Final Chapter! Now Complete.
Warnings: M/M, sex, language, kink, piercings, abusive parent, serial killer, talk about rape/non-con. Violence. Secondary character death (bad guys).
Genre: Slash, romance, first time, angst, h/c, case fic, pre-show AU
A/N: If you enjoyed my story, leave me a comment - I love to hear from you - whether chapter by chapter, as some of you have been doing, or perhaps every few chapters.
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You can also find my work at WWOMB, and some of it, including the kinkier fics, at AO3, all under rose_malmaison.
Chapter 79 - Always
"Damn it, Tony," Gibbs shouted, hitting the steering wheel with the heel of his hand. What the hell was Tony thinking, running out on him like that? Not even saying good-bye?
He drove fast – fast, even for him – ignoring the screeching brakes and angry horns sounding in his wake as he veered around the slower moving vehicles that got in his way. Assholes, he thought, and pressed down on the truck's accelerator, driving up the ramp and onto the highway at full speed, heading for Washington National Airport.
Gibbs managed to place a call to Stan, who was in the office as usual on this Sunday morning, to verify where the hell Tony had run off to, but Stan came back with the bad news that Tony had turned off his phone. When he caught up to Tony, and he would catch him, Gibbs intended to give him a lecture about always being available. "Call me back as soon as you find out anything, Burley," Gibbs ordered, and hung up abruptly.
It was only a few minutes later when Stan called back. He had found out that Tony had confirmed his flight from DC to Columbus, Ohio. After informing Gibbs of the terminal from which Tony would be leaving, Stan said, "Gibbs? Franks wanted me to tell you that Pacci will be arriving in New York within the hour and he wants you to meet him. He has Seaman Carl Jacobs in custody. We're going to question Jacobs before handing him over to the military police to face the AWOL charges." Right at that moment, Gibbs didn't care about Seaman Jacobs, but he listened to the details of Pacci's incoming flight anyway, and then disconnected.
Gibbs swore some more, all the time worrying about his rash, inconsiderate, and thoroughly infuriating lover. As he drove, his mind started going over all the worst possible scenarios of things that might have happened to Tony.
The first thing he thought was that Tony's father had picked him up and was taking him overseas against his will, planning to sell him to the highest bidder as a sex slave. No, not possible, and besides, Gibbs thought with a wry smile, whoever bought Tony would soon get fed up with his fresh mouth and would realize that Tony was more trouble than he was worth. There was no way that DiNozzo Sr. had a hand in Tony's stealthy exit from Gibbs' house. Tony would have gone kicking and screaming.
Besides, Fornell had said that Senior had left the country, and the FBI and other agencies were keeping a close eye on Tony's father. It was a wild goose chase, following his every move, but the Feds still believed he'd eventually lead them to the millions of dollars that they were sure he had hidden away somewhere.
As soon as Gibbs discounted Senior's involvement with Tony's disappearance, his mind went straight to the next worst thing – the Mob. It wasn't likely that Tony had been taken by the Mob, unless…shit…what if they'd kidnapped Tony as a way of taking revenge on his father for getting their boss killed? Jesus, he couldn't stand the thought of the things they might do to him, torture, dismemberment…oh God! Or even worse, there was that Peruvian terrorist, that Cezar Romero. He must have forced Tony out of the house at gunpoint and…and…
Gibbs told himself to calm the hell down. This was crazy; he was letting his imagination run amok. Tony must have a perfectly good reason for avoiding him this morning, he reasoned. He didn't know what it was, but he would find out. Calmly. Reasonably. Without yelling or scaring anyone. Gibbs gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles were white and said aloud, "Okay, I can do this. I can do it." Maybe if he said it enough times he'd actually believe it.
How the kid had managed to get out of the house without waking him up, Gibbs didn't know. His Marine skills must be getting rusty with disuse, or else Tony was very good at sneaking out. Probably a bit of both.
