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Author's Chapter Notes:
Jethro can't remember his partner. Poor Tony!
Left to his own devices, Gibbs was at a loose end. Bored now that the young agent had made himself scarce, Gibbs wandered over to the bookshelf, feeling strangely lonely. Maybe there was a tempting book he could read? Some of the volumes on his shelves seemed out of character. Film studies? Biographies of actors? A price list of movie collectibles? Gibbs frowned and pulled out an item that had caught his eye: a garishly coloured black and yellow paperback. Not something he would ever have chosen to put on his bookshelves.

–Gay sex for idiots (A fun resource for the rest of us): Men’s Edition.”

The book was well thumbed and even had a couple of page corners turned down to mark articles of interest.

His jaw just about hit the floor as he read the title details. What the fuck…? Disbelieving, he opened the front cover and stared at the inscription written inside.

–Saw this and thought of you.” It was signed simply –J.” He recognised his own writing. With shaking hands, he flipped through the pages until he got to the folded over corner and stared at the richly illustrated page. His mouth went dry and he shook his head in denial as the book slipped from his fingers. He let it fall.

He couldn’t imagine ever doing THAT! Not ever. Yet despite his certainty, heat had swept through him at the sight of the two men entwined, face to face, one riding the other…

No way. He couldn’t be aroused by that… that…

So, why was he as hard as hell, just as turned on as if he had been looking at straight porn?

Bewildered and not a little afraid, he hurriedly picked up the book and shoved it behind the others so that it wasn’t visible to the casual observer. He had absolutely no desire to expose his weaknesses of character to his young subordinate, or indeed any other visitor to his house. Whatever the hell had been going on in his life, he needed time to think about it. Just not right now…

Perhaps that was why he tried to distract himself by switching on the big tv, setting the channel to CNN. He had ten years of current affairs to try and recall, at least enough that he could bluff his way through a conversation.

The reporter, who appeared, delivering a piece to camera, was young, enthusiastic and no heavyweight, intellectually speaking. He was standing, microphone in hand, in front of a house in Georgetown. The camera panned to the left to show body bags being loaded into a coroner’s van which had NCIS painted on the side. He wondered if that case was the one that DiWhatsit had rushed off to view. Grabbing at the remote control, he turned the sound up.

–…And in another case of the so-called Partner rage, two women were hacked to pieces by a machete…” Gibbs winced. –Agents from NCIS are presently hunting for Petty Officer Jane Weir, who is believed to be the perpetrator of the crime. It is understood that she was visiting Washington last year and like thousands of DC residents, was affected by the Partner Virus. Another victim of that terrorist atrocity…”

Huh?

Partner Virus? Terrorist atrocity? And how the hell did a virus cause a woman to chop someone up? The context of these events was missing from his mind. He had missed more than he realised.

Intrigued, and more than a little disturbed at the thought of more unknown (at least to him) terrorists running around Washington, he found himself headed towards the computer that lurked on his desk. He switched it on and in a surprisingly short time, found himself running a search on the Internet for the Partner Virus. It distantly surprised him that he was able to use the damned machine so easily â€" he hated new technology â€"but some part of him still remembered this. Maybe it was something he used at work, so often that it was at the level of instinct. Besides, he needed to know this stuff, if his people were in danger...

*****

Wikipedia: The Georgetown incident
On December 12th 2009, the Dawn Alliance terrorist group released the Partner Virus in the Georgetown area of Washington DC. The release occurred during a period of high wind with the result that a large area of the city, including Capitol Hill, was exposed to the virus. Within a short time, exposed individuals paired off and engaged in intense sexual activity, followed by a short period of fever as permanent genetic alteration took place...

******

Damn! Gibbs felt his jaw dropping as he read on. Pair bonding? Partner rage? What the hell had been going on?

Gibbs was at least distracted from the damned yellow book, but only because he had a new mystery to ponder. The terrorist attack sounded as if it had been a bitch; domestic terrorism cases always left a bad taste in the mouth. But this time there was a twist to the tale. That whole thing about intense sexual activity? Who with? The terrorists? The persons around them? Root vegetables?

He wondered whether he had been in DC that day? Maybe DiWhatsit would know. The idea didn’t bear thinking about. He could have slept with anyone; a woman like his ex-wife…, a man…, a colleague... The possibilities were endless and horrifying. Which brought his mind round once again to that damned yellow book. What if...?

He found himself blushing fiercely. No way. No way in hell could he put up with that! And yet…

There had been that playful message in the front of the book. As if he was relaxed enough to make jokes with his mystery lover about their love life. A degree of ease that he hadn’t had with his last wife! Stranger and stranger. Damn. As if he didn’t have enough to puzzle out in his life. He felt as if he had a hole in his brain. Or maybe a vortex that was sucking all sense out of the world.

