waldos_writings: (NCIS fic)
[personal profile] waldos_writings

Title:  Bottom of the Ninth

Written for: [livejournal.com profile] anyothergirl415 at the [livejournal.com profile] ncis_ficathon
Pairings: Gibbs/DiNozzo

Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 17,865 (posted in 4 parts)
Given Prompt:  Tony/Gibbs, a first date or Gibbs doing his best to woo Tony the way a proper gentleman would

Archive: Please ask first.

 Gibbs realizes that if he and Tony are ever going to have a relationship, he's going to have to do something about it.  It takes almost a year, but he gets there eventually.
Author's Notes:
Thanks every so much to Amadi for her beta job - done fantastically quickly for the size of this story.  She's the one who kept my ghosts from doing jumping jacks. :)

Bottom of the Ninth
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

For the first year Gibbs told himself that Tony was good looking and reasonably smart and dedicated to the job. And given that he was rebuilding his team from scratch now that Stan had been moved to the Seahawk, Gibbs told himself that he was just glad to have someone competent and entertaining to share the shifts with. By the end of the third year he’d stopped lying to himself and stuffed down any feelings other than a little fond affection as far as he possibly could. Tony came in at least once a week with a story about his latest and greatest date and didn’t hesitate to share the details until Gibbs told him to shut the hell up. Most people assumed it was Tony’s lack of professionalism Gibbs was taking issue with, but the truth was Gibbs simply didn’t want the constant reminders that just because he wanted something that didn’t mean he was ever going to get it.

It was well into his third year with Tony, his first year with Kate, that Gibbs got the first inkling that maybe he didn’t have the whole picture when it came to Tony’s personal life. Just because Tony was prone to over-sharing certain details didn’t mean that he was telling the whole truth.

It had come to a head after the Voss case.

Tony hadn’t been badly injured during the fight in the pub, but he’d gotten a couple of bruises and a good crack to the head. He had insisted that since Ducky had cleared him he’d write up his report before going home. Gibbs had been packing up Pacci’s stuff when Kate had started ragging on Tony about what it had been like to kiss a guy. Tony had left then, report unfinished.

Three days afterwards they hadn’t caught a case, but instead of Tony’s usual habit of ramping up his pranks and antics until Gibbs threatened him with cleaning out the evidence locker and the holding cells, Tony had been pretty subdued. Gibbs watched, waiting to see if Tony would say something to give him a clue as to what the problem was or at the very least, snap out of it.

Three days of observing got him one step closer to solving the problem. Tony still horsed around with McGee (who seemed to avoid going back to Norfolk as long as he could) but as soon as Kate tried to jump in Tony clammed up and went back to work on whatever he had going on his computer.

After another day with the same pattern repeating Gibbs tossed his coffee cup into the trash and grabbed his jacket. “DiNozzo,” he said simply, knowing that Tony would have his own jacket and be at the elevator before he was.

“What about me, Gibbs?” Kate asked as she stood, grabbing her coat just in case.

“If I’d wanted you, I’d have said so,” Gibbs said trying to keep any note of reprimand out of his voice.

Tony followed him to the blue sedan and Gibbs drove them to a little sidewalk café that Gibbs knew Tony liked to frequent with Ducky and Kate when they didn’t have cases that would keep them from a friendly lunch.

Tony made reasonably small talk while they waited for their orders, when he stopped to take a breath, Gibbs cut in without preamble. “What’d Kate do to piss you off?”

Tony almost choked on his French fry at the sudden turn of conversation. “Kate?” he asked hoping Gibbs would buy his innocent act.

“You’re fine with me, with McGee, Ducky, Abby… Whenever Kate comes in the squad room you shut down and give her the most minimal answers you can get away with. I haven’t heard her bitching about you invading her privacy in a week.” Gibbs pointed at him with his fork as he spoke.

Tony dropped his half-eaten fry and leaned back in his chair. “And you’re complaining about that?”

Gibbs gave Tony a level glare.

“It’s nothin’, boss. I mean, I give Kate shit, she gives me shit…” He shrugged and began flipping the fries around with his fork.

“Yeah, and usually when she gets in a good one, you take it as an invitation to start a game of one-upmanship. What’s different this time?”

Tony sighed, giving up any pretense of eating. He crossed his arms and stared at the edge of the table for a minute, composing himself. “The night we caught Voss…” he started.

“She asked you something about kissing a guy,” Gibbs put in. He didn’t particularly want to hear Tony say that he was freaked out about kissing a man, but he needed Tony to get out of this funk.

