean, the team, another stallion wouldn't be that interested in taking us away from you, right?"

"You don't think I'd win?" Gibbs snapped.

"There is no winning in that situation," Tony shot back. "Either you're dead or you're a murderer. You wouldn't be out in the middle of a field with a couple dozen accomplices. You'd be here in the middle of a major city, surrounded by witnesses, and the only person who'd know dick all about why it went down would be me. I'd do my best, Gibbs, but I don't think I'd do that much good up on the witness stand all by myself."

Gibbs reached out, but instead of cuffing Tony upside the head he laced his fingers into his hair and started stroking his scalp and the back of his neck lightly. Tony didn't feel much like relaxing, but after awhile he couldn't seem to help himself. Slouching down into his seat, he tilted his head forward to give Gibbs free rein.

"I hadn't thought of it like that," Gibbs said quietly.

"I don't want to lose you, boss," Tony muttered.

The fingers that had been threading through Tony's hair closed down on the back of his neck again. "I don't want to lose you either, DiNozzo."

Tony straightened up a little and turned to Gibbs, pleased to see him a little less on edge himself. "You do know that Richards is so far from being a threat to you that it's kind of funny, right?"

"Sure," Gibbs said easily, but Tony could feel the car accelerate a little more. He swallowed and curled his hand around the overhead grip again. He wouldn't get you killed, he told himself. What's a herd stallion without his herd?


Seaman Green had apparently decided that, given the length of time he'd been deployed, maintaining a real apartment was pointless. Hed be back longer this time, but for the moment he was staying in the transient housing on base. NCIS ID got the agents past the checkpoint with no problems and Gibbs pulled into the small parking lot. Richards was nowhere in sight.

Still, Gibbs was out of the car and halfway to the door of the building by the time Tony had his seatbelt off. He scrambled after Gibbs and managed to catch up just as he arrived at the front desk and displayed his ID to the petty officer on duty there. "I'm here to speak to Seaman Green," Gibbs said calmly. The petty officer favored Tony with a skeptical look. Tony tried for an innocent look--one which failed utterly if the glance Gibbs gave him was any judge. "He's with me," Gibbs assured the officer.

"Seaman Green is in suite one-oh-six, sir," the petty officer said, relaxing. "Down the hall and to your right."

Gibbs's knock on the door to 106 was answered promptly. Seaman Green was tall, a good inch taller than Tony, and broad across the shoulders, chest...hell, he was just plain broad. He had the look of a man who worked out because he liked it, not just because he was required to keep in shape. "Can I help you?" he asked, a little confused.

Gibbs and Tony both flipped open their ID again. "I'm Special Agent Gibbs, this is Special Agent DiNozzo, with NCIS," Gibbs introduced them. "We just need a few minutes of your time."

"I'm on leave, sir," Green said, smiling. "For once, I have time. Come on in." The three of them moved into the tiny living room area, but Green made no move to sit, so they all remained standing. "So what's this about?" Green asked. He was remarkably at ease, not the least bit like a man who'd killed two people.

But then, it was five years ago, Tony reminded himself. He probably thinks he got away with it.

"When were you last stateside?" Gibbs asked instead of answering Green's question. He didn't have his notebook out--presumably to avoid alarming him. Tony leaned against the wall, strategically placed between Green and the door.

Green frowned thoughtfully. "I had a couple of days 18 months ago, sir," he said. "Why?"

"And before that?"

"Four or five days before my previous deployment." Green paused and seemed to be counting in his head. "That would be about three and a half years ago. I think my last long stint at home was a year before that. Maybe longer. It all starts to blend together after so long."

Gibbs nodded sympathetically. "You do anything special while you were back?"

Green grinned. "I'm not home that often, sir. I try for something special every time. Once--" He was interrupted by a knock at the door. "Excuse me," he said, squeezing past Tony to answer the door.

Meeting Gibbs's gaze, Tony grimaced. Richards.

Green opened the door. He was a big enough man to fill the frame, but Richards's voice was clear enough. "Mr. Green? I'm Lieutenant Richards with the Baltimore Police Department."

Tony barely had enough time to straighten up, cursing under his breath, before Green had shoved his way past Richards and bolted down the hallway. Tony gave the cop a good shove of his own on his way past, chasing after Green.

"DiNozzo?" Richards shouted after him. "Gibbs!"

Tony hit the front door of the building hard, wincing even as it swung open and spilled him onto the street. He glanced around quickly and spotted Green pelting down the road. Thank God the man hadn't bothered to rent a car yet. Tony took off after him, legs pumping hard, feet slapping down loudly on the asphalt. Fuck, but dress shoes sucked to run in.

