Summary: Tim withheld information about threatening letters sent to 'Thom E. Gemcity', and Abby was nearly killed by an obsessed fan... Gibbs is not impressed. Tag to Cover Story. Warning: spanking of adult. Don't like? Don't read!
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just play with 'em.
A/N: This is part of my discipline series and builds on the larger plot arc developed there, but should make sense on its own. Tag to Cover Story.
Warning: contains the non-sexual spanking of an adult. If you have a problem with that, click on that 'back' button now. You've been warned.
'Hang on, McGee.'
Tim froze, then slowly turned to face his boss. The case had been wrapped up, the evidence processed, the paperwork filed. Tony had already left. There was no reason for Gibbs not to allow him to go home to get some much-needed sleep. Especially since they'd just worked through the night lawyer-proofing the small deforestation that accompanied any arrest, and they'd all been told to take the day off to rest and regroup.
'I want to know why.'
Gibbs's tone had Tim instantly alert. He could tell that he was in trouble, but he wasn't entirely sure why or how much. Gibbs didn't blame him for writing a story, did he? It wasn't his fault that an obsessed fan decided to act it out, and to kill off various 'characters' in a misguided effort to change the outcome of the fictional events. Surely Gibbs would understand that. Wouldn't he?
'Why what, Boss?'
'Why you decided not to tell me that you were getting threatening letters.'
Oh. That. Gibbs had been surprisingly understanding when Tim had not gone to him about his sister thinking she might have killed someone. But that had been different. That had been about protecting his family. And Gibbs, of all people, could relate to that instinct.
But not telling Gibbs something that affected the safety of a member of his team? When Gibbs looked out for his people with all the fierceness of a Marine protecting his unit? This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.
'I, uh, didn't think there was any real threat... so... there was nothing to report.'
'I decide whether a threat is worth worrying about, McGee.'
'Which means I need to know about every threat, whether you feel inclined to take it seriously or not.'
'Uh, sure, Boss. It won't happen again.'
'Damn straight it won't. I thought we'd already dealt with you endangering your team mates.'
Tim flushed, remembering all too clearly how Gibbs had 'dealt' with him the last time Abby had almost been killed.
But, this time, it wasn't his fault. He hadn't told Gibbs about the threatening letters his publisher had received addressed to his nom de plume. But those hadn't been written by the psychotic fan who had threatened to kill Abby. They were actually a publicity stunt concocted by his publisher, without his knowledge. The two things were completely unrelated. Surely Gibbs would see that. Wouldn't he?
'But... the letters were hoaxes. I was right about there not being any threat there.'
'And if you had reported them when they were received, we would already have known they were hoaxes. And we wouldn't have wasted valuable time following that false lead when there was a real threat.'
Oh. Right. Maybe he had screwed up there.
'I... uh... I didn't really think of that. Ssss...'
Tim barely stopped himself from apologising. Gibbs hated apologies.
'It won't happen again.'
Gibbs said nothing, but looked meaningfully at him.
'You...you're n...n...not going to spank me for that, are you?' Tim asked, wide-eyed. Paling slightly, he took a step backwards before continuing, horrified, 'Oh God... you are...'
Gibbs had only spanked him once before. It had been extraordinarily painful, reducing him to tears and leaving him unable to sit comfortably. It had also been emotionally devastating, destroying his self-image as the 'good child' who had never needed to be punished and making him doubt whether his mentor would ever be able to trust him again. He'd finally worked through the jumble of emotions he felt about the experience and thought he had come to terms with his boss's unorthodox discipline style, but now, faced with the reality of another spanking, he found himself reluctant to accept the reprimand.
He continued to back up until he bumped into his own desk. Gibbs was suddenly at his side.
'Don't think about it, Tim. Worrying is just gonna make it worse. Let's get it over with. C'mon.'
