Fic: Bait and Switch (NCIS, Gibbs/DiNozzo)

Author’s Note: If they were mine, there would be One True Orgy and everyone would be happy. Alas. 😉 Thank you to my three beta readers, celli, medie and merlins_sister, the latter two of whom not only beta-ed and encouraged me, but also came up with the same title suggestion completely independent of each other–I decided it must be fate! 😉 Thanks to all three for helping me refine this! The request was for Gibbs/Tony angst, but while there is angst…the–well, not happy but hopeful–ending kinda crept up on me. Written for Sophia Prester for Yuletide in I think 2004.

It could happen to any one of them, so of course it happened to Gibbs.

Tony’s lips twisted into a bitter smile. Then again, the boss did have that offend-everyone-on-sight thing working against him, so he really shouldn’t be surprised that one of the men he’d put away was out for revenge. Nor was it really a surprise that Gibbs had volunteered–yet again–to put himself in the line of fire and act as bait to catch the bastard.

Only this time all the Village People costumes in the world weren’t going to get Tony close enough to keep an eye on him.

Damn Gibbs for being so cavalier with his own life, as if no one would care if he got himself killed by a stray bullet, as long as the shooter was taken down.

Tony cared. He cared a hell of a lot more than he was supposed to, and it was a wonder the entire team hadn’t figured out why yet. Not that he wanted them to know, though he thought Ducky and possibly Abby might suspect–the construction-worker get-up would be just her idea of a subtle hint.

But Kate…no, this little piece of information was strictly need to know and she didn’t need to know. After the grief she’d given him over the Voss case, she’d already proven she couldn’t be trusted with it.

It wasn’t the fact that Amanda had turned out to be a man that had turned his stomach. It was the fact that Voss was a killer. And it wasn’t being reminded of the former that made Kate’s teasing untenable; it was knowing what at least one of his esteemed colleagues would think of him if she ever learned the truth.

Of course, he should’ve expected as much from an agency tied–however loosely–to the military. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” didn’t just apply to the guys in uniform.

Fortunately he had a lot of practice keeping that under wraps from his days on the Baltimore PD. The womanizer act pretty much guaranteed that no one would look closer, and he did like women so it wasn’t a hard act to maintain–he just didn’t only like women.

But Baltimore had been a lot easier too, because in Baltimore he wasn’t in love with his boss.

Not to mention Captain Roarke hadn’t possessed Gibbs’ peculiar brand of death wish.

“DiNozzo!” a very familiar voice barked, cutting into his irritated musings with the senior agent’s usual impeccable timing. “Get the hell off your ass and–”

“And do what?” Tony snapped like a thin rubber band, his temper flaring. “Pick out a coffin?” He stood, closing in on Gibbs until they were standing almost nose to nose. “Would you prefer pine or fiberglass? Oh, and should I plan the flower arrangements myself or leave that to one of your ex-wives?”

Gibbs just gave him that cold, hard stare that could usually make him back down in a heartbeat, but not this time. “Do you have a problem, DiNozzo?”

Tony let out a short, bitter laugh. He dropped his eyes for a moment before raising them again defiantly to meet the other man’s. “Yeah, I do have a problem, Boss. I have a problem with you acting like you’re the most dispensable member of this unit instead of the least. I have a problem with the fact that you don’t seem to have any trouble delegating menial tasks, but if there’s a risk to be taken you have to play the hero unless there’s absolutely no way you can squeeze into Kate’s size-six pumps or Abby’s spiked collar. And I have a big problem–” He barely even noticed that he’d started to poke Gibbs in the chest with his finger, or that a crowd of stunned and curious onlookers was beginning to gather around them, Kate and McGee included. “–with the fact that you apparently don’t trust me to back you up in a dangerous situation!”

Gibbs’ eyes never left his, but at the same time he could see that the boss was taking in everything going on around them as the monologue progressed. On this last pronouncement, the older man’s hand snapped up and snatched him by the wrist, forcing that hand down before clamping firmly onto his elbow and starting to steer him away. “Elevator. Now,” he snapped curtly.

Once inside, Gibbs practically threw Tony against the far wall and mashed down on the stop button with his fist. “What the hell is your problem, DiNozzo?” he barked, as if the younger man hadn’t just spent five minutes answering that question.

DiNozzo was still seething, simmering like a pot left on the stove way too long and about to boil over. “You want to know what my problem is, Boss? You really want to know?”

Acting purely on impulse, without allowing himself to slow down and think, he grabbed the other man’s face in his hands and kissed him. Hard. Aggressively.

It didn’t really hit him what he’d done until he was back on the other side of the elevator, out of breath and staring into the absolutely stony countenance of his superior. Perfect, just perfect. The best job he’d ever had in his life, and he’d just blown it, big time.

“That’s my problem,” he finally spat out, angry not just with Gibbs but with himself for letting it get to him. “You might think about that the next time you decide to just blithely waltz up to the chopping block–next time it might be someone you actually want to care.”

He yanked the button back out so hard that he almost pulled the cover off, then stormed out the minute the doors slid open again.

It didn’t really surprise him that Gibbs didn’t follow him back into the bullpen, or that everybody else was either openly staring at him with gleeful expressions or trying not to stare and hiding a smirk.

Kate was one of the latter, deliberately averting her eyes as he reached his desk and buried his face in his hands, trying to work up the nerve to start packing before he had to be told to clean out his desk.

McGee gaped at him, his mouth flapping a couple of times like a guppy’s, but apparently thought better of trying to say anything and turned away too.

Thank God.

Smooth, DiNozzo. Real smooth. Why don’t you just literally shoot yourself in the foot while you’re at it? Or better yet, announce to the whole damned building that you’ve got a hard-on for the boss and that’s why you act like a damned mother hen every time he sticks his neck out.

The heavy hand on his shoulder a few minutes later didn’t surprise him either.

Here it comes, he thought bitterly. So much for holding down this job.

What surprised him was the reassuring squeeze, and the quiet words that accompanied it. “Fiberglass. Closed casket, no matter how good they try to tell you my corpse looks. And if you let even one of my ex-wives anywhere near my funeral, I’ll haunt you for the rest of your natural life.”

Tony grinned weakly. In Gibbs’ own bizarre way, he was saying he understood. And that he did trust him, not just with his life but with his death. “Might not be so bad,” he quipped.

The older man smiled that rare, genuine smile. “Oh yeah? You think I make your life a living hell now…”

DiNozzo threw up his hands in surrender. “Okay, that I’ll give you.”

Gibbs chuckled and started to walk away, while Tony slowly relaxed into his seat. It wasn’t a declaration of love, or even mild interest. But he still had a job, he still had a friend, and as long as that was true, the rest–

“One more thing, DiNozzo…” Gibbs paused, turning back and quickly closing the gap between them. He leaned in close, so close that their foreheads were almost touching, his voice pitched low: for Tony’s ears only. “When I said you were irreplaceable, I wasn’t kidding. Did it ever occur to you that might be *why* I don’t take you in as backup when I’m risking my own ass?”

Without waiting for an answer, he straightened up and strode away again, leaving a flabbergasted DiNozzo in his wake.

As long as that was true, the rest might come later, Tony decided, still a little dazed. But first…first they had to get Gibbs through this bait and switch alive.

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