Fortunately, Green's heavy build did him more harm than good in the chase. Tony gained on him steadily and, when he was in range, launched himself into a tackle that would have made his football coach proud. They crashed down onto the road heavily. Tony gritted his teeth as pain shot up his arm and leg from his elbow and knee, but held on.

Green twisted in Tony's grasp, swearing fluently. Suddenly his hands came down, boxing Tony solidly on the ears. "Fuck," Tony shouted, his grip loosening involuntarily. Green squirmed free, giving Tony a couple of hard kicks in the stomach and chest as he went.

"Stop right there, Green!" Gibbs barked, just a few feet away.

Tony pushed himself up onto his knees. Green was standing a few paces in front of him, hands in the air. Twisting around, Tony found Gibbs behind him, gun raised, his eyes fixed on Green. Awkwardly, Tony shuffled to the side so that he wouldn't spoil Gibbs's line of sight when he stood.

"You okay, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, never shifting his gaze.

Tony waved dismissively. "I'm fine, boss. Want me to cuff this guy?"

"And read him his rights," Gibbs confirmed.

They were headed back up the road, one of them on either side of Green, when Richards caught up. "What the hell did you think you were doing, Gibbs?" he snarled. "We agreed I'd interview Green!"

Gibbs glared at him. "Given how fast you tipped him off, I'd say it was lucky we got here first," he said coldly.

"This is still a BPD case," Richards said, stabbing his finger towards Gibbs. "Your superior will be hearing about this."

"So will yours," Gibbs returned. "In the meantime, we need to get Seaman Green processed."

Richards stalked off towards his car. Opening the door, he paused and called after them, "You ever get tired of working with that prick, Tony, there's still a place for you at the PD."

The expression that that brought to Gibbs's face was like nothing Tony had ever seen before. The comment was half a joke and half an insult and they both knew it, but despite that Tony knew in that moment that Gibbs could fight to the death for his people, and would.

"Not gonna happen, boss," he said, meeting Gibbs's eyes. The edge there eased only a little, but it did ease.

"Walk fast, DiNozzo," Gibbs said darkly. "You've got a promise to keep."

Tony's mouth went dry.


Processing Jonathan Green, explaining how they'd caught the case to Director Morrow, and writing up all the requisite paperwork while their memories were still fresh took longer than Tony thought possible. Or maybe it just seemed to take forever, thanks to the heated looks Gibbs threw Tony whenever he looked up.

Either way, it was past 1:00 a.m. when they finally stepped onto the elevator together. It had barely started moving before Gibbs reached over and flicked the stop switch.

"Boss--" Tony began, and was cut off when Gibbs grabbed him by the hips and shoved him up against the wall. Tony let out a startled breath and then Gibbs was kissing him, his tongue tangling with Tony's, swallowing Tony's moans. His body woke to the light, slick touches of the tongue exploring his mouth, his cock growing stiff and hot.

Gibbs pressed a knee between Tony's thighs and Tony let him, rocking his body against the long, lean muscles of Gibbs's leg. Hunger pooled low in Tony's belly, as if the heat radiating from Gibbs's body had stolen into his own. Strong hands slid up from his hips to palm his back, slowly kneading his muscles.

Sucking air in through his nose so that he wouldn't have to break their kiss, Tony tried to hold himself back from grinding down against Gibbs's leg. God, he wanted to; he was achingly hard and it felt so good, so fucking good, but they were still at work.

Gibbs pulled back as if he'd heard the thought, though his breath was visibly short with desire. Seeing his blue eyes gone dark with hunger and his lips slightly swollen from kissing, Tony couldn't help but lean forward to try for another. A firm hand planted against his chest held him away. "We need to take this home," Gibbs said roughly. "My place. Now."

"Yeah, okay," Tony agreed breathlessly, but he couldn't seem to move until Gibbs stepped back and pulled him away from the wall.

"Jesus, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, running his eyes over Tony, one finger on the stop switch. "At least try to look like you haven't been making out in the elevator."

Tony grinned irreverently. "But boss, I have been making out in the elevator."

For a moment, Tony was certain Gibbs was going to jump him again, but he shook himself and got the elevator moving instead. Tony twitched all his clothing into place and took a couple of long breaths, but he was pretty sure it didn't help. Fortunately, at this time of night there was no one waiting for the elevator on any of the levels. They got to the parking garage and their separate cars unseen.

