Title: Scarlet Secrets
Spoilers: Set just after Forced Entry, so a little bit for that episode.
Summary: "Well, it's sort of like having friends, only explicitly for sex."
Author's Note: Typed text in bold. I know the idea of Gibbs online is a little far-fetched, but hey. It's only fanfic. XD
"Okay, you're all set. If you want to check your business email, click this link here. It'll take you straight to the page and you can enter your ID and password like you would at the navy yard. If you want to find something online... maybe you should call me or McGee. But if you can't get hold of us, there's always Google."
I frown at Abby, who shoots me a cheeky grin. We're in my living room, and she's set up her old laptop for me, complete with internet connection, despite my protestations that I don't need one and am perfectly capable of driving into work at four in the morning if I need to check my email. I bite back my irritation at her gentle teasing and decide to humour her instead. "Google?"
Both of her perfectly-plucked eyebrows shoot up, and she stares at me with unfeigned amazement. "Gibbs, you've never heard of Google?! Geez…" Leaning over me again, she taps an address out on the keyboard, and a white page blinks up on-screen. A couple of manoeuvres later, she sits back. "There. That link there, under the email one? If you click that, this page will come up. Then, all you have to do is type in what you want to search for, and then start clicking results until you find what you want. Give it a go."
With a sense of foreboding, I reach out and type a word. Boat. When I hit the enter key, the page fills with a confusing mass of words. Abby chuckles beside me. "Okay, good. But that's a really general search. The more detail you give it, the better luck you'll have finding what you want. Though, even then, you might want to call me. Except, of course, if you're looking for porn. Then you're on your own."
I turn to her, half-amused. "Why do I take this crap from you, Abby?"
She beams. "Because you love me, of course!"
That had been a month ago. I'd barely touched the laptop since then, and Abby had given up hope that I'd ever get into the habit of hanging around websites talking to people I'd never met. I just didn't see the point.
Tonight, though, an idea just wouldn't leave me alone.
Earlier today, we'd wrapped up a case involving a website called Scarlet Secret. When explaining the website's involvement, Abby had pulled up a page on the plasma screen that she had created as a personal profile. Though McGee had insisted the page was new, created so that Abby could search the site, his defensiveness told me otherwise.
I found myself intrigued to see if what Abby had shown us of her profile page was accurate.
As the computer powered up, I resisted the urge to slap myself on the back of the head. For years, Abby and I had engaged in playful banter that sometimes tended toward the sexual. I knew she and McGee were in an on again/off again relationship, and that she probably only saw me as a father figure, but still my traitorous mind refused to give up hope that she felt something more.
Recalling the lecture Abby had given me, I clicked on the Google thing, and was relieved when the white page I remembered loaded up. Now what?
Drawing on my memory of the case, I typed in 'Scarlet Secret' and hit the search button. Immediately, a string of results flashed up. Hoping for the best, I clicked the first one, and a familiar set of graphics sprang onto the screen. Scarlet Secret: Where Discriminating Adults Go To Play, proclaimed the header.
I was two for two, and I didn't have a clue how I'd managed it, or what to do next.
Scanning the page, I clicked something that looked promising: 'Search Members'. The computer flashed up a new message at me: 'Log in to access this feature. Not a member? Click here to start your Scarlet Secret experience!'
Damnit. This was more complicated than I thought. Hoping for the best, I clicked, and was prompted to input information. At least it seemed to be free…
Five minutes later, I had my own login: SemperFi12. SemperFi stemming from my days with the Corps, and 12 referring to the rule that was by now infamous in the office: never date a co-worker. It was the root of Tony and Kate's sexual frustration. If I was honest, my own, too.
Profile made, but with every category but 'name' and 'sex' still blank, I clicked the 'Search Members' link again. Into the box, I typed the screen-name from Abby's supposedly fake profile: Abby1600.
To my surprise, it actually worked. Abby's picture stared seductively out at me from the screen, so alluring it made my breath catch. Beside the picture was Abby's personal information, but different to that of the page she had pulled up in the squad room.
Sex: Look at my picture. You have to ask?
Into: Ecstasy at your command
Location: Under the morgue
Likes: Caffeine, tattoos, late nights, loud music, ducks, my boss
Dislikes: Boring people, boy bands, girl bands, seven foot tall guys who stand right in front of you at concerts
Fetishes: Handcuffs, older men, tattoos, authority figures
I sat back in my chair, letting out a slow breath as I stared at the words before me. I'd expected as much, but seeing it confirmed in black and white was something entirely different. I couldn't help but notice that although most of the information had been changed, I was still listed under 'likes'. Even as the knowledge enticed me, guilt at invading Abby's privacy was setting in.
