xanthefic: (ncis gibbs tony slave collar)
[personal profile] xanthefic


The First Collar
By Xanthe
Part Two


The guy from the FBI was in his mid-fifties. He was a big, pompous top with a patronizing smile. Gibbs’s gut screamed its dislike the minute he walked into the interrogation room. The nice lady from HR hadn’t been keen on his choice of interview venue, but Gibbs had pointed out that he was used to working in here. Besides, this way she got to watch from the observation room next door because there was no way in hell he was going to tolerate her sitting in the same room with him while he conducted the interview. Maureen might be nice, but it took a strong sub to stand up to Leroy Jethro Gibbs when he was intent on getting his own way, and she’d caved.

“Agent Gibbs – I’m Special Agent Tyler Reynolds, FBI.”

Gibbs was treated to a sweaty, meaty handshake. He noticed that Reynolds had given himself his full title, but truncated Gibbs’s down to basics. This told him pretty much all he needed to know about the man. He considered ending the interview there and then, but Maureen had been tearing her hair out from having to work with him for the past couple of days, and he felt a vague pang of conscience about that.

“Agent Reynolds. Any reason why you want to leave the FBI?” he asked politely.

Reynolds gave him a self-satisfied smirk, sat back in his chair, placed his hands on his large belly, and looked at Gibbs as if he was some green young sub about to benefit from the wisdom of a sage old top.

“Well, the FBI is a fine organization, but I wanted to give a less well known agency the benefit of my many years experience,” he said.

Gibbs stared at him. Reynolds gave him a queasy smile and reached into the briefcase resting beside his chair.

“I’ve taken the liberty of reviewing some of your more recent cases, Gibbs,” he said, hauling out a massive handful of folders and thumping them down on the desk. “And I think you can learn a lot from me.”

“Is that so?” Gibbs smiled his most dangerous smile.

“Oh yes. I noticed several areas where you went wrong. I don’t blame you of course; I don’t suppose procedures at NCIS are as tight as they are at the FBI.” He opened up the first file.

“You’re right. They aren’t. That’s what allows me to do this for example.” Gibbs got up, grabbed the guy by the lapels of his jacket, hauled him out of his seat, and shoved him unceremoniously towards the door.

“Hey! What the hell are you doing?”

“The FBI can’t afford to lose you, Reynolds.” Gibbs told him. “Good man like you. You’re probably the only thing keeping that agency afloat right now.”

He went back to the table, grabbed the folders, stuffed them into the briefcase, and slapped it against Reynolds’s chest. Maureen rushed out of the observation room making noises, swooped on Reynolds, and ushered him off down the hallway.

“Does this mean I didn't get the job?” Reynolds asked in a confused tone.

The nice lady from HR turned to look over her shoulder, shooting Gibbs a really not very nice glare. Gibbs gave a little bark of laughter and glanced at his watch. Four minutes – that was a new record. Whistling, he returned to the squad room.

Maureen scuttled over to his desk fifteen minutes later and glowered down at him.

“Agent Gibbs, may I remind you that *you* chose these candidates to interview. We did our best to source you the best possible selection.”

“Aw, pipe down, Maureen.” He grinned at her. “There's no way you’d have hired that gasbag, either. No point wasting my time, yours, *and* his by going through the motions.”

“There are ways of doing these things…” Maureen began.

He interrupted her. “My second in command we’re hiring – my way of doin’ things.” She gave a heavy sigh. “Aw – c’mon. Look on the bright side.” Gibbs grinned – and Maureen raised a suspicious eyebrow. “You stand to win Pacci's pool on the shortest interview I’d do. That one with Reynolds was four minutes.”

She glared at him some more and then her face broke into a quick grin. “I know. Nobody else bet as low as I did – then again, none of them have actually seen your interview techniques.” He laughed out loud, and she shook her head ruefully. “Next one is called Clara Rowland,” she reminded him. “I’ll call you when she arrives.”

He sighed. “Are there no good people out there?” he lamented.

“If there are, you’ll just frighten them away,” she shot back over her shoulder as she left.

~*~

Tony ran for ten minutes to get to the nearest metro station, bought a ticket, hurled himself down the escalator, and threw himself on a train just as the doors were closing. He sat down and glanced at his watch again. He was out of breath, sweaty, and there was no way he was going to get to the Navy Yard even remotely on time.

He knew he should just give up, but hell, this was the only appointment on his calendar for the next…well, forever, and he was damned if he was going to give up on it.

Besides, there was something else, something he couldn’t put his finger on – a feeling, a sensation in his stomach – just *something* that insisted he get there, no matter how late he was or how messy he looked. It was like he was on a rollercoaster and couldn’t get off. He *had* to attend this interview like it was a fixed moment in time – completely and utterly unavoidable.

“You really have been watching too many crappy sci-fi movies, Anthony,” he muttered to himself.

~*~

“Your next interviewee is here, Agent Gibbs,” Maureen informed him over the phone. Gibbs made his way to the interrogation room, and Maureen met him outside. “She seems nice!” Maureen announced brightly. Gibbs crossed his fingers behind his back and opened the door.

