(Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters, etc. belong to the genius mind that is Donald P. Bellisario. I just wrote this on a slash impulse due to some fanfic ideas that had been bubbling and developing in my mind and only fully formed when I had Relentless for breakfast this morning. So it's all good.
Dedications? Quite a few, actually...Rowan; for not flipping out after she found out exactly what I'd been writing for/to/about her...take your pick, either way it amounts to the same thing - thanks again for not hating me when so many people would do it without a backward glance and a smile on their faces...Ellie and Jenny, I hope you appreciate me writing my first male slash fanfic with a pairing you'll enjoy; Kels, the most mature, open-minded and all-around amazing 13-year-old ever and the best little honorary sis anyone could ever wish for; and my real sister who happens to be another year older today. Feliz Cumpleaños, Si...there may be a lot I can't tell you but I'm still lucky to be related to you.
Okie-pokes, introspective bullsh!t over with. Let's get on with what you clicked on the link to read)

There he was again. Tony found it hard to keep his eyes away from the silver-haired man with ice-blue eyes and such purpose in his stride as he entered the bullpen, coffee in his hand. The smell of aftershave and expresso coffee filled Tony's nostrils and he breathed it in, trying to hold onto the aroma - holding on to the essence of Gibbs. His boss slammed down the coffee and looked around at the other three agents; Kate and McGee, working diligently at their latest case - and Tony, trying his level best to busy himself with the job at hand and tear his eyes away from the older man for just a moment.

He felt rather than saw Gibbs' eyes bore, laser-like, into him; and he felt the colour rise in his cheeks - though he knew that the intent behind Gibbs' stare was rather different to what ran through Tony's mind when he looked at his senior agent.

'Kate, DiNozzo, McGee - what've we got on this dirt bag?' he barked out, as Kate and McGee jumped halfway out of their seats, flustered, and tried to compose themselves.
Tony wasn't listening. He was revelling in the way his own last name rolled off Gibbs' lips, and also struggling to keep his eyes intently on his boss' face and prevent them from straying downwards.

It was a harmless fantasy. He was allowed to.

…Just this once.

Tony's heart was pounding. It was less than a minute since he had put down the phone to Gibbs and already he was working up a full-scale panic. Why had he sent that stupid letter in the first place? He could claim to be drunk. But the fact that his handwriting was better than normal, rather than an illegible drunken mess; given that he had put every ounce of effort he possessed into wording and writing - and then rewriting - that letter, would surely give it away to a five year old child, let alone an NCIS investigator. He could put it down to a mistake in the address - but since the letter contained Gibbs' name multiple times, that wouldn't work either. How about little green men from Mars kidnapped him and brainwashed him and made him write that letter?

The letter declaring, in Tony's own hand, his feelings for a co-worked. A very male co-worker - and not just anyone, either. Gibbs.

Tony was pacing, agitated, around his apartment, when three sharp knocks on the door snapped him out of his reverie with the impact of a small bomb going off behind him. Breathing shallowly, and shaking from head to toe like a schoolboy being sent to the principal's office; he opened the door. Gibbs strode in, slamming the door behind him then turning to face Tony. His face was set, expressionless, but his eyes were as sharp and focussed as ever. In his hand was the letter, the thing that had started all of this. Tony couldn't quite bring himself to look at Gibbs, even after all these months of wanting to do only that.

'DiNozzo' Gibbs' sharp voice cut through the silence like a hot knife through butter.
'Yes, Boss?' Tony's voice was shaking with nerves.
'You wrote this?'
'Y - Yes, Boss...' Looking at Gibbs' feet rather than anywhere else, he saw Gibbs take a step closer to him.
'You meant this?'

There was a different tone to the other man's voice now, something that depleted the nerves tying Tony's stomach in knots and making his breathing difficult - however slightly. Unable to answer, he opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish, still looking at the floor.

'Tony, look at me'
The use of his first name and the softer tone to Gibbs' voice prompted Tony to meet his eyes. They were locked onto his but there was something in them - not hatred, not even anger - that held Tony's stare no matter how much he wanted to look away.
'Did you mean what you wrote in this letter?' he repeated, slowly.
Words still failing him, Tony swallowed, and forced himself to nod.

Then, without word nor warning, Gibbs closed the gap between him and Tony and kissed him, the letter dropping to the floor as he wrapped his arms around the younger agent. And Tony's fears evaporated as he kissed him back.
To hell with Rule 12. He needed to take this chance, even if it ruined everything.