********

Tony frowned as he stared at the crime scene photos that McGee had sent to his laptop. Yeah, he could understand why the probie was concerned. Something didn’t feel right about the case. It should have been a straightforward partner rage case, but the forensics had revealed that the blood droplet patterns from the victim weren’t right, for a start. Like he could be misled about something like that, after years of fieldwork. Also, the suspect wasn’t acting right. He knew how partners acted. He had been there. He remembered the need he had felt, to be close to Jethro after he had saved him. To know Jethro was alive… The probie had been there and had seen how wrecked he had been afterwards. McGee had noticed that the partners in this case were acting too normally. They didn’t cling to each other, needing to reassure each other that they were unhurt…

But he wanted a second opinion. And maybe, he was trying to take Tony’s mind off his troubles.

–Interesting!”

Tony jerked, startled, as Jethro spoke right in his left ear. He turned to look at the older man. Jethro stared back at him, his gaze steady. Remarkably innocent. Not that of someone who loved to make his subordinates jump. Much. Perhaps there was a hint of a ghost of a smile there, visible only to those who knew and loved him.

The older man focused on the crime scene photo and his eyes narrowed.

–Hmm. You noticed, of course, that those are passive droplets of blood. They have a circular shape. You’d expect blood from an attack to have elongated drops if it were cast off.”

Tony grinned. McGee’s very concern, and the reason he had called on Tony for a second opinion. Not much wrong with Jethro’s razor-sharp perception.

–Yeah boss. I saw that. I’ll have Ducky check the body for an alternate cause of death. I think it’s a set-up, but I don’t know what their motive is” Tony turned back to the computer. Almost incidentally, Gibbs' hand rested momentarily on his shoulder. The young agent froze. It was probably fortunate that Gibbs couldn’t see how strongly the small touch affected him. He had to force himself not to lean back into that touch; to feel the warmth of that powerful body pressed against his back.

He couldn’t help but react to the hand on his shoulder though. He must have stiffened, frozen, indecisive, under the touch. He heard Jethro’s breath hitch, then the hand was withdrawn. Damn. Damn it to hell!

Gibbs knew, the moment he touched DiNutso’s shoulder, that he had made a big mistake. The young agent tensed right up, like a coiled spring, and sat frozen under his touch. Not comfortable with him at all. Gibbs managed to hide his embarrassment. He was beginning to suspect that his little gay problem might have impacted upon his work in some way. Well, what else was he to think, if his touch made his young subordinate so uncomfortable. He pulled his hand away as quickly as he could.

He felt curiously deprived of something â€" human contact, maybe? Some part of him wanted to feel a little less alone, and the young agent, with his lively personality and his bright smile seemed to touch something inside Gibbs; a surge of desire that took him completely by surprise...

Oh god, he was turning gay!

A little voice whispered inside him. –So what? Would that be so bad?”

Gibbs did the only thing he could think of; he headed for his basement. At least he could keep his mind occupied with his latest boat. He had no idea how far along he was with it, and he could certainly find some small task to occupy his hands - so that he didn't have to think too hard... Maybe...

For the next few hours, he found a kind of refuge in the slow sweep of the plane across the wood of his latest boat, and tried not to think at all. For a while it worked, but only until he found himself shaking with tiredness. He headed for his bed.

***

Gibbs shifted restlessly as he drifted into sleep, the sense of something missing colouring his dreams. These days, they were strange and haunted, and filled with fragments of memory, or so it seemed. Like tonight... Such intense dreams that it was almost real - and perhaps it was. He had no way of knowing whether it was a memory or just something cooked up in the depths of his imagination. He drifted off into sleep once again.

…He was on his hands and knees, hot, sweet pleasure surging through him as someone unknown wrapped an arm around his waist and drove into him. Instead of fighting, he heard himself begging his lover for more, pushing back against him, utterly surrendering himself to the unknown man's desire…

With a jerk, Gibbs came awake, gasping, and not just from the aftermath of the dream. He sank back onto the mattress, cursing softly. He had no earthly way of knowing whether the dream was real, and to his intense irritation, his subconscious was apparently happy to supply details of what he could have been doing with the unknown person he had bought the book for. Why had he assumed that he would be the one doing the… er… penetration. Maybe he had been the one on the bottom… He shivered, and desperately tried to ignore the way his body had reacted to the dream, so that he was as hard as hell right now!