An exquisitely dressed submissive was sitting at the table. She had long brown hair neatly tied back in an elegant hairstyle that involved some kind of elaborate braiding. Gibbs vaguely remembered Shannon doing something similar to Kelly’s hair one summer. Around her neck was a dainty pink collar decorated with little diamantes, and from that hung a huge, heart-shaped silver pendant. Gibbs tried not to recoil; everyone had different tastes, but no sub of his would ever go out wearing such an embarrassing collar.

“I’m Agent Gibbs – and you must be Clara Rowland,” he said, holding out his hand. She looked at it, and then at him, and made a little simpering gesture.

“Oh, I can’t shake your hand – my top doesn’t allow me to have skin-on-skin physical contact with any person except her," she explained.

“Okay.” He took a seat. “Might make law enforcement a bit difficult, dontcha think?”

Clara gave him a perky smile. “I got the best grades of any graduate at FLETC,” she deflected admirably.

“I just bet you did,” Gibbs muttered, opening the folder containing her resume.

“Oh…”

He looked up. Clara smiled apologetically.

“Is this it?” Clara asked. “Is it just going to be the two of us? Alone? In here?”

“You have a problem with that?”

“Yes, I’m afraid I do. I just assumed that there would be someone else in the room. That nice lady, Maureen, maybe? Only my top doesn’t allow me to be on my own in a room with any other top except herself unless there’s another collared submissive present to act as chaperone.”

“Right.” Gibbs got up and walked towards the door.

“Are you going to get Maureen?” Clara asked with another perky little smile.

“Nope.” Gibbs shook his head. “We’re done here. Thanks for coming along, Ms. Rowland.”

“But you haven’t interviewed me yet!”

“I tried.” Gibbs shrugged. “That nice lady, Maureen, will see you out.”

The observation room door opened, and Maureen made her weary way down the hallway.

“That wasn’t even three minutes!” she hissed at him as she passed by.

“Good. Gives me time to get some real work done before the next one shows up.”

~*~

Tony reached the Navy Yard at 10:17 – out of breath, sweaty, and dishevelled. A nice lady called Maureen came to collect him from reception.

“You’re Anthony DiNozzo?” She looked him up and down, a worried frown creasing her forehead. He was acutely aware that he was wearing his clubbing clothes and hadn’t showered or shaved this morning. He didn’t even want to think about the patch of dried come on the back of his thigh that he longed to scratch away.

“Yes. Sorry I’m late.” He gave her his second most charming smile – no point wasting the blinding one he used on tops; submissives were much more discerning in his view. “My taxi driver got lost,” he lied.

“Really?” She looked politely sceptical. “Well…come with me. This way.”

She led him through a myriad of hallways and paused outside a doorway.

“Could I…would it be okay if I used the restroom?” he asked. At least that’d give him a chance to splash some water on his face and under his armpits and tidy up his hair. She glanced at her watch.

“I’m sorry – we’re on a tight schedule, and you really are very late. Wait here.” She opened the door to a small room with a large mirror on one wall. Tony had been in enough interrogation rooms to know exactly what kind of a room he was in. “I’ll see if Agent Gibbs will still agree to interview you,” she said doubtfully, glancing pointedly at her watch.

Tony sighed and took a seat opposite the mirror. Shit, he looked bad! He ran his hands through his hair trying to tease some semblance of order back into it, but there was no point. He had a day’s growth of stubble on his chin, his shirt was crumpled from lying on the floor all night, and he reeked of liquor and sex.

Agent Gibbs…he knew of the guy by reputation, and he’d done some digging around when he’d first found out he had an interview here. Apparently Gibbs's last second had recently left to take up an assignment as an agent afloat – and nobody blamed him because Gibbs had the reputation of being a terrifying boss. Rumour had it that the guy was a hard-ass, one of those tops that even other tops talked of in tones of terror.

Tony grinned at himself in the mirror and smoothed his hands over his hair several times. He’d never yet met a top who scared him. Tops were all the same – they were all fakes, just like Jake. They might act the act, but underneath they all had feet of clay.

Thinking of Jake made him feel irritable about Gibbs. Just what the hell was wrong with tops anyway? He had no intention of being intimidated by the famously intimidating Agent Gibbs. There was no top in the world with the power to intimidate Tony DiNozzo. He’d play Gibbs like he’d played Jake last night; flash him a smile, appeal to his toppy instincts, and let it go from there.

Or…that woman in the bar last night had thought he was a top – he did occasionally get mistaken for a top because of the way he dressed and moved. Maybe he should pretend to be a top in this interview – perhaps Gibbs would respond better to having a beta top to his alpha. Maybe he’d be flattered if Tony let him out–top him. Could be a good game if nothing else; it wasn’t as if he stood a chance of actually *getting* this job.

“Okay, Agent Gibbs – bring it on,” he told his reflection, smoothing his hair down one last time. “I’m ready for you.”

~*~

Gibbs made his way irritably from his desk to the interrogation room. He’d almost decided not to interview this loser who didn’t know that the first rule of going to a job interview was that you showed up on time, but the first two had been busts, so he forced himself to go through the motions. Mainly he just liked the idea of giving this idiot a hard time for turning up so late.

“Gotta take your pleasures where you can find ‘em,” he muttered to himself.

He met Maureen outside the interrogation room. She had a strange look on her face.

“Umm,” she said.

