Hello all! I'm finally posting a new story. I'm sorry for the long hiatus, but the family situation I mentioned while posting "Gunny's Whore" reached its tragic conclusion two weeks later. My Grandfather died after a long illness and we were left physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Now things are better, and so I'm starting to post again. I hope you'll enjoy this story, the long awaited sequel/companion story of "The Perfect Match".

Always Perfect, Always you

By Gunnery Sergeant

Sequel/companion story to "The Perfect Match"

Thank you so much to Finlaure, my terrific beta reader.

May 2006

Anthony DiNozzo didn't like to wait, standing by a car, doing nothing. Especially when it was Friday evening, and he had planned to spend it with his lover, eating grilled steak, sanding the boat and then making love well into the night, taking full advantage of the fact they were out of rotation for the weekend.

But all those plans had gone down the drain when, just before 1700, Gibbs had received a call from Director Shepard, telling him his team had to cover for another team. Those team members had all ended up in the hospital due to food poisoning caused by something they had eaten at lunch.

Jethro had protested. They had just come off of a very tiring and stressful week that had seen them trying to catch a multiple murderer before he killed again. He told Shepard to send someone else. Alas, there hadn't been anyone else with the right level of security clearance available for the task, thus Gibbs had to swallow his objections and obey.

So the team had driven to Portsmouth Harbor, where Gibbs had to be the contact for an undercover NCIS agent, Abog Galib, who had infiltrated an Abu Sayyaf terrorist cell.

The plan called for Gibbs to board the Bakir Kamir, a Turkish ship, along with a custom inspector for a routine passport check, and then 'arrest' Galib on some technicality, in order to take him to the HQ, get his information and then send him to Gitmo, where he would continue his undercover mission.

Tony had watched Gibbs board the ship about an hour before, and he hoped it won't be much longer before the older man returned with their 'prisoner'.

As he looked toward the Bakir Kamir, he let his mind wander and, predictably, his thoughts focused on his boss and lover. And how could they not since the following week it would be thirteen years since the day they first met each other?

Thirteen years since a fateful car trip had shaped Tony's life in a way no one had ever predicted.

He had little memory of that first day, aside from the car being hit, because of the drugs he had been given, but he remembered everything of the following two days, spent strolling along to a taciturn NCIS agent with a weird haircut and beautiful blue eyes.

He remembered the pain he had felt when his companion had called him "freak", and the older man's heartfelt apology the following day. Most of all, Tony remembered the night his body had burned with an unknown, overwhelming need, and how Agent Gibbs had given him relief and, by doing so, had made him experience sensations he had never felt before. Tony also remembered waking up the following morning to the stunning realization of discovering something had changed inside him. He was matched! He was bonded! He was hyper-aware of his companion; of his match. He had never felt as happy and complete in his life. Until the moment the sound of someone throwing up and a terrible wave of anguish had invested him.

The fall from paradise had been quick. Tony had known at once there wouldn't be a happy ending for him and Agent Gibbs. He had felt at once that while the older man was ready to sacrifice his career to free Tony from his obligations toward Madeleine Fairchild, it didn't mean he wanted the younger man in his life as his Perfect Match. Gibbs was full of guilt and regret, and acting out of duty, not out of love. In a scant few minutes, Tony had understood that forcing the older man to deal with him now, would only cause resentment in the NCIS agent—and that was something he wanted to avoid at any cost. So he had convinced Gibbs to go on as intended, and they had parted ways later that evening.

Tony had been young back then, full of optimism, naïve, and truly convinced he could have a good life with Madeleine Fairchild. Maybe not the best, not the happiest, but good all the same… He had been wrong.

He had had no idea of how much being matched would have changed him deep inside, and what impact his Match's absence would have on his life.

Tony sighed, his eyes staring the calm ocean, as his mind continued to wander in the past.

The ten years he had Gibbs had spent separated had been as lonely and cold as the harbor was tonight. Ten years during which his first thought in the morning and his last thought before falling asleep had been for the man he loved, missed, and longed for.

