Jethro knew it was an argument he would lose, so he didn’t even try. As soon as he saw Tony’s interest with that damn cat at the crime scene, he knew the furry little animal would be coming home with them. He didn’t really mind; he liked animals and a cat would fit into their busy lifestyle better than a dog. Besides, he knew Tony hadn’t been allowed any pets growing up. Gibbs couldn’t fix a lot of the crap that happened during his lover’s childhood, but if a simple thing like bringing a cat into their lives would help even a little bit, then he’d do it in a heartbeat.
Much later, they did their usual routine of taking their separate cars home, preserving the secret that they were lovers. Gibbs pretended he didn’t know that Tony snuck the cat out of the building. He felt a twinge that Tony didn’t trust him enough to just come out and confide in him that he wanted to adopt the cat, but then again, he knew how much satisfaction Tony got with pulling one over on him too. At least, he told himself that was probably the reason and not that Tony was so used to being denied what he wanted, that he was hesitant to ask. With an air of resignation, Gibbs stopped by a pet store on the way home and stocked up on the essentials that he had a feeling Tony had neglected to think about.
Sure enough, when he got to the house, two pair of big eyes greeted. The cat just blinked lazily from where it was sniffing by the easy chair. Tony’s _expression, on the other hand, looked a lot more worried.
“Jethro,” his lover started in before Gibbs got all the way through the door, “he really won’t be any trouble at all. Cats don’t bark or need to go for walks and we can get one of those self-feeders for when we know we’re going to be busy on a case for a couple of days. They’re really very self-sufficient.”
Gibbs came the rest of the way in, showing Tony what he was carrying. A litter box, a cat bed, a small bag of litter, and some kitty chow.
Tony grinned sheepishly. “Oh.”
After setting down his burden, Gibbs walked over to where Tony was sitting on the couch. Cupping the back of his lover’s head, he pulled the younger man in for a thorough kiss.
“I guess you don’t mind then, huh?” Tony asked when the kiss was over.
Gibbs was momentarily distracted by the younger man licking his lips. He shook it off, though, to give the conversation his full attention.
“It would have been nice to be clued in to your little plan,” he responded mildly as he sat on the sofa next to the other man, “but, no, I don’t mind having a cat.”
Tony blushed and looked away. “Yeah, sorry. I guess I’m just used to most people saying no. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission and all that.”
Gibbs growled, knowing full well that Tony was referring to his parents and not at all happy about the comparison. “I’m not ‘most people,’ DiNozzo.”
“I know that, Jethro,” Tony sighed. “I tell you what, I don’t need a cat. I’ll find another home for it-umph.”
He was cut off by another fierce kiss. This time when Gibbs relinquished Tony’s lips, he kept his hands cupped around the younger man’s face.
“You want a cat, then you get a cat,” Gibbs said simply. Then, to lighten the mood, he added, “just don’t name it something sissy like ‘Muffin’ or ‘Babydoll.’”
“I was thinking of calling him ‘Jarhead,” Tony suggested hesitantly.
Gibbs thought about it for a minute and grinned. “I like it.”
”Good,” Tony sagged against Gibbs in relief. “I promise Jarhead won’t be any trouble.”
“Uh-huh,” Gibbs grunted. He’d had pets before and knew better. Of course, they were also cute and loving and worth every bit of it. Sort of like a Special Agent he knew.
“You’ll see,” Tony assured him. Turning to the cat, he reached a hand out and called to it in a sing-song voice. “Here, Jarhead. Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”
The newly dubbed Jarhead glanced at him in a bored manner and went back to exploring the living room.
Tony sighed. “I guess he’ll learn to like me.”
Gibbs chuckled. “And here the rumor at the office is that you’re good with pussys.”
That got the intended result. Instead of focusing on the way the cat was ignoring him, DiNozzo rolled his eyes at Gibbs’ attempt at humor. “Very funny.”
“Hey, you,” Gibbs called to the cat.
The ex-Marine snapped his fingers and the little animal immediately trotted over. Glancing over at Tony, Gibbs saw that his lover was open-mouthed in surprise at the cat’s obedience.
“Animal magnetism,” Gibbs explained, shrugging nonchalantly.
Tony groaned. “Yeah, right. Even the cat obeys you; I thought that was against feline law or something.”
Gibbs rubbed Jarhead’s ears affectionately after the cat hopped up on the sofa next to him. “Why don’t you go to the kitchen and break out the cat food. Cats love the person who feeds them the most.”
“Good idea,” Tony agreed, getting up from the couch to put Gibbs’ suggestion into motion.
As soon as his lover left the room, Gibbs turned to the cat. “Listen up, furball,” he instructed the feline. “Tony’s the one who wanted you, so you are gonna lavish attention on him. I expect rubbing of the legs, purring, and chasing after any toy mouse he tosses your way. Understood?”
Jarhead blinked at him. Gibbs took that for a ‘yes, sir.’
Now that he had the most important instructions out of the way, Gibbs added a warning. “The boat in the basement is off-limits. If I find out you’ve been sharpening your claws on it, I guarantee you that all nine of your lives are history.” He softened the statement by skillfully rubbing Jarhead’s ears, setting off an enthusiastic purring.
The cat had time to blink at him again before Tony came back into the room.
“Okay, I’ve got food in one dish, water in the other and the litter box is set up in the mud room,” he listed. “Did I forget anything?”
At the sound of Tony’s voice, Jarhead jumped down from the sofa. Tony stood completely still as the cat approached, a look of wonder on his face as Jarhead started rubbing his legs.
“Wow,” Tony said happily as he bent to pet the purring animal. “You were right, they do like the person that feeds them.”
“Told you,” Jethro said with satisfaction.
Tony gave the cat a final stroke and stalked over to where Gibbs was sitting.
“You know, lovers that give good cat advice deserve a reward,” Tony purred, leaning down and putting a hand on each of Jethro’s knees. “Why don’t we go into the bedroom and I can rub your belly.”
Gibbs smiled slow and lazy. “Sounds like a plan to me.”
The two men headed for the bedroom. Jarhead made to follow, but Gibbs stopped him. While Tony started stripping as he headed for the bed, Jethro bent to address the cat.
“I’ll share him with you while we’re at home,” he stated in a hoarse whisper. “But not this. The bed is as off limits as the boat is.”
Standing, he closed the door gently, but firmly, in the cat’s face.
Jarhead blinked and returned to his exploration of his new home. Traditionally, cats might have the privilege of looking at kings when all others had to drop their eyes, but Marines were another story.
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