Title: No More Drinking Games, Part 3 (Or, 'The Slashy, Smutty, Schmoopy, Gay Adventures of Alex Gibbs and Tony DiNozzo')
Author: wintermute_lj and taylorgibbs
Pairing: Alex Gibbs/Tony DiNozzo
Rating: NC-17

Genre: First Time, AU, PWP, Angst
Spoilers: None.
Summary: Flirting has never gotten Tony DiNozzo into trouble. That is, until he met Alex Gibbs.

A/N: What was supposed to be a time-passing RPG thing turned into this. We have no words for it. It was too good to pass up so we decided to edit it into what we're now calling Pr0n with Plot. We'll try to post the adventures of Alex and Tony once a week or so. Hope you enjoy!

When Tony said it was close by, it really was close by. The place was around the corner and down the block from Tony's apartment, so they ended up walking there. Tony was a bit nervous, walking next to Alex. He wasn't ashamed of the fact that he was, well, dating a man, but he did work for a quasi-military federal agency. Even if "don't ask don't tell" was no longer an issue, it still made him feel like he needed to be careful, so after wanting to grab hold of Alex's hand a couple of times and failing to reach out each time, he gave up with a sigh and tucked his hand back into his jacket. Instead, he inched closer to Alex so when they walked, their shoulders brushed.

There was a certain unease radiating from Tony and as they walked, Alex nudged his shoulder. "You okay?" There was a distinct possibility that Tony might want to leave them back at his house, and Alex wasn't sure how he'd deal with that. He was too damn old and had been too damn closeted by necessity for too long to adjust well with that.

"Hmm?" Tony looked over at Alex. "Yeah, I'm fine… Just… nervous."

Seeing Alex's searching gaze, Tony sighed.

"I just haven't been out on a… date like this in a long time, and never with a guy. It's going to take some getting use to. I mean, we do work for a federal agency that deals with the military. I don't want to hide from the world, I'm not ashamed of who I am, but sometimes it's just…hard." Tony gave Alex a small, almost apologetic smile, finally finding the courage to grab hold of the other man's hand and slipping his fingers between Alex's. "But I'm going to give this my best shot. You're worth it."

"I know how hard it is," Alex said, stopping and turning Tony toward him. "You're either in or not," Alex said quietly. "I had to hide who I was for a long time. I won't do that any more, Tony. If my sexuality had been discovered while I was serving, it would've be the end of my career—hell, for some people it could have been the end of my life. People die in training accidents all the time."

Tony looked down at their hand then back up at Alex. "I'm in, you know that," Tony said, conviction in his voice. And as if to show Alex that he really meant what he said, he leaned in and kissed Alex on the lips with a smile. "Not hiding."

"No hiding," Alex repeated, staring into Tony's eyes. Unease twisted in his stomach, but he pushed that down. It was natural to be a little unsettled about all of this. They were happening so quickly.

"But tell me if you're uncomfortable. We're not gonna…" Not going what? Be average guys in a relationship?

Tony looked back at Alex questioningly. We're not gonna…what?

The other man looked like he was working through something. Tony recognized the look that his boss sometimes had as well, so he waited. He knew that they were moving forward too fast. Neither of them had really had the chance to really contemplate what was happening between them.

Tony gave their joint hands a good squeeze, hoping to give Alex what little support his own worried self could offer.

"Not gonna screw this up," Alex finished. He felt sure Tony had just as much screw-ups as he had in personal relationships. "I want this," he said, his voice breaking on the middle word, his emotions swirling. He wasn't sure how to process all of this, but he had the sense that he could lose it all if he didn't gather the courage to tell Tony what he felt.

He tightened his hand in Tony's, looking away before meeting the other man's eyes.

"Good," Tony smiled sweetly at Alex, the tension in his body from earlier dissolving quickly.

Baby steps. Tony thought to himself, though he was eager to see where all of this would lead.

Alex squeezed Tony's hand before releasing it. "Now feed me," he said, injecting every bit of lust and need into his voice. It would be kinda fun to tip Tony off balance, and flirting was something Alex did much easier than bearing his soul.