As I made to shut off the internet, the computer beeped at me. 'You have 1 new message!' a bar at the top of the screen proclaimed. Apprehensive, I clicked the bar, and some kind of email-type thing appeared. The sender was Abby.
I froze for a moment, certain that my pseudonym was too obvious and that she knew who I was. Then, regaining a little composure, I began to read.
Just noticed you looking at my page and thought I'd say hi. You're new here, right? I would've noticed someone with a navy handle. Are you a Marine?
She could see who viewed her page? Even knowing as little as I did about the internet, I was pretty sure that wouldn't be a standard feature. Knowing her, she'd probably done some on-the-side hacking when she went undercover. Who knew what other information she had access to? She could be figuring out it was me right then.
My first instinct was to shut off the computer and hope she wouldn't become suspicious, but as common sense prevailed I figured that a short conversation followed by a polite goodbye would be less conspicuous. Slowly - was there any other way, with me? - I began to type a reply.
Good to meet you. Yeah, I'm new, and no, not in the Corps any more. Used to be, though. How're you doing?
As I sent the message, I heard her voice echo in my head. Well, it's sort of like having friends, only explicitly for sex. I didn't want to admit how welcome that would be.
Only a few seconds later, a message zinged back.
Well, welcome to Scarlet Secret. I kinda work for the navy, so I was curious. I'm good, thanks – caffeinated to the max and a little horny, can't complain. ;) A/S/L?
My imagination instantly went into overdrive, and I slammed down on it hard, cutting off most of the images I'd by now become adept at suppressing. A couple lingered, teasing at the corners of my brain, and I turned my mind to a more pressing matter to distract myself. What the hell does ';) A/S/L' mean?
After trying to puzzle it out for a good few minutes, I had to admit defeat. I was out of my depth. Though I knew it was risky to volunteer more specific information about myself, I typed a reply.
When I say I'm new, I mean new to the internet. You lost me with the ';) A/S/L' thing. Explain? You work for the navy – where are you based?
I knew I should be trying to end the conversation, but it was just too tempting to keep going. Shoving my conscience aside, I waited.
Oh, okay. I have to explain stuff to my technophobic boss all the time, so don't worry about it, it's cool. So, ;) is an emoticon. Tilt your head left and you should see a winking face. And :) would be a smile, :( would be an unhappy face, and so on. And A/S/L means age/sex/location. Your profile is pretty bare, so I thought I'd ask. I'd fill that in if I were you – you won't get many people talking to you if you don't.
Oh, and I'm an NCIS forensic scientist. I won't say where until I know you a little better, if that's okay with you.
I tilted my head left, and sure enough, there was the winking face I was supposed to see. Who thought of this stuff? Whoever it was, they were either a genius or completely crazy.
I pushed away the thought of Abby winking suggestively at me and began to formulate a reply.
Late forties/male/DC. A forensic scientist, huh? Sexy and smart. You like your job?
As I pressed the send button, I immediately regretted it, knowing I had crossed another line. Not only was I spying on Abby's personal life and pretending to be someone else, I was also openly flirting.
Her response was almost immediate.
Thanks! You seem pretty cool too. I do love my job. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. My boss is really hot, too – always a benefit! What do you do now you're out of the Corps?
Not for the first time that night, I was completely stunned. I had never imagined that Abby felt any kind of attraction to me, but there it was in immutable writing. I needed time to think about this.
Maybe I'll tell you when we've been talking a while longer. I need to get going in a few minutes. Thanks for your help. See you around!
Her reply was swift.
Okay then. I'll keep an eye out for you. You seem different from most people here – it's not often you get to have a conversation that doesn't totally revolve around sex, so thanks for that. Catch you later!
Before I could dig myself into an even deeper hole, I signed off.
"Hey, Kate!" I took a huge slurp of Caf-Pow! and perched on the edge of her desk. "How are you this wonderful morning?"
Kate looked up from her email with a smile. "Hi, Abby. You're in a good mood. New guy?"
My grin threatened to split my face in two as her words reminded me of last night. Even though – by my standards – hardly anything had passed between us, I couldn't help but think that SemperFi12 and I had some sort of connection. Whilst most people I met on Scarlet Secret started their conversations with 'What's your bra size?', he had been a perfect gentleman. I couldn't quite place what made him so attractive, but I knew I definitely wanted to get to know him better.
"Maybe," I answered Kate. "Too soon to tell though."
She arched an eyebrow at me. "What's he like?"