Gibbs took the turning to the airport, tires screeching, and a few minutes later he found a parking spot. He was out of the truck and rushing into the terminal with his badge held out to an advancing security guard. Luckily the man backed off because Gibbs was in no mood to explain why a federal agent was rushing into the airport, looking for his missing lover.
Déjà vu all over again, he thought, except this airport was nothing like the one in Antioch where DiNozzo Sr. had kept his Gulfstream, that they'd reduced to ruins a couple of nights ago. Washington National was huge, and there were hundreds of people walking across the main concourse, heading for the check-in desks with carts piled up with luggage, streaming up the escalators and hurrying towards their departure gates.
Gibbs located the check-in counter for the airline on which Tony was booked. He wasn't shy about cutting in front of a long line of travelers, and using his badge and a glare to gain the information he was seeking. It didn't take long to find out that Tony had already checked in and had handed over his two large suitcases. The way the airline's pretty agent smiled upon hearing the name Anthony DiNozzo, Jr., Gibbs had no doubt that Tony had charmed her, probably in order to get a good seat and a free drink.
Gibbs strode quickly in the direction of the gate, even though the flight wasn't due to take off for a couple of hours. Once he made it to the waiting area, he scanned the crowd, trying to catch sight of Tony. The place was packed. There were businessmen, families with screaming kids, and what appeared to be an entire soccer team – but no Tony. Frustrated, Gibbs positioned himself in the center of the waiting area and slowly did a 360.
His eyes swept past a group of excited school kids and a few world-weary teachers trying to keep them together; a middle-aged couple bickering as if they were about to divorce any day now; four overweight businessmen with ruddy faces, loose neckties, and few drinks under their belts; a young executive chatting with a pair of giggling blond flight attendants, and…wait a minute.
Gibbs' eyes went back to the young executive. Expensive suit, slicked back hair, tall, with nice shoulders. He could tell from just seeing the back of the man's head that he was handsome. The man laughed and leaned towards one of the blonds, invading her space, a hand on her arm and…fuck, it was Tony. He was dressed to the nines in one of those designer suits of his, his hair carefully combed to cover the worst of the wound above his ear, and he was just standing there, fooling around with a couple of girls as if he hadn't a care in the world.
Gibbs was so pissed he literally saw red. He was angry at Tony for running off, angry at Tony for scaring the shit out of him, and angry at himself for allowing Tony to get so deeply under his skin that he had broken half the traffic laws in DC while rushing here so he could see Tony one last time, so he could find out what the hell Tony had meant by leaving a fucking note behind that was signed 'Your friend, Tony.'
Tony never saw him coming.
Gibbs attacked from the side. He swooped in, grabbed Tony by the upper arm and marched him fast towards one of those club rooms that airlines set aside for frequent travelers and for those passengers who were willing to pay for the privilege of waiting away from the great unwashed.
The moment Gibbs laid a hand on Tony, Tony squealed, and a second later, when he saw it was Gibbs who was manhandling him, he started to protest the rough treatment. "Hey! Ow! Where're we going?"
Gibbs didn't even look at Tony when he growled, "Shut up, DiNozzo!"
Tony did as he was told.
There was only one passenger in the private waiting room, and it only took a second and a flash of his badge for Gibbs to get the guy to leave. The minute the door was slammed shut – and it even had a convenient lock – Tony started to demand, "What has got into you, Jethro?"
Gibbs ignored Tony's question. He grabbed fistfuls of Tony's suit and shoved him against the door, kissing him ruthlessly. It didn't take long for Tony's muffled protests to change into moans of pleasure, and he was kissing him back, open-mouthed and hungry for more. He draped his arms around Gibbs' neck, his fingers scraping across his scalp and tugging hard at his hair.
By the time Gibbs pulled away, breathing unevenly, Tony was smiling with half-closed eyes like he was high. "Oh," said Tony.
Gibbs kissed him again, a bit more softly, but no less possessively. This time Tony didn't complain. Gibbs had no idea how long they kissed, but at some point they parted, both of them breathing hard.
