Rating: FRAO
Warnings: M/M, sexual situations, language
Spoilers: Tag to Under Covers, 3x08
Genre: Pre-slash, angst, romance, first time, h/c
Pairing: DiNozzo/Gibbs

Word count: 28,500++ in 9 chapters - complete!

Betas: Annie B, combatcrazy - this chapter has been expanded upon but has not been betaed again.
Note: thanks to everyone who has left such encouraging comments, including guests - I'd love you to visit my LiveJournal page.

Chapter 9 - Smooth Sailing

Welcome aboard the good ship Asskisser. Nice day for a sail! Pucker up, me 'earties!
~ Dr. House, from 'House M.D.'

The next morning Tony was just coming out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist when Gibbs appeared in the doorway, smelling of fresh air and coffee.

"Talked to the manager at the marina," Gibbs said as he eyed Tony appreciatively. "Boat seems sound. We should head out soon." He barely paused before asking sarcastically, "You ever wear a shirt, DiNozzo?"

Tony looked down at his bare chest. "Apparently not, Boss." It wasn't his fault that Gibbs kept catching him when he was half-dressed, or that apparently he couldn't keep his eyes off him. Gibbs raised an eyebrow so Tony quickly amended, "I mean, apparently not, Jethro."

Tony dried himself off and turned his back on Gibbs when he slipped on his underwear. He was trying not to be self-conscious, which was tough to do when Gibbs was watching every move he made with a slight frown on his face. Okay, so he looked like shit because the bruises on his torso and face had changed into some truly gross colors, a cross between puce (as Ducky would say) and plum, but he wished Gibbs would stop staring or would at least say something.

Oh God, maybe Gibbs regretted having sex with him. Maybe this was going to be the big kiss-off, maybe things would be so fucking awkward from now on they wouldn't be able to work together, maybe – Tony told his doubting mind to shut the hell up. After everything they'd done together last night, with mouths and hands and dicks, you'd have thought things would be easy, but now they'd seen each other naked, it seemed so…so serious. No doubt about it, sex changed the whole game.

Tony glanced at Gibbs, but his expression was hard to read. He hadn't advanced into the room, just leaned against the open doorway like he was expecting Tony to say or do something. Problem was, not only did Tony not have a clue what to say, but he was starting to think about how he could avoid sitting across from Gibbs during breakfast. Maybe once they were out on the boat, busy with…with whatever one does on a boat…things would sort themselves out and they'd get back into their natural groove. On your six, Boss.

Christ, this was difficult. Last night had been wonderful, had exceeded Tony's expectations and fulfilled all his fantasies. Tony wanted to tell Gibbs that he'd been blown away by their lovemaking the night before. That it was special, being his first time and all, that he loved him, had for a long time now he thought about it. It sounded way too girly to say aloud, even if it were true.

Maybe he could say something like:

'You can drink cocoa in my bed any day, Jethro.'

'Was it as good for you as it was for me, 'cause I got to tell you, man, you kick ass.'

'If I'd had known how fucking intense being fucked by you was gonna be, I'd have put my ass in the air a whole hell of a lot sooner, Boss.'

'I've realized, after a great deal of thought – in fact, after what is probably way too much introspection – that I am thoroughly, completely, absolutely in love with you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs.'

Hell, he'd never be so brave. Instead, Tony busied himself, finding some warm clothes and pulling them on with brisk, efficient movements, all the time aware that Gibbs was watching him. He winced when he bent over to tie up his sneakers. Their lovemaking had left him pretty sore and his ribs were aching a bit, although the hot shower had helped.

As soon as Tony was dressed and couldn't delay any longer, he approached Gibbs. Gibbs moved a few feet towards him and appeared to be waiting for something. Tony wasn't quite sure what for – maybe for Tony to finish getting ready so they could go down for breakfast together. This was crazy, the pair of them standing a couple of feet from each other, Gibbs almost-glaring at him, and neither of them able to say anything, so Tony took the initiative. He stepped right up to Gibbs and extended his arms, palms up, like he was offering himself up for some kind of sacrifice. "Um…I got the bandages wet again."