Gibbs peeled out of the garage like he was chasing down a lead. Tony followed more sedately, if only because he wanted to arrive at Gibbs's home alive. It took him nearly half an hour to get there. Heart pounding with anticipation, Tony parked around back and let himself in.

"Gibbs?" he called out, shutting the back door behind himself. There was no answer, but he was pretty sure he knew where to find his lover.

Stripping off his clothing, Tony walked from the back door through the kitchen, into the living room, and up the stairs to the master bedroom. He left his clothes where they fell. Gibbs would bitch at him tomorrow, but Tony was pretty sure he'd appreciate him being naked now.

Pushing the master bedroom door open, Tony was pretty much prepared for the hands that yanked him inside and pushed him up against the door that thumped closed behind him. Laughing, he let his head fall back, exposing his neck to Gibbs's intent, biting kisses. "You like throwing me up against walls, don't you." Tony teased.

Gibbs didn't answer. Instead, he lowered himself to his knees, trailing open-mouthed kisses over Tony's body as he went. Tony gasped suddenly as a heavy, sucking kiss was placed on his lower belly. Fingers hooked into his boxer briefs and peeled them down his hips. Tony gasped again at the rush of cool air over his heated cock and glanced down almost involuntarily.

Gibbs was looking up at him with one of the most wicked smiles Tony had ever seen. "Boss...?" Tony asked, momentarily puzzled. Gibbs wrapped one hand around Tony's cock and bent his head and oh, fuck, hot and wet and good and Gibbs's tongue!

Hips surging forward helplessly, Tony made an involuntary frustrated noise when Gibbs pressed a strong arm across his thighs and pinned him back against the door. "Christ, that's good," Tony panted aloud, words taking the place of the movements he wanted to make. "Fuck, I love your mouth. So good...yes..."

Perversely, that was when Gibbs pulled off of him, letting go of Tony's cock with one last lick. Tony cursed and reached for him, his hand cupping Gibbs's head, half intending to bring him back to what he'd been doing. But Gibbs ignored the urging of Tony's grip, instead nuzzling his face into Tony's groin. His breath fluttered against Tony's skin, long slow inhalations and soft exhalations. Gibbs was scenting him.

"You like how I smell?" Tony asked hoarsely, though he didn't really want an answer. Not if it meant Gibbs would have to stop doing what he was doing. But maybe the warm, uneven rush of air that stirred the curls around the base of his cock was answer enough. That and the damp, clinging touch of lips to his balls and Tony barely had time for a startled "Oh!" before Gibbs drew them into his mouth and rolled them with his tongue and oh God, where had he learned to do that?

Helplessly, Tony arched against the arm holding him in place, but Gibbs had his weight behind it. It was like iron, fixing Tony in place, holding him steady while Gibbs sucked and licked at his leisure, until the only words Tony could manage to articulate were "fuck" and "please". He struggled without truly wanting to escape, too needy, too desperate for the hot, slick touches of Gibbs's mouth to be capable of holding still. He struggled and Gibbs held him pressed against the door, unyielding, and the longer he was pinned the more free Tony felt to beg with his body because he wouldn't go too far, he couldn't go too far, because Gibbs had him.

Gibbs's hand closed around his cock again and Tony moaned, his hips trying to buck and being held down. And then Gibbs was swallowing him down again, wrapping his mouth around Tony and demanding everything he had left. His breath stuttering in his throat, Tony pressed his head back against the door, his whole body tightening for one long moment before he came, shudders wracking the length of him and turning his joints to jelly. Gibbs wasn't holding him back anymore, he was holding him up. It was all Tony could do to stay vertical when Gibbs let him go and climbed to his own feet.

Tony blinked hazily at Gibbs and turned his face into the hand that reached out to cup his cheek. Gibbs leaned in for a kiss, his mouth still tasting faintly of Tony's come. "You know what you smell like?" Gibbs murmured. He licked a little at the side of Tony's mouth. "You smell like you're mine. You smell like a centaur who's acknowledged their herd stallion." He brushed their lips together, not really kissing, just a light touch as he spoke. "I didn't think it was possible for a human to smell like that. But you do. It's all over your skin."

Lazily, Tony parted his lips, inviting another kiss, and moaned a little when he got it. For a moment there was only the soft, wet sounds of their mouths moving together. Eventually they let the kiss end, though they still held their lips close enough to share their breath, and Tony said softly, "I am yours, boss." And, because it had to be said, he added, "But I thought you were going to 'ride my ass'."