“Yeah. She missed the big point, boss. I didn’t just kiss a guy. I don’t… I don’t give a shit about that. It wouldn’t even have been the first time. But this chick – guy – whatever, she – he…” Tony let out an exasperated sigh, not entirely sure how he was supposed to refer to Voss, “Voss killed Pacci. This asshole killed my friend and I tried to tap that? I mean…” Tony scrubbed his hands through his hair in exasperation. “If I’d picked up a transsexual in a bar and Kate wanted to have a go at me, it would be fine. I’d go through her Blackberry again and give her crap about dating guys named Dwayne or whatever. This wasn’t about him being a him. It was about him being a guy who killed my friend. How the hell does she not get that?”

Gibbs was staring at Tony. Now that he’d started Tony talking, Tony would go for a few minutes. He didn’t want to call attention to the fact that Tony had just admitted to having kissed guys – presumably on purpose – before, but he wasn’t completely convinced he wasn’t hearing what he wanted to in what Tony was saying. He listened to Tony ramble for a few more minutes as he tore his garlic bread apart. “You want me to say something to her?” he finally asked.

“No!” Tony told him firmly. “I don’t want to talk about it with her at all. Even if she would apologize, and I’m not sure she would. Besides, I don’t particularly want her giving me crap over the fact that it wasn’t the kissing-a-guy part that I’m pissed about.”

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. Well, there was the confirmation he wanted. He ruthlessly tamped down on the little ball of hope trying to grow in his gut. He hadn’t made any real progress here. Just because Tony had admitted to liking guys in general, didn’t mean he’d have any interest in him – the cranky, old, military, hard-ass he worked for – in particular. But he filed it away and even though he’d gotten to the bottom of this particular mystery, he continued to watch Tony to see if… just maybe…

Three days later Tony had been abducted while they were on the phone. He’d been chained to a sewer and it had taken Gibbs so long to figure out what had happened, that Tony effectively rescued himself. And Gibbs decided that waiting and watching weren’t everything they were chalked up to be. He’d convinced Tony to crash in his spare room after the hospital had cleared him and Tony had passed out just a little after eight; unsurprising given his ordeal. But as Gibbs worked on his boat that night, he began thinking through a plan. If Tony wasn’t interested in him, then he’d learn to live with it. But the more he thought about it, the more he was sure that if Tony was interested, he’d probably never say anything. Whereas Tony had given him a hint that he wasn’t averse to getting up close and personal with guys, Gibbs had only ever talked about having three wives. He kicked a pile of wood shavings under the boat as he adjusted his stance to work on the inside of the boat rib. He supposed at some point if this thing between him and Tony ever went anywhere he’d have to come clean about the fact that he’d been lying by omission for as long as Tony had known him, but he couldn’t imagine that telling Tony that he had had another wife and a child would help to convince him that he really was interested in pursuing a relationship with a man. So that would wait.

The first part of his plan included getting Tony to be slightly less afraid of him. He wasn’t a McGee by any stretch of the imagination, and he didn’t want him quite as unfazed as Abby – at least at work – but it might be nice if Tony didn’t think he was completely unable to be anything but a hard-ass.

His first chance came about four days later when they caught a drug-running case. They’d finally pried McGee out of Abby’s grasp and sent him back to Norfolk and Kate had gotten food poisoning from something she ate on a date with some guy named Jerome. She’d tried to come in and work, but after the second time she ralphed in her garbage can, Gibbs had sent her home and told her not to come back until Monday. He’d call if he and Tony really couldn’t catch a petty officer with a sack of crack without her.

“It’s just like old times, boss. Just you and me,” Tony had said with so much enthusiasm that Gibbs had to smile back at him.

“Yep, you and me sitting in a cold car all night waiting for this loser to meet his contact. Get dinner, it could be a long night,” Gibbs told him.

“Stakeout?” Tony said animatedly.

Gibbs really couldn’t understand how someone with so much energy and such a short attention span could get that excited about sitting in a car all night doing nothing. He couldn’t say he was exactly dreading the experience, but then again, he was looking for excuses to spend time with Tony lately. He had no proof that Tony was trying to spend time with him. But hey, if he was jazzed about it, so much the better. “Stakeout. Millford gets off watch at twenty-hundred. We need to be at NMOC a little before that.”

Of course it started pouring rain about forty-five minutes before they left the office. Given the rain, Gibbs stayed within a few miles of the speed limit on the way to the observatory. It was sheeting as they pulled into the parking row that Millford’s car was in, killing the engine and settling in to wait.

At ten after eight Millford came running out to the parking lot, a carrier bag over his head in lieu of an umbrella. He hit the button on his key chain before he reached the car and dove in as soon as he could. As he pulled the bag down from his head, a small packet fell out and landed on the asphalt. He pulled out of the parking spot a few seconds later, navigating carefully through the miserable night.