Gibbs' expression relaxed and he asked, in an even voice, "You want me to take care of that?"

Feeling hot all over, Tony wanted Gibbs to take care of a lot more than his wrists. He pushed up the sleeves of his sweater and nodded. "If you don't mind."

Gibbs surprised Tony by reaching out and drawing him flush to his chest in a warm, all-encompassing hug. "Morning," was all Gibbs said, his breath hot against Tony's hair. There was a kiss to his temple, and a hint of soap and aftershave as smooth cheeks brushed against each other. Heads angled and found the right fit, warm lips met and opened up to each other, and all Tony could think was that this is where he belonged.

The kiss – and oh God, what a kiss it was – deepened, and Tony moaned into Gibbs' mouth and tightened his arms around his broad back, all the time wondering how the hell he had ever made it through his entire life without being kissed by Gibbs. Forget mundane things like food and boats and everything else they'd ever thought they required in order to live. This was it. This was all the sustenance he'd ever need, thought Tony, reeling from Gibbs' kisses.

All of Tony's worries about the inevitable embarrassing morning-after encounter, and thoughts of avoiding breakfast, and rejection, just melted away. He was so stupid; what had he been thinking? This was Gibbs, Gibbs, the man whose loyalty knew no bounds, who committed himself completely to any cause he took on, who believed in never leaving a man behind. The acts of last night – the sex, making love, the union of their bodies and their minds – to Gibbs every single one of those acts, every single touch was a promise.

And now Gibbs' tongue was doing a thorough search of Tony's mouth, inadvertently sliding across a tender spot where his inner cheek had been mashed against a tooth when Cord had backhanded him. Not caring that it hurt, Tony relaxed into the slow, deep kiss with a small sound of acceptance. When Gibbs' lips moved to his cheek and then suckled at the soft skin under his jaw, and his hot, wet tongue began to investigate his ear, Tony murmured, "Oh God, that's…that's good…but…um…are we…sailing?"

Gibbs pulled away, slowly and with obvious reluctance, but he retained Tony's hand as if he couldn't quite bear to break contact with him. "Oh yeah. We could do something else if you want."

With a smile, because he liked having his hand held, and also because he couldn't remember Gibbs ever caring enough to ask him what he would like to do, Tony said, "No, I want to go sailing. Want to see my Marine in action. I mean action at sea because I saw plenty of action last night in bed."

"You sure as hell did," Gibbs said with a smirk.

Tony had a strong desire to see Gibbs handling a sailboat, but at that moment he'd do anything that Gibbs wanted to do, go anywhere he wanted to go. Tony said truthfully, "I just want to be with you."

With a satisfied smile, Gibbs said, "Good, 'cause you're stuck with me." They grinned at each other until they both realized at about the same time that they'd better get a move on. Gibbs asked, "Your wrists. Where's your first-aid kit?"

"In my bag." Tony released Gibbs' hand and pulled his kit out of his overnight bag. He handed Gibbs the small bag that contained bandages, tape and antibiotic cream, and they sat next to each other on the bed.

"Couldn't fit your big tackle box in your suitcase?" asked Gibbs.

Tony retorted with a crooked smile, "Didn't know I was going to get tackled."

"On the beach or in bed?" Gibbs asked, pulling out the supplies. His head was bowed a little but Tony could see that he was trying hard to suppress a smile.

"The beach was out of left field, but the bed…now that was nice. A little unexpected, but nice all the same." Tony liked the familiar way Gibbs was treating him, and the way he ducked his head when he smiled, as if it was something he didn't want to get caught doing. But Tony, being Tony, wondered if this Gibbs was just a temporary state of being, a special sweet-loving-tender-endearing Gibbs who showed himself only because they were in this secluded cottage, far from their real lives.

