Asking Questions, Finding Answers
By Gunnery Sergeant
A/N: This story deals with a BDSM theme, but in a different way from all the stories I've read so far.
It's almost "canon" that Gibbs is the ultimate uber Dom and, in a way, it's true. However, in this story, I started from a very different premise: what if Gibbs wasn't comfortable with BDSM? What if he couldn't understand it?
Gibbs' views in this story, right or wrong as they might be (remember, they are just personal opinions) are strong, but as you will see, he isn't blinded by them.
This story isn't meant to be a form of criticism toward other writers or toward those who practice this life style. I'm not making any kind of "Don't like = wrong" statement and I hope no one will be offended by this, because it wasn't in my intentions to offend anyone. I just wanted to try something different.
That said, I hope you will give a chance to this "outside the chorus" story and enjoy the beginning of the Gibbs-Tony partnership…and in the end, if I wasn't completely mistaken, it will turn out that Gibbs understands far more of the BDSM dynamics than he realizes…
Oh, as I final note, this story can be seen as gen or Tibbs pre-slash. You decide. :)
Baltimore, February 2001
Leroy Jethro Gibbs could count on the fingers of one hand the places where he had felt uncomfortable. Most of them had been in Stillwater, before he left the town for good, become a Marine and found the confidence he had lacked as teenager.
So it had been an unwelcome surprise to discoverer he could still feel that sensation of unease and desire to leave he thought he had relegated to his past—and all because of this place.
Its name was Sensual Delights and it was one of those clubs you would never know they existed unless someone had first told you where to look.
Gibbs had known places like this one existed, but he had always thought he would never set a foot inside one.
Never say never, someone very wise had once said, and they had been right, because Gibbs was now a habitué at the Sensual Delights.
Well, in truth the habitué was Derek Heller, his undercover persona, a former Marine turned drug dealer. His task was to bust an organization, allegedly involving high-raking Navy officers that smuggled opium from the Middle East using US ships and planes.
His investigations had led him to Terry Crockett, who acted as mediator between the organization and the buyers. During several months of contacts, Gibbs had managed to convince Crockett he was trustworthy and with a wide net of contacts, the perfect distributor for the smuggled opium.
Now the game was almost over. Crockett was waiting for a phone call from his bosses, to organize a meeting between them and Derek Heller, a meeting Gibbs planned to attend in company of a good number of NCIS agents.
But first he had to know when and where. That was why he sat on a stool near the counter of the Sensual Delights, Crockett's favorite meeting place, sipping his drink, as the drug mediator kept himself entertained by flogging someone.
The club had several private chambers - Gibbs didn't even want to imagine what was going on inside them – plus a sort of stage, where those who liked to perform for a public could go to and "play".
Gibbs winced as Crockett's companion cried out and he turned around to see who it was this time. He was surprised to see it was the same guy Crockett had worked on the previous night. It was a tall young man in his late twenties or maybe early thirties and while Gibbs had seen him several times in the past two months, he had never attended the club two nights in row.
Gibbs gritted his teeth when he heard another cry, then resolutely turned his back to the stage, unable to keep watching as other patrons did. He was just grateful his Derek Heller's persona was allowed to feel and show the same disgust he felt. The only difference was that while Heller felt contempt for weak, needy people, just like Crockett did, Gibbs' real disgust was directed more to those who exploited them. It was a great relief not to have to fake an enjoyment he did not, could not feel.
During his first visits to the club, while he was waiting for Crockett, Gibbs had been approached by a patron who, evidently having noticed his unease at what he was seeing, had tried to explain to him how things worked in the BDSM world. The guy had told Gibbs there was no exploiting and all the players knew what they were doing and wanted what was done to them. But personally Gibbs couldn't understand what the patrons of the club found so appealing. More, to be perfectly frank, he didn't want to understand. As far as he was concerned there was something twisted, unhealthy, even perverse in these practices, and nothing on Earth would ever make him think differently.