“What?” He glared at her.

“Uh...” She gave him an assessing look. “No – I think I’ll just let you find out for yourself.”

He raised an eyebrow. "Find out what?"

“I think this one might break the record,” she whispered. “I’m giving it thirty seconds, and I’m actually being generous there.”

He shot her a little grin. “That bad, huh?”

“Worse! Don’t go in there until I’m in the observation room; I want to savour every single second of this!” She gave a decidedly unprofessional little giggle and ran off up the hallway into the next door room.

Gibbs rolled his eyes and waited until she was in situ, then steeled himself and opened the door.

The man sitting at the table looked up at him, and Gibbs looked back – and his gut flipped in a way it had only done once before, many years ago, when he’d been sitting at a train station and looked up to see a beautiful young submissive called Shannon Fielding.

The two men stared at each other. Time seemed to slow down, and Gibbs felt as if he’d been robbed of the power of speech. There was an aura of electricity in the air, and he felt a shiver creep slowly down his spine.

Then the moment passed and time sped up again. Gibbs looked the kid up and down. He was a mess; there was no other way of describing it. Nobody in their right mind turned up to a job interview looking like this. He was wearing a black leather jacket over a crumpled dark green shirt – no tie – and a pair of tight-fitting black jeans that left nothing to the imagination. Jeans! Not even suit pants. His hair was a mess, he hadn’t bothered to shave and – not to put too fine a point on it – he stank. He smelled like he’d come straight from a bar, and he looked like he was dressed to seduce rather than get a job.

The kid sat back in his chair, legs open, looking insolent. The body language was world-weary and couldn’t-care-less, but the eyes…the eyes told a different story. There was a sense of desolation in them, combined with something desperately eager to please. This kid was *lost*, and Gibbs felt something old in his blood respond to that knowledge.

“Anthony DiNozzo?” Gibbs strode over to the table. The kid didn’t even get up; he just glanced at Gibbs with an insouciant grin. Gibbs found the palm of his hand itching to do something – he wasn’t sure what, but it was positively tingling.

“Yeah, that’s me,” the kid drawled.

“I’m Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.”

The kid gave a little laugh. “Really? You’re kidding me. That’s your actual name?”

That tingling in his palm was so acute he had to rub it; had he been bitten by something?

DiNozzo offered up his own hand in a casual handshake. Gibbs clasped that strong, slender hand firmly in his own and now, damn it, he was *sure* that he’d been bitten by something. It felt like an almost visible spark flashed between the two of them; sharp, clear, electric and so powerful it hurt – but in a good way.

DiNozzo clearly felt it too, judging by the shocked expression in his green eyes. Gibbs drew his hand away wondering what the hell was going on here. He took a deep intake of breath – and scented something on DiNozzo’s body that caused an involuntary growl to rise in his throat: the kid had been fucked recently and the stench of it was still on his body – and for some reason that made Gibbs feel furious.

DiNozzo looked startled by the growl. "Something wrong, Agent Gibbs?" he asked, in that same lazy drawl.

Yeah, something was very wrong – Gibbs could feel it in his gut. He just didn't know what. "You mean apart from the fact that you've wasted my valuable time by turning up for your job interview twenty minutes late, looking like you've just stepped out of a dungeon?" he snapped.

DiNozzo's eyes widened and for just a moment he looked ashamed – and then the mask was back in place, and he gave a casual shrug.

"Seventeen," he said.

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"Seventeen minutes late – not twenty," DiNozzo said, looking for all the world like a naughty sub desperately seeking a strong top to reel him back in before he went too far and self-destructed.

Gibbs leaned back in his chair. Most tops would have seen red and bawled the kid out for that kind of cheek, but he wasn't most tops. He followed his gut and treated each sub differently, according to what felt right.

"Think there's a sub alive who can play those games with me, son?" he asked quietly.

DiNozzo looked surprised that he hadn't yelled at him; had the kid been longing for a confrontation that much?

"How d'you know I'm a sub?" he muttered resentfully, glaring at Gibbs.

Gibbs stared at him in complete surprise and then burst out laughing. He shook his head ruefully…and then stopped as DiNozzo continued to glare at him.

"Seriously?" Gibbs raised an amused eyebrow. He always knew – he could tell just by looking at someone what their orientation was. It surprised him that so many people had to ask or rely on visual clues. Couldn't they *feel* it? Yeah, this kid might be as surly as the most irascible top, but he was a sub through and through; Gibbs could feel it.

DiNozzo glared at him some more and then looked away. "No. Just…sometimes people get it wrong."

"Not me." Gibbs opened the kid's file and glanced at it. "You get it wrong though, son; plenty of times judging by your job record. Want to tell me about it?"

"Tell you about what?" DiNozzo asked sullenly.

"All these screw-ups. All the black marks on your file. Or maybe you get off on taking licks in a workplace punishment room in front of your co-workers. That it? You the kind of sub who enjoys that kinda thing?"

DiNozzo's eyes flashed miserably, and Gibbs almost wished he hadn't said that. He'd expected the kid to lose his temper, but, once again, he surprised him.

"No," DiNozzo said quietly. "I don't enjoy it. I hate it. I just…can't seem to stop getting into trouble. I try hard. Really hard." He glanced up at Gibbs, and Gibbs knew instinctively that he wasn't playing him; he meant it.