"Just nice?"

"It was good. Very very good."

Gibbs' blue eyes twinkled. "Damn right it was. You up for more goodness later on?"

"I could be convinced," said Tony with exaggerated nonchalance.

"I can be convincing."

"You bragging, Jethro?"

"Nope, just telling it like it is." Gibbs smiled to himself as he applied first-aid cream to Tony's wrists and then wrapped fresh gauze around them. The left one was a bit raw and it had bled due to the roughhousing on the beach, but the stitches were intact. Gibbs asked, as he applied some tape to hold the bandage in place, "This one sore?"

Tony nodded. "A little." Gibbs placed a kiss in the center of his palm, causing Tony to flush. His dick twitched, too, and he hoped the growing bulge in his pants wasn't too obvious.

Gibbs made no bones about checking out Tony's crotch. He looked up to meet Tony's eyes and grinned. "You'd better add an extra box of condoms and lube to that travel kit from now on."

"Yes, sir," Tony responded briskly. "Extra lube, too." Blue eyes searched his face, unduly concerned, and Tony wondered what had caused Gibbs to change into serious-mode so suddenly. Tony sent an inquiring look at him, but there was no response. It didn't look like Gibbs was going to explain anytime soon, so Tony asked, "Is there something wrong?"

"You're sure you're okay?" Gibbs asked quietly.

"Uh, yeah, I'm fine," Tony replied, still unsure what going on. "How about you? You okay?"

Gibbs cleared his throat and ignored Tony's question. "I mean…are you sore?"

Tony glanced at his wrists and shrugged. "Nothing new. I should probably avoid contact sports for a while," he said with a short laugh. Gibbs was looking at him intently, like he expected Tony to figure out what was going on in his mind – which wasn't all that easy at times. Tony was about to suggest that Gibbs spell it out when he caught on. "Oh! Sore. You mean…sore." He felt his face heating up and man, he hated that, and he had to look away. Gibbs wasn't having any of that. He took Tony's hand and compelled him to look at him. There was real concern in Gibbs' expression so Tony squeezed his hand reassuringly.

Before he could say anything, Gibbs said tersely, "Hey, don't hide it if you…Look, if I hurt you…I can use some of that antibiotic cream on you and…Damn it, Tony, do you need me to glove up and take care of it or not?"

Tony wasn't sure whether to laugh or die of embarrassment. He raised one hand to prevent Gibbs from uttering another word. "No, no, I'm fine." Gibbs narrowed his eyes skeptically, so Tony admitted, "Well, yeah, it's a bit sore but…uh…I checked and everything's ship-shape back there." Gibbs looked relieved and Tony felt his heart fill with love for the man. Of all the stupid things to get mushy over, this took the cake. Impulsively he hugged Gibbs and kissed his ear. "I love that you care enough to volunteer to stick your finger in my ass, Jethro, but I'm fine. Really."

Gibbs held onto Tony like he never wanted to let him go, and even rocked him a little. Tony was afraid he was going to get overly emotional if they continued with much more of this hugging and stuff. He managed to disentangle himself from Gibbs' arms, even though it just about killed him to do so. "When's high tide?" he asked brightly, hoping to get the show on the road.

Gibbs rubbed his mouth and collected himself. "Uh, yeah. Couple of hours. Guess we'd better go."

Gibbs went ahead down the stairs, rattling off instructions as they made their way to the kitchen. "You grab us some breakfast and I'll pack some grub and coffee to take along. And you'll need something warm to wear and get one of those waterproof jackets for yourself," Gibbs ordered, indicating the outdoor gear hanging in the nearby storage room. "Storm's coming in late this afternoon, but we should be fine."

"Yessir, Cap'n," Tony replied with a salute. Looked like Gibbs was back to normal but Tony hoped that he'd see more of the other Gibbs that evening. Maybe they'd light the fire and have a cuddle on the couch, he thought hopefully.