Gibbs took one of Tony's hands in his and brought it down between their bodies where he wrapped it around his cock, standing hard and hot out from his belly. "Does it feel like I'm done with you?" he growled quietly.

"Definitely not," Tony said, curling his fingers around Gibbs and stroking lightly. "Got plans for this, do you?"

"Lots of plans," Gibbs confirmed. He pulled Tony's hand away from him and stepped backwards, drawing his lover over to the bed. "But for the moment, I just want you in my lap, fucking yourself on my cock."

Tony licked his lips and crawled onto the bed after Gibbs, who propped himself up against the headboard, legs stretched out in front of him. Obediently, Tony straddled his legs, but he sat on Gibbs's thighs instead, his cock standing up between them, thick and dark with the rush of blood. "In your lap, huh?" Tony said, reaching out to grip the headboard over Gibbs's shoulders for balance. "You want me to prep myself?" he asked, lowering his voice and stealing a quick kiss. "You want me to open myself up, get my hole ready for you so that you can just slide inside? Or you want me to just sit here while you finger me, just waiting for you to fill me up with your cock? You know," Tony leaned forward, whispering into Gibbs's ear, "I bet, sitting like this, I could take you really deep. I bet you could touch me places I've never felt you before." Tony smiled slowly. "I bet you could touch me places no one ever touched before."

Fingers slick with lube reached between the cheeks of his ass and brushed lightly over his hole and that was all the warning Tony had before Gibbs sank two fingers inside him, fast and deep and ruthless. Gasping, Tony dropped his head down to rest on Gibbs's shoulder. His eyes slid half shut and he panted, mouth hanging open. His ass burned, stretched too fast, but Tony couldn't bring himself to care. It felt too good to have Gibbs inside him, even if it was just his fingers.

Gibbs twisted his fingers, drawing a gasp out of Tony, and then curled them deliberately and lightning shot up Tony's spine. He moaned low in his throat and mouthed Gibbs's shoulder mindlessly. Gibbs's arm went around him and he spread his free hand over Tony's back even as he worked his fingers roughly in and out of Tony.

"No one ever has touched you quite the way I have," he said, his voice heavy with a certainty that was like stone, "and no one but me will ever touch you again. At all."

Keening under his breath, Tony pushed back against Gibbs's fingers. Letting go of the headboard, he blindly patted the bed next to Gibbs's hip and found the square of a wrapped condom. Opening it with shaky fingers, he rolled it down over Gibbs, unable to resist stroking the warm, tight skin of his cock as he did. As close as they were, Tony could hear the little catch in Gibbs's breath before the man gave him a gentle pat on the back and cupped his ass, moving Tony to kneel over his cock.

Taking a long, deep breath of his own, Tony straightened up, adjusted his grip on the headboard, and slowly let himself sink down, Gibbs's hands guiding him. Fingers wet with lube left his ass and were replaced by the blunt head of Gibbs's cock. Tony bit his lip and obeyed the gentle tugging on his hips, slowly taking Gibbs inside.

Tony's breath caught in his throat, his eyes clenched shut, all his attention on the stretch of his body around Gibbs's shaft. So thick, opening him up, making a place for Gibbs inside him. No...taking Gibbs's place inside him. Tony's breath finally released in a thick moan as his ass came to rest on Gibbs's thighs, his cock buried deep inside Tony.

"Relax, Tony," Gibbs said, more than a little breathlessly. His hands were on Tony's back, stroking restlessly.

Shuddering, Tony eased some of the tension out of his muscles and felt Gibbs slide inside him even more deeply. "Oh God," he moaned. The heat of Gibbs's cock seemed to spread through his body like liquid, spilling over his nerves in hot cascades of sensation. He couldn't help squirming a little, which only lit him up with new explosions of pleasure. "Gibbs," he moaned.

"Move," Gibbs ordered thickly. His hands moved over Tony's skin, rubbing firmly over his chest. "Now." He rolled a tight nipple between his fingers.

Clenching his hands on the headboard, Tony lifted himself. His breathed shuddered out of him loudly at the sensation of Gibbs's thick shaft dragging slowly out of his body. Sinking down again went faster, aided by gravity and shaky muscles. Tony couldn't help but grind himself down a little, it felt so good to have Gibbs inside him again.

Raising himself up again took an effort, but the sounds Gibbs was making--Yeah, that's it Tony. Oh, god...yes...'s good...--spurred him on. Over and over again he pulled himself off of Gibbs's cock and sank down again, unconsciously moving faster and faster, hungry to have Gibbs inside him. Tony's thighs burned with effort but that was nothing next to the heat of Gibbs spreading him open, taking him with Tony's own motions, or the aching of his own cock, hard again too soon.