"So what goes wrong?" Gibbs asked, responding to the kid's obvious honesty.

DiNozzo gave him a bright, charming smile. "Guess most folk just don't appreciate my natural brilliance!" he proclaimed, suddenly changing from vulnerable submissive to arrogant smartass in an instant. It was so sudden that it almost wrong-footed Gibbs – but not quite. This boy was a challenge, but it was a challenge he didn't think he could resist. Hell, he *relished* it – he hadn't felt so alive in years.

"Natural brilliance…hmm…I can see some instances of that in your file," he said, watching as DiNozzo looked confused by his response. Once again, the kid had been expecting the slap-down, and Gibbs hadn't delivered it. "That's why I agreed to interview you."

"It is? I did wonder." Now DiNozzo looked insecure again. "I mean…I know my file doesn't look the best, but I'm hard worker."

"I can see that." Gibbs nodded.

"I can work *really* hard – in all kinds of ways. Give me the *job*, and I’ll return the favour, if you get my meaning." DiNozzo had changed again and was now licking his full lower lip suggestively. Christ, the kid was like quicksilver!

Gibbs wondered what the hell Maureen was making of this, and he considered bringing the interview to an immediate halt – but something in his gut stopped him. This was a sub responding to him as a *top*, not as a future boss, and somehow he couldn't help responding back in kind.

This might be a job interview, but it was the most sexually charged situation he could remember being in for many years. There was just something about this boy that was exhilarating. Gibbs was used to dominating subs – and most tops – easily in everyday life, and sometimes even getting a frisson of sexual energy from it, but this was different. This went deeper. This felt personal. This was a sub who needed a strong hand and was practically begging him to provide it.

"Oh, I'm sure you give great blowjobs, boy, but that won't win you *this* job," he said with a wry chuckle.

DiNozzo had the grace to look ashamed – and also a little surprised. "Works on most tops," he muttered.

"Try it on me again, and I'll throw your sorry ass straight out onto the street," Gibbs snapped.

DiNozzo stared at him and then gave a contrite nod. "Sorry. That was…that was a shitty thing to do."

Again his honestly was disarming. "Never apologise," Gibbs told him firmly. "Sign of weakness."

"Uh. Okay." DiNozzo bit on his lip, clearly trying to process the fact that subby apologies didn't work on this particular top, any more than sexual invitations.

Gibbs decided it was time to cut through all the crap. "So, you’ve been fired from or had to leave five different jobs in the past eight years. Tell me why I should take a chance on you, DiNozzo?"

The smartass was back again, quick as a flash. "Well, I don’t know, Agent Gibbs, but I hear your last agent just shipped out, so maybe you should hire me because you’re as desperate as I am right now,” DiNozzo drawled.

Gibbs laughed out loud. "Oh, son," he said, shaking his head. "Nobody is as desperate as you are right now."

The sudden flash of devastating vulnerability in DiNozzo's eyes almost took his breath away.

DiNozzo looked down. There was a long silence. Then he looked up again.

"I'm loyal," he said quietly. "I'll always have your six, and I'll always do my best. I might…" he hesitated, and made a little face. "I might screw up, and I know I'll goof off, and my smart mouth always gets me into trouble. None of that is gonna change. But I…I'll never betray you…and if you don't betray me, then you won't find a more loyal second anywhere – and I mean *anywhere*. I'll work my ass off for you, Agent Gibbs, and I'll always have your six, no matter what. Just don't…don't let me down."

Gibbs stared at him in silence. DiNozzo stared back, looking nothing like the sullen kid, sexually provocative sub, or the teasing smartass now. He just looked like…what he was, and what Gibbs had known him to be from the minute he first laid eyes on him: desperate, and so very anxious to please. Gibbs's instinct for subs who needed saving kicked in, big time, and he knew it was too late to turn back now.

"Someone has," Gibbs said quietly. "Who was it?"

DiNozzo laughed out loud, and, quick as a flash, the mask was back in place again. He glanced up at Gibbs through his eyelashes. "Oh, too many people to mention. Too many *tops* to mention, sir, starting with my own father and then a whole long line of 'em stretching right up to…" He stopped. "Never mind; it doesn't matter."

"Does to me," Gibbs said firmly.

DiNozzo shook his head. "Let's just say that I have a habit of taking one for the team, and not all those black marks on my file were deserved," he said. Then he grinned. "But plenty were. If you hire me, I won't change. I'll end up in the NCIS discipline room over and over again, same as I do anywhere I go. That's the honest truth. You shouldn't hire me, sir. I'm trouble."

"Oh, I already know that, son," Gibbs chuckled. "And don't call me 'sir' – can't stand it." DiNozzo seemed surprised – maybe all the tops he knew were flattered by the title, but Gibbs hated it. "You can call me Gibbs, or you can call me 'Boss'," Gibbs said firmly.

"Boss?" DiNozzo looked startled.

"Yeah – you're hired, DiNozzo. Oh – and for the record? No member of my team *ever* ends up in the workplace discipline room – got it?"

"Uh…okay." DiNozzo still looked startled by hearing he'd got the job.

"You finished at Baltimore PD?" Gibbs asked briskly.