"You do know your way around a boat, don't you, DiNozzo?"

"Uh, well…" Tony rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Captains Courageous, Dead Calm, Captain Ron? Look, I've never sailed a day in my life, but I've been on boats before. I know enough to duck when the boom comes over but I was always more interested in watching the babes in the bikinis than jibbing the mainsail, if you know what I mean. I guess that now that my priorities have changed I'll be keeping an eye on the Rear Admiral instead," Tony said with a leer. "We can sail in circles for all I care."

"Oh no." Gibbs gave a grin that promised that Tony would be doing some actual work. "You're not going to be watching this time, Tony. You'll be working, following my commands."

Tony wiggled his eyebrows. "You're going to play the black-hearted pirate and I can be the first mate?"

Gibbs got in Tony's face with a scowl that any pirate would be proud of. "No, I'm going to be too busy handling the boat and making sure you don't fall overboard to play games." He leaned in and claimed Tony's mouth in a long, languorous kiss, then pulled back and looked Tony up and down. "I may just have to tie you to the mast to keep you safe."

Tony gave a shaky laugh and said, "Wow! Promise?"


They returned late in the day, soaked from an afternoon rainstorm that had come up from the south faster than the weatherman had anticipated. Tony was exhausted yet invigorated by all the exercise and fresh salty air. Seeing Gibbs mastering the rough waters, in what had quickly seemed to be a way-too-small and fragile sailboat once they were away from land, had been quite an experience. Gibbs had grinned the entire time, obviously enjoying himself thoroughly, and Tony was happy he'd convinced the man to join him for the weekend. He'd never expected it to turn out like this, full of fun and passion and sheer happiness, the likes of which he couldn't remember experiencing ever before.

Back at the cottage, the two men collapsed side by side on the small couch, with big mugs of coffee and brandy sitting on the low table in front of them, and a blazing fire alight in the fireplace. It was exactly as Tony had imagined. Outside it was getting dark and the wind and rain battered the windows, but they were safe and cozy in what Tony was calling their 'love nest.'

Gibbs slipped his arm around Tony's shoulders and pulled him close to place a kiss on his temple. "Thank you," he said quietly.

"My pleasure." Tony turned his head and their mouths met in kiss. It was Tony who pulled away, just enough so he could catch his breath, one hand steadying himself on Gibbs' chest – as much to indicate he needed a moment, as to physically keep his distance.

"Problem?" Gibbs asked, his tone notable for its patience.

"I…it's just that I had a really good time today. Last night, too, and I don't want it to end but–"

"But tomorrow we head back," Gibbs said, completing Tony's sentence for him. "I had a good time. The best."

Tony met Gibbs' eyes, as unsure as Gibbs was confident. "So now what? What's going to happen, Jethro? Because, I've gotta tell you, I'd really like to do this again sometime but we won't be able to get away again for a while and in the meantime…"

Gibbs smiled and ran a hand down the back of Tony's head with long, soothing strokes. "We'll figure it out."

"How exactly?" Tony didn't want to press, but on the other hand he needed to hear from Gibbs where this was going. "I mean what do you see us doing?"

Gibbs shrugged. "More of this."

"Kissing and holding each other and having sex?"

"Yeah." Gibbs' smile was brilliant. "Lots of that."

"Okay. But do we meet at your house or my place? Are we going to keep this quiet or tell anyone?"

Gibbs frowned. "There's someone you need to tell?"

"No, no. Not at all." Tony sighed and moved so he was facing Gibbs. "The thing is, I'd rather not. I want to keep this quiet. Like it is now, where everything's between us and only us. It's sorta special, like we're the only people in the world…"

"So we focus on us," Gibbs said, ever practical.

"Yeah." Tony looked into Gibbs' eyes, trying to figure out what he wanted. "That's what I want but I'll follow your lead, Jethro. Do whatever you want to do."