Tony laughed out loud at Alex's words. "Alright. First food, then dessert on the boat," Tony kissed him again. "That sound good?"

"Sounds like a pretty damn amazing plan," Alex replied. He'd been sand-bound for so long that he was itchy to get out on the water, to relax and show Tony what it was all about.

He strode with Tony to the diner and walked in, looking around. "What's good?"

"What're you in the mood for? They have pretty much anything—eggs, sandwiches, soups. Maria's husband Saul makes a mean omelet, though," Tony waved at the plump middle-aged woman behind the counter. "Hey Maria. How's the family? Your kids coming home for the summer?"

"Hey Tony! Haven't seen you in a while. The kids are doing well, and yeah, they're coming back for the summer. Jamie's promised to help fix up that patio so we can open it up for the summer, but you know what my kids were like," Maria chuckled, then gave Tony a loose hug before she led them to a booth. "How've you been? And who's your friend?"

"Doing well, just busy at work. Lots of new cases, so lots of running around and working on the weekends," Tony shrugged, taking his jacket off and sitting down. "This, is Alex. He just got transferred to DC, working in the same office as me. Alex, Maria."

Alex grinned and extended a hand. "Good to meet you."

"What can I get you?" Maria asked, looking from Tony to Alex. "Juice? Chocolate milk?" She said this with a smile to Tony. "Or coffee?"

"I'd like some coffee," Alex said, glancing at the menu. "You, Tony?"

"Coffee will be just fine, thanks Maria," Tony said, giving Maria his trademark smile.

"All right, two coffees coming right up," Maria spun on her heels and went behind the counter to get their orders, her pen dotting quickly as she walked.

"Is Saul around? I'm thinking omelets," Tony said when Maria returned with two big mugs of the dark brew. "Sausage, mushroom and cheese."

"Yeah, he's in the back," Maria gave them a warm smile. "Side of home fries? And what about you, Alex?"

Alex made a face at Tony's omelet choices. "No meat on mine. Veggies are good-mushrooms, onions, peppers. Double side of bacon and some home fries." He hesitated a moment, then added. "And a couple of pancakes too." It had been so long since he'd had freshly cooked food, and though he knew he was going overboard, he wanted to sample everything. It had been long months of powdered eggs and burned coffee, and he was ready to have a real breakfast on his first day off from work since returning. And he sure as hell could use the calories after his workout with Tony.

"All right, it'll be just a minute. You boys enjoy your coffee," Maria sauntered off with their orders as Tony poured sugar into his coffee.

"Sounds like someone's worked up an appetite?" Tony teased. "Eat up, you're gonna need your strength for the boat later."

They didn't have to wait long before Maria came by with the food, and the pair made short work of their breakfast, chatting as they ate.

"So? What do you think?" Tony asked as he gulped down his third refill of coffee, looking over the rim of his cup at Alex. "Like the place?"

"I've been in the desert too damn long," Alex pointed out. "This is some of my first real food in a long time, Tony. And it's good." He brushed his foot over Tony's leg. "Just like the company."

"I think I hear a complement in there somewhere," Tony chuckled, wiggling his eyebrows. He could feel Alex's foot on his leg as he eyed the empty dishes between them. "You all done? 'Cause I think I'm ready for dessert."

"Dessert?" Alex asked with a wink and a grin. He pulled out his phone and tapped a few buttons, making a quick call before he nodded. "I know someone who has a boat. Thing is, he's really private, so you can't let on that you've been on his boat. You okay with that, Tony?"

"Yeah, I'm okay with that, but who would have a problem—" Tony stopped mid-sentence. "Uhm, wait a minute, do I know this person?"

"My brother," Alex said quietly. "Just asked if I could borrow it. He…he keeps things private." Alex shrugged, not sure how to explain his brother, even to someone who knew him already. "I don't understand why he does that, why he keeps everyone out of his life. But that's just his…thing." He shrugged, unable to find the right words. "Tony, just don't pry into this with him, okay?"

Tony had thought as much. Seeing Alex's slightly slumped shoulders after his reluctant admission, Tony had to wonder how it was that a guy in his mid-forties could look so… adorable.