This strong belief was mainly due to the fact that Gibbs knew how a bull whip felt on his back. During his last op as a Marine in Columbia, he had been wounded, captured and tortured by drug dealers. Back in those days so soon after Shannon and Kelly's deaths, he had harbored a strong death wish. He had often hoped a bullet would put an end to his pain and anguish. Yet, when the whip had bitten into his flesh, his survival instinct had kicked in, and made him react and escape.
Survival instinct: every creature fled from pain, it was a natural response-- but not for these people here, who seemed to enjoy it, most of them even getting off after a scene. The only one who never came was the young man currently at Crockett's mercy. Gibbs wondered if he found any pleasure in it or if he had other reasons to do it.
As for the other side of the dynamic, the Doms, as that man had called them, well, Gibbs could understand that a bit more. Most people liked to give orders, to be in control of others. Having been part of a chain of command, he knew true leaders first had to learn how to take orders before giving them and he wondered if it were the same for these Doms.
That guy explained that Doms, no matter how hard they could be during a scene, always did what theirs subs wanted, what their subs needed. However, the man had also grimaced when Gibbs had asked him about Crockett during a subsequent visit, and then muttered the drug dealer wasn't exactly a model Dom. In fact, when the guy had realized Gibbs wasn't Crockett's friend, just a business associate, he had come up and said aloud that with a behavior like that, Crockett would have been banned from every other club. He was allowed to play at the Sensual Delights only because he had some kind of hold over the owner, and the subs attending the place were warned beforehand about him and what they would and wouldn't get if they played with him.
As he heard the young man cry out again, the NCIS agent wondered once again if he had been warned too…
Gibbs turned his at the door of the club was opened and watched as a middle aged couple stepped inside the club, the lights glinting on their wedding bands.
During the past three months, Gibbs had seen several married couples come to the club. That was probably the thing that had shocked him most. How could someone cause pain to the one they loved even if they asked for it? He had tried to picture himself doing some of the things he had seen to any of his wives, even to Diane, and promptly became nauseous.
On the other hand, he wouldn't have minded dragging his ex-wives to a mini boot camp and then pushing them as hard as his DI had him, barking orders as he watched them run, do push-ups, jump over logs and crawl in the mud...Oh yes, that would have been such a fun...
Shaking his head at the absurdity of the idea, Gibbs turned around to see what was going on the stage. A bound woman had replaced the young man of before and Crockett was walking toward the counter, talking on his cell phone.
Gibbs straightened. Was it the call they were waiting for? He locked eyes with the drug mediator and the man nodded.
"Next week. Friday evening, 10:30, here," Crockett said casually getting into Gibbs' personal space. "I'm leaving, Heller. See you next in two days and do not screw-up or you can consider yourself dead."
Gibbs just smirked and raised his glass in salute. Then he paid his tab and stood up. It was time to leave. He took a good look at the club, happy that it would soon be part of this past.
The mission would be over and Gibbs would become the leader of the NCIS Major Crime Response Team. Director Morrow had told him he would be allowed to choose the people he wanted to work with, and he looked forward to his new responsibilities, tasks and challenges.
He strode toward the exit but his steps faltered when he saw the young man Crockett had topped slumped face down on a couch, still stripped to the waist.
Gibbs stopped near the couch and looked down. The guy seemed even younger with his hair all sweaty and ruffled, and it tugged at his heart. He almost raised his eyes to the sky when he felt something he had not experienced in a very long time.
Since the moment he had become a drill instructor, Gibbs had felt an attraction to the "difficult ones" as he called them—perhaps because at seventeen, when he had joined the Corps, he too had been one.
He had had the skills to spot at first glance the most problematic among the recruits – which wasn't that difficult – and to know what he had to do to set them straight. His colleagues had sometimes teased him for it, but he had never cared. It was his duty to teach the men under his command all the skills they would need to stay alive in a combat situation, and he didn't care about what the others thought of his methods to get the job done.
