The trip to Gibbs' place wasn't nearly as hair raising as he'd expected. In fact, he slept most of the way there. He woke up at a stop light about a mile from Gibbs' house, and sat up, stretching carefully so as not to awaken his aches into full pain. He glanced behind them almost automatically. If Gibbs had taken a shortcut, it certainly hadn't involved bouncing over furrows or dodging trees. He didn't think he'd have slept through that. It took him till they pulled up in front of the house to realize what Gibbs' suggestion had implied. "I wasn't worried he was going to follow us," Tony said.
"No," Tony said. "If he wants to know where you live, all he has to do is ask around." Tony thought about that fact and bit his lip. "In fact, Boss, maybe I should just go home anyway," he said, gazing up at Gibbs' house. He didn't want Brody coming here to harass him.
"How?" Gibbs asked prosaically. He got out of the truck and headed for the front door. Tony followed him unwillingly.
"I could call a cab," he suggested.
"You don't have any keys for your apartment, and it's four in the morning. No one's going to be at your building manager's office for another four hours at least."
Tony blinked. "When you put it like that," he muttered, glumly dropping his pack on the floor by the door.
"Besides, you have a promise to keep," Gibbs said, walking straight through the kitchen.
"What promise, Boss?" Tony asked uncertainly. Gibbs went down the stairs, and Tony trailed after him. What had his big mouth gotten him into this time? Surely he hadn't promised to help with the boat while he was drunk last night.
"You said if I let you work the case, you'd tell me what happened between you and Brody when we were done," Gibbs said, picking up his hand plane and gazing at the ribs of the boat.
"I . . . I did, didn't I?" Tony said, wondering what he had been thinking. "Well, technically, the case isn't over, Boss," he said.
Gibbs turned to him, eyebrows going up. "It's not?" he asked.
Tony gulped. "Well, the paperwork hasn't all been done, and no reports have been filed, and . . . there's the trial . . .?"
"To all intents and purposes, the case is done, DiNozzo," Gibbs said. "Talk." That was a command Tony could follow with a great deal of ease. He opened his mouth, but before he could utter a syllable, Gibbs raised the index finger of his right hand. "Talk about what happened between you and Brody."
Tony's mouth clamped shut and he looked away. "Boss . . ."
"You made the offer, DiNozzo."
Tony dropped his chin to his chest in defeat. He didn't think Gibbs would take the excuse that he'd made that promise while he wasn't thinking clearly. After all, Gibbs knew damned well that he wouldn't have said anything like that if he had been thinking clearly. "So, everything about the incident in the garage today," he said, biting his lip. Again the tenderness surprised him and he stopped.
Gibbs had gone back to working, but at this remark he looked up again. "Everything everything, DiNozzo."
"We were talking about the incident today, Boss," Tony pointed out. If Gibbs could pick nits, so could he. "You were pushing me to get examined, I unglued about . . . stuff, and then I said I'd tell you what happened. It was about the incident today."
Gibbs eyes narrowed, but after a moment or so, he shrugged. "Fine, DiNozzo. Tell me what happened today, and that includes whatever the hell it was you dreamed about."
A claim not to remember the dream would not work on Gibbs. Tony glanced around, looking for the bottle he'd left down here. "Where's my rum?"
Gibbs looked around. "You know, I'm really not sure. I think there's some beer in the fridge, though."
One look at Gibbs' expression told him he was getting no further on that subject. "Want one?" Tony asked.
Tony went upstairs and grabbed a couple of beers and the cold pizza from the fridge. Beer on an empty stomach made for bad digestion later, and Tony had enough problems right now. He offered Gibbs the pizza, but the other man just shook his head. Tony settled down and watched Gibbs work.
It took almost ten minutes for Gibbs to stop, take a drink, and give him an appraising look. "Anytime now, DiNozzo," he said.
Tony swallowed his bite a little too hastily and had to take a big gulp of beer, which coincidentally emptied the bottle. "Back in a minute, Boss."
He came back with three bottles, a second one for Gibbs and a third for him for later. This was probably a good six beers story at least. Gibbs glanced at the beers, glanced at his face and said, "You ready now?"
"Not in the least, but I'm not going to be."
"So, this afternoon, you said you were caught out in a vulnerable spot. Start there."
Tony nodded. "I . . . I met Chuck at a coffee bar downtown, but there wasn't any street parking. I had to park in the garage on eleventh. I found a spot close to the elevator, in a sort of niche beside the elevator." Using his hands to indicate positions, he said, "Elevator, car, car, pillar, my car, wall." Gibbs nodded. "When I came back from the coffee bar, Brody was waiting by the end of my car. I really had no choice. I wasn't going to try and explain to the motor pool why I'd left the car behind, and he'd already seen me when I saw him, so . . ." He shrugged. "I walked on over and tried to get him to just leave me alone by telling him that a friend had just died and we'd caught the case, but . . ." He shook his head. "I walked past him, but instead of letting me go, he . . ." Tony paused and took a long swig. He didn't speak for awhile.