“What do you think that was?” Gibbs asked, but before he could get a reply, Tony had opened the door and was bolting out into the rain to collect it. Gibbs winced as Tony hit an oil-slick spot of asphalt under a puddle and went down hard, landing on his ass. He scrambled back up and ran back for the car, slightly more carefully.

Gibbs leaned over and opened the door as Tony reached him, barely waiting for Tony to close it again before following Millford. “You okay?” Gibbs asked as he let another car leaving the lot get between him and Millford’s CRV, the higher profile making it easy to follow, while having the Taurus between them made it less likely for Millford to notice he was being tailed.

Tony sighed. “Nothing hurt but my pride,” he said sourly. “Everything’s soaked, but nothing’s hurt.” He shook his head to get some of the water out of his hair, spraying like a dog.

“Hey!” Gibbs complained, wiping water off his cheek.


Gibbs turned the heat up full blast, directing the heat down to their feet. Tony kept trying to pull sodden denim off his legs and periodically twisted and twitched, trying to get comfortable.

“What’d he drop?” Gibbs asked as they waited for the light in the left turn lane.

Tony grinned and held up a small Ziplock-type bag with a dozen or so small rocks. “If this is what I think it is…”

“I don’t think they’re sugar cubes. Bag ‘em for Abby,” Gibbs told him as they finally got the light.

Millford went home. They followed him about half an hour to a fairly low-end apartment complex in Silver Springs, parking on the street in front of the gas station across the street. Gibbs killed the engine with an apologetic look. Tony knew they couldn’t leave the engine running for a number of reasons, but he was the one sitting there in February, in soaking wet clothes.

“Think the weather will keep him from going back out to meet his supplier?” Tony asked as he tried to pull his pants from where they were creeping.

“Dunno. Probably depends on how much of his inventory is now in our glove box,” Gibbs said quietly, watching to see if they’d be able to figure out which apartment was Millford’s from their position. Gibbs watched from the corner of his eye as Tony squirmed uncomfortably. He leaned forward to see past Tony to check if the gas station mini-mart was open twenty-four hours, he took his coffee cup and handed it to Tony. “Here.”

Tony sighed and took the cup. Squaring his shoulders he opened the car door and prepared himself for another dash through the rain. He supposed it made a little sense – no point in them both being wet and miserable, but still.

He squealed like a girl when Gibbs reached over him and grabbed the door, pulling it back shut. “What the hell -?”

Where are you going?” Gibbs asked, squinting at Tony in the little light from the street.

“Get you a refill,” Tony answered slowly. It wasn’t the first time Gibbs had expected one of the team to make the coffee run. At least this way, Tony had figured, he could get either a hot chocolate or coffee with enough sugar in it while he grabbed Gibbs’ coffee. “Didn’t you give me the cup to – “

“To drink, DiNozzo. You’re soaking wet and freezing cold. Drink some of that,” Gibbs said shaking his head.

Knowing it would be strong and bitter – far more bitter than he could usually handle – Tony swallowed several sips, surprised that after almost an hour it was still warm. He became aware of Gibbs watching him, making sure Tony followed orders. He took another sip before handing it back and watching as Gibbs put it in the cupholder between the seats. “Thank you,” he said quietly, leaning back in his seat.

That was unprecedented. He couldn’t remember Gibbs ever bringing back coffee for anyone else on the team, let alone ever sharing his own.

“Finish it,” Gibbs told him after a minute. “I think you actually need it more than I do at this point.”

Tony picked up the cup, holding it between chilled fingers. It needed sugar and cream in a huge way, but he drank it anyway. He couldn’t help but think that they were sharing more than just a cup of coffee here. But he really couldn’t put a finger on what that other thing was.


A few weeks later Kate stuck her foot in her mouth again. Tony had nearly plowed Gibbs over in the process of getting some distance between her and him. Kate clearly hadn’t connected the dots over the true issue with the whole Tony and Voss situation.

“What’s DiNozzo’s problem?” he asked, hoping she’d give him the opportunity to educate her.

“No idea,” Kate said easily before heading back to her desk.

Gibbs was about to tell her what Tony’s problem was when he remembered that Tony had asked him to stay out of it. He flopped down at his desk, the flickering pictures on the second screen annoying him for a number of reasons. He pulled out his cell, hit autodial-1 and barked, “Where are you?” He had his jacket in his hand and was half way to the elevator before the sentence was finished.

“Garage,” Tony mumbled. “What’d I forget to do?”