"Hey, Alex. Hey," Tony smiled and reached across the table to grab the other man's hands. "It's alright. I'm just curious, because Gibbs is the only person I know that owns one."

"Although it'll be quite interesting, hanging out on the Bossman's boat." Tony patted Alex's hands, held them tight, and then continued with a grin. "Especially considering what we have planned. Definitely not something I'd want him to know. Might not live to tell the tale later!"

"Oh, he won't know about that," Alex replied, unable to hide his smirk. "There are things a little brother just doesn't share with his big brother, especially one who has a stick up his butt bigger…" he leaned in close. "Bigger than what was up yours last night, Tony."

"Guess I should be expecting some repeat performances then?" Tony's grin widened, if it was possible. He began rubbing small circles on the back Alex's hands with his thumbs. "I'm okay with this. Really, I am."

Alex was endeared by the fact that Tony was offering comfort, and he turned his hand over, squeezing Tony's. "You sure about this?" He meant all of it, but figured Tony would work out what he meant.

"Yes, I'm sure. I've never been so sure about anything than this. Us. Right now."

Tony took both of Alex's hands in his own, looking at the man opposite him. "I want this."

"Damn right," Alex said, leaning over and brushing a gentle kiss over Tony's hair. "Big brother will be freaked out, but he'll adjust. This isn't about him, Tony, and I'm not him at all. Keep remembering that."

Tony knew that he had this silly-in-love look on his face, but he couldn't hide it-didn't want to hide it. He threw down enough bills to cover the check, and got up. "Come on, I've been dying to see this boat."

Just before they left the diner, Tony caught the smirk that was playing at the edge of Maria's lips, and he could only roll his eyes. He was gonna have some explaining to do the next time he was here.

Alex pulled Tony close, tucking him under his arm. "Driving to Jeth's and then the Alexandria marina. That's where she's berthed."

When Tony looked at him, Alex shrugged, a little uncomfortable. "Red. She's called Red. Our mom had red hair…and Shannon and Kelly were redheads too. Kind of a theme in our family."

Alex sucked in a breath. "You want to stay in the car…or out ourselves to him?" It was a big decision and he wouldn't make it for Tony, even though it would impact him as well.

"Aww, am I breaking your family tradition? Maybe I should dye my hair red?" Tony teased, trying to ease the tension he felt coming from Alex. Then he grabbed hold of Alex's hand on his shoulder, his face serious. "It's your call. He's going to know sooner or later. I already told you that I'll try not to let him interfere with my feelings for you, so it's up to you. Either way, we'll face it together."

Tony squeezed Alex's hand briefly, leaning his head towards Alex's shoulder, and snaked his arm around the small of Alex's back.

"His tradition," Alex said, emphasizing that wasn't his. "I usually go for quirky or slightly rebellious guys with strong jaws and cheekbones. Or the odd times when I've dated a girl, she's curvy, usually brunette. But there haven't been as many women as men and not for a long time."

He swallowed hard, slowly down and looking at Tony-really looking at him. "Are you ready to come out?" He wouldn't push Tony out of the work closet. Or the personal one, either. Alex knew well that it was a very individual decision and one that he didn't take lightly. Not for himself, but sure as hell not on Tony's behalf.

"I…," Tony hesitated for a moment. It really wasn't an easy decision to make, but this was his life. He couldn't keep hiding who he was. When there was no one, it was okay, it was easy to pretend that part of him didn't exist. But he didn't want that for his lover, no matter how difficult it'd make his life. "I'm ready," Tony finally said, looking into Alex's penetrating gaze.

"You're sure?" Alex asked quietly. He knew it was a big thing, especially given how Tony felt about Jeth and the hero worship his lover shared for Jeth. "He won't judge you, Tony. He took my sexuality in stride."

"I'm sure," Tony held Alex's gaze. "I know he won't. This is our lives, remember? No more hiding. I don't want to have to sneak around. You deserve better than that."

"So do you," Alex replied, pressing his mouth to Tony's. He kissed his lover deep, ignoring the wolf whistle someone on the street gave them. His arms came around Tony, and Alex deepened the kiss, mouth moving over the other man's in gentle sweeps.