In truth, he had never known exactly what he had done that was so special he had ended up with being assigned all those men who showed promise but whose potential was hindered by attitude problems. He hadn't coddled his men. He hadn't been kind. He hadn't spared shouts and punishments. He had been demanding, abrasive, hard to please, just like all the other DI's. But he had instinctively known what to ask, how to ask, how push to get it in way that had made those kids straighten up and become Marines.
Now that same instinct made him wonder once again why this man came to the club so often and why he didn't seem to receive the same pleasure the other subs did.
Circling the couch, he came in full view of the stretched man and cringed when he saw the condition of his back. Crockett had worked him hard, and the skin was reddened, covered with raised welts, some of them fresh, but others looking older, because the guy hadn't had given himself the time to recover and heal from the previous night.
As he watched, Gibbs saw the man shiver. Of course he was cold, it was just February and the air that entered from outside every time the door was opened was chilly. It was time to get the guy dressed.
He reached out with a hand and shook the man by his shoulder, "Hey, wake up."
The younger man opened weary green eyes and mumbled, "Don't wanna..."
"You must. The place is closing down."
"Yeh, oh. Come on, roll on your side, I'll help you to sit up."
"'Cause I want to do it—and stop questioning everything I say. I just want to help you."
The younger man rolled on his side and Gibbs helped him to sit up. Then he looked around until he spotted a set of abandoned clothes on a chair. He retrieved them and handed them to the other guy, watching as he struggled painfully to put his shirt on.
Then the man stood up, staggering badly as he turned as white as a sheet.
Gibbs recognized a sugar level drop when he saw one. He looked around for something that could help the other, but the bartender had already locked down the counter and gone away.
"Come on," he said, taking the man by his elbow, "I'm taking you home."
"No need...I'll take a cab at the nearby parking."
"Like hell you will," Gibbs growled. "I've seen the people who hang there at night. They'd slit your throat for a few dollars."
The guy stared at him, his eyes managing to look both confused and sharp at the same moment.
"You're good at giving orders, would make a nice top...but you don't play. I know what."
"Play?" Gibbs snorted as he led the other toward the exit, "My definition of "playing" doesn't include what happens in this damned place or what Crockett just did to your back."
The younger man let himself be led as he answered, "It's not "play" like in "playing a game". It's "play" like in "playing a part". We all play a role here—a role we choose to play."
They walked in silence toward Gibbs' car, and once there, he opened the back door, "Lay on the seat. I don't think you can sit with that back of yours." The guy nodded and crawled inside without uttering a word.
"Where to?" Gibbs asked when he was sitting behind the steering wheel. He had to strain his ears to understand the mumbled address, but was relieved when he realized the place was just a few blocks away from the apartment where he had been living for the past few months.
The ride was a silent one, and when Gibbs pulled by a one-story house, he discovered his passenger had passed out. Sighing, he searched the man's jacket pockets for his keys. Once he found them, he pulled the guy out of the car and, with a bit more of an effort he would like to admit, swung him over his shoulder and carried him to the house.
Once inside, Gibbs quickly located the bedroom and lowered the man on the mattress with a sigh of relief. After he straightened – damn, his back was going to feel this for a couple of days – he considered what to do next.
He had no obligations toward this guy, and even if he was unconscious, his pulse was strong and regular, and he was breathing fine. No need to call for medical help or be worried. He could leave the keys on the nightstand and walk away.
But his damned protective instinct had kicked in and couldn't let him just do that. First he needed to make sure the guy would drink something and put some sugar in his bloodstream.
Cursing under his breath and barely resisting the urge to head slap himself, Gibbs found the kitchen and poured some water into a glass. As he looked for the sugar, his eyes spotted a wallet and what looked like a badge. It was a Baltimore PD badge, which belonged to an Anthony DiNozzo, a homicide detective.
Gibbs frowned. He couldn't understand it. A cop going to Sensual Delights to be treated like that almost every night? In truth he had no idea of what kind of people attended the club, but he had never expected a law enforcement officer would be among them.
