AN: Takes place season 6 after Agent Afloat.
Story disclaimer: I don't own NCIS. Seriously.
Warnings, etc: Slash threesome. If that's not your bag of chips, please exit now. Mature content to come eventually, but will be posted elsewhere.
It's a Monday like any other Monday.
For all intents and purposes, nothing is particularly different as he strolls out of the elevator, coffee in hand, water still dripping into his eyes from the torrential downpour that is not out of the ordinary for September in D.C.. The fact that it's been raining for three days straight is enough to dampen anyone's mood, especially at the start of a week, but if luck holds they won't have any new cases today that will be sending them outside in the chilling start of fall air. The last thing he needs is a cold. The last thing DiNozzo needs is a cold.
The younger agent is sitting at his desk typing furiously away, concentrating on the screen in front of him, and Gibbs has to roll his eyes. He knows the only reason Tony looks like he's doing any work at all is because Gibbs just walked into the room, but he lets it slide. Tony's been… off the past few days, the past few weeks if he lets himself admit that he's been watching out for Tony's health that long, and the fact that he's up to the usual DiNozzo antics that have been for the most part on the down low as of late is reassuring.
He takes a moment to survey the rest of the pen, not surprised to find Ziva missing. He's had her wandering through archives (paper archives, no less, and he's sure he's earned himself some grumbling, snarky remarks for that one) for the past half week. No new cases means work on old cases, and the FBI has been as unhelpful as ever with ponying up possibly relevant information for cases that they couldn't solve themselves, even if said cases were absolutely NCIS jurisdiction.
McGee is slumped over at his desk, as intent on the computer before him as Tony, but Gibbs doesn't doubt that McGee is actually working. Not because computers are his life, which they are, but because he's still not sure about whether or not Gibbs is mad at him after Friday's fiasco with the spilled Mochaccino and Chinese carry out.
He's not; he was never really mad in the first place. The coffee had been lukewarm and he'd been on his way out the door anyway, but he's not about to tell McGee that and ruin this burst of unasked for productivity. Maybe someone will actually solve a case this way. And if McGee does, then Gibbs can stop pretending to be mad and pretend that McGee has earned his way back into Gibbs' good graces instead. He'll give Gibbs that goofy puppy dog grin, and maybe it'll be contagious and put Tony in a better mood, too. Those two have been pretty close as of late.
If he's honest with himself he's almost a little bit jealous. Not necessarily of their relationship – he would never scoff at something that makes Tony a little less likely to run off and a little more likely to settle down into a comfortable routine that doesn't freak him out – but maybe it is the relationship. But really, it's not, and it sounds like he's going in circles in his own head, but the explanation for it is just out of reach. He's not jealous of DiNozzo, or of McGee, but of the fact that they can make each other happy in a way that had belonged previously almost exclusively to him for the both of them.
It used to be him that would make Tony's sleazy smirk turn into a genuine smile with a simple, elusive 'Good job, DiNozzo.' It used to be him that could have McGee beaming with a compliment to his computer prowess when it led to a particularly helpful breakthrough on a nasty case, as far between as the encouraging words might be. And he can still do that, still does do that, but now there's a bond between the two of them that he feels like he almost has to compete with. He finds himself giving out kind words more and more often these days, and has to hold them back sometimes lest he ruin his reputation.
Well, maybe he doesn't have to, but it's a silly, childish game he's playing, and the urge to win the affection of two men that are supposed to be his team and nothing more sounds stupid even in the privacy of his own head.
He ignores the sneaky glances that Tony is sending his way, trying to judge Gibbs' mood more than likely. Gibbs flicks on his computer, checks his email, deletes a forward from DiNozzo that will surely make him stupider if he reads it. Tony is still trying to be sly, and Gibbs does roll his eyes finally.
"DiNozzo," he barks; Tony shoots straight up in his seat and Gibbs has to bite back the smile that threatens to tug at his mouth.
"Report," he says, a little softer, and Tony clears his throat, shuffles papers around his desk for a few moments, just barely long enough to begin to get on Gibbs nerves.
"Er," Tony starts, but Gibbs cuts him off with a sigh.
"McGee," McGee lifts his eyes to meet Gibbs own, but only after flitting nervously to Tony first.
"Report," Gibbs repeats, and he knows McGee will not hesitate, even if it makes Tony look like a moron. Gibbs almost feels bad. Almost.
"Sure, Boss," McGee says, pretending like nothing is out of the ordinary and Gibbs hadn't called Tony out first.
To be fair, it really isn't exactly out of the ordinary. Gibbs doesn't even really care that Tony's been screwing off all morning. McGee is click clacking at his keyboard in rhythmic staccato, and then pictures are popping up on the LCD beside Gibbs desk. Pictures of things that Gibbs had hoped he wouldn't have to look at again, but knew he would eventually. Nasty case. Two marines and some sort of weird acid that ate away enough evidence to destine the crime to the cold case file almost as soon as they reached the crime scene.
Tony is looking away – he's been more squeamish lately – but Gibbs doesn't say anything. Just watches as McGee highlights something in the picture and pulls up another next to it. Gibbs sees where he's going with this, and knows that the lead is a tiny one, but it's better than none, and he nods.
"Good job, McGee. Find Ziva and go talk to the sister again. You know the drill," he says, and McGee blessedly removes the pictures from the scene and starts packing up his gear and dialing Ziva's cell phone.
Tony looks a little hurt, but he doesn't say anything. Gibbs wants to sigh again. He hates it when something is bothering his team, and especially hates it when something is bothering DiNozzo. He could probably leave it, assume that McGee will be able to take care of whatever it is that is ailing Tony, but he doesn't like assuming, and is man enough to admit to himself that yeah, sometimes he still likes to solve all of life's little problems for Tony.
