Ok, so the conversation with Abby's contact is still driving me nuts, but I did finish a post ep for Sandblast. So that's what you get for now. I'm starting to perk up today, so hopefully things will start being written again soon.
Title: Redefining Boundaries
Word Count: 1502
Warnings: It's slash, but you won't see that here
Disclaimer: They're not mine, pretty as I find them. Go to the producers if you want to talk money.
Summary: AU but following canon events: A short conversation after the events of Sandblast. They may be talking, but things aren't what they were.
“Son?” Tony asked grumpily as he thundered down the stairs.
“With an open com?” Gibbs countered dryly, delicately painting the curve of the 'y' onto the stern of his boat.
“Partner? Friend? Brother?” Tony suggested. His feelings towards Gibbs were anything but that of a son. Not that he was doing anything about that at the moment. He was with Jeanne ... really.
Gibbs just snorted and shook his head lightly.
Tony stopped directly behind Gibbs and sniffing deeply. “So, you and Colonel Mann?” It took everything he had to resist the urge to growl. Right now, he had no control over who Gibbs saw, but that didn't mean he had to like it.
“What?” Gibbs asked, turning to look at Tony in confusion.
“Ziva and McGee are convinced she's ex number four,” Tony said with a nonchalant shrug. “And she's been here.” And Gibbs had liked it, but as long as he could resist saying it maybe it wouldn't be true.
“Damn shifter noses,” Gibbs grumbled, turning back to his boat.
“So, should I put some money into the office pool?” Tony asked teasingly as he struggled to keep his hands at his side instead of on Gibbs' shoulders.
“No,” Gibbs replied flatly.
Tony gave up that approach. It was clear that Gibbs was not going to elaborate this time. Didn't mean he wasn't curious, but there would be other chances to grill his alpha about his choice of playmates. However, if he was going to keep himself from doing something stupid, he needed some kind of distraction. He started out going left and circled the boat, looking over the finish, the workmanship. It was something of a distraction but not entirely the right kind. There were too many fond memories connected to this boat. It kind of hurt to see it almost finished. Though the name ... that brought a smile to his lips.
“How's it going with your girl?” Gibbs asked, startling Tony out of his reverie.
“What?” Tony squawked, turning to face Gibbs with a look of total surprise. Yes, he'd told Gibbs there was someone else, but he certainly never expected the other man to bring her up.
“The girl you're dating, how's it going?” Gibbs repeated, as though talking to a confused toddler.
“Fine,” Tony snapped. Then he took a deep breath to center himself, not that it helped much with all the perfume and pheromones still in the basement. All the same, he tried to calm down. “It's going well. I think this is the first time I've ever had a serious relationship. It's strange ... but nice.”
Tony caught Gibb's expression of distaste from the corner of his eye. “Not to say that what we had last year wasn't serious,” Tony babbled, quickly picking up the probable reason for Gibbs' distress. “It's just ... different.”
“It often is with women,” Gibbs said blandly, seeming to return his attention to the boat, but Tony could see he wasn't actually painting.
“No, boss, that's not it,” Tony protested. “With Jeanne, I'm starting with the usual, dating, dinner, but it's not just empty flirtation and lust. That's different. With you ... we did the getting to know each other on the work level and just went straight for marriage without hitting any intermediate steps.”
Gibbs let out a huff of air that could be either an irritated noise or a sound of agreement. Tony watched him carefully and decided agreement was a likely interpretation, which wasn't to say there wasn't some irritation involved.
“I loved what we had,” Tony continued, turning his eyes to focus on the planks that made up the bottom of the boat, resting his palms against their silky finish. “But ...”
“I screwed it up by leaving,” Gibbs broke in, not looking at Tony as he spoke.
“And I screwed it up by not coming after you,” Tony asserted, determined to shoulder some of the blame. Gibbs wasn't completely at fault, he realized that now. But it didn't make it any easier to accept the older man back into his life completely. Even if there weren't the matter of what to do about Jeanne they'd be having problems.