When Madeleine had died, Tony had found himself suddenly unable to control his longing a moment more. So he had used her contacts to find Gibbs' home address and travelled to Alexandria. He had lost count of how many times he rehearsed his speech during the journey, but all of his carefully prepared words had left him when the door of the well-kept two story house had been opened by a red headed woman with a gleaming wedding band on her left ring finger. The woman, Gibbs' wife, had informed him her husband was serving as agent afloat on a carrier in the Mediterranean Sea and that he would be away for 5 more months.

Tony had just nodded at her words, feeling numb, broken hearted…empty. Gibbs was married, and it meant that once again there was no room for the young man in his heart. It meant Tony would never see his greatest dream become reality.

So he had then returned to New York and the Fairchild Estate, not knowing what to do with himself and his life. He knew he could continue to work there, but really, as much as he loved books, he was too much of an active guy to be a librarian for his whole life.

And also, for the first time in his existence, he was free to do what he wanted, without having to please anyone but himself. The fact he couldn't realize one of his dreams didn't mean he couldn't go after the other. He had always wanted to be a cop and now – also thanks to the money Madeleine had left him – he could become one.

Tony smiled as he shifted his weight against the car. The police academy had been a breeze for him. He had excelled in every class and had been snatched by the Homicide as soon as he graduated. He had done well there, and had been promoted to detective quickly. Everyone had been predicting a fantastic career for him, but then Tony had started feeling restless. So he had moved to Philadelphia. Things had been good there too…good, but not enough. There had been something missing, so he had moved again, this time to Baltimore.

By the time the restlessness had kicked in again, Tony had been aware of its cause. New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore: it didn't take a genius to see each move had taken him closer to DC—to Gibbs. His rational mind might have had accepted the older man would never be his, but his heart and instinct no. Gibbs was like a magnet for him, inexorably pulling Tony closer and closer.

And then one day, as Tony was starting to think he could move to the Metro PD, someone dropped a handful of NCIS recruiting brochures in the break room. The federal agency was looking for agents to be assigned in their HQ at the Navy Yard—the same office where Gibbs worked!

Tony had taken a whole of two minutes to make up him mind after finishing reading the brochure and then he had acted, his rational mind following the will of his heart. He had resigned from the Baltimore PD and applied to NCIS.

The rest, as they say, was history.

He had been accepted, attended a FLECT and had been assigned to a senior agent. And then the moment he had both waited for and feared had arrived…the evening he had gone to visit Gibbs to tell him he was going to work at NCIS and had asked if they could become friends.

He had gone to visit the man in private not just because he was anxious about Gibbs' reaction, but was also concerned about his own. It had been a good idea, because being in presence of his Match for the first time in ten years had been overwhelming. Just like that first morning after their bonding, his whole body had sung at the sight of the man he had longed for so long.

Gibbs hadn't changed much since the last time they had seen each other. His eyes had still been a beautiful blue, his hair dark grey and cut in a more appealing way, and his smile had been as dazzling as he remembered. His heart hadn't changed either: it was still full of pain, regrets, hurt and guilt. But it had also been a caring heart, and Gibbs had readily accepted to try and become friends.

Tony smiled again as he thought back at the months during which he and Jethro had taken the first steps in their relationship.

Being near his Match almost on daily bases had been intoxicating for Tony. He felt like a thirsty man finally allowed to soak and to drink of the purest, coolest water one could dream of. He had been enthralled with the older man and would have gladly spent hours just looking at him or hearing him talk—not that Jethro would ever talk for hours! In those months Tony had fully understood what being "head over heels" in love meant, and how his Match's presence truly completed him, in a way he had never thought possible. The affection Gibbs had bestowed on him had been wonderful and sincere and had made Tony hope for more…he had made him hope one day Jethro would accept and love him as more than friend.

However, he had always took care to control in order not to betray his desires, and to keep his hands and lips to himself. He had always been careful not to push too much or too soon, and he had blessed his nature, that had allowed him to know exactly what Jethro wanted, needed and could accept. Tony had slipped only twice, one just after Chris' death, the other a few months later, but nothing wrong had resulted from it. Gibbs hadn't been angry or had rebuffed him.

Little by little Tony had begun to feel a change in Jethro. Sincere liking, real care and friendship had replaced most – but not all – of the guilt the older man had felt in his regards. Some had remained, because Gibbs had been well aware he couldn't give Tony everything he needed.