Tony smiled into the kiss, and melted into Alex when the other man's arms moved to the small of his back.

The kiss was full of promises, of hope. So much so that when they finally came apart, it took Tony awhile to come back to the fact that they were kissing right there in the middle of a busy street. It was also then he realized that he was so turned on by Alex's kisses that he was half hard already, and that Alex was fully aware of what was going on. He groaned into Alex's shoulder when Alex tightened his hold on him. "Did you really just kiss me in the middle of the street?"

"Yep, think we just broke you right out of the closet, Tony," Alex replied. He leaned in, taking another teasing kiss from Tony, groaning into his mouth. When he broke away, he was just as turned on as Tony. "Twenty minutes drive should give us enough time to calm down," he said between panting breaths.

"It better, because I don't think Gibbs would want to see our hard-ons," Tony grinned as they began to walk back to Tony's place to get the car.

Twenty minutes later, Tony found himself getting out of the car in front of Gibbs' house, stumbling over the sidewalk because of his nervousness.

Here goes nothing, he thought as he trailed after Alex onto Gibbs' front steps.

Alex squeezed Tony's hand. "I promise it will be okay, Tony."

"I know," Tony squeezed back. "Let's go."

Alex nodded, striding up the stairs and knocking three times on the door before opening it. He expected Jeth to be in the basement, but instead found him on the couch, glasses on, newspaper across his lap. Good. He was less intimidating this way. The basement was too firmly his domain.

"Hey, Jeth," Alex said, tugging Tony through the door. "Thanks for the loaner of the boat. I wanted to take him out, show him what it is like. How I have the lure of the open water in my veins." Alex stopped, aware he was talking too much. He sucked in a deep breath, waiting for his brother's response. He was much more nervous than he realized.

Alex walked into the kitchen and took out three beers. It was too early to drink, but these were special circumstances. He opened the tops on the bottles and handed them out, aware that his hand was shaking. Hell, his whole body was. When everyone had a beer of his own, Alex came back around Tony, standing behind him and hugging him close for a second, his hands wrapped just above Tony's waist, before breaking off to the side, snuggling in tight to Tony.

He didn't say anything else, knew his brother had gotten the message, even though Jethro didn't make any outward response. Yet. Alex saw his brother's eyes narrow just slightly, the muscles in his jaw tensing for a moment before they relaxed.

"DiNozzo," Gibbs greeted. "Alex." He took his glasses off, watching the two as they danced around what they wanted to tell him. He'd wait it out—he had a hell of a lot of patience. And these two had to tell him in their own way and time. He didn't do subtle, even though the message had been received loud and clear.

"Uhm, hiya, boss," Tony began but had no idea how to continue.

This is like fucking 'Meet The Parents'! Tony's mind was running a mile a minute as he took a long drag of the beer Alex had shoved into his hand. Okay, it wasn't that bad. Gibbs wasn't a CIA spook, but considering the man's experiences it was close enough. His hand unconsciously went up to the back of his neck, absentmindedly scratching the short hair there. He felt Alex's hand on his waist, before he was tugged into the other man's arms.

Tony had half expected Gibbs to freak out even though Alex had promised that he wouldn't—not that the man freaked out at all, it was more of a figure of speech, Tony added silently—and half expected to get decked as soon as Gibbs figured out what was going on. But the man just sat there and looked at them with his quirked eyebrow.

"So, uh, Alex and I..." Tony continued, and stopped again, chewing the words over and over in his mouth. "We're... uhm... together."

"Figured that," Gibbs replied. He wasn't stupid; he'd seen them dancing around mutual attraction all week. The long looks, the secretive smiles. He knew when his brother was on the make, and he sure as hell knew when DiNozzo was interested. Gibbs took a long drag of his beer, then decided to add some words. "Before now. Figured it out moment ya met."

Alex watched his brother carefully, cataloguing every bit of body language. When Jeth took a sip of his beer, Alex inched away from Tony, rolling his shoulders to release the tension. His left one popped and cracked and he winced, drinking from his own bottle, his hand shaking.