I wished I had more to tell her. "I don't know much yet. I met him on the internet, but he was different to all the other guys. Most of them just want to have cybersex, y'know?" Kate's blank face brought me up short. "You don't know."
She shifted in her chair, seeming a little embarrassed. "I prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. So, what does he look like?"
"I dunno. He didn't have a picture, and I didn't ask."
Kate leaned forward in her chair, clearly concerned. "I'd be careful, Abbs. He could be fifty or something."
Biting back laughter, I stood up. "He pretty much is, and he admitted to it straight off." Off her semi-horrified look, I shrugged. "It doesn't bother me, Kate."
"What doesn't?" My heart skipped a beat as Gibbs strode past, making for his desk.
Kate drew a breath to try to rescue me, but there was really no need. I knew my limits with Gibbs. "Older guys," I told him. "Whoa, Gibbs, you look tired."
He dropped into his chair, taking a gulp of coffee. "Didn't sleep well. That DNA in yet?"
A little stung by his snappiness, I checked my watch. "Any time now. I'll go check. Catch you later, Kate."
As Kate murmured a response, I headed for my lab. As the elevator descended, I sighed, feeling the after-effects of a sleepless night, myself. Truthfully? I'd trade all the SemperFi12s in the world for one night with Gibbs, but I knew that would never happen unless I dyed my hair red and started wearing more conventional outfits. In the absence of Gibbs, I'd take what I could get.
The DNA hadn't finished running yet, so to kill time I logged onto Scarlet Secret, checking to see if SemperFi12 was there. He wasn't, and I had no new messages. I sighed and closed the browser, wondering what he was doing right then. Of course, given thirty minutes I could find out the location of the computer he was using and perhaps even his name – the worm I put into the site the other day was totally worth the risk - but I wanted to wait until he felt like he was ready to tell me those things. I don't usually use my superpowers for evil.
As I hit the play button on my CD player, the computer beeped at me, throwing up a DNA result. Entering search parameters into the DMV database with one hand, I speed-dialled Gibbs with the other.
"The DNA finished. By the time you get down I'll have a picture."
"On my way," Gibbs said shortly, and hung up.
What's with him today?
The first things I did when I got home that night were to set a pot of coffee on to filter, and switch on my laptop. As I logged on to the Scarlet Secret site, I mused upon the day's events.
When I walked into the office this morning, it was obvious that Abby had been telling Kate about SemperFi12, not knowing my real identity. Now that I had an idea of how she felt about me, her remark about liking older guys, quickly followed up with a safe topic of conversation, seemed blindingly obvious to me. How had I missed her interest before? How had Kate, DiNozzo and McGee failed to notice it?
Trained investigator though I was, I had no answer to those questions. The only thing I could do was concentrate on acting as though nothing had happened. I wouldn't know how successful I had been until I spoke to Abby online.
'You have 1 new message!' the website announced with a cheery beep, and I clicked the text, trying to quell the anticipation I felt.
How's your day going? I'm writing this on my lunch break at work, just wondering if you feel like chatting later on. I should be online by about seven-thirty, unless a big case comes up – hope to catch you then.
I glanced at my watch: seven-fifteen. There'd been nothing to keep her at NCIS; in fact, I'd seen her leave just before I did.
I typed a short reply to her message, telling her I was there and would wait for her to appear, then went to pour myself a coffee. When I returned, a response was waiting for me.
Good to see you again! I was kinda thinking about you today, is that weird? I know we've hardly spoken and all… I just feel like I know you. Anyway, you feel confident enough to try a live chat? I can talk you through it…
I hesitated, the enormity of what I was doing hitting me once again. Abby saying she was thinking of 'me' – that was a good sign. Her feeling as if she knew 'me'… not so good. If she realised I was spying on her, I couldn't predict her reaction.
But what was the worst thing that could really happen? I'd known Abby for long enough to be sure she didn't hold grudges, even when they would have been justified. At worst, she'd be pissed at me for a couple of weeks, but the attraction we'd been hiding from each other would no longer be a secret, and that couldn't be a bad thing.
My mind made up, I began to type.
I was thinking about you, too. I'll try this chat thing, but it'll probably take a lot of explaining. If you're feeling patient, let's try this thing out.
Her reply took a little longer in coming this time. When it arrived, it was full of instructions. Over the next half-hour, she patiently guided me through the confusing setup process, and eventually a prompt flashed up. 'Do you want to start a chat with Abby1600?'
I clicked 'Yes' and a box appeared in the middle of the screen. Below, a cursor blinked on and off, waiting for my input, I guessed.
Tentatively, I typed, Did it work?
Yes! Way to go, SF12, we'll make a computer geek out of you yet! came the answer.