"Damn it, Tony," Gibbs muttered, annoyed that his anger had mostly dissipated. He leaned heavily into Tony, keeping him pressed against the door. He could feel Tony's thighs against his, firm beneath the expensive trousers, and the length of Tony's dick, hardening a little more with every passing second. Gibbs' own dick was swelling, but he was only interested in Tony's reaction to him at that moment. He raised his knee and exerted pressure on Tony's balls, making him groan.
"Stop, stop," Tony pled. "I'm gonna come in my pants."
"Serve you right," Gibbs retorted, some of that elusive anger finding its way into his tone. Tony looked into his face, unsure. He must have realized what had brought Gibbs there, and could see how angry he was. Tony tried to move to one side, but Gibbs placed a hand on either side of his head, palms flat against the door. "You're not going anywhere."
Tony's eyebrows rose and he carefully said, "Okaaaay."
Gibbs leaned in until their mouths were almost touching, and he snarled, "I was worried. I thought something had happened to you! What the hell were you doing, Tony?"
Tony blinked, apparently confused. "Uh, I was heading back to Ohio? Nothing happened to me. See? I'm fine."
"Yeah, I could see you're fine, the way you were cozying up to those girls!"
"Them? That was nothing. Flirting, maybe. Is that what's bothering you, Jethro?"
Gibbs slammed one of his hands against the door, making Tony jump. "I went down for breakfast and found you were gone. You snuck out!"
Tony averted his eyes and replied, his voice strained, "I thought you didn't want an emotional scene."
"The plan was I'd drive you to the airport, Tony. We'd say good-bye at the gate, like everyone else out there is doing, like normal people," Gibbs said tersely.
"But last night you told me how you hated good-byes," Tony said anxiously. "And…and you said how brave Shannon was, and how she didn't cry. How she was such a good Marine wife. I can't be like that. I'm not brave like her, Jethro."
"That was different," Gibbs protested loudly. "I was going to war, overseas, for months at a time. We always made sure we said proper good-byes." His voice softened. "It's important not to leave things unsaid." You never know, you might never get another chance.
Tony's expression gentled. "Okay, I get that. But you don't have to be so…so angry. It's sort of scary when you get like that."
Gibbs dropped his hands and stepped back. The last thing he had intended was to scare Tony. He took a deep breath. "How'd you get out of the house without waking me?"
Tony gave a short laugh. "You were sleeping so deeply, it wasn't hard. Guess you were worn out. I was already packed, just got dressed downstairs and waited down the block for a cab."
"But why, Tony?"
"I told you why. I guess I don't like emotional stuff, either. I mean I love it when you show you care for me, when we're making love, but I didn't want to…" He looked at his feet and shifted his weight, shrugging.
"Didn't want to what?" Gibbs persisted.
Tony gave Gibbs an exasperated look, and then blurted, "I didn't want to cry and be all needy, all right? I was trying to be strong. I wanted to prove I could do something on my own without messing it up, or needing you to rescue me, for a change. I did it for me, but I did it for you, too. I just want you to be proud of me and I can't even get that right."
"Come here." Gibbs pulled Tony into an embrace, hating that Tony thought he'd failed him by not being strong or independent enough. They held each other for a while, with Gibbs rubbing a hand up and down Tony's back. He kissed Tony's cheek and said, "I am so proud of you, for so many reasons. You don't have to prove anything to me. I know you're strong. I know you can manage on your own, Tony, but you don't need to. We're a team now, work things out together. And…uh…I need to be needed, okay?"
"Yeah, I do. I love you so much, Tony, but sometimes these things you do…well, they worry me."
"I love you, too, Jethro, and I didn't mean to scare you."
"I wasn't scared, I was…"
"Pissed? Annoyed?" Tony suggested, one corner of his mouth quirking up.
"Okay, I was scared when I found out you'd gone. But…Tony, why the hell did you sign that note 'Your friend'?" Gibbs hadn't realized quite how much that bothered him until he said it aloud. He'd thought he meant more to Tony than just a friend.
Tony smiled fondly. "You are my friend."