Reminding himself it wasn't his business, that DiNozzo was not one of the "difficult ones" of his past, he found the sugar, put some tea spoons of in the water, stirred it and then returned to the bedroom.
DiNozzo had regained his senses and had rolled onto his left side, and his eyes showed relief when he saw Gibbs, "Was about to stand up and see who was in the kitchen..."
Gibbs nodded, helped him to sit up and then gave him the glass, "Drink it."
"What is it?" DiNozzo asked, sniffing at the glass.
"Sugared water," he answered, impatient. Then, as the younger man finally began to drink, he observed the room, looking for something out of place...well, he wasn't really expecting to find a sign with "I LIKE TO BE FLOGGED UNTIL I PASS OUT", but he still had to reconcile with the fact a normal guy like this one, a cop, could behave like that.
"What are you looking for?" DiNozzo asked, his voice sounding a bit stronger.
Gibbs turned around, "What's the reason a cop does what you do."
DiNozzo stiffened, and a flash of fear crossed his face, "How do you know?"
"Saw your badge in the kitchen. But don't worry, you're safe with me. 'Don't ask, don't tell' works in this situation too."
"But for the fact you're asking and want me to tell," DiNozzo replied with a small smile.
"Yeh, I do." Gibbs sat on a chair near the wall and asked, "What pushes you?"
DiNozzo shrugged, "My job."
Gibbs frowned as he elaborated, "Rough cases? The brutality you see every day?" They were the first things he could think of, because they were familiar to him.
DiNozzo looked at him, surprised, "Something like that."
"There're other ways to exorcise inner demons..."
Gibbs smirked, "Building boats in a basement."
DiNozzo's eyes widened, "You kidding?"
The other man shook his head, "It wouldn't work for me. I don't need to forget...I need to be taken down, to be taught my place, so I won't insult my superiors and-"
"Won't be expelled?"
"No...not that. Do you read the newspapers?" Gibbs nodded. "Remember the serial pedophile we caught two months ago?" The NCIS agent nodded again, encouraging the younger man to go on.
"Well, something had made my hair stand up when I had interviewed the man about his neighbor, who was a possible suspect. I wanted to bring him in for more questioning, but the lieutenant said no. Said no, 'cause I'm insubordinate and don't respect authority. He couldn't care less about my instinct, not after he heard me mock him in the locker room." DiNozzo took a deep breath. "As result, the bastard raped three more little girls before he was finally caught. One was just eight...They could have been spared that nightmare if my superiors hadn't considered me a hothead and a troublemaker."
Gibbs tapped the side of his face with his finger as he spoke, "You won't be a cop for long if you keep on doing this. Someone will notice the marks on your back, especially if you let Crockett beat you again. The skin is torn and bleeding in a few spots." He stood up and walked closer to the bed, forcing DiNozzo to raise his head to keep looking at his face.
"I think that instead of asking people to beat you down, you should ask yourself why you're so insubordinate. Why you don't like authority. Find those answers and you'll find a way to resolve your problems." Gibbs fished out a notepad and pen from his inner pocket and scrabbled his name and work address. "Come to visit me here when you find those answers; I'd like to hear them." He gave the piece of paper to the other man, who frowned upon reading it.
"NCIS? What is it?"
"Navy Cops," Gibbs answered, putting away his notepad, "I advise you not to visit the Sensual Delights for the next few days."
"Some kind of op?"
"Yep." He looked at the seated man. "Find those answers, DiNozzo," he said seriously at him. "Your life might depend on it."
Speaking so, he walked away from the bedroom and the house.
He had done what he could for DiNozzo. He wasn't his DI or CO, he wasn't even a friend.
He just liked that young man and thought he had potential. His gut told him so, but it had yet to be seen if he would ever reach it...
Washington DC, March 2001
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was sitting at his desk in NCIS HQ. He had two piles of personnel files in front of him, the ones he had already read and the ones he still had to read.