"What? Um…yes…"

"Good. You can start right away then."

“Don’t I have to do any training on being a federal agent first?”

“Oh, I’ll give you all the training you need, son. I can’t hang around waiting for you to take some class first. I want you to start now.”

"Now? You mean, right now? Right this minute?"

"Yeah. You have a problem with that? See, as you so kindly pointed out, my last agent recently shipped out, so I'm short-handed and could use the help."

"Um…but…just…I'm not really dressed for…" DiNozzo gestured at his clothes.

Gibbs laughed out loud. "Yeah, and you're not dressed for a job interview, either, but you showed up looking that way anyway. You chose to wear it – you can live with it for the rest of the day 'til I say you go home."

DiNozzo nodded. "You mean it?" he asked, and Gibbs didn't miss the hopeful little glint in those lonely eyes. "You're really hiring me? I mean…why? I'm a mess. You can see that. Anyone can."

"Yeah. You are." Gibbs shrugged. "And I don't tolerate messes on my team, DiNozzo, so you'd better shape up or ship out. In the meantime, I liked what you had to say about loyalty and teamwork, so you're hired."

He got up and held out his hand. DiNozzo got to his feet too, looking almost shy. Gibbs felt his gut clench; this boy was a constant surprise to him. He'd always keep him on his toes, and Gibbs relished the challenge.

DiNozzo grasped his hand and there it was again, that spark of electricity. DiNozzo blinked and released his hand, as if he'd been stung.

"Of course, you'll live to regret it," the kid said, with a broad grin. "Probably the worst mistake you'll ever make…Boss."

Gibbs glared at him – and that tingling in his palm was back again. "You got a top, boy?" he asked.

"What?" DiNozzo frowned. "No. Not at the moment. Why?"

"Just wanted to make sure I didn't have to ask anyone's permission to do this." Gibbs reached out and slapped the back of the kid's head and the tingling in his hand went away, just like that. DiNozzo made a high–pitched squeaking sound that was incredibly satisfying and put up a hand to rub at the spot where Gibbs had just slapped.

Gibbs grinned. "Welcome to the team, DiNozzo."

~*~

Tony followed Agent Gibbs out into the hallway, his heart pounding. In fact, his heart hadn’t stopped pounding since the moment Gibbs had walked into the interrogation room. He had no idea why. He’d never felt this way around a top before – in fact he didn’t even know *what* exactly he was feeling. He’d never fallen for a top in his life, so it couldn’t be that, but the palms of his hands were sweaty, and it felt like there was a whole swarm of butterflies fluttering around in his stomach.

Maybe it was just the adrenaline surge of running to get here and then – by some miracle he still didn’t understand – actually getting the job. None of that explained the weird spark of electricity he had felt both times he’d shaken Gibbs’s hand though. That was just freaky. Maybe his clothes were covered in static from that seedy room he’d stayed in last night. He couldn’t think of any other explanation.

He leaned against the wall as that nice lady from HR, Maureen, stepped out of a room and walked purposefully towards Gibbs. She smiled pleasantly at Tony, said a polite “excuse us, Mr. DiNozzo”, and ushered Gibbs a few steps down the hallway.

“This one?” she asked incredulously. “I spend days with you, standing by while you chew up and spit out every single candidate under the sun, and *this* is the one you chose?”

“Yup.” Gibbs shrugged.

“May I ask why?”

Tony glared at her; maybe Maureen wasn’t as nice as she seemed.

“My second, my choice; and he’s my choice,” Gibbs said firmly.

Tony allowed his gaze to wander absently over Gibbs’s body, the way he did with any good-looking top – and Gibbs sure as hell was a good-looking top. He was maybe ten or twelve years older than Tony and about the same height. He had silver hair and the most vivid, intelligent, downright scary blue eyes Tony had ever seen. His body was hard and full of a powerful dominant energy; this was a top who inhabited his top space completely, even outside of the bedroom. It was intriguing. Tony didn’t think he’d ever met a top so completely and utterly *dominant* before.

Gibbs was wearing a plain black shirt over a white tee shirt and black pants and his clothes looked cheap and unimpressive. It was as if he wasn’t even making an effort to be overtly toppy, but then when you carried yourself like that then you didn’t need a costume to tell the world what you were; it was evident in every hard line of Gibbs’s body.

“Nothing to do with the fact he’s a good-looking sub who offered you sexual favours in the interview if you gave him the job?” Maureen asked quietly.

The atmosphere suddenly changed, and Tony had a sense of imminent danger – and for once it wasn’t headed his way.

Gibbs’s blue eyes were suddenly icy. “I like you, Maureen, so I’ll pretend you didn’t say that,” he growled.

Maureen gazed at him thoughtfully, and then she softened. “Hey – don’t get on your high horse. If something comes up, I need to have your back covered on this. I can make a note to the effect that we discussed that aspect of the interview and agreed –”

“Do what the hell you like,” Gibbs snapped. “You know I don’t give a damn about any of that HR crap, Maureen.”

“But if DiNozzo doesn’t work out…”

“He will,” Gibbs told her firmly.

Tony felt surprised by the man’s faith in him. It wasn’t a faith he shared. Why on earth did this man – this *top* – believe in him when he’d done nothing but screw up since the minute he’d arrived? Hell, he’d been screwing up his entire life. Much as he wanted to believe that was going to change, he wasn’t exactly holding his breath.

