‘So, Kate... How was your date last night?’
She half turns, shooting Tony a Look that says she doesn’t believe he even asked that question, in Gibbs presence, let alone that he’s waiting for an answer.
‘Oh, c’mon, Katie,” he whines, a shrug in his voice. ‘I tell you about my dates all the time...’
‘Yes,’ she snipes. ‘You do. All the time, whether or not I actually want to hear about them.’
He leans forward from the rear seat, baiting her...or appearing to... and she ‘huffs’ and turns away, fixing her gaze on the scenery speeding by. She doesn’t want to play today, shutting him out.
Which is exactly what Tony wants her to do.
It’s all Gibbs’ fault. The workload recently has been relentless and he has been keeping them at the office late into the night, going over and over the evidence, until Tony has felt as if his eyes were bleeding and his brain was about to implode. Last night was the fourth in a row that Tony had not see his own – or anyone else’s – bed, and it has been ten days since he and Jethro have shared anything more than an occasional kiss in a stalled elevator and one furtive grope, when Jethro had leaned over his shoulder to look at the display on Tony’s computer screen. To say that Tony is feeling somewhat frustrated would be an understatement.
Keeping his eyes pinned to Kate’s profile, he leans his cheek against Gibbs headrest, waving one hand between them as he continues to prattle on about boyfriends and dates and the movies he has watched recently. It’s all very innocuous.
What Kate can’t see from that angle is that while all this is going on, Tony has slipped his other hand around the outside of the driver’s seat...
...and up under Gibbs’ jacket...
...and has tugged the soft green sports shirt from the waistband of Jethro’s pants...
...and is right now gently stroking his fingers up and down the warm skin of Gibbs’ left side.
It’s a dangerous thing to do, with Kate sitting so close, but he is relying on Gibbs’ Marine training to kick in and keep him focussed – and he is not to be disappointed. The blue eyes remain fixed on the road ahead, his breathing maintains its gentle rhythm, while the hands that can dance so expressively over Tony’s skin remain steady on the steering wheel. The only indication that Gibbs is even aware of what Tony is doing is in the tiny twitch of a muscle at the corner of his mouth and the barely imperceptible movement of his upper body as he leans into the caress.
When Gibbs brakes sharply at a crossing, Kate turns to watch an elderly woman as she crosses the street from the left, leaning heavily on her cane. It brings Tony back into her field of vision and he stills his hand and draws back a little. He needs to distract her again...but then her eyes flick towards him and he winks at her and widens his smile to a goofy grin, and she snorts in disgust and turns back to her casual surveillance of the street.
And Tony’s eyes shift to meet the sparkle of blue in the rear-view mirror as he goes back to caressing the warm skin beneath his fingers.
They are moments away from their destination, Kate counting off the house numbers as they slide by. Tony knows he has to move, give up the precious closeness, not knowing when he will get another chance, and he feels the mood slipping, good humour crumbling away. Time to get back to the case. All he wants is one more moment...
Gibbs glides the car to a halt and, even before he cuts the engine, Kate is tugging on the door handle, starting to climb out.
So Gibbs steals the moment from Tony. Unclasping his seatbelt, he appears to let his hand slide back with it, while in reality slipping his hand beneath his jacket to capture Tony’s hand through the layers of cloth and squeeze it tightly. The grip speaks of acceptance, of forgiveness of the daring act... of promises for other times. It’s swift and honest and does more to stir Tony’s blood than any open gesture, because it’s unexpected and almost-public and so un-Gibbs-like.
Then Gibbs is climbing from the car, and Tony is a beat behind him, trying not to smirk as Gibbs is forced to unfasten his belt and pants as he walks in order to tuck the shirt back in, meeting Kate’s startled gaze with the challenging lift of an eyebrow.
Tony has to admire the man’s coolness under pressure.
But then, that’s a Marine thing.