"He grabbed you?" Gibbs prompted.
Tony rested his head carefully against the wall and closed his eyes. "Yeah. He grabbed me." His gut boiled with sour anger, remembering that moment. "I couldn't stop him. He just dragged me around behind the pillar, where no one could see us, and . . ." He clenched his teeth. How could he say any of what had happened next aloud, much less to Gibbs?
When the silence had dragged on too long, Gibbs said, "DiNozzo?"
"Yeah Boss?" Tony said, opening his eyes and looking up at him.
Tony drank the last of one beer and opened another, trying to pretend he didn't notice the way his hands were shaking. "Next? I told him he was crazy and that I had to go. He didn't listen. He just shoved me against the pillar and . . . and . . . and he asked how I got out of my building without him seeing me this . . ." He snorted. "Yesterday morning, I guess it is now."
"Yeah," Gibbs said. "What did you tell him?"
"To stop following me," Tony replied. "He says he followed us to Annapolis, but I would have thought Ziva would have noticed that." Though, come to think of it, she'd been paying a lot of attention to him for the first part of the trip.
"I would have, too."
"But he knew we went to Annapolis, regardless," Tony said. "I told him – for maybe the fiftieth or sixtieth time – that we're done."
"I'm sure that met with his approval," Gibbs said dryly.
"Not exactly. He informed me that no one walks away from him, and that he decides when we're done."
"So far all of this is talking," Gibbs observed. "He pinned you to a wall so he could talk to you?"
"Actually, up to that point all he did was immobilize me and spout. I . . . I tried to get away then and proved just how ineffectual I am against him. He expected the knee to the groin tactic and avoided it. I started to . . . I reached for my piece."
"You were going to draw your weapon on him, and you want to handle it yourself?" Gibbs exclaimed, looking at Tony like he thought he was crazy.
Tony shook his head emphatically. "I wasn't going to draw, it was . . . I don't know, instinct. Shooting him wouldn't solve anything, unfortunately. All it would do is give the papers something to write about."
"What did he do?"
"He . . . we fought. I didn't have much effect." Tony didn't quite know what to say after that.
Gibbs looked up from his woodworking. "DiNozzo, this is like pulling teeth."
"For me, too, Boss," Tony said honestly.
Gibbs chuckled, but he showed no signs of relenting. "And then?"
"I . . . he . . . Boss!"
Gibbs sat down on his straight back chair and gazed at Tony with sympathy. "I could guess. Then you'd just have to tell me if I got it right or wrong."
The very thought was enough to send Tony's gut twisting. He took a deep breath and plunged on. "He tried to kiss me. I avoided it, and . . . well, you know he groped. You were there when I told Ducky."
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, I was there, but . . ." Gibbs stood up again and started sanding the boat ribs. "It wasn't just your butt he groped, was it?"
Tony closed his eyes. "No, it wasn't." Silence stretched between them. That was pretty much all the details that counted.
After awhile, Gibbs cleared his throat. "How did you two meet?"
Tony looked up at him, startled. "That's outside the realm of what I agreed to talk about."
"I know." Gibbs went quiet, his usual strategy for stubborn interviewees, and Tony sighed.
Shaking his head, he shrugged. "I was trolling for a . . . a meaningless encounter." Gibbs raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. "And I got in over my head."
"We know that."
"No, I mean . . ." Tony flushed. "I mean I was in real trouble, Gibbs."
Gibbs sat back again and gazed soberly at him. "What are you saying, Tony?"
"There were three of them . . . I don't do groups." Tony shrugged again, suppressing the memory the best he could while talking about it. "I don't know how far they were going to take it, but it had gone plenty far enough when Brody put a stop to it."
"Brody stopped –"
"He's a cop, Gibbs, not a rapist."
Gibbs blinked at him. "What would you say if I told you that you talk in your sleep?"
Tony froze. He'd been asleep . . . no. "I'd say you're full of shit."
"You did, DiNozzo," Gibbs said.
"That's crap, Boss. I do not talk in my sleep."
"Maybe not normally, but . . ." Tony looked up at him. He never could read Gibbs. If he'd talked while he slept in the office, he was going to die of shame. Gibbs seemed to read his thoughts. "In the truck, DiNozzo. All you did on your desk was snore."
"What did I say?" he asked uneasily.
Gibbs didn't speak for a long moment, then he shrugged. "Why don't you just tell me about the dream?"
Tony looked at the pair of beer bottles he had next to him. "Want some more?" he asked.
"Sure, but it's not getting you out of talking."
"Of course not." Tony grabbed the empty bottles from the workbench and took them all upstairs to dump in the recycling bin and took the last two beers out of the six pack and threw away the cardboard carton. It was impossible to be messy at Gibbs' house. No matter how hard Tony tried, he couldn't manage it.
Downstairs again, he handed a beer to Gibbs. "Ziva does not hear about this, and neither does McGee."