“You did good with Josh,” Gibbs said, startling Tony with the change in subject. Apparently, despite bringing it up first, Gibbs wasn't ready to talk about their screwed up excuse for a mating right now.
“Thanks, boss,” Tony said, the words coming out more as a reflex than anything thought out. It took a moment to switch the direction of his thoughts. He'd liked the kid, been impressed by the decision Josh had finally been able to make. Though it was going to be hard to tell Josh that they'd been this close to nailing the bastard who'd killed his dad and missed. Someday ...
“We'll get Sherif yet,” Gibbs promised, surprising Tony with his ability to read the younger man's mind.
When Tony looked over at Gibbs, he saw the older man looking at him, observing him, and the look in those blue eyes told him Gibbs had been watching for a bit. “I promised Josh ...” he began but trailed off because he didn't know how to finish.
“You didn't break your promise,” Gibbs said reassuringly. “We'll get him yet.”
“Thanks, boss,” Tony said, this time meaning the words, appreciating the reassurance. Unfortunately, he wanted more than words of reassurance, even as he didn't feel comfortable asking for that reassurance, not now.
“You all right?” Gibbs asked, spotting the sudden stiffness in Tony's spine.
“Fine, boss,” Tony replied reflexively. “I should go. I just wanted ...”
Gibbs moved on silent feet to stand behind Tony before the younger man realized he was there. Suddenly there was just a hand on his shoulder and a warm presence behind him. “You don't have to leave,” Gibbs offered.
Tony stiffened further and stepped out from under Gibbs' hand. “Maybe not, but I should. Sorry, boss.”
“Don't apologize, Tony,” Gibbs said. He stepped back to his stool at the stern of the boat.
Tony was surprised at the lack of venom in Gibbs' tone. He usually sounded so sharp when he corrected people about apologizing. “Sign of weakness. Right, boss.”
“No, nothing to apologize for,” Gibbs corrected, his eyes downcast.
“Right,” Tony said hesitantly. His feet felt frozen to the floor as he watched his boss got back to painting Kelly's name on the stern of his boat. The stiff, uncomfortable line of Gibbs back was so different from the relaxed look he had sported when Tony arrived. “I need a new hobby,” Tony muttered to himself, tearing his eyes off Gibbs and heading towards the stairs.
“I thought you had one.”
Tony wasn't sure he heard the muttered words from Gibbs. When he paused to look over at the older man again, nothing seemed to have changed. Stiff, crouched, painting his daughter's name on the stern of his boat, and yet somehow Tony could smell the bitterness, the sorrow. It took everything he had to plant his feet on the stairs and move upward rather than staying and demanding an explanation. He wanted to know what Gibbs was thinking, and yet he was terrified of what he might hear, of how he might react.
“Drive safe,” Gibbs called over his shoulder once Tony was halfway up the stairs. It hurt, but Tony kept moving until he'd made it to his car, never pausing to look back.
It wasn't until Tony was three blocks away that he realized what he wanted. He'd faced death down twice in the last few days and more in the last few months. For nine months, when that happened he went to Gibbs, either as a human or a wolf, and Gibbs would hold him until he stopped shaking. He wanted that back, that chance to be held, supported, comforted.
The problem was, for nine months that comfort was followed by sex, lots of sex, lots of wonderful sex. And that he couldn't do. Oh, he and Gibbs could sleep together. Shifters were by their nature a randy bunch who screwed around quite often, and Gibbs had admitted he'd taken part before. Unfortunately, Tony knew he couldn't do the sex thing with Gibbs without wanting to claim him, needing to reaffirm a bond that the shifter couldn't accept that he still wanted. For once, random sex just wasn't enough.
Which just left Tony wondering what he was going to do. Nine months of being held by strong arms that understood had left their mark on him. He wanted that comfort back, even beyond the desire to end up back in Gibbs' bed. But how could he relax if he would always be wondering what was next, whether this time he'd just give in to the desire?
Though, he did have two other team mates, pack mates, who knew the truth. Tim was out. Tony couldn't stomach admitting his fears to the McGeek. But Abby ... yeah, Abby might be willing to scratch his ears and hold him tight for a few hours.