"Is this going to be a problem?" Alex asked quietly.

"Is it?" Gibbs retorted, looking between both men. "You gonna make it a problem?"

Tony was slightly shocked at Gibbs' words. Were they really that obvious? He stole a glance over to Alex as the other man rolled his tense shoulders. Alex seemed just as nervous as he was.

"No, Boss! I mean, I don't think so. I mean, we won't," Tony said hurriedly when Gibbs asked, tripping over his own words, and he could see the obvious glint of amusement in Gibbs' eyes. "Gah!" Really annoyed at his inability to say the right thing, Tony looked pleadingly at Alex.

"Gah?" Gibbs replied, rolling his eyes. "You two aren't kids," he said, gesturing with his bottle to them. "Acting like a couple of teenagers who got caught." There was nothing to be ashamed of, and it was annoying that they seemed to want to slink around.

Alex watched his brother carefully, leaning in toward Tony as the other man struggled for the right words. "It's okay, babe," he said quietly, even though his voice was shaking a bit.

Alex drew himself up tall, staring into his brother's eyes. Why were they acting as if they needed to be ashamed of this? "Won't be a problem," he told his brother, his voice still a little uncertain, though his confidence was growing.

Tony blushed when Gibbs called them a couple of teenagers. The truth was he kind of felt like one. Aside from Jeanne's mother, he'd never really been in the "meet the parents" type situation before, and that had been a job. This, and the fact that Gibbs was the proverbial parent—and that sounded wrong on so many levels—was nothing short of unsettling for Tony.

He took a deep breath when Alex told him it was okay and tried to relax. "No, it won't be a problem, Boss," Tony said, echoing Alex.

"You two getting to the..." Gibbs waved the beer bottle around, scrutinizing Alex. When he realized what Tony was doing, he winced inwardly, hoping he wasn't screwing this up. "You're wearing his clothes." He didn't mean to sound as shocked as he was and winced, trying not to self-headslap.

"We are," Alex said evenly. "Won't be a one time thing, Jeth, but we can keep this out of work."

Tony could only nod at Alex's words. They don't work on the same team, so there wouldn't be any problems, so long as they kept it out of the office. Feeling slightly braver, Tony straightened his posture. Alex was right; Gibbs wasn't near as upset as Tony had envisioned he'd be. Gibbs looked surprised and amused, but definitely not upset. "Boss?"

"DiNozzo?" Gibbs said back, giving Tony a measuring look. He didn't look like he was slinking around any longer. "Ya gonna let him keep borrowin' your clothes or you gonna plan for this?"

It was clear Tony had something to say, so Gibbs stopped, arching a brow. He didn't quite stare Tony down, though he did give the other man a challenging look, hoping DiNozzo would stand his ground.

"What? Oh, that," Tony had a moment of confusion before he shook it off and shrugged after a quick glance towards Alex. "He's borrowing those for now, but we're gonna figure it out."

Tony looked at Gibbs, his expression now serious. Gibbs wouldn't accept anything but straight answers, so that's what he'd give to the older man.

"Boss, this is important. To me. Alex and I... we're good together. We'll keep it out of the office; it isn't anyone's business but ours. It won't affect how I do my job. I... uh, I just need you to know that," Tony said slowly, careful with his words. "This isn't a one time thing. We both want this."

This was a surprise to Gibbs—and he wasn't easily surprised. He let DiNozzo talk it out at his pace, watching the other man, but not staring him down. It was clear it was important to Tony-hell, to them both. "Keep it out of the office," Gibbs said, injecting every bit of leaderly command in his voice, watching in satisfaction as Alex snapped to attention.

He stepped up to his brother, and cupped his neck, bringing their heads together. When his forehead rested against his brother's, he spoke. "Hope you two know what you're doing," he remarked, his voice much softer now.

"I think we do," Alex replied evenly. "We're not kids, Jeth. We've both been in this situation before. It won't impact work." Any more than it did when I was serving, he added silently.

Gibbs took a long, penetrating look into his brother' eyes and nodded just once. He didn't need to know what had happened, only that it had been hard on Alex, serving and not being able to be himself. Serving in fear. He wouldn't make it any harder on either of them than it had already been. Gibbs let go of Alex's neck and shifted to DiNozzo, not touching him, but staring into his eyes.

