Old Friends and Bookends
Summary: Tony runs into an old friend from boarding school and a secret is revealed. Slash.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Okay, I'm not sure where this little story came from, but it started with the image of Tony and his friend saying goodbye (I won't give more than that away here). Anyway, it's very short and there's not much backstory revealed, but I hope it is enjoyable. It's a one-shot, so no need for updates. Jules
"Anthony DiNozzo?" Tony turned to see a vaguely familiar face heading his direction across the bullpen. "You are Anthony DiNozzo?"
"I am," Tony said. "And I feel like I should know you… Wait! John Sheffield."
John smiled. "You got it. How are you doing? I had no idea you worked at NCIS. Last I heard from Tommy Jackson you were in Baltimore."
"Been here going on eight years now," Tony said. "Gibbs brought me in after a joint case we worked in Baltimore. How is Tommy these days?"
"He's good," John said. "I went to his wedding last fall. Married his college sweetheart now that it's legal here in DC."
Tony smiled, "I had no idea he was in DC. Or you for that matter."
"I'm actually not," John said. "I'm just down from New York on a case. I'm representing a client your boys picked up for selling crack to some midshipmen. He's a little scumbag, but his dad is on the board of some charity with my dad. You know how that shit goes."
"Yeah," Tony said with a smile. "I can't believe I just ran into you. How long has it been?"
"Twelve years. Not since the ten year high school reunion," John said. "You skipped the twenty year."
"I hadn't intended to skip," Tony said regretfully. "I was on a case and couldn't get away."
"Listen, I'm finished here for the time being, why don't we go get some lunch and catch up?" John suggested. "Unless you're busy?"
"One of our team was injured yesterday, so we're off rotation until she gets back," Tony said. "Let me just let Gibbs know and we can go. Come on, you have to meet the infamous Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He's a legend around here."
Tony dragged John across the bullpen to Gibbs' desk. The older man had been watching the interplay the entire time the two men were talking, though he couldn't hear what was being said. He could see that Tony was excited to see this guy, whoever he was.
"Gibbs," Tony said. "I'd like for you to meet John Sheffield. We went to school together."
"Another frat buddy?" Gibbs asked with a raised brow as he stood to shake the man's hand.
"No," John said. "Boarding school. Tony and I were close friends throughout our years at Charlton Military Academy."
"Pleasure to meet you," Gibbs said.
"Gibbs, since things are quiet, I thought I'd take an early lunch with John and catch up," Tony said.
"Alright," Gibbs said.
"Want me to bring back anything?" Tony said.
"Yeah," Gibbs said. And went back to the report he had been reading before they interrupted.
"You and your boss certainly have an interesting relationship," John said over lunch. "He watched us the whole time we were talking by the elevator. And then you don't even have to ask what he wants for lunch… Is there something there?"
Tony flushed. "I wish. Gibbs is as straight as they come. He lost his first wife and daughter way too young and has been married three times since to try and find a way to replace them. We're friends, good friends, but that's all. That's all it could ever be. There was a wistfulness in Tony's voice and in his eyes that wasn't lost on his old friend.
"I don't know," John said. "He seemed more interested in our interaction than a friend or supervisor would be."
"Gibbs is just… protective of his team. Not just me, but all of us," Tony said. No matter how much he wished it was true, he knew that John was wrong. "Now, enough about Gibbs, tell me how you've been. Are you and Mark still together?"
John chuckled at the unsubtle change in topic, but he allowed it. "Mark? Good lord, that was a long time ago. No, I've been with a wonderful guy named Steve for about two years now."
The rest of lunch was more relaxed and easy, but Tony had an uneasy feeling in his gut about this surprise reunion.
Gibbs watched as Tony and John walked back into the bullpen, still laughing at some shared recollection from their youth. The way the two stood closer than was normal, the way they were comfortable with casual touches and smiled at each other spoke of something more than just a casual friendship.
Tony didn't Bring John over to their area of the bullpen, instead they stood at the elevators, obviously saying their goodbyes. Gibbs had the sudden urge to go over there and break up the reunion, but held himself back. And when John pulled Tony into a hug, Gibbs really wanted to break the man's hands. But when that hug led to a gentle kiss on Tony's lips like it was the most natural thing in the world, Gibbs growled. Out loud. Loud enough to startle the young intern across the way.
Gibbs slammed his empty coffee cup into the trash and stalked to the back stairs. He needed more coffee. And then he need time in the gym, hitting something.
"Shit," John muttered as he noted Gibbs' angry retreat. "I think I just fucked up."
Tony sighed. "It's fine."
"You aren't out, are you?" John asked quietly.
Tony shrugged. "No. It's not that I'm ashamed or anything, but I learned pretty early on in my career to keep things quiet. After a while, I got to be second nature. But… I don't think anyone here would care other than the fact that I've kept it secret for so long."
"And I just…" John said with an apologetic look. "I'm sorry."
"Hey, it was just a hug and a kiss," Tony said with a grin. "I would have done the same if you hadn't beaten me to it. It really was great seeing you again, John."
"Yeah," John said with a little of his usual smile back. "You have got to come up to New York sometime and meet Steve. And I'll be back in DC in a few months for a conference."
"Let me know when," Tony said. "We'll definitely get together."