"Whatever you say, DiNozzo."
Tony sat back down and took a swallow. The beer wasn't mellowing him much tonight. Of course, there was a lot of adrenaline and bad mood to mellow. "I don't remember dreaming in the truck," he said.
"Maybe not, but the dream in the office has to have been a doozy. You looked . . . shattered."
Tony moistened his lips and tried to figure out how to explain this. "You've got to understand, it was always a kind of . . . he was somewhat controlling from the start. It's embarrassing, but I was sort of looking for that. I didn't want to . . . I'd spent so much time . . . I can't put it into words."
"I get it, DiNozzo."
Tony stared at him for a moment. Maybe he did. "So then . . . it was pretty no holds barred. I wasn't interested in . . . God, this is hard to talk about with you."
"You already made it pretty clear that it was rough sex, DiNozzo," Gibbs said. "But I don't get the feeling there was any real bondage."
"Euw," Tony said. "No."
"Okay. Rough sex, a little domineering, got it." Tony flushed and opened his mouth. "You don't need to make excuses, DiNozzo. There's nothing wrong with any of that." Tony scowled at his feet. "The dream?"
"You remember the Fargo case, Boss? With the –"
"Yeah," Gibbs said quickly, and Tony nodded. It had been an unpleasant, sordid situation. The less said about it, the better. "I just wanted to go home and watch some Bond and pretend the world away, only Brody was there."
"Was it a planned meeting?"
"No, he would just show up, sometimes. Usually he made it clear he was there from the moment I got home, but sometimes he'd surprise me. That night he surprised me."
"And?" Tony grimaced miserably and looked away. "DiNozzo?"
Tony sighed, hating the necessity of explaining. Without meeting Gibbs' eyes, he said, "I wasn't in the mood, he was, and he didn't particularly care how I felt about it."
"So he –"
"I just stopped protesting," Tony said quickly, not wanting to hear what Gibbs had to say. He didn't think too hard about why, but he didn't want Gibbs to say the next word. "He got his way." He pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them and looking down at his hands.
Gibbs had broken off when Tony interrupted. Now he walked over and squatted down in front of where Tony sat on the floor, tapping Tony on the knee. "Did you say no, DiNozzo?"
"What of it?" Tony said, still not meeting Gibbs' eyes.
"Did you say no?"
"Yes, I said no."
"What did he do?"
"I didn't push back hard enough," Tony said, feeling like he was fighting a losing battle, but not altogether sure against what. "I stopped struggling."
"You were struggling?"
"Boss, I don't . . . it's not –"
"It's not what?" Gibbs asked gently when Tony didn't finish his sentence.
"It's not what you think."
"I think you said no and he ignored it," Gibbs said
Tony swallowed uncomfortably. "Okay, that's basically true."
"And if that happened to Abby –"
"I'd kill the son of a bitch!" Tony growled. "But it's not the same."
"Because she's not trained to defend herself, Gibbs, and she wouldn't have led the guy to think that pushing her around was okay. She wouldn't have given him the impression that she wanted to be forced."
Gibbs didn't respond immediately, and Tony wished he could unsay it all. Finally, his boss tilted his head. "Did you ever say no when you didn't mean it?" he asked.
"No, I'm not an idiot," Tony said.
"Did you say no more than once?"
Tony scowled. "Gibbs, that isn't the point. I must have made him think somehow that I wanted him to be like that. He wouldn't have just . . . something I said, something I did, something gave him the wrong impression."
Gibbs wanted to shoot Brody and strangle Jenny. If she hadn't assumed she knew enough about DiNozzo to handle him in an op like the one with Jeanne, he wouldn't be in this mess now. If she'd only asked him first – but then he hit a brick wall. He hadn't been around to ask. If he hadn't selfishly left NCIS, left Tony, left all of them behind, Jenny would have asked his advice. She wasn't stupid even if she was cocksure and arrogant. He would have been able to head off the worst of that situation before it happened.
Regardless, that was then, this was now, and he had to get DiNozzo out of this self-flagellating mood. "Sometimes a jackass is just a jackass, DiNozzo. Just because he got you out of a mess with a trio of bastards, it doesn't make him a saint."
"I know that," Tony said irritably. He seemed to be getting sleepy again, and the beer was encouraging that. Gibbs wasn't above taking advantage.
"Did you say no more than once?" he asked again.
Tony shook his head. "You mean that time?"
A bomb of fury exploded behind Gibbs' eyes, but he kept it off his face with an effort. In a calm, even tone, he said, "Yeah, that time."
"Sure, several times. He told me to shut up."
Gibbs pursed his lips. "How many times did he not take no for an answer?"
DiNozzo considered the question briefly, then shrugged. "Don't know," he said. "Where's the rum?"
Gibbs reached out and pulled it from behind the toolbox and handed Tony a mug. He went back work on the boat. Somewhere, in some database, there had to be record of the bastard's address. McGee would be able to find it.
Author's Note: More soon!