After a long moment assessing Tony, Gibbs nodded. "We'll keep this between us then. If things change then we'll handle any situation as it comes up." He cupped Tony's cheek and smiled lovingly at him. "I never expected this. I wanted it, just never thought…" He made a vague motion with his free hand and Tony caught it and kissed his palm.

"Me neither. Guess it took me getting beaten up, nearly sliced into little pieces, for me to see." Tony swallowed and then said, "It took me a while to understand what we had, what was going on between us. I didn't look too far beneath the surface, Jethro, didn't see the real you, and I'm sorry it took me so long. I mean, you were there for me. But then you're always there for me." He watched the flames dancing in the hearth for a while and enjoyed the feeling of Gibbs' arm around his shoulders, pulling him close. "I've found that most of people, even my friends, don't try too hard to really see me. It's a lot less trouble to accept things at face value, but sometimes it feels like they don't care enough to look a bit deeper. But you saw right through me, didn't you? Right from the start."

Gibbs pulled Tony's head down to rest on his shoulder. "You're giving me a lot of credit, Tony. I saw something in you right from the start but I didn't see all of you. Not really. Not until…"

Tony raised his head and looked expectantly at Gibbs' face. "When?"

Gibbs thought about it for a while. "About a year ago. Before Kate was killed. I had a feeling." He shrugged but seemed apologetic. "Didn't want to pry into whatever you were trying so damned hard to cover up, Tony. But after you were sick, after you recovered from the plague…I dunno…something changed." He frowned at Tony as if trying to puzzle it out. "I think we both came out of those bad times sort of…aware of each other." Gibbs' face colored a bit and he rubbed his face as if that would hide the flush.

"Attuned," Tony suggested.

"Yeah." Gibbs smiled at him, his eyes sparkling with happiness.

"So now we're so aware of each other, what's it gonna mean? Where do Tony and Jethro live? Who are their friends? What do they do at the weekends?" Gibbs looked so taken aback that Tony feared he'd overstepped some boundary, but he wanted – needed – to know what the ground rules were before they got in any deeper. "You tell us never to assume, Jethro," Tony said gently.

Gibbs nodded. "Okay." He poured some brandy into his coffee and drank the whole mugful before speaking again. "We keep our own places for a while," he said decisively, "but I want you to move in with me right away."

Tony was floored by the unexpected invitation. He imagined waking up within Gibbs's arms, making breakfast side by side, heading off to work knowing that they'd be returning home together, celebrating holidays with each other, making decisions together and being partners in every sense of the word – these were visions he'd never dared to imagine as being possible. But living with Gibbs? "Uh…isn't that jumping the gun a bit? I mean, are you sure? In your home?"

"Can't see either of us wanting to sleep apart," Gibbs said with a shrug. "And I can't build an Amigo sailboat in your living room, Tony. Won't fit."

This was much faster and scarier than he'd expected. "Can I…can I think about it? This is a really big step, Jethro, moving into your home."

Gibbs didn't seem surprised or at all put out. "Sure, take some time. I'm not going anywhere. And it's our home."

That was enough to make Tony get a bit choked up, and Gibbs taking possession of his hand did nothing to ease the feeling this was all too good to be true. Despite needing to take some time to think this over, Tony had a feeling that it wouldn't be long before he moved in with Gibbs, into their home. He managed to say, "Okay," in a soft voice.

"You go out with your friends, with Abby, whatever. But you don't date anyone," Gibbs said almost fiercely.

"Except you," Tony agreed.

"Oh, so you think we're gonna date, do you?" Gibbs sent a mock-frown Tony's way.

"Well yeah. Movies, dinner, boat shows. You know…together…out in public. It's called dating, Jethro," Tony teased.

"Dating, huh?" He looked sideways at the younger man and took his hand. "I could do that. But none of this holding hands crap." Tony laughed and Gibbs colored up a bit. "I mean out there. In here is different."