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs jerked his head. “With me. I’m gonna show you around. Maureen – have his badge ready for me by the time I’m done.”

“Yes, Agent Gibbs,” Maureen said smartly. She shot Tony a look of frank disbelief, and he shot her back his biggest, most cheeky grin. Her eyes narrowed. Gibbs clicked his fingers, and Tony winked smugly at Maureen and then snapped to attention and ran after Gibbs. Gibbs’s hand shot out the second Tony was within range and delivered another stinging slap to the back of his head.

“Don’t,” Gibbs said.

“What?” Tony asked innocently, rubbing the sting away. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. Tony grinned. “Yes, Boss. Sorry, Boss!”

They arrived in a large, orange room. “This is your desk.” Gibbs pointed.

“Where do you sit?” Tony asked, glancing around.

“Here – diagonally opposite. So I can keep an eye on you,” Gibbs told him pointedly.

Tony didn’t have time to take in much about where he’d be working because Gibbs was striding off again. They got into an elevator and went down a few floors.

“This is Autopsy,” Gibbs told him, striding out of the elevator and through some glass doors, with Tony hard on his heels.

A diminutive older man glanced up from where he was standing, up to his elbows in a dead body. He was wearing a plain black collar that was just visible above his buttoned up shirt and bow tie.

“Jethro!” he exclaimed. “Have you finished interviewing this morning’s poor unfortunates?”

“Yup, I have, Ducky – and I’ve hired my new second. Anthony DiNozzo – meet Dr. Donald Mallard.” Gibbs put an affectionate hand on the man’s shoulder and squeezed. Tony frowned – Mallard was clearly someone’s collared sub, and Gibbs was acting extremely casually around him.

“Your new second…you should have said…and here’s me…” Mallard peeled off his bloodied latex gloves eagerly. “Well, well, come here now, Agent DiNozzo.” He beckoned. “Let me see you!”

Mallard glanced up at Tony owlishly though his spectacles, and Tony winced. He didn’t miss the look of intense disapproval in the doctor’s eyes as he took in his appearance.

“I…uh…should probably explain about the…” Tony gestured with his hand in the direction of his clothes and mussed up hair.

Gibbs leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Yeah, go ahead, DiNozzo. Explain. This should be good.”

“Uh…I, well, I didn’t think Gibbs would actually *hire* me,” Tony said, and even to his own ears that sounded feeble. “And, you see, I went out last night and there was this…” He thought about the events of the previous night and then shook his head. “Nope. I really don’t have a good explanation,” he sighed. “Nice to meet you all the same, Dr. Mallard.” He held out his hand hopefully.

Mallard shook it, still gazing at Tony intently. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Agent DiNozzo,” he said politely.

“Please – call me Tony.” Tony shot Mallard his most dazzling smile. Gibbs snorted.

“Well, we’ll see,” Mallard said kindly. “Maybe I'll get around to calling you Anthony one day. In time. When I’ve got to know you a little bit better and have become accustomed to having you around.” He turned back to Gibbs. "A word, Jethro, if I may?"

He took hold of Gibbs’s arm with an easy familiarity and led him a little way away. Tony leaned towards them, trying to overhear what they said.

“Jethro – I thought you told me that you wouldn’t settle for anyone who didn’t feel right!”

“Yup.” Gibbs nodded.

“Then why on earth…?”

“Does feel right.” Gibbs shrugged. “In my gut, Duck.”

“Ah – your famous gut.” Mallard put his head on one side. “And is it always right, Jethro?”

“I trust it, Duck. 100 per cent.”

“Well, I don’t presume to tell you your job, but I do hope you’re right. He’s nothing at all like Stan.”

Tony felt his stomach flip. Who the hell was *Stan*?

“Stan’s gone, Ducky – and you’re the one who told me I had to get on with replacing him. Well, I have.”

Ah, so Stan was his predecessor, the agent who had shipped out a few weeks ago. Mallard glanced over at Tony who immediately feigned an intense interest in the dead body lying on the autopsy table.

“Well you’re right about one thing, Jethro,” Mallard said, so softly that Tony had to strain to hear him.

“What’s that, Ducky?”

“He *is* a child.” Mallard chuckled. “Oh dear, first Abby, and now this young lad. How old I suddenly feel!”

Gibbs laughed. “You’ll never be old, Duck. That enquiring mind of yours keeps you forever young.” He took hold of Mallard’s head, tilted it towards him, and bestowed a fond kiss on it.

Mallard smiled up at him with clear affection, and Tony felt his stomach flip again. Was Gibbs this man’s top?

Mallard turned and walked back to Tony. He stood in front of him and gave him a warm, genuine smile. “Tony you say? That might take some getting used to, but if Gibbs thinks you’re right for the job then you are, my dear boy. Now, I insist that you call me Ducky.”

“Ducky. Okay.” Tony smiled – a relieved, honest smile this time. This man was obviously important to Gibbs, and he wanted his respect.

“I’m very pleased to see that you’re not one of those young people who faints at the sight of a cadaver in mid-autopsy,” Ducky said approvingly, glancing at the dead body on the table.