McGee let the firm hand on his arm spin him around to face his desk and he leaned over it in a daze. He screwed his eyes shut, wishing he could close his ears as well, and block out the terrifying sound of Gibbs removing his belt. A moment later he felt his arm being pulled behind his back, and struggled against the rising panic. His stomach was somersaulting dangerously and he could feel his heart pounding in his chest.
But Gibbs was right; the fear wasn't as overwhelming as it had been the first time he'd been spanked, when he'd had time to think about what was coming and work himself into a genuine anxiety attack about it.
It was only when the first stroke of the belt blazed across his ass that he recognised that the absolute terror he'd felt last time had actually had a beneficial effect. Emotionally, it had been so much worse... but the adrenaline rush produced by his body's 'flight or fight' response to a perceived crisis had provided a measure of natural pain relief, although he hadn't realised it at the time. This, unbelievably, hurt more than the first whipping he'd endured at his boss's hands.
And not having time to mentally prepare for the ordeal also meant that he hadn't been able to talk himself into accepting the spanking. He respected Gibbs deeply, was completely devoted to him and trusted him absolutely. In theory at least, he was willing to submit to punishment by him.
But this time his latent acquiescence wasn't strengthened by a conscious decision to take the consequences of his behaviour. And he wasn't consumed by guilt this time. He recognised now that he'd been wrong, but he hadn't been thinking about it at all until Gibbs pointed it out to him. He certainly hadn't spent the last couple of hours thinking about how he deserved to be whipped. And each new explosion of pain further weakened his determination to accept his mentor's discipline.
Finally, no longer able to resist the instinct to escape from the source of his agony, he struggled against the hand holding him down. McGee was a trained federal agent. But Gibbs was a Marine, and had the position of advantage as well as greater skill; McGee didn't stand a chance.
'Stop fighting me, Tim. I don't want to hurt you.'
You don't want to hurt me? THEN STOP HITTING ME!
A moment later, a horrified Tim wondered if he'd actually spoken the words out loud. He didn't actually snap flippantly at his boss, while he was whipping him, no less? Did he?
Tim groaned, trying desperately to force his body to stay motionless and waiting, terrified, for any response from Gibbs to his maybe-outburst.
But there was no reaction other than an astonishingly painful stroke of his boss's belt. Tim screamed in anguish.
He had tried to accept the idea that he'd probably be spanked again, and had promised himself that he'd get through the experience less embarrassingly next time. He'd imagined himself calmly submitting to his next punishment, stoically enduring the spanking without fuss. So much for that fantasy, he realised glumly.
Another searing lash reminded him that this was no abstract conception of penance that he was currently faced with, but a very real and very painful whipping. Tim sobbed, certain he could stand no more. Finally, it stopped.
Tim struggled to catch his breath, not even trying to rise from his prone position. He heard Gibbs speaking to him but couldn't make out the words. When he finally raised his head and wiped his sleeve roughly across his face, he found he was alone.
Slowly and painfully getting to his feet, he stumbled to the restroom to tidy himself up. He'd leave his car at the Navy Yard, he decided, and take the bus – standing up! At home, an ice pack, soothing gel, and a bottle of pain-killers were waiting for him. He had, at least, achieved one of his 'next time' goals; his spanking preparedness kit was all set.
As he left the head a few minutes later, he glanced up at the MTAC balcony and saw Gibbs watching him, an unidentifiable expression on his face. Tim hesitated, unsure what was expected of him. Gibbs jerked his head in the direction of the elevators, silently giving him permission to leave to lick his wounds.
With a nod and an awkward wave, Tim kept walking, torn between his desire to flee and an unexpected urge to seek his boss's absolution.
He kept his eyes fixed straight ahead, forcing himself not to look back. No matter how much Tony tried to convince him that Gibbs was the 'dad' to the team's 'family', he could not imagine his boss offering him the sort of affirmation he craved.
Knowing that Gibbs trusted him to do his job was as close to an 'I forgive you' as he'd get. It was enough, he thought, trying hard to believe it, as he stepped into the elevator.