"Just your friend?" Yes, they were friends, but that wasn't how he looked at their relationship. Maybe Tony wasn't seeing things in quite the same way as he was.
"You're my lover, too, of course. Look, falling in love is a chemical reaction, Jethro. It's something that happens, that you have no control over. But friends, well, you choose your friends, and that makes them special. And if that makes me sound like a girl…"
Gibbs shook his head and grinned. "One thing you ain't, Tony, is a girl. And I'm glad that we're friends."
"That's good, because I don't have many of them, Jethro. So, now we agree we're friends, it's okay that I tell you that you really need to learn how to keep a lid on your temper, right? It isn't good for your blood pressure to spike like that, and you have this vein that pops up..."
"I worry about you, too, you know. And…and I'll try to be less impulsive, okay?"
Gibbs was about to agree that might be a good idea, even if that impulsive streak was a big part of Tony's personality, but there was a knock on the door that Tony was leaning against. Startled, Tony jumped to one side, and Gibbs opened the door a few inches. It was a security guard looking wary, so Gibbs showed him his credentials and gave him a song and dance about protecting a witness.
The guard surprised him by notifying him that NCIS Special Agent Pacci was on his way over from the arrivals concourse with a prisoner. Pacci would meet him at the security station at the north entrance.
Gibbs thanked the man, and once he was gone, he turned back to Tony.
"Guess this is it, huh?" Tony asked, glancing at his watch. "Better get to my gate or I'll miss my flight."
Gibbs stood in front of him and smoothed out a wrinkle in the lapel of Tony's suit. Damn, he didn't want to see him go. "Yeah, you don't want to miss it. Got everything?" Tony nodded, looking unhappy. "Got your antibiotics? You have to take all of them," warned Gibbs.
"I know," Tony replied in a restrained voice. "I will. Same goes for you, Jethro."
Gibbs nodded. "I'll walk with you." He held the door open and they walked side by side across the busy waiting room. "Did you pack the ointment Ducky gave you for your burns? If you have any sign of infection you–"
"I know, go straight to the health center."
"You have my numbers? And the ones Ducky gave you?"
"I already added them to my phone, and I have a handwritten copy in my wallet as backup," Tony assured him.
"You'll get something to eat on the plane."
"I'm sure they have snacks, Jethro."
"You phone me as soon as you land."
"I will. Could you stop worrying?"
Gibbs paid no attention to Tony's plea, and continued as if he hadn't heard him. "And when you get to your dorm, you call me again. I want to know you're safe."
Amused, Tony said with exaggerated patience, "Yes, Jethro. Maybe we should have saved that chastity belt."
Gibbs narrowed his eyes. "You won't be needing that contraption."
"Nope. I trust you to be faithful."
Tony seemed a little surprised and he blushed with pleasure. "I'll always be faithful to you, Jethro."
"I know. And before you know it, semester'll be over and you'll be back home."
Tony said, "Wasn't it Robert Frost who said that home is the place where they have to take you in?"
"I don't have to take you in – I want you there. And it's your home, too."
"I want to be with you, too."
"Okay then," Gibbs said abruptly, as if that was settled. They were at the gate, and it looked as though most of the passengers had already boarded. There were a few stragglers hustling to catch the plane. Gibbs stood close to Tony, not touching him although he was aching to do so. They looked at each other for a long minute before Gibbs said, "'Bye, Tony."
"'Bye, Jethro," Tony said, biting his lip and making a great effort not to get emotional. He squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. "Better go then. I'll call," he promised, his voice a little unsteady.
Gibbs patted Tony on his back, wanting to do so much more, but knowing that if he hugged Tony, he'd never be able to let him go. He stepped out of the way as another last-minute passenger hurried past them.
Tony lifted a hand in farewell, took a couple of steps backwards, never taking his eyes off Gibbs', and mouthing the word 'Bye' one last time. He then pivoted and started down the ramp to board his plane.