“Me? No.” Tony shook his head. “I’ve seen plenty of blood, guts and gore during my time as a cop, Ducky, and plenty of dead bodies too. One is pretty much like another.”

“Oh no!” Ducky looked shocked. “That, my dear boy, is where you are wrong – very wrong indeed. But never mind, I’m sure I’ll educate you in time.” He patted Tony’s arm reassuringly.

Gibbs gave another little jerk of his head. “C’mon, DiNozzo. There’s more to show you. See ya later, Duck.”

Ducky waved an absent hand in the air as he returned to his corpse. “So sorry to keep you waiting, Petty Officer Turner,” Tony overhead him say as he left Autopsy.

“Is he talking to that dead body?” Tony whispered as he followed Gibbs into the elevator.

“What does it look like?” Gibbs replied, and Tony had no idea what that was supposed to mean, so he asked the question that had really been bothering him instead.

“Is Dr. Mallard your sub?”

Gibbs banged his hand on the elevator control panel and it lurched into motion.

“Is he?” Tony asked. “Only he’s wearing a collar, and you kissed him, so…”

“So?” Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

“I’m just confused…’cause you don’t seem like the kind of top who’d be with someone with that kind of dynamic.”

Gibbs’s raised eyebrow practically disappeared into his hairline.

Tony winced. “Uh…I mean…not that I know you very well, just that you seem like an extreme kind of top, and I’d have thought you’d be with an extreme kind of sub, not someone…with blurred edges, if you understand me.”

“Blurred edges?”

“Dr. Mallard is a switch,” Tony stated bluntly. “I’m pretty sure of it. And I’m not usually wrong about this kind of thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been wrong about it.”

Gibbs looked at him sharply. “I’m not goin’ to talk to you about Ducky’s dynamic, DiNozzo – that’s private – but you’re right about one thing; he does wear my collar.”

Tony’s stomach flipped again, and he *really* wished it would stop doing that. What the hell did it matter to him if some top he’d only just met already had a collared sub?

At that moment the elevator doors opened, and Gibbs strode out. Tony followed him, scurrying to keep up. They walked into a laboratory and a beautiful young woman, with black hair worn in pigtails, let out a squeal and threw herself at Gibbs. Tony stepped back in alarm.

“Gibbs!” she exclaimed, hugging Gibbs manically. “I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“I took you to lunch yesterday, Abby,” Gibbs told her, pushing her back and gazing at her sternly. Tony was surprised to see that she also was wearing a plain black collar – and some pretty weird looking clothes. She was rocking a sort of Gothic tough sub look combined with the softness of baby doll chic. It sort of worked – on her.

“You only stayed for half an hour! You said you had to do another one of those stupid interviews.” Abby pouted. “Oh! Did you finish them? Did you find someone?” Her mood changed again. “I miss Stan,” she said mournfully.

Tony was starting to hate this Stan person.

“I know.” Gibbs pulled her forward and planted a kiss on *her* forehead too. Tony felt that familiar flip in his stomach again. “But yes, I have finished the interviews – and I’d like you to meet my new second. Abigail Sciuto – this is Tony DiNozzo.” He beckoned Tony forward.

Abby looked him up and then looked him down – and then she wrinkled her nose. She looked over towards Gibbs and made some gestures with her hands, gesticulating wildly. Tony had no idea what she was saying, but it obviously wasn't complimentary.

“Are you talking about me behind my back? Or…in front of my back…or…oh you know what I mean.” Tony gestured with his own hands. “Are you *signing* about me?”

“Yes, she is, and she knows it’s rude.” Gibbs gave Abby’s ass a firm swat.

“Ow!” She glared at him, and he raised an eyebrow at her. She sighed and looked at Tony again. “Sorry...Terry,” she muttered gracelessly.

“Tony,” he corrected.

She looked up at him from sparkling, mischievous green eyes. “Tony. Let’s see how long you last here,” she said ominously.

Tony laughed out loud. Oh *this* was the kind of sub he could get along with.

“Abby,” Gibbs said warningly. She pressed a kiss to Gibbs’s cheek, but Tony could see it would take more than that to charm *this* particular top. “I’ll speak to you later,” Gibbs told her.

She grinned. “Looking forward to it, Bossman!” she said, firing off a mock salute in his direction.

Gibbs rolled his eyes and walked back towards the elevator.

“Wanna place a bet?” Tony asked in an undertone as soon as the boss was out of earshot. “About how long I last here? Twenty bucks says I’ll make it to the end of the week.”

“Oh – twenty says you won’t even make it to the end of the day,” Abby retorted.

He grinned and held out his hand. “Shake on it.” She did, and then stuck out her tongue at him.

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs bellowed from the elevator door.

“On it, Boss!” Tony gave Abby a wink and then made a run for it.

He got there and sidled in sideways just as the doors closed – Gibbs made no effort to hold the elevator for him, and Tony was starting to get a good idea of just what kind of a man his new boss was.

“So…Abby wears your collar too, huh?” Tony said.

“Yup.”

“Is it obligatory? Everyone on your team has to wear your collar?” Tony asked.

Gibbs turned to give him a hard glare. “Nope.”

“Right. Good. ‘Cause I’ve never worn any top’s collar in my life, not even for the hell of it, and I’m not going to start now,” Tony said defiantly.