Thus, in the hope to assuage a bit of that guilt—Tony didn't want his Match to feel guilty because he was hetero—he had started making up girlfriends. He had never told Jethro how hard had been to be with Madeleine Fairchild in a sexual way, so it had been easy to let Gibbs believe he was getting more than some on the evenings he didn't spent at the older man's place. That, of course, had led him to commit the idiocy of opening a SWAK letter…a mistake that could have cost him his life, but that had also been worth it, because it had pushed Jethro to declare himself, and to show Tony his friendly love had turned in something else...

Tony chuckled as his cheeks warmed at the memories of their first time together as real lovers. Then he shivered when a blast of wind hit him; it was still cold to be May and the sky threatened rain. It was best to return inside the car…spending the weekend nursing a cold wasn't among his plans.

The opened the door, got into the passenger seat near Ziva and rubbed his hands to warm them.

"This is so 'Usual Suspects'," he commented lightly, remembering the movie he had seen with Jethro the previous week.

"Tony, your dying words will be 'I've seen this film'," Ziva, their Mossad officer on loan, chided him.

"Gibbs even looks a little bit like Gabriel Byrne," he went on, ignoring her. They both have wonderful blue eyes, but Jethro is way hotter...

"Okay. Who is Gabriel Byrne?" Ziva asked, unable to resist her curiosity.

"An actor who boards a mysterious ship like this one searching for Keyser Sose."

"Another actor?"

"No. Keyser Sose is a character in the film who may or may not exist. "

"I'm confused," Ziva commented, and she was not joking. Tony could feel her confusion, and he enjoyed it. He liked to keep her on her toes and unbalanced, lest she got too cocky because she could kill a man eighteen different ways with a paper clip.

"So am I. And I saw the DVD twice," McGee interjected from the back seat.

"'The Sound of Music' confuses you, Probie," Tony snorted.

"I love that movie!" Ziva exclaimed brightly, and opened her mouth, preparing to sing a probably out of tune line, but Tony was quicker and covered her mouth before a single sound could leave her throat.

"One note and I will lock you in a room and make you listen to 'It's a Small World' for twenty-four hours straight! Do we understand each other?"

"Mm-hmm," she replied with a nod.

"Good," Tony said. He relaxed back against his seat, and started telling her about the 'Usual Suspects' plot, but he didn't go beyond a couple of scenes when the flash and rumble of an explosion made him jump.

He quickly got out of the car and for a moment just stared in disbelief at the smoke and flames coming from a side of the Bakir Kamir's deck. Then an urgent cry rose from his throat, "Boss!"

He started running toward the ship, barely aware of Ziva and McGee following him. He got on board in record speed. When he was on the deck, he helped the crew to contain the fire, all the while frantically scanning around with his eyes as he hoped to see Jethro's face.

When the fire was finally extinguished, he ordered McGee to secure the ship to avoid anyone fleeing the scene. Then, with heavy steps and a heart full of dread, made his way toward where the explosion had taken place.

The laundry room was filled with smoke. There were shreds of metal everywhere, on the floor and ebbed into the blackened walls. And it wasn't just metal...the air was filled with the sickening smell of burned flesh that meant someone had been a victim of the blast.

Tony struggled to refrain from vomiting as he thought he might be walking over Jethro's remains, and made his way inside, looking around. The room was mostly bare, but for a big washer and a dryer lined against the left wall and...What was it?

Tony quickly made his way toward the dark shape he spotted in a corner, partially hidden by the machines, and his heart jumped in his chest when he saw it was Gibbs. He bent near the huddled form, noting the closed eyes and burned skin and reached out with a shaking hand to check for a pulse. For a moment he panicked when he couldn't feel anything but then, after he adjusted his fingers over his lover's neck, he felt it. Jethro's was still alive, but his pulse was weak and erratic.

Tony turned around and shouted to Ziva, who was standing on the doorway, "He's alive! Get an ambulance here! Now!"

Then he returned to focus on the person he loved most in this world and murmured, "Hold on, Jethro, hold on. Help is coming...Just hold on."