NOT TO BE SEEN
DiNozzo is desperately keen to avoid Gibbs. However, his hopes that his boss has already left for a conference, are dashed when he arrives at the office to find Gibbs talking to Ducky.
An established relationship story.
Written: January 2006. Word count: 1,313
Tony DiNozzo stuck his head around the corner, and swiftly pulled it back again. The movement was so quick, he felt his neck muscles twang. Damn it, Gibbs was there. He'd hoped that as his boss was due to be at a conference for a few days, a conference that began in less than two hours, that he wouldn't have come into work first. But clearly his hope had been futile.
He risked another glance. At least Gibbs wasn't at his desk; in fact he appeared to be on his way out as he was wearing his long brown overcoat, and holding his briefcase in one hand. The other hand was bending back the brim of Ducky's hat.
Tony had seen Gibbs do that once before, when the two old friends had a brief, a very brief, 'falling out' - except that was too strong a term. Only this time Gibbs didn't appear to be annoyed with Ducky; quite the opposite. Tony wondered whether either man thought they were fooling anyone about the true nature of their relationship, or whether in fact their interactions were deliberate. He felt sure they weren't, certainly not on Gibbs's part anyway. He wasn't sure his boss would like to know just how soft his eyes in particular, and whole face in general, became when he looked at Ducky. And as for his protectiveness and defensiveness. . .
At that moment Gibbs, who had been looking down at Ducky, frowned and glanced up and looked across the office. Tony again whipped his head back. Damn, that man's antenna was a real nuisance at times. He held his breath, pressed back against the wall, and prayed, silently and fervently.
He shouldn't have bothered. "DiNozzo." Leroy Jethro Gibbs's 'you will obey me', tone rang out across the office. It was the one that no one disobeyed. For once, nevertheless, Tony actually thought of doing so. However, before he could - or not - Gibbs spoke again. "Get your ass over here."
After a swift check that all was how it should be, Tony moved, albeit slowly, to obey the command. "Gibbs," he said cheerfully. "Ducky," he added, as if he'd only just seen the ME.
Gibbs just stared. The stare that Tony hated, as it seemed capable of seeing inside him and discovering just what a fool he was.
Ducky merely smiled, his usual 'non-Gibbs', fond smile.
The two old friends were no longer looking at each other, and Gibbs no longer held the brim of Ducky's hat back. They were however still closer to one another than most people stood - especially given the fact that no one else was nearby jostling them.
"Good morning, Tony," Ducky said brightly. Tony groaned silently. "Yes, it is a cold day, isn't it?"
"Huh?" Tony replied, blinking. Far too late he realized the trap he'd walked into. Again he groaned silently.
"He means that," Gibbs said, pointing to the hood of the sweatshirt that Tony still had pulled up.
"Oh, that. I didn't have time to dry my hair this morning. And as Ducky said, it is chilly out. I didn't want to risk catching a cold. Would you like me to fetch you a coffee before you leave, boss?"
Gibbs was still staring at him; his eyes slightly narrowed.
Ducky spoke again. "Actually, Tony, you cannot catch a cold simply from having wet hair. It does, I admit, lower one's resistance to colds and chills. Therefore, it might be a good idea to -"
"Duck." The tone was the same as it always was when Gibbs interrupted Ducky: fondly exasperated; the only difference was that this time it was also softer than usual.
"Yes, my dear?" Ducky said, glancing away from Tony and looking up at Gibbs.
Tony held his breath and waited - for something. For Gibbs to frown or move away or look embarrassed.
Or maybe for Ducky to realize just what he'd said.
But there was nothing.
Except the usual gentling in Gibbs's gaze as he glanced down at Ducky. A faint smile touched Gibbs's lips, and he just shook his head twice. Ducky smiled back up at him.
"For coffee? Right, I'll just go and get some now. Tea for you, Ducky. I won't be a -"
"DiNozzo." The quietness of Gibbs's voice sounded like rifle fire to Tony's ears as it vibrated off the walls.
There was nothing he could do.
He was trapped.
Save Gibbs's phone ringing.
Or an earthquake.
Slowly he raised his hands and tugged the hood off his head.
Ducky's eyes widened and then he began to chuckle softly. And he stared at Tony with his 'non-Gibbs' affectionate look.
Gibbs's eyes also widened. He however did not chuckle. Nor did his look become affectionate. Instead it became like ice. "What," he said quietly, his tone all the more deadly for its softness, "have you done?"
"It wasn't me exactly, Gibbs. You see it was a case of -"
"DiNozzo!" There was no fond exasperation in the tone.
"My girl-friend brought a new hair coloring. But she was afraid it would end up turning her hair green, and as we have the same color hair, she persuaded me to let her try it on me. It was supposed to be one of those wash in/wash out ones," Tony added quickly, as the dark blue eyes once more widened, and Ducky's lighter blue ones twinkled with mirth.
"She should ask for her money back," Gibbs growled. "DiNozzo, of all the stupid things you could have done. You go and do this. And today of all days. What on earth were you thinking?"
"Jethro." Ducky's voice was low, and he touched Gibbs's arm.
For a second Tony thought that it wouldn't distract his furious boss. But to his surprise, Gibbs did tear his eyes away from the bright orange that was Tony's new hair color, to look down at Ducky. "Duck?" The ice faded, and the dark blue gentled.
"The poor boy is going to suffer enough as it is until he is able to wash out the color. I sincerely doubt whether there is anything that you can say to him, which could make him feel worse than he already does. And you do have a conference to which you need to get, and you are already going to be leaving later than you had intended doing. And one of these days your badge will not be the solution when the traffic police pull you over. Always assuming that there is someone left alive to pull over," he added, his tone now low.
For a second or two Gibbs said nothing. Then he smiled at Ducky, nodded, tightened his grip on his briefcase and turned away. He paused long enough to briefly touch Ducky's shoulder. "I'll call you later, Duck," he said quietly.
"Drive carefully, my dear."
"Always do. And, DiNozzo," Gibbs glared at Tony.
"Yes, boss. I promise, boss. It'll be gone by the time you get back." Tony spoke swiftly, mentally crossing his fingers and praying, while wondering just how he'd look bald. And more importantly, what Gibbs's reaction to that would be.
"It had better be. See you, Duck." The two sentences were said in two completely different tones.
With one more half-touch of Ducky's shoulder and another smile down at him, Gibbs ignored Tony's parting word and strode out of the office.
"Now come along, Tony. Let us go and see if Abigail can find something that will help you get rid of the color - or at least tone it down."
"They're really going to give me hell, aren't they, Ducky?" Tony said, following the slightly limping man into the elevator, and thinking of his coworkers - in particular Ziva.
"Oh, yes, Tony," Ducky said, and beamed.
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