A few minutes later, John stepped onto the elevator and Tony watched the doors slide closed. He wanted to sag against the wall, but held himself upright. He wasn't sure how he was going to make it through the rest of the day.
Tony sighed as he turned his car towards Alexandria. Gibbs had avoided him for the rest of the afternoon and Tony was sure he knew why. There were a few unsubtle comments from some of the other agents in the building as rumors spread like wildfire around the agency. The only person who he really cared about, however, never said a word.
Abby had cornered him in her lab at one point and gave him a knowing smirk. "I always knew there was more to you than you let anyone see. I should be mad about you keeping something this monumental from me, but I'm not, since I know why you did." And then she had hugged the stuffing out of him and forced him to promise that they would have a night out together soon to look for men.
Ducky and Palmer had given him speculative looks, but had not asked him outright. He had smiled at them and promised to explain it all to them later. They had both accepted that and had gone back to work as though nothing had changed. Because, to them, it probably hadn't.
McGee had watched him for a while before saying, "If you want to talk about it…"
Tony had actually laughed at that. "Probie, I'm not confused or upset. I'm the same person I was yesterday, you just know a little more about me than you did before."
"So, it's true then?" McGee had asked. "What they're saying?"
"Since I don't know what exactly people are saying, I can't confirm or deny," Tony had replied. "But I can tell you that not all of my conquests over the years have been women. Working in law enforcement, I learned quickly to keep things like that to myself. I'm fine. And hopefully, this won't change anything between us."
"Of course not," McGee had said quickly and then blushed. "I just never would have imagined you of all people…"
Tony had chuckled at McGee's discomfort. "And that's the way I wanted it."
McGee had finally grinned back at his teammate. "You're really good with undercover."
"I know," Tony had said smugly.
But Tony wasn't feeling all that smug now. The one person whose reaction he wanted to know the most had made himself scarce all day, so Tony was determined to confront his boss and friend. He knew that Gibbs wasn't homophobic. The man had several gay friends and had even gone to a couple same sex weddings since the law had been passed in DC. The question that remained was why he was suddenly avoiding Tony, then.
Tony pulled up in front of Gibbs' house and walked inside carrying a six-pack of beer. He knew exactly where Gibbs would be: in the basement working on his boat. Sure enough, Tony found the lights on down there and went down the stairs. He sat on the lower landing and pulled a beer out of the six-pack. He could feel Gibbs' eyes on him, even though the sound of wood being sanded hadn't paused.
"Want one, boss?" Tony asked as he twisted the cap off a bottle.
Gibbs looked up but didn't meet Tony's eyes. "Sure."
Tony walked over to where Gibbs was working and handed him the beer. Then he went back to the landing and opened another bottle for himself. "You left work pretty early. At least for you."
"No case," Gibbs said tersely.
"Right," Tony said skeptically. Even without a case, Gibbs tended to stay until seven most nights.
Gibbs glared in Tony's general direction. "You got a problem with that?"
"I've got a problem with you avoiding me," Tony said quietly. Tony waited for Gibbs to deny it, but the other man remained silent as he took another long swig of his beer. "If this is going to be a problem, I can put in for a transfer."
Gibbs' eyes finally snapped in Tony's direction. "Don't be stupid DiNozzo."
"We can't exactly work together if you won't even look at me," Tony said. He stood up and began pacing the short distance by the stairs. "I know you aren't homophobic. I know that I haven't broken any of your precious rules. But you seem to be pretty pissed off and I don't know why."
Gibbs slammed his bottle onto the worktable and stalked over to Tony, getting right up into his face. "Who was he?"
Tony frowned in confusion. "John? I told you, we were friends in boarding school."
Gibbs growled. "Who. Was. He?"
Tony caught on to what Gibbs was asking. "He was my first boyfriend, the first boy I ever kissed. It didn't last long, but we stayed friends."
Gibbs didn't ask why Tony had never said anything about being bisexual. He understood. He even understood why he hadn't said anything even after knowing that NCIS was different. That Gibbs was different. He didn't ask, because Gibbs knew the answer.
"Why did he kiss you?" Gibbs demanded. He was still in Tony's personal space but his stance was less threatening and more territorial now.
Tony shrugged but didn't look away from Gibbs' intense gaze. "It was just… that's how we always were. That's how we said goodbye. For vacations and breaks… even at the reunion… that's just how we are together. He's in a relationship. It was just goodbye."
"You going to see him again?" Gibbs asked, but his tone was less rough and demanding now.
"Probably," Tony said. "He'll be back here in a few months. And he invited me to New York to meet his partner."
Gibbs nodded. "You aren't going to kiss him like that anymore."
Tony frowned in confusion again. "But…"
Gibbs' glare was back. "I said: you aren't going to kiss him like that anymore." Then Gibbs crushed his lips against Tony's and the anger and jealousy that Gibbs had been feeling since meeting John was conveyed through the searing heat of that kiss. When he pulled back for air, it was only a breath away and his voice was rough when he whispered. "Got it?"
"Got it," Tony breathed out. "No more kissing old friends."
"No more kissing anyone," Gibbs said firmly. "No girls, no men. No one but me."
Tony's face lit up with a grin. "No one but you."
And then Gibbs claimed Tony's lips once again and all thoughts of John were left far in the past.