“Wasn’t offering,” Gibbs snapped.

“Just saying.”

They were silent for a moment.

“So this Stan person – did he…?” Tony began. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. Tony took his life into his hands: “Did he wear your collar too?”

“Yup.”

“Right.” Tony stared at the numbers above the elevator door for a moment and then risked glancing at Gibbs again. “So what’s the deal, Gibbs? D’you have some kind of weird collaring fetish or what?”

The hand was so fast he barely saw it. Next thing he knew it had connected firmly with the back of his head.

“Ow!” He put up a hand and rubbed.

“You ask too many questions, DiNozzo,” Gibbs told him cheerfully. The elevator door opened, and Gibbs strode out into yet another hallway. Tony followed on behind, still rubbing his head.

“Damn it, I’m gonna get brain damage working here,” he muttered, loud enough to be overheard by his new boss. He saw the little grin creasing at the corners of Gibbs’s mouth and felt a sudden surge of warmth inside. He could end up craving the sight of that smile – especially if he’d been the cause of it.

“This is the gym,” Gibbs said, striding through a large room with exercise mats and a boxing ring.

Nobody was in there – Tony supposed it was the wrong time of day for anyone to be using it.

“And this…” Gibbs pushed open a door, “is the subs’ locker room.”

He put a hand on Tony’s neck and propelled him into the empty room. “And over here…” he pushed Tony over to one side, “are the showers. And you are going to take one.”

He picked up a clean towel from a pile in the corner and threw it at Tony. Tony stared at him.

“You have ten minutes and then I want you back in the squad room,” Gibbs ordered. Tony stared at him some more. “And don’t ever come to work stinking of the top who fucked you the night before again, DiNozzo. I find it…” Gibbs paused, his hands curling into tight fists at his side. He looked as if he was trying to find the right word. “Irritating,” he said eventually.

“Right,” Tony said softly. “Understood.” He wasn’t sure why Gibbs was so mad exactly, but he was embarrassed enough about turning up to the interview looking like this to understand the sentiment, even if not the reason behind it.

“Good. Let’s call it rule number 24, shall we?” Gibbs said.

Tony frowned. “What? I mean…uh, okay, but…there are rules?”

Gibbs nodded firmly. “Oh yeah, DiNozzo. There are rules – my rules – and you’ll learn them and learn them well.”

“What are the previous 23 rules?”

“You’ll find out when you break ‘em.” Gibbs turned to go.

“Hey!” Tony called him back. “Sure you don’t wanna stay and watch?” Tony jerked his head in the direction of the shower and gave a little wink.

Gibbs rolled his eyes. “You already got the job, DiNozzo.”

“Oh, I know.” Tony grinned. “I just like to flirt.”

“Ya think, DiNozzo?” Gibbs shook his head ruefully.

“You’ll get used to it,” Tony said cheerfully. Then his smile faded. “There is one more thing,” he said. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t show me the workplace discipline room on your tour, and I’ll need to know where that is, trust me.”

Gibbs’s hand was as fast as it had been all morning – and it connected with the back of his head with a resounding thunk.

“Ow! Damn it…am I never gonna see one of those coming?” Tony rubbed his head again.

“I told you in your interview – nobody on my team ever ends up in a workplace discipline room,” Gibbs said firmly.

“You can say it all you like, but that doesn’t change the reality of what’s likely to happen,” Tony shot back.

Gibbs moved in close, so close their bodies were almost touching. Tony found himself looking into a pair of forceful blue eyes. “You’ll listen to me, you’ll learn from me, and you’ll obey my rules – and you will *not* go ass up in the discipline room in front of your co-workers.”

Gibbs made a tiny gesture of distaste with his jaw, and Tony got the distinct impression that this particular top didn’t approve of workplace discipline rooms – which was weird, because he sure as hell seemed to approve of workplace *discipline*, judging by the way he kept handing out the head-slaps.

“You have some kind of moral objection to workplace discipline rooms?” Tony asked.

Gibbs shook his head. “I don’t care one way or the other – but I *do* care about the people on my team, and I’d be doing my job wrong if you ended up taking public licks.”

“You hand them out privately – that it? Bet that seemingly nice but actually quite mean lady in HR doesn’t approve of that,” Tony said, studying the man. He was intrigued by Gibbs; he’d never met a top like him.

“No, I don’t hand ‘em out privately – not to anyone other than my collared subs at least,” Gibbs told him. “Now – are we done?”

“Nope.” Tony grinned. Gibbs raised a dangerous eyebrow. “The head-slaps – are they just some ‘first day on the job’ type thing you always do with new people, or are you going to be handing them out a lot?” Tony asked.

“No idea.” Gibbs shrugged. Now it was Tony’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Never head-slapped anyone before; it’s new. Just felt right, dealing with you, DiNozzo.” Gibbs grinned. “So yeah – I think they’re here to stay.”

“Right. Fine. Just so I know.” Tony glanced at him through his eyelashes and Gibbs glanced back. Then they both gave conspiratorial little grins, and Tony felt happier than he'd done in a long time.

Gibbs turned away. “Ten minutes, DiNozzo, and then I want you at your desk and ready to work.”

End of Part Two
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Part Three
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