Gibbs watched him go, wondering how it had happened that his life – both of their lives – had been turned upside down in the space of a few days. One thing for sure, he knew nothing would ever be the same. Gibbs moved over to the nearest big window so he could watch the airplane taxi out to the runway and take off, but as soon as he got there, he heard the sound of running feet behind him. He turned in alarm and suddenly his arms were full of Tony, hugging him tightly and whispering, "I love you, Jethro Gibbs," against his skin. And then, without another word, Tony ran back to the embarkation ramp and was gone from sight.
Special Agent Pacci was waiting just inside the security office with a young man whose hands were cuffed in front of him. It was Seaman Carl Jacobs, who had gone missing from DiNozzo's party last August, and had been presumed dead.
To Gibbs, Seaman Jacobs looked all of sixteen years old, although he knew him to be older. Maybe it was the long hair that fell over his forehead, or his small frame. Gibbs marched right up to Jacobs and had a good look at him. There were fading bruises on his face and arms, and a downtrodden look in his eyes. Jacobs squirmed at the scrutiny but said nothing.
For some privacy, they moved into an empty interrogation room and left the door open. Pacci explained, "Looks like Tony was right. The kid found himself a nice guy to take care of him for a while. When the bloom was off the rose, he hooked up with another, not-so-nice guy, and he's been desperately looking for a way out ever since. He practically threw himself into my arms when I turned up on his doorstep. The cops back in New York are taking care of the boyfriend."
"Does he remember Briggs?" Gibbs asked, talking over Jacob's head, as if he wasn't present.
"Yeah. Apparently Briggs approached Jacobs at DiNozzo's party last summer."
"That guy was a creep," interjected Jacobs. "It was a good party though."
Pacci ignored the interruption. "When Briggs tried to force a drink on him, Seaman Jacobs got suspicious. Jacobs found someone else to go home with, and he stayed with this man for two months before moving on, trying to avoid getting caught by the MPs. I told him about Harding and explained how lucky he was not to be lying at the bottom of the East River, along with a dozen more of the senator's murder victims."
Jacobs looked sick at Pacci's words.
Gibbs inspected the Seaman's bruises. Some of them were newer than others, so it was obvious that Jacobs had been some tough guy's punching bag, but none of them appeared to be bad enough to warrant medical attention. Nevertheless, he'd get Ducky to look the kid over when they got back to NCIS. "Looks like things haven't been going too well for you lately Seaman." He might feel some sympathy for Jacobs, but he was still a deserter, and Gibbs had no patience for anyone who shirked their duty. "Agent Pacci here is going to take your statement once we're at NCIS. You are going to cooperate."
Jacobs met Gibbs' eyes but quickly looked away. "Yes, sir. I'll cooperate, sir."
"That wasn't a question, Seaman. And don't call me sir. I'm Special Agent Gibbs, and I've been looking for you for a long time now." Jacobs stared at him, confused, so Gibbs clamped a hand to his shoulder and said sternly, "I talked to your mom and dad in the course of our investigation. Visited them in Queens. They've been very worried about you. They swore up and down their son couldn't be a deserter. Guess they don't know you as well as they think they do."
Jacobs' face fell and he seemed to be devastated about letting his parents down. "I didn't mean to hurt them. I…I couldn't stay on the ship. These guys were…Look, I just couldn't stay any longer, Agent Gibbs."
Pacci exchanged a knowing glance with Gibbs. It wasn't hard to figure out what Jacobs was talking about. Pacci said, "I already told him that if anyone was harassing him, he should have taken his complaint to his CO. Jumping ship doesn't solve anything."
"It's not that easy," Jacobs protested. "If they'd found out I talked, they would have–"
Gibbs glared at Jacobs and said, "While you've been in hiding, Seaman, your shipmates have been out there, doing their jobs and fighting the enemy. It's time you accepted responsibility for your actions, and if you have something to report about anyone intimidating you, you do so when we get back to NCIS."
"I'm a deserter. Nobody's gonna listen," Jacobs said sullenly.
Gibbs said, "We will listen. And Rule #45 still applies, even to deserters."
"You gotta clean up your own mess, kid," explained Pacci. "Face the consequences like a man. Deal with it and move on."