Shit! It wasn’t as if he could ask DiWhatsit who he had been seeing lately. Or possibly â€" he couldn't quite suppress the thought â€" for years. But there was no-one here. No waiting spouse of either gender to confuse him even further. Then again, it was possible that a lover had left artefacts and evidence around the house. Clothes… A toothbrush…

The only personal stuff he had noticed as he wandered round the house, admittedly not looking for evidence of a lover â€" were DiWhatsit’s few things. Still, possibly that explained some of the odd DVD choices and the big-ass tv.

Gibbs sighed. He was going to have to ask DiNozzo, otherwise he was definitely going to go mad with this. Damn it - he really hated feelings conversations, and not just because of his failed marriages. Shit!

He tried to sleep, but again, as he drifted between waking and sleep, he was haunted by images he couldn't place...

Soft laughter, felt as much as heard, as a vibration from the individual who was going down on him, expert and indescribably good, as Jethro lounged on his old couch, his legs spread, halfway to heaven. He urged the owner of the wicked mouth on with fingers tangled in short, dark hair, and surrendered himself entirely to the other...

He jerked awake, just as the dream came to its climax, his hand between his legs, moaning as he spilled into his sheets with a hoarse cry. Somehow, the fact that he was alone only made it worse.

He sighed softly and sat up. His head was beginning to ache, so he sat on the edge of his bed, noting from the gleam of the bedside clock that it was still only 3 a.m. Damn. He'd forgotten to take the Tylenol last night. He reached for the pills Ducky had given him and popped a couple from the foil, swallowing them down quickly with a gulp from the glass of water that had appeared on the table top next to the bed at some point after he had fallen asleep. DiNozzo, he guessed. Looking after him.

It was more than he deserved.

***

Gibbs was right, of course - Tony had looked in on him a short time after he'd stumbled up the stairs groggily. The young agent had left the water and pills where Gibbs could easily find them, because he knew fine well that Jethro had forgotten to take them before he'd fallen asleep. He probably had every pill tracked and accounted for, and so far he'd been scrupulous in making sure Jethro took them. Except that tonight, the boss seemed intent on avoiding him for some reason.

Tony felt so alone right now. He headed for bed shortly after Jethro, staying within earshot, in case he was needed, but he was emotionally and physically exhausted, and it wasn't long before he too was sound asleep.

Around four in the morning, after a few hours, he woke from a deep, dreamless sleep to instant, alert wakefulness. Something sounded in the night. Tony tensed, all senses straining for long moments. What if Jethro...

The sound of water flushing in the bathroom came, sounding absurdly loud in the stillness of the night. Tony flushed, then grinned to himself ruefully. No big deal. He relaxed as he listened to Jethro moving, then to his surprise, the spare room door swung open. There was just enough moonlight shining through the window for him to see Jethro, moving on autopilot, mostly asleep, stumbling towards him. With a groan, he climbed into bed beside Tony, moving behind him and snuggling up close, his arm almost casually thrown over his partner.

Sleepwalking? Moving by instinct next to his partner?

Tony didn't really care. For the first time in what felt like forever, he was with his partner, and it was good. He sighed and relaxed, blissfully leaning into the warm body behind him, and letting himself enjoy the moment. He didn't sleep much for the next few hours, but perhaps just being close to each other was restorative in some strange way.

***

Gibbs woke from a mostly dreamless sleep many hours later. The sun was slanting brightly across the ceiling, which told him that it was at least ten o clock, but it wasn't that which made him blink in disorientation. The sun didn't usually reach his room in the morning... And the wall of his bedroom was cream coloured, not a pale green! The only room upstairs that was painted green was...

What the hell?

Dazed and confused, he sat up and stared round him. He was definitely in the bloody spare room, where DiWhatsit was staying! Fortunately, he was alone right now, so the young agent couldn't see his boss blush fiercely. But then, how in the hell had he made it from his own bed to DiWhatsit's during the night. He vaguely remembered taking his pills, when he'd definitely been in his own room.

Yeah well, now he wasn't!

Had he been sleepwalking? He cringed in embarrassment, particularly after those dreams he'd had last night... No way! He couldn't have climbed into the wrong bed last night, could he, after a vaguely remembered pit-stop? He vaguely recalled dreaming of lying wrapped in someone's arms, comfortable and comforting, so certain that he was loved...

It hurt to think about it, because it wasn't real...

He forced himself to ignore the misery, and headed for the shower, his mood darkening, then went downstairs for his first coffee of the day. And there was Tony, standing by the stove, making something that smelled very much like bacon and eggs.