Tony knew that they would have to change that rule at some point. "Okay. But I want us to get away now and then, like this. Doesn't have to be anywhere fancy. Just the two of us, somewhere we won't be known." He had a feeling they were both going to need that kind of getaway.

Gibbs nodded. "We can do that." He fixed his eyes on Tony and said, "If you want or need something you have to tell me. If I'm not doing enough or doing it right, you tell me. I'm not a mind reader. I don't want to make any mistakes. Besides, I'm sort of out of practice with this kinda stuff."

Tony grinned. "You mean with this relationship kinda stuff, Jethro? Or the sex kinda stuff? I guess it's been a long time for you, hasn't it?"

"Don't push your luck, Tony. I may be older but I'm wiser. And stronger."

Yes, Gibbs was definitely stronger. Tony hugged his lover and said in a low, sexy voice, "That's good because I like it that way. Are we done with all this talk for now? 'Cause now I've got something else in mind." He growled and nipped at Gibbs' jaw.

Gibbs nodded as if it was a done deal. "Sex."

Tony agreed, "Sex is good." God, it was hard to believe he was talking like this with Gibbs, when just a couple of days ago he never would have even imagined they'd be together. It hit him then that this was real, this was his future, and he embraced it with his entire heart. "You know, there was a line in Bus Stop, 1957, with Marilyn Monroe. When Don Murray – he's a virginal cowboy – is about to kiss her, he says, 'When you kiss someone for serious, it's kinda scary, ain't it?'"

"It's scary for you?" asked Gibbs, in an interested sort of way that assured Tony he wasn't making fun of him. It was as if he really wanted to know, as if maybe he felt a little bit scared himself, and was relieved to hear he wasn't the only one who felt that way.

"Scary as hell, but I guess that means it's all the more serious. Right?" Tony looked to Gibbs to confirm they were in accord. He needn't have questioned that they were on the same page; Gibbs' smile told him all he needed to know.

Gibbs started to kiss Tony with intent, but just as they were getting into it, Tony put his hands on Gibbs' chest and pushed him until he stopped. Tony was panting a bit and felt somewhat dazed, but there was one more thing he had to settle before they went any further.

Gibbs sighed. "What now?"

Tony squirmed a little. "You know how this couch looks like it's too short to sleep on?"

"Mmm. Sort of short for a good make-out session. Let's go upstairs."

Tony cringed a little as he spoke. "Hang on, I have to tell you something first. Um, see, it's a convertible couch and it pulls out into a really comfortable bed. I slept on it when I was here before."

Gibbs glared at Tony and said in a dangerous tone, "You were going to make me sleep on this damned short couch last night. Without telling me it pulled out. You itchin' for a headslap, DiNozzo?"

Tony snuggled close and laughed. "Love you, too, Boss."

After a long moment of silence, Gibbs ran his hand up and down Tony's arm, and responded grumpily, "Then stop calling me Boss."

"Okay. Love you, too, Jethro."

"Hmm." He wrapped his arms around Tony and held him tight.

"Does this mean I'm forgiven? 'Cause if I'm not we can try out those leather cuffs of yours as soon as we get home and you can buckle them on my wrists and then tie me down and have your way with me and–"

Gibbs loosened his hold enough so he could see Tony's face. "Shut up, Tony."

"Shutting up, Jethro. Except…before I shut up, can I say one more thing to you?"

Hanging his head, Gibbs sighed. He raised his eyes to meet Tony's and said, "I get the feeling I'm not going to be saying the word 'no' to you very often, Tony."

"Probably not," said Tony, with a broad smile. "Thing is, I've realized, after a great deal of thought – in fact, after what is probably way too much introspection – that I am thoroughly, completely, absolutely in love with you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs."

Gibbs' reply was to pull Tony off the couch and lead him up the stairs to the bedroom. Without saying a word, he slowly undressed Tony, and then himself, and they lay together on the big bed, and Jethro made love to Tony until they were both totally spent, and then they fell asleep, tangled together in more ways than they could count.

***–*** the end ***–***

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