…Just this once.

'DiNozzo, you're with me' Gibbs barked over his shoulder as he strode out of the lab. DiNozzo gave Abby a quick, one-armed hug as he followed his boss into the elevator; catching up with him as the metal doors began to slide shut. As the elevator began to move, they met each others eyes, the hunger for each other reflected in each pair. Ice blue and warm brown stared back at each other, before Gibbs' hand flew out and slammed onto the emergency stop button. The elevator ground to a stop, and the light flickered off. The sudden darkness was the catalyst they both needed; the long-awaited signal for Tony to fall into Gibbs' strong, waiting arms as their lips touched. His desire to touch and be touched by Gibbs was so huge it felt like Tony's heart was about to explode. If that had happened, however; he'd have died happy.

Through their intense kiss; Tony was acutely aware of Gibbs' hands moving slowly but surely down towards Tony's waist…then lower still. Their kiss broke for a moment as Gibbs looked deep into Tony's eyes, seeking confirmation of his consent as his hands found the younger agents' belt buckle.

'It's fine' Tony breathed, before leaning in and closing his eyes for another kiss before he burned up with craving for Gibbs.
The rest, of course, was history.
It was 'wrong'. It was 'unnatural'. But he needed to feel him…to feel anything at all.

…Just this once.

Kate was gone. Kate was dead. They had both known that the second the bullet had ripped through the air and slammed into her. They had seen her hit the floor, blood pooling around her, her face expressionless and her body still. Kate, their friend, their colleague, their Kate – was alive no more. And Tony couldn't take it.

He had managed to keep his grief and uncontrollable pain under wraps while he broke the news to McGee, passed Kate's lifeless body over into Ducky's expert hands and attempted to comfort an inconsolable Abby despite his own agony; but the moment the doors to the lab had closed he had broken down completely. He had never had a co-worker be so brutally ripped away from him and he had no idea how to deal with it. He had put his head in his hands, and sobbed.
Even the warm contact of his lovers' hands around his shoulders wasn't enough to comfort him this time.

'It's OK, Tony' Gibbs had said, softly; holding onto Tony's shaking form and letting the brown-haired man lean against him.
'No, it's not. It's really not' Tony had replied, through his grief, his tears and Gibbs' own shoulder.
'I know' Gibbs replied, kissing Tony's forehead gently and enveloping him back into his strong arms. 'But it will be, eventually'
Tony could feel the tears on Gibbs' cheeks too; and clung even tighter to him.
He was an NCIS agent, and Gibbs had been a Marine. They weren't allowed to cry.
But alone together, with nothing but each others' arms and their pain at Kate's death; the rule didn't seem to apply. They were allowed to feel.

…Just this once.

The autumn leaves were strewn golden-brown across the ground, and the cemetery was quiet but for their small party. Tony looked around, seeing through new eyes how beautiful the world really was, as he rubbed the back of his head, where among his thick brown hair a few strands of grey were beginning to show. What he wouldn't give to feel Gibbs' hand slapping him across the head now. Himself, Ziva, McGee, Palmer, Director Sheppard, Agent Lee and even Cynthia were there, and other than the priest standing by the coffin speaking to the surrounding guests; they were the only ones. Ducky had passed away a few years previously; and it was a small comfort to Tony that now, wherever they both were, at least Gibbs and Ducky would be allowed to keep each other company.

The priest finished speaking, but Tony had barely listened to a word anyway. They all stepped forwards to take one last look at Gibbs. Abby was in tears, and he saw Ziva wrap an arm around her; tears slipping thick and fact down her own cheeks. McGee's head was bowed in grief, and the Director was gazing intently at Gibbs as if trying to fix the image of him lying there; cold, dead but still looking somehow formidable; in her mind.

He had known Gibbs was getting older, but the idea of losing him had never crossed his mind. You really didn't know what you had until it was gone. Tony saw the others paying their final respects to their mentor, their friend, their boss; before moving away. It was his team now – and he knew in his heart he was ready for it. Somehow, he would carry on. It was, after all, what Gibbs would have done.

He took one last look at Gibbs – and smiled.
'I'll never forget you, Jethro' he said. 'Goodbye…Boss'
He sighed, and turned away. As the autumn sun emerged, blinding white, from behind a cloud, Tony DiNozzo felt a small smile creep onto his face.

Everyone deserves to have a wish turn into reality. And Tony's wish, at least, had been granted.
He had touched the heart of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and he had returned the favour.

…More than once.

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