A sense of achievement flooding through me, I stifled a triumphant smile. My friend at work would be proud, I said, taking a risk, hardly caring. She's always trying to get me to use more technology.
Friend, or FRIEND?
Just a friend I work with. I guess maybe more than a friend to me, but she's out of my league.
You shouldn't think like that, Abby answered. Maybe she thinks the same about you, and you're just both secretly in love with each other or something but not acting on it.
Her words hit closer than I'd expected, and again I had to take a moment to consider my words before I answered. You sound like you're speaking from experience.
Remember I mentioned my boss yesterday? Same kind of situation. He's older than me by quite a bit and I've seen some of the women he usually dates, and they're all totally different from me. Sometimes I think he might be into me, but most of the time… I dunno. Is it the same with you and your friend?
By now it was impossible to ignore that I had nothing to lose by telling Abby how I felt about her. Letting a little more of my caution slip, I replied, She's younger than me by quite a bit, and a little on the extreme side. I think I'd be too tame for her.
Extreme? Abby asked. How extreme?
One word would give me away. I typed it slowly, staring at it for a second before hitting the send button. Goth.
For a long, drawn out minute, there was no response. Then, finally: Gibbs?!
Yet another reason why technology pisses me off: I had no idea what, aside from incredulity, Abby was feeling. Whether it was said with her trademark grin, or with a confused, hurt frown. Yeah, I typed, unwilling to say more until I could gauge her reaction.
I KNEW IT! :D
There was one of those face things. For the first time, I understood what they were really for.
Abby's words just kept coming. Well, no, I didn't KNOW it, but I knew you were someone I knew, just not from where, and I never dreamed that it'd be you, that you'd ever go online of your own free will or be able to find me even if you did. But I just ran a search on your profile through my so-not-illegal tracking system and it's you, it's really you! How did you find me?
That answer was simple at least. Relieved that she didn't seem angry, I told her, The Google thing.
Do you really mean all the things you said, or are you just being nice cause I've told you how I feel?
I could imagine her sitting on her couch, laptop balanced on her knees, biting her lip as she waited for my answer. Probably with her eyes screwed shut and her fingers crossed, awaiting the chime that signified a new message. The thought made me smile.
I mean it, Abbs.
There's a long pause, and then a reply. Sorry. The laptop fell off the couch. And you probably heard me yelling 'yay' from here!
I chuckled, wishing I had been there to witness it. I began a response, but she cut me off. So, Special Agent Gibbs, what are you wearing?
All thoughts fled my brain as I processed the question. I might not have known anything about computers, but I read the conversation logs Abby and McGee recovered from Laura Rowens' computer, and I knew exactly where this was heading. Same thing I was wearing earlier, Abbs. What are you wearing?
My fingers shaking slightly, I replied as quickly as I could, hardly able to believe that this was happening. My brain still hadn't fully grasped that this was Gibbs, talking to me, over a cybersex site, asking me what I was wearing, but I was damned if I was gonna let that interfere with the moment. Red studded dog collar, black fitted tee with the red devil-duck on it, black and red checked skirt, black bra and thong set. Was I really about to send that to Gibbs?
Before I could lose my nerve, I hit the enter key. He always took a while to reply – his typing had never been the fastest in the West and nothing much had changed in the last two days – so I tried to imagine where he was. His basement, maybe, sitting on the stairs that led up to the rest of his house, his bottle of bourbon beside him. Or his almost-empty living room, on the couch his last wife didn't have the room to take with her when she left.
Take the shirt off. The message cut through my reverie, and desire hit me like a slap in the face. I did as he asked, pulling the shirt over my head and letting it drop to the floor at my feet. By the time I looked back at the screen, there was a new message there. Now tell me what you want.
You, I wanted to tell him. All of you, anything, everything, everywhere, always. I didn't say it. It would have been too much, too fast. I want you here. I want you to push me up against the wall and pin my hands over my head, and kiss me until I can't breathe. And that's just for starters.
Precious second stretched on. I could see the icon at the bottom of the screen that signified Gibbs was typing a response, but it was gonna take a while. Maybe over the internet really wasn't the best place for this–
My cell began to ring beside me, startling me. Automatically, I picked it up and answered it, not bothering to check the caller ID. "Yeah?"
"Internet's too slow," a familiar voice said, and a fresh shock of anticipation tingled its way through my flesh.
"You can't blame the internet just because you can't type," I told Gibbs, grinning.
"Where are you?"
"In my living room," I answered softly.
"Go to your bedroom – the one with the bed, not the coffin – and get on the bed."