"Don't screw this up, DiNozzo," he said quietly. He knew better than anyone the self-sabotaging streak in Tony, and the fact that the man wasn't his masks.

Tony watched as Gibbs stepped up to his brother, seemingly giving Alex their version of "brotherly advice". He'd never seen this side of Gibbs. This caring big brother side. He should be feeling uncomfortable but he was somehow relieved instead.

When Gibbs approached him, Tony stood to attention as he always instinctively did around the man, and looked straight into Gibbs' eyes. He could see the concern there in the icy blue depth, but there was also something else. Support, he concluded after a long hard look.

"I won't, Boss," Tony said, smiling warmly at Gibbs then at Alex. He grabbed hold of Alex's hand as he looked into the other man's eyes. "I won't."

Gibbs respected that Tony looked him right in the eyes like that. Sounded like his message was delivered.

"Good. Drink your beer, guys. Relax," he said, lifting his bottle to them both. "Either of you screw up or get distracted on the job, your ass is mine." He smirked at Tony. "And not in the way you're thinking."

Alex could read the acceptance in his brother's eyes and he nodded, muscles unclenching, and he wrapped Tony in a gentle hug, leading him to the couch. "Relax, like he said."

Tony squirmed a bit, trying to get comfortable on the couch after plopping himself down beside Alex, and finally calmed down when Alex wrapped an arm around him, holding him close. He sighed contently, unconsciously leaning into Alex. He didn't know what to say or where to start. Gibbs being his usual taciturn self, and Tony unsure of what were appropriate conversation topics. He looked pleadingly to Alex.

Gibbs watched them, trying to keep the smile off his face. This was...unexpected. And a part of him was very happy with this development, while the other part was just worried. These guys didn't have an easy road of it, had chosen a hard road, and he couldn't help but be a little bittersweet at the choices they'd made.

"So we're going to do some sailing today," Alex started. "Can you believe country club boy here hasn't ever been?"

"That so?" Gibbs replied, arching a brow.

"Well, I've been on a boat, just not the one driving the damn thing and it's usually a motorboat and not a sailboat," Tony shrugged, blushing slightly. "Sailing isn't something that you could just do, you know? I just never got the chance to learn as a child and after my dad—" he stopped suddenly.

Why the hell did had he brought up his father? Gibbs knew about his past already, but Alex... he didn't want to load his emotional burden on Alex so early on in their relationship. Tony sighed and continued with a wry smile. "Anyways. Never been. Got any tips, Boss?"

Deciding Tony'd given as big an opening as Gibbs was gonna get, he took it. "After your con artist of a father what?"

Alex blinked a couple of times. This was different from what he'd been told by Tony. Then again, he knew he shouldn't take things at face value with Tony. He squeezed the other man and held him a little tighter. He wouldn't say anything and disturb this; he wanted to know more.

"Boss…" Tony sighed at Gibbs words, and ducked his head in resignation. He twiddled his thumb nervously. He didn't want to bring up his father, period. It hurt to talk about his past, and from past experiences, he knew the emotional baggage alone was enough to scare pretty much everyone away. But he knew Gibbs' tone of voice.

"After my father disinherited me at twelve, and sent me to a boarding school, all hopes of family related activities—like sailing—were basically non-existent. Not that there were much in way of family activities to begin with. I got really good at entertaining myself as a child," Tony shrugged, saying nonchalantly, and looked towards Gibbs. "You happy now, Boss?"

Gibbs sensed Tony had said all he could right now, and it was an important first step. "Did good, DiNozzo. It's a start," Gibbs said evenly. He jerked his head toward the kitchen, standing and knowing DiNozzo would follow him. It was time for a little old-fashioned pep talk.

Alex started to get to his feet, but Gibbs waved him down with a hand motion. "You," he said, pointing to Tony. "With me."

Tony swallowed hard. What the hell did Gibbs want now? Tony really didn't know what Gibbs had in mind, and the uncertainty was making Tony fidgety as he stood to follow Gibbs into the kitchen.