Tony sounded tired, frustrated. “Nothing, but stay there a minute.”

“Boss – “

Before Tony could actually register his complaint the elevator let Gibbs off and he found Tony about six steps away, back to him, hand raked through his hair, anger and frustration radiating off him in waves.

Gibbs couldn’t resist sneaking up behind him and flicking Tony’s ear with his fingernail. He was prepared for the hand that came up to grab his as Tony spun around and he grabbed Tony’s wrist lightly, just enough to deflect him and deescalate him. “Come on,” Gibbs said, nodding to the blue sedan.

“Gibbs, seriously –“

“Let’s go for a drive,” Gibbs cut him off before Tony could dig his heels in.

Tony froze midway through his protest. That was exactly what he’d planned on doing – driving until he’d wrestled through his own issues with Kate and Voss and Pacci. He wasn’t sure if he wanted company or not. He’d never had anyone ask to go with him. He liked the idea that Gibbs had clued into his mood – and he knew better than to ask how Gibbs knew he dealt with crap like this by taking long drives – but he was also in a piss poor mood and didn’t particularly want to subject him to that. There was something changing between the two of them and Tony didn’t want his overactive mouth and lousy mood to derail that. “Thanks, but I’d like to get home with my nerves intact and in better shape than they are right now.”

Gibbs rolled his eyes and gave Tony a light shove between the shoulderblades. “I’ll behave,” he promised casually.

Tony raised an eyebrow, but went around to the passenger side of the car. He’d given Gibbs an out. He’d chosen not to take it. Tony decided that he’d think about that when he’d wrangled his other issues under control.

Gibbs kept his promise, doing only the speed of traffic and not changing lanes at undue speeds or in ridiculously tight spaces. Once they’d made it out of D.C. he found a quiet stretch of ocean-front road and they’d both put their windows down, breathing in the salt air and letting the sound and feel of the wind take the edge off of their day.

Tony used the noise of the wind as an excuse not to talk. He didn’t know where to start. It wasn’t just Kate and the fact that she wouldn’t let up about the damn Voss thing. It was that she had to bring it up today. He was sure she would have gotten the group email he’d gotten, but he was pretty sure she didn’t understand the significance of it to him. And he really didn’t feel like enlightening her.

Apparently Gibbs had a destination in mind, because just as the sun started to set he turned off their scenic highway and drove through a quiet little Virginia town, pulling up at little mom and pop ice cream shop. Tony followed Gibbs through the door, content at this point to let Gibbs orchestrate this little break.

Once they had cones – Tony’s humor had a brief resurgence and he’d gotten sprinkles on his – they sat on the shop’s wrap-around porch and watch the sun set behind the mountains.

They were back in the car and headed home, twilight closing on them fast, when Gibbs finally broke the silence. “I heard what Kate said.”

Tony rolled his eyes. “I gotta quit letting her know that bugs me.”

“I didn’t say anything this time, because you asked me not to. But if comes up again, you can say something or I will,” Gibbs said firmly. “Once was teasing, twice was stupid. Three times borders on harassment.”

Tony made a face. He wasn’t at a place where he was ready to consider it harassment yet. It wasn’t constant and it wasn’t as if he couldn’t make her knock it off if he decided to do so. “It’s not … I mean, it’s Kate for crying out loud. She’s not harassing me.”

Gibbs just shrugged. “She needs to find something else to give you crap over,” Gibbs said succinctly.

Tony turned to stare at the headlights passing them in the other lane. He didn’t want to examine how incredibly good it felt to know that Gibbs had his back on something that, all said, he felt was pretty minor. “I probably would have had something pithy to say any other day.” Gibbs didn’t say anything, so Tony elaborated. “Eberhart sent out the email to get this year’s softball team together. Oh,” Tony said loudly, remembering that he’d meant to tell Gibbs about that earlier since Gibbs never checked his email. “Eberhart sent out the email to find out who’s playing this year.”

Gibbs snickered at the way Tony repeated himself. For the past three years he’d let Tony drag him on to the team. The first year he’d protested through the first couple practices, but then they’d trounced the ATF team and he’d discovered that it wasn’t so bad to go out and have a good time with some of the people he worked with. Especially with DiNozzo’s entertaining trash talk that never failed to be funny without crossing the line into unsportsmanlike. He’d also relied on Tony not only getting the email and informing him, but for sending in his signup as well. “You gonna play?” Gibbs asked.

“I haven’t decided yet. It’ll be weird not having Chris there.” There, it was out. The real reason he’d been edgy and why Kate had pissed him off so much.