For the first time they saw a little bit of hope in Jacob's eyes.
Gibbs nodded and said, "If you want a ride, let's go." He didn't wait for a response, just turned about face and walked out of the security office. "Damn, I need some coffee."
"Can we stop for Thai food when we pick up your coffee, Gibbs?" Pacci asked as he took hold of the prisoner's elbow and hurried after Gibbs.
"That crap'll eat a hole in your stomach, Pacci," Gibbs replied.
Although Gibbs' mind had been on Tony all day, working on his boat had helped pass the time. He'd been caulking and sanding and keeping himself busy down in his basement for hours, with one short break to eat the leftover fettucine for dinner.
Tony had called when he'd landed, as promised, but the reception had been lousy and they'd been cut off. He had phoned again when he got to his college, and was finally in the dorm. It was a pay phone in the hallway and apparently not at all private, so Tony's side of the conversation had been short. He'd promised Gibbs he'd call him once he'd powered up his cell phone, before he went to bed. It would be around eleven, if that was all right.
So, at five minutes to eleven, Gibbs was sitting up in bed, his cell phone in his lap, waiting for that phone call. He'd tried to read a book but hadn't been able to take in a word of it.
He picked the phone up on the first ring. "Tony?"
"Who else are you expecting to call you at 2300, Jethro? You on call for work?"
Gibbs slid down in bed a little. "No, but I'm back in the saddle early tomorrow."
"You looking forward to that?"
He shrugged. "Yeah, but it's desk duty until I get cleared. Have some loose ends to tidy up with the case. We found Seaman Carl Jacobs."
"Hey, that's great. Is he all right?"
"He's alive. You were right, you know, about him finding a boyfriend at your dad's party. He came real close to ending up one of Harding's victims." Gibbs didn't want to talk about work though. Instead he asked Tony about his classes and what he would be doing the rest of the semester, and reminded him to have a talk with the swim coach first chance he got.
"I know. I'm going to ask Coach Aronson if I can be on the team next season. I don't deserve it, missing so many practices, and skipping the swim meet to go to South Brewer, but maybe he'll give me another chance."
They talked a while, but when Gibbs heard Tony yawn, he figured it was time to wind up the phone call. "I'll try to call you tomorrow, Tony. Hard to know when."
"Any time. Leave a message if you can't get through."
"My roommate has a girlfriend and he says he won't be here tomorrow night."
"I was thinking that maybe we could try out that phone sex? I'll wear my nipple rings."
Gibbs could hear Tony grinning on the other end of the line. He shook his head and said, "Sounds good to me. I'll be picturing you to get in the mood." Tony made a small sound and Gibbs asked, "What?"
"You know how they say that smell is the sense that evokes powerful memories?"
"Uh, yeah." Gibbs was wondering where this was going, sure that Tony was up to something.
"And you know how you said that people leave something behind when they want to return?"
Gibbs' eyes darted around the bedroom, wondering what Tony had left behind. He sat up and pulled open the nightstand drawer, meanwhile saying, "Yup."
"It's not in there, Jethro. It's under your pillow."
Gibbs reached under the pillow, felt something soft there, and pulled out Tony's red briefs. He grinned and without thinking, raised them to his nose and sniffed them.
Tony's laughter rang over the phone line. "'Night, Jethro. Sweet dreams."
"You, too, Tony. You, too."
***–*** THE END ***–***
End notes: Many thanks to my tireless betas along the way (some of whom dropped along the wayside) and to gibbsgirlabby! Thanks, Combatcrazy for being such a great friend and tossing ideas around with me.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the comments and kudos you've left, readers, so thanks go out to every one of you.
I plan to write some more in this world, but will stick to shorter sequels, maybe from Tony's POV, or perhaps I'll explore what happens between these two men during the summer, or ten years down the road.
At this point I'm just happy - really happy! - that I have completed this story, and that I was able to tie up the loose ends - and that I didn't forget to include Pacci (whom I lost track of for a few chapters in the middle and had to bring back.) Thanks again!