He closes out his email and locks his computer before standing up and dumping his empty coffee cup in the trash. "DiNozzo, you're with me."
"Sure thing, Boss," Tony says, and this time Gibbs is not so successful in hiding his smile when Tony's whole demeanor perks up. DiNozzo's face is pretty much as close to glowing as it can get without actually lighting up, and he shoots McGee a patented DiNozzo grin, toothy and cocky and Tony. He hopes it outshines his own enough that no one notices.
"Later, McProbie. Enjoy Ziva's death driving," he snarks, and McGee pretends not to hear him, intent on the conversation he's not yet having on the phone.
"Where to, Boss? Got a good lead? Listen, sorry about my lack of awesome response a minute ago. You know, it's still early and all, but I've got something really good, you just caught me at a bad time. Oh, hey Ziva," Tony rambles on the way to the elevator, waving at David as she makes her way to her desk, phone buzzing in her hand.
She waves the phone at McGee from the elevator, and smiles at Tony and Gibbs. "Too much coffee, Tony," is her response before she brushes past, and Gibbs would agree if he hadn't noticed the lack of paper coffee cups in the vicinity of Tony's work space.
The elevator dings and Gibbs walks in, Tony on his heels. "Recon. People watching," he answers.
"Who are we watching, Boss?" Tony asks after they're seated by the window in a warm café four blocks from the office, looking out over the slick black streets and dreary Monday faces of the crowd.
They've each got a blissfully steaming cup in front of them, Tony with a meterosexual hazelnut double latte and Gibbs with just plain coffee, and the water has finally stopped dripping into Gibbs' eyes again. This time he doesn't answer Tony at all, just stares first out at the street and then at Tony. Dinozzo doesn't say anything else, but Gibbs can tell it's killing him. Tony has a hard time keeping his mouth shut when it's just the two of them, even if he's been increasingly reserved when the whole team is around. Gibbs has to wonder what he's like when he's alone with McGee.
"What time did you get in this morning, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asks, looking back out the window.
Tony hesitates. "Uh, I dunno, Boss. 'Bout the same time as McGee, I guess."
"Want to guess again?" McGee's coat, hung next to his desk, had still been uncomfortably drippy and working on a wet floor safety hazard when Gibbs had walked in, his hair plastered almost comically to his face. Tony had been totally dry.
"Uhm. Ok. Sure," Tony starts, and he shifts under Gibbs' now focused gaze. "Maybe… four?"
"Jesus, DiNozzo," Gibbs hisses, and wants to take it back when Tony slumps in his seat, averting his eyes.
Tony's been in early for the past two weeks straight. Gibbs knows this for various reasons, but mainly because he knows Tony, and knows his habits, and it doesn't take much to set off the DiNozzo alarm in his head. Whatever sort of relationship DiNozzo's been forging with McGee, it's not enough to keep all of his demons at bay, and ever since Tony got back from the USS Seahawk, he's been sending out crazy, subconscious 'help me' vibes that Gibbs has been trying in vain to field.
But now Tony is clamming up, and Gibbs won't be able to get anything else real out of him for the rest of the day most likely. He sighs softly, looks Tony over, bloodshot eyes, messy hair, and fights back the urge to reach across the table and pull the younger man into a hug. Fights the urge to treat Tony like a kid – God, he's not kid, that's for sure – and instead just sits in silence for too long on NCIS' dime. Tony's not really working on anything big, and neither is he. Ziva and McGee can pick up their slack for today.
Tony visibly relaxes after a good twenty minutes of just sitting there, and he eventually starts to talk about this or that inane thing while Gibbs listens, quiet. Tony's not talking about anything important, not talking about what's bothering him, but maybe he's forgetting for a little while, which is all the comfort Gibbs knows how to offer him right now.
He finishes off his second coffee and stands up, stretches, when it seems like Tony is running out of things to ramble about. "C'mon," he says. "I'll buy lunch."
Tony looks at him a little suspicious. "It's only eleven, Boss. Shouldn't we maybe… I don't know. Head back and do some work?"
Gibbs quirks an eyebrow DiNozzo's way and just shakes his head. He lets a hand drop to Tony's shoulder as he walks past and gives it a reassuring squeeze. He's not even sure who he's trying to reassure, but Tony is warm under his palm, muscles relaxed like Gibbs knows he hasn't been at work in too long. "Whatever, DiNozzo. Let's go."
He ends up buying lunch for the whole team and Tony helps him carry it back to work. The rain is letting up just enough that the paper bags are enough to keep everything warm and dry, and neither Ziva nor McGee mentions their absence for most of the morning.
It is McGee, not Tony, that Gibbs watches while they eat. He watches as McGee's eyes flick over to Tony every couple minutes, even though they're each working on what is supposedly a separate case. He watches as McGee's eyes eventually wander across to Gibbs, and the younger man looks away, embarrassed, when he catches Gibbs watching back. His computer dings softly as a new email comes in, and he smirks at the sender: McGee, Timothy. Subject: Nice Job, Boss. The body of the email is empty, and he hits reply, impressed that McGee had the courage to send that at all.
He types out an Anytime McGee and hits send before taking another bite of the Italian sub that is almost demolished on his desk. His phone rings as another email comes in – Abby is on the line, excited about a breakthrough with the new evidence that Ziva brought her earlier – and he opens it up before he first heads out to grab a CafPow and then make his way to Abby's lab.
I know. it says, and Gibbs locks eyes with McGee before he grabs his coat. McGee doesn't look away this time, holds his gaze steady, and Gibbs mouth twitches upwards. He's got himself some good boys, he thinks, and heads out towards the rain one more time.