The young agent turned towards him when he heard Jethro enter, his smile sunny and welcoming. Perhaps it was because he was embarrassed by his mistake last night, which Tony must have known about, or possibly he was just cranky, but Jethro's feelings of anger and confusion came to the boil. He struck out at the only target in sight...

"Hey, DiFatso!"

Tony's green eyes went wide, then filled with fury, as the stresses of the past few days came surging to the fore. He swung round and glared at Gibbs, his voice low and furious.

"Don't say that again, you sonovabitch! I'm not fucking fat, I'm fucking pregnant and if you say that to me again, I'm going to punch you!"

Gibbs realised that his mouth was hanging open and closed his jaw with an audible snap, stunned by his young subordinate's statement. That wasn't possible! It was insane! Men didn't get pregnant. Surely things hadn't changed that much in a decade? Had they?

"You're what?" he faltered, disbelieving.

"Pregnant." Tony said that word again, his voice turned icy.

"That's not possible... You're insane!"

"If you're just going to insult me, I'm not going to listen to you." Tony snapped and turned to leave. Surprisingly, the young agent seemed to have a spark of courage in him, and a dignity which impressed Gibbs, despite his scepticism.

"Wait!" Gibbs said. "I'm... I'm sorry. If that's really true... Then more things have changed than I believed possible, in ten years."

"Yeah. It's true." Tony turned back towards him, looking curiously vulnerable. He put a hand on his belly. Most of Washington was exposed to a terrorist's virus. It altered male DNA..." He looked as if he wanted to say something else. "...And here I am."

He stepped closer, so close to Gibbs, and reached for the older man's hand, lifting his shirt.

"Feel..." A curiously shy smile. "The best way to prove I'm telling the truth!"

With irresistible curiosity, Gibbs rested his hand on the curve of Tony's belly and he gasped as he felt the distinctive kicking of a baby beneath his palm. Stunned, he could only stare at Tony.

"Hell!"

"It's a girl," Tony said. "And boy, can she kick!"

"That must have been a shock!"

Tony's grin widened, and a hint of humour gleamed in his green eyes.

"You have no idea. Mind you, it was an even greater shock for the father!"

"Huh." Gibbs endeavoured not to look too startled. So what if his senior field agent was gay. Maybe in the last ten years, Don't ask, don't tell had been repealed. Then again, maybe attitudes in general had become more open. Yeah right.

"You're in a relationship?" That seemed a safe question to ask. DiNotso shrugged.

"Yes. I have a partner. He's an ex-marine and we love each other very much." Then he smirked. "You can take your hand away now, boss."

Gibbs flushed. He realised that his hand was still resting, fingers splayed, on Tony's warm belly, with its precious cargo. He felt a huge surge of envy for the unknown partner.

He had never noticed before how Tony's eyes were hugely dark. They seemed to draw Gibbs in. Before he knew what he was doing, he leaned in and kissed Tony.

The younger man's mouth was warm and sweet and opened beneath his. Gibbs found himself deepening the kiss, his hands tangling in the tousled dark hair. Tony moaned, his hands clutching convulsively at Gibbs' shoulders, holding on to him tightly. Then Gibbs' mind caught up with his senses.

What the hell was happening to him? What was wrong with him? He didn't find men sexually arousing. Did he? Unable to stop himself, he touched Tony's belly again. He felt the warm flutter of life again beneath his hand.

He pulled away, his head reeling, staring at Tony's beautiful, kiss-moistened lips. He had never felt like this before, filled with a need he couldn't understand. What the hell was he doing? Kissing his subordinate. His very male subordinate who was someone else's pregnant lover. The thought sparked something white-hot inside him that he realised was jealousy.

He pulled back, away from temptation and felt the panic set in. He wasn't gay. He had never been into men. The thought was abhorrent to him - wasn't it? Yet Tony's mouth had tasted so good, and the silky hair beneath his fingers had been so enticing. He had wanted to touch Tony. So very good. He wanted... wanted to exploit him! What else could you call it - wanting sex with your subordinate? And more... Love...

Oh hell.

He turned and hightailed it out of the room, heading for his basement as fast as his feet would carry him. He didn't see Tony staring after him, his expression a curious mixture of hope and longing.

And he had thought DiNutzo was crazy!

Tony sighed heavily. He didn't know what to do next. The fact that his lover had kissed him gave him hope, but it had evidently freaked the older man out, big time. Gibbs didn't remember what it was like to be with a man, so his virus enhanced instincts had to be driving him crazy. Gibbs still felt drawn to Tony, but his brain was overriding those instincts. Tony knew only too well that partnership couldn't be hidden away like that. Sooner or later, Gibbs' need for him would come to the fore again.

Tony could almost feel pity for him.

***
End of part 3
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