The undercover mission had been completed three weeks before and after the post-op debriefings had ended, he had been given time to rest and return to be himself, time he had spent mostly working on his boat.
Now feeling fully recharged, Gibbs had thrown himself in the search of the agents he wanted in his team. He planned to add a member at time, so, at least for a while, the Major Case Response Team would consist of only two people.
The elevator dinged, announcing he was no longer alone in the office, but he didn't look to see who it was until someone stopped in front of his desk.
He raised his eyes from the file he was reading and it took all of his control not to show his surprise.
Anthony DiNozzo was there, looking at him with an expression that was both smug and hesitant.
"Detective DiNozzo," he greeted the younger man as he stood up.
"Agent Gibbs—and I'm no longer a detective."
Gibbs arched an eyebrow but didn't comment.
DiNozzo toyed with the visitor pass attached to his jacket, and then he said, "I found those answers."
"Yes, I did." The younger man paced in the squad room for a couple of minutes, and then returned by his desk. "I've realized my insubordination stems by the fact I don't like to take orders from idiots, from people who climbed the ladder because of their political ties, or that just want to see their faces on the TV news." DiNozzo paused, took a deep breath and pressed on. "I've looked at your files. Enlisted Marine, came from a small town. You climbed the ranks both in the USMC and here due to your skills. You're not like them. I think I'd like to take orders from you." He smiled broadly, showing all of his teeth, but Gibbs saw the need and the hope in his eyes.
Anthony DiNozzo, just like many of his difficult kids wanted someone to look up...and he wanted to belong. He wanted to please. He wanted approval. He wanted to trust.
Gibbs wondered if he was willing to deal with all of it; to start training him almost from scratch instead of choosing one of the already experienced agents whose files he had been reading? Yeah, he was. He liked challenges, but most of all he hated waste. DiNozzo had potential and it would be a crime to let it go to waste.
Gibbs stared at the younger man for a while and answered,"Ya sure, DiNozzo? Think well, 'cause if you come to work for me, I won't allow you to screw up. My time is precious and if I invest it in you, I want you to know you won't be allowed to leave after two years, as you did in Philadelphia, Peoria and now Baltimore." He saw the surprise in the eyes in front of him, "What? Of course I checked you too. There is potential in you, and I swear I'll help you to reach it. I'll make an agent out of you...even if I can't promise you'll like my methods. So, what do you say?"
"I say yes, Gibbs. And thank you for the opportunity. I don't think many others would offer me a job-- not knowing what you know."
Gibbs gestured with his hand, "That's the past. I won't mention it again—and you won't either. Clear?"
"Good." Gibbs circled his desk and walked toward the elevator. He had already reached it when he realized he was alone. Turning around he looked impatiently at the young man still standing by his desk and spread his arms, "What are you waiting for DiNozzo? A hand written invitation to join NCIS?" The other man flashed again that megawatt smile of his and Gibbs growled, "Stop smiling like that! I didn't hire you for that! Move. We need to visit the HR office to have your paperwork started."
DiNozzo joined him in the elevator, still grinning madly, and Gibbs rolled his eyes to the ceiling.
God, what had set himself up to? Training DiNozzo would require even more work than predicted.
Gibbs looked down at his right hand and wondered if Mike's method would work on his soon-to-be agent. Probably yes. He hadn't used it with Burley, Jenny or Callen because they hadn't needed it, but DiNozzo, well, he just begged for it.
He smirked as he pressed the button, already savoring the expression on the younger man's face the first time his hand would connect with the back of his head...
The end...no, the beginning...
Well, I hope you enjoyed this story. I was very nervous about posting it because it touches a delicate theme and Gibbs' opinions are not very "politically correct", so to speak, although, I repeat they are just personal opionions and I firmly believe in freedom of expression, as long as it doesn't lead to discrimination or violence etc.
Please let me know what you think of this experiment of mine. I'm in a pretty low mood nowadays (I started the year burying one of my grandparents), and reviews always cheer me up.