"Boss?" Tony asked hesitantly. "You... uh... you want to talk?"

Gibbs did something he rarely did. He rested his hands on Tony's shoulders, staring him down, gazing into Tony's clear green eyes and reading the emotion there. "Ya got something good going here, DiNozzo. With Alex," He clarified, squeezing Tony's shoulders. "Ya got a choice. Let Alex in or not. If ya don't, you're gonna screw the pooch here."

Gibbs sighed, looking over Tony's shoulder before meeting his eyes. He'd heard from Ducky a few times that Tony was like a younger him—and it showed. Before Gibbs had changed, he'd been a lot like Tony, with the masks. He wished someone—Mike maybe—had told him what an idiot he'd been. Maybe he and Stephanie could have made it work.

But that was all water under the bridge. For the first time in a lot of years, Gibbs was content to be alone.

"Exhausting," he added, hoping Tony would take up the thread.

Tony looked at Gibbs, mildly shocked, and was speechless for a moment. Of all the things that Gibbs could've said to him, this didn't even make the list. But he understood what Gibbs was trying to say. He'd never been brave enough to let anyone in, not even Jeanne. Tony was used to hiding himself behind his fratboy masks, walling himself off and never letting anyone get too close.

Except for Gibbs, who was never fooled for a second by his redirections and diversions.

He knew that that was the reason why none of his relationships worked, but he just couldn't open himself up. He'd been hiding behind those seemingly bulletproof masks for too long and like Gibbs said, it became exhausting.

But Alex was different, Tony remembered. He wanted this, wanted a future with Alex, and opening up would be the first step.

"I know," Tony nodded then smiled. "I'll try. It's not going to be easy, but I will try."

Tony looked down briefly at his own hands before looking back up at the older man. "Thank you, Gibbs."

The words were simple, but Tony knew that Gibbs would understand what he was trying to convey through his words.

Gibbs brought a hand up, ruffling Tony's hair. "Atta boy," he said, allowing the affection he felt for DiNozzo to shine through for a second. "Never easy," Gibbs replied, letting his hand drop back to Tony's shoulder. "Gotta decide if you're worth it. If not..." Gibbs gestured to the basement. It was as frank as he'd been to Tony, but he knew Tony needed to hear it, and he wouldn't hear it from his useless father.

"You are worth it," Gibbs finished, his voice strong, his conviction clear.

Tony beamed at Gibbs' words, those rare praise that Gibbs had bestowed upon him. He had passed some sort of test that Gibbs had given him, and while it wouldn't necessarily be smooth sailing from here on in—far from it, most likely—Tony felt honored and relieved that Gibbs found him worthy. Worthy of entrusting his own brother's happiness to. That had meant everything to Tony, more than words could describe.

Turning around, Tony grinned, and looked at his lover, noting the look of support and worry in his eyes. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and strolled back over to the couch, where Alex sat watching he and Gibbs talk. He plopped himself down next to Alex, curling slightly up against the man, and snuggled closer when Alex wrapped an arm around his shoulder. Yep, definitely "Meet The Parents".

Gibbs watched Tony head back to Alex and grabbed a Tupperware container of muffins, following Tony out. They looked kinda right the way they were sitting. Gibbs tossed the muffins on the table, grinning. "Muffins and beer. Great breakfast."

Alex had no idea what they talked about, but their body language was relaxed, so he tried to be relaxed. When Tony came back and snuggled in, Alex couldn't resist hugging the other man close. "Everything good?" he asked quietly, eyeing the muffins his brother plopped down.

"Yep. Everything's good," Tony smiled, pecking a kiss to Alex's cheek. "Perfect, actually."

"Perfect?" Alex echoed, looking from Tony to his brother. Alex arched a brow.

Ignoring Gibbs' knowing grin and Alex's curious look, Tony reached for a muffin. He broke it in halves, stuffed one of them into Alex's hand and began to nibble on the other. "At least it's healthier than the frat-house version. Donuts and stale beer don't mix, I'll tell you that much."