Setting aside the laptop carefully, I stood and left the room, taking the stairs two at a time. Once I was sitting in the centre of my bed, my legs curled under me, I spoke again. "I'm here."
"Good girl. Now take off that skirt and lie down."
"Yes, sir…" Completely under the spell of his voice, which managed to be both firm and reassuring and completely hot, all at once, I did. "Done."
"Hmm." I waited, but Gibbs remained silent. I stretched my legs and the arm that wasn't occupied by the phone to the corners of the bed, trying to ignore the ache of want within me. "Gibbs, you're killing me here!" I finally complained, and was rewarded with his laughter even as I realised that had been his intent all along.
"Just imagine," he said, faux nonchalantly. "I could sneak up on you while you're in the evidence lockup, drag you to the back where no one could see, push you up against the shelves and fuck you, so hard and fast you'd see stars… Would you like that, Abbs?"
"You know I would," I whispered, gripping the headboard with my free hand to avoid the temptation to touch myself. I want to draw this out for as long as possible… but at the same time, I need to fall, screaming, into orgasmic oblivion.
"Or I could find you at church… sit beside you in the back pew, slide my fingers up under your dress while the whole congregation is silent, listening to the sermon… I'd bring you right to the edge of coming and keep you there, until you were begging me for release, fingerspelling it over and over…"
The image was so powerful that I whimpered, twisting against the bedcovers as I fought to stay in control of myself. Gotta love a little blasphemy… I took my religion seriously, but that only made it all the hotter. "Oh my god, Gibbs, please don't do this to me!"
"You want to touch yourself?" he asked, his matter-of-fact tone replaced by a timbre so intense that it makes my skin break out in goosebumps.
"Please…" I begged again, not caring how pathetic I sounded.
"Then–" Gibbs pulled up short with an exasperated sigh, and when he spoke again, he seemed resigned. "There's someone at the door. I'll call you back, Abbs."
With a click, the line went dead, and I groaned aloud in frustration. Of all the times, why now?!
Taking deep breaths to calm myself, I sat up, placing my phone in an accessible position and trying to shove the images Gibbs had so successfully described to me to the back of my mind. They stubbornly refused to move. All I could think of was Gibbs, handcuffing me to the shelving units in the evidence lockup with his NCIS-issue cuffs…
After what seemed like forever, my cell rang, startling me out of the fantasy. "Geez, Gibbs, what took you so long?"
"Do you want to talk about that, or do you want to carry on where we left off?"
All my curiosity instantly vanished. "Good point."
I could hear the smile in his voice. "Where were we?"
I settled back against the pillows. "Well, I believe you had your hand up my dress in ch–"
My doorbell chimed, cutting off my words. You have got to be kidding me! "Sounds like you have company," Gibbs remarked dryly.
"I'm ignoring it," I told him. As if to tell me what they thought of that idea, whoever was at the door rang the bell again, and I growled my annoyance.
"Go answer it," Gibbs told me. "I can wait."
Sighing, I reached for my robe and headed for the stairs. "Okay, okay – I'll call you back in five." Tucking the phone into my robe pocket, I reached the door and looked through the peephole.
No one was there.
"Huh." Shrugging, I turned away, my hand already reaching for my cell. Just as I was about to dial, the bell rang again.
"God-damnit!" Once again, I looked through the peephole at the empty street. Okay, this is really starting to piss me off. Confused, I slid back the bolts and opened the door, taking one step outside to look around.
Gibbs stepped back into view of the peephole, raising a mischievous eyebrow at me. "I'd be careful stepping out into the street dressed like that, Abbs. You never know who might happen along."
My heart pounding, I took a step toward him. It was the first time I'd seen him, truly knowing how he felt about me. It made me feel shy and brazen and uncomfortable and ecstatic all at once. "There was no one at your house, was there?"
In response, Gibbs pulled me into his arms, his lips lingering against mine for long moments. When we broke the kiss, I was gasping, my entire body tingling. I couldn't speak, but I didn't need to. Taking his hand, I led him through my front door and locked it, my fingers clumsy against the bolts.
I want you here. I want you to push me up against the wall and pin my hands over my head, and kiss me until I can't breathe.
It was what I'd typed, less than an hour ago, a lifetime ago. I whispered it now, a reminder. And – oh, god – he did, catching my wrists with one hand and pressing them against the wall, keeping me pinned there with his entire body as he kissed me, hard enough to bruise. I revelled in the intensity of the moment, swaying dizzily as he drew away. His arms steadied me as they had for as long as I could remember, and I smiled up at him, my eyelids heavy with lust.
We never made it to the bedroom.