“You and Chris were that close?” Gibbs asked, not taking his eyes off the road. The last serious conversation he and Tony had had about the Voss case had led to the revelation that Tony was interested in guys as well as girls. He wondered if he was ready to handle the idea that Tony and Chris had been more than co-workers and softball teammates.

Tony slumped in his seat. “He was a good friend. I mean, when I started here and it was just you and me, even before Vivian –“ Tony stopped before he said something stupid. “I mean, you know, before Kate and McGee… when I needed to talk to someone when things… cases –“

“Just say it, DiNozzo,” Gibbs told him with a small smile. “When I pissed you off…”

“Yeah,” Tony admitted, “That. Chris knew you from back when you had Stan Burley on your team. He’d remind me that you weren’t always an ass.” Tony was looking at Gibbs and smiling by the time he finished.

Eyes still firmly fixed on the road in front of them, Gibbs reached over and slapped the back of Tony’s head lightly. “Not always, just usually?”

“Your words, not mine,” Tony answered vaguely, but they were both smiling now.

After a minute Tony brought the conversation back around. “Anyway, I’m debating giving softball a miss this year. Just until I’ve had a little more time to … I mean, sometimes I still look over the cubical wall to see if he wants to get lunch or a beer or something.”

Gibbs nodded. He’d had no idea that Tony was still dealing with Chris’ death. And yet, there was a vague feeling of relief that it didn’t seem like Tony and Chris had ever been involved. “You’ve lost co-workers before,” he said softly.

“Yeah, and usually if I still gave a damn two weeks after it’s happened – once that whole sense of ‘oh my god that guy I knew died that everyone in the department felt at first… I moved.”

It had been almost a month and he didn’t get the impression that Tony had any plans to quit or leave D.C., but he didn’t want to risk that Tony was looking for Gibbs to give him the impression that it would be okay if he did. “I’m glad you didn’t do that this time, Anthony,” he told him sincerely.

Tony turned to look at him. “Anthony? Since when do you call me that?”

Gibbs had a feeling of tension being broken. Tony had heard him and he was sure Tony knew him well enough to know he wouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it. But they were both guys and heavy conversation like that could only last so long before they both felt awkward and needed to change the subject.

“Fine,” Gibbs said, “I won’t do it again.”

“No, no, that wasn’t… I just… no one’s called me that since I was like, nine. Well, sometimes Ducky…”

“Not even when you were in trouble?” Gibbs asked. “When I was a kid and I did something stupid my mom broke out with my whole name. Come to think of it, I had a partner when I was in Eastern Europe who did the same thing.”

Tony smiled, he knew most kids had a healthy fear of their middle names. It usually signified that they’d done something they needed to answer for. “And yet, you go by Jethro,” he said, hoping Gibbs wouldn’t go back to asking about his own name. He didn’t feel like explaining that his parents were rarely paying enough attention to notice when he’d done something stupid.

Gibbs just shrugged. He could explain some other time the long story about the original Leroy Jethro and how he’d ended up so pissed at his father at various points in his life that he’d gone so far as to use his middle name so that he wouldn’t hear his father’s voice every time someone called his name.

They were back at D.C. shortly after that, both in a better mood than they’d left in. As Gibbs pulled into Tony’s parking lot he promised to pick him up in the morning since Tony’s car was still at NCIS.

Tony nodded, apparently deep in thought again. “Thanks, boss. I really appreciate… you know… this.”

Gibbs nodded to him, “Glad it helped.”

Tony just nodded and got out of the car before things could get awkward again.

It was almost midnight, but Gibbs headed back to NCIS, secure in the knowledge that it was highly unlikely that Tony would be making one of his middle-of-the-night appearances with no easy way to get to the building.

It took two calls to the overnight I.T. shift, but he finally got into his email and worked out how to send a reply just to Eberhart and not the entire CC list – but he finally managed to have headers that looked like he wouldn’t be spamming NCIS with his reply – and that Tony wouldn’t see it. It was time to return the favor Tony had done for him three years ago.

Hey Jason, put down DiNozzo and me for softball.


Half an hour later he headed back out. No wonder he didn’t use his email. Half an hour to send a ten word message? Technology was highly over-rated he decided, for the fifth time that day.

Tony had made a face when he’d gotten the softball schedule and other pertinent emails the following week. Before he could even ask, Gibbs smirked at him. “Payback’s a bitch, eh, DiNozzo?”

Tony smiled back a little more genuinely. “And so’s my boss,” he said cheekily.

Gibbs smiled. “See you in the locker room at six,” Gibbs responded as he headed out to get more coffee before interrogating Milford, who had finally gotten sufficiently stupid to justify them bringing him and his drug-running buddy in.


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January 2012

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