"Beer and donuts? While I was eating good stuff, you were eating crap." Alex took an experimental bite of the half of a muffin Tony gave him, making a small noise of happiness. He wondered if Tony knew Jeth had probably made these himself.

Alex strolled into the kitchen, grabbing some butter and jelly, and brought them out. "Strawberry jelly brings out the hoppy taste in beer," he replied, a small smile on his face.

"Really?" Tony watched skeptically as Alex dressed his half of muffin with plenty of butter and strawberry jelly. But his bite from the half in his own hand had Tony sighing in content. "Mmm, these are good!" He was going to have to harass Gibbs into telling him where he got them. Later.

Gibbs watched them, unable to stop smiling. They had a way about them. He broke up another muffin, buttering it liberally, and eating a bit bite, watching as Alex and Tony relaxed against each other. Eventually, they'd want to leave, but he liked that they felt they could relax here and be real.

Gibbs swallowed hard, weighing his words carefully. He wanted to let them know in words that he approved, but words were so hard for him. "Look right together," he finally said.

As they stood by the door, putting their jacket back on and getting ready to head out, Tony thought back to Gibbs' comment on them looking 'right' together. He turned towards the man and held out a hand, which Gibbs took, for a shake, and then drew the older man into a one-armed hug.

"Thanks, Boss," Tony said, quietly against Gibbs' ear. "For everything."

Gibbs started to stiffen when Tony hugged him, then relaxed, even patting the other man's back. "Anytime," he whispered in a tone only DiNozzo could hear. These two had a chance, and Gibbs recognized that.

"We'll stop by tomorrow," Alex said, motioning to the gear his brother had loaned them. "And thanks."

Gibbs grunted, waving them out.

"That went well," Alex remarked as they walked back to Tony's car. He wondered what his new lover was thinking.

"Yeah, it did, didn't it?" Tony smiled at Alex as he rounded to the driver side and got in. "I don't think I've ever seen this side of Gibbs. I kept flashing back to somewhere between 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Meet the Parents'. I thought Gibbs was going to kill me there in the kitchen." Tony blinked. "Actually, he probably still would if I mess this up."

He looked over to Alex, sitting next to him, and grabbed the man's hands. They felt slightly rough and callused. Working hands. "Not going to mess this up," Tony said, looking into Alex's eyes.

"Neither of us are," Alex replied, watching Tony. "Betting you've been around as much as I have, and I'm ready to settle down. With someone worth waiting for."

Alex couldn't quite believe the words as they were coming out of his mouth, and he clamped his jaw shut in case he said any more. He'd said enough for now.

Tony gasped at Alex's admission. He could feel the tension building in the man as Alex's grip tightened. If this were a movie there would be dramatic music playing in the background right now. Tony could tell that Alex was just as shocked at his own words as Tony was.

But the shock passed quickly and all that was left in Tony was an overwhelming sense of rightness and joy. He continued to look at Alex, at those beautiful blue eyes and he just knew. Knew that he was ready.

Tony swallowed down the urge to tease Alex for his words, and cupped the other man's face, bringing him into a tender kiss. "I think I want to be that someone."

Alex kissed tony deeply, his hand digging into Tony's hair. He couldn't say any more—didn't dare say any more right now. It was too much-too much intensity, to much need. Too much...just too much.

When they broke away, he was panting. "You sure?" he asked, his voice and body shaking.

Tony was just as out of breath, and he could only nod in agreement. "I'm sure," he said when he finally managed to get it out. "I know it's only been... oh God it hasn't even been a day yet. But I know I want this," Tony said, making sure he was speaking each word clearly. "I..."

He couldn't get it out. Tony looked at Alex, slightly desperate, tugging the other man's hand and placed it where his heart was, hoping that Alex would understand the words he was unable to say out loud.

Words he didn't know the true meaning of, until today.

Alex nodded. There weren't words for what he was feeling-what they were feeling. He nodded, too choked up to find a way to speak. He could only gulp back his emotion until his eyes stopped burning and he could swallow around the lump in his throat

"You ready? Sailing?" he finally asked.

"Yeah," Tony took in a couple of deep breaths, letting them out slowly, and put the car in gear. "Let's go."

TBC