A hand cupped Tony's face and he opened eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed to see Gibbs staring at him. His body was streaked with sweat, despite the fact that Tony was doing all the work, and his eyes were dark with hunger. Abruptly Gibbs pulled him forward for a kiss and Tony lost his rhythm and sat down hard. Their mouths met in a mutual gasp of startled ecstasy. Gibbs recovered first, sliding his tongue into Tony's mouth.

Whimpering softly, Tony kissed back deeply and rocked in Gibbs's lap, stirring the cock buried inside him. Bright flashes of pleasure arched through him but it wasn't enough, not quite. Tony let go of the headboard and reached between their bodies. Gibbs caught his wrist in one hand, holding Tony to the kiss with the other when he would have pulled back to protest. Then there was nothing to protest, not with Gibbs's hand wrapped around him, jerking him in short, intense strokes, limited by the narrow space between their bodies.

Tony rocked between the hand on his cock and the thick weight of Gibbs in his ass, his helpless sounds of need swallowed in Gibbs's mouth. Tension coiled up inside him, settling low and tight in his belly. He gave up on trying to kiss Gibbs and just panted for breath while Gibbs nibbled at his lips.

Suddenly Gibbs froze, his hips pushing up against Tony. Tony gasped as Gibbs bit down on his lower lip. Inside, Tony could feel Gibbs's cock pulse heavily as he came, but his mind was stolen by the spark of sensation from that bite. It seemed to touch off all that coiled heat inside him and then he was coming, spilling over Gibbs.

They slumped against each other, sticky with sweat and semen. Tony had to try twice before he could speak. "My thighs are killing me."

Gibbs chuckled and reached out to squeeze the abused muscle. "You need to do more squats."

Tony smiled. "Well, now I've got motivation."

They took their shower together, but neither of them were up for anything more than washing. The glide of soapy hands over skin was pleasant but not arousing. Tony savored the casual touches. He'd never been with anyone long enough to have this easy intimacy before. He smiled at the thought even as he wrapped himself in a towel.

The smile faded as he stepped back into Gibbs's bedroom and picked up the underwear that lay discarded just inside the threshold. "I ought to go home," he said reluctantly.

Gibbs paused in the act of spreading a fresh sheet over the bed. "Stay the night," he said, not looking up from the bed. He tucked the bottom corners in neatly but left most of the sides untucked. Tony knew Gibbs preferred his sheets neatly tucked. He was the one who hated it when they were too tight.

"You know it's not a good idea for us to sleep over too often," Tony argued half-heartedly. "You stayed at my place last night."

There was no decent argument either of them could make against that, but when Gibbs looked up at Tony his jaw was set stubbornly. "I want you with me," he said firmly, holding out his hand to Tony.

No contest. Tony took his hand. They kissed softly, bodies pressed close, and climbed into bed together. Gibbs lay on his back, one arm around Tony, who lay curled up next to him, his head pillowed on Gibbs's shoulder.

"Gibbs?" he murmured softly, not wanting to interrupt the moment but knowing he had to.


"You know the dominance thing was showing with Richards, right?" Tony said uncertainly. "You were way more hostile that you should've been."

There was a long silence. Tony waited him out. "I know," Gibbs said at length. "I can't help it. It's instinct. You're mine. He was...he was sniffing around you."

Tony blinked. "Gibbs, Lieutenant Richards is married."

Gibbs snorted. "Not like that, Tony. He was acting like he had some sort of right to you. I won't let that go. I can't."

Tony didn't want to be angry, but he could feel it lurking. "So this owning me thing, that means that you have some right to say who I hang out with?" he asked. His tone wasn't quite sharp, but it was lurking.

Gibbs took a long time to answer, perhaps sensing that he was thin ice here. "It means I have some say in how you spend your time," he said at last, "and that I'm going to get jealous and possessive when someone acts...familiar with you."

"All notched up a bit because you're Gibbs," Tony said dryly.

Gibbs gave him a smack on the ass for that. "You knew I was a bastard."

"Yeah, well, you knew I was a pain in the ass," Tony retorted, relaxing again. "I'm going to keep pushing you."

"I can cut you a little slack. As long as you know who you belong to," Gibbs said, giving Tony's ass a little squeeze.

Tony snorted. "Yeah, I love you, too."

And then he froze, because he did.

A gentle kiss was placed on the top of his head. "It's okay," Gibbs whispered. "Me too."