Rubbing the very noticeable hickey on his neck, Tony slung his jacket over his shoulder and as quietly as possible opened the utility door. "Shhhhh," he whispered to the squeaky hinge. "Your owner just fell asleep, and we both know what a bear he'd turn into if we woke him." Whistling under his breath, Tony took the three steps that led to the garage at a fast pace and was instantly reminded of last night's activities.
"Oh yeah," he groaned as he slid a hand over his slightly sore ass. "Ridden hard and put up wet. Just the way I like it." Chuckling, Tony climbed into his truck and pulled out of the driveway, giving a final wave to the house he had just exited. "Later, Boss."
"DiNozzo! There's an AC vent directly in line with the bed. Perfect spot to hide the camera that filmed Lieutenant Anderson's murder." Jethro Gibbs pointed a finger at Tony and then at the vent in the wall near the ceiling. "Check it out."
"Sure thing, Boss." Grinning, Tony gave a sharp salute before snapping on his gloves. After a quick search, he located a chair that was not part of the crime scene and placed it directly beneath the vent. "Sorry, Ducky," he apologized when one foot of the chair landed on the ME's clipboard.
Wrestling his clipboard free, Dr. Donald Mallard directed a stern look at Tony before returning his gaze to the blood splatter on the carpet at the foot of the bed. "It seems our lieutenant was standing in this exact spot when the fatal blow was delivered."
"So, someone snuck up behind him and let him have it?" Tony asked before climbing on the chair and examining the vent with a flashlight. "Boss, you were right. There's something in here. Looks like a vidcam."
"Well?" Jethro tossed a blood-soaked pillowcase at Kate to bag as evidence. "What are you waiting for? Retrieve it."
Holding his mini-size flashlight with his teeth, Tony patted the pockets of his slacks, frowning when he couldn't locate his Swiss Army knife. He shifted his hands to his jacket and repeated the pat down process, his frown deepening when he once again came up empty handed. Removing the flashlight from his mouth, he cursed softly as he glanced over his shoulder. When he saw Gibbs exit the glass sliding door that led to the patio and swimming pool area, he whispered frantically to the man collecting samples from the carpet below him.
"Ducky! Lend me your knife. I've misplaced mine." Hearing Gibbs' voice drawing closer to the open door, Tony wiggled his fingers at the ME. "Hurry, Ducky. If Gibbs finds out . . . ."
The bespectacled doctor rose to his feet and handed over his antiquated utility knife. "This reminds me of the time when Jethro himself misplaced his knife and the omission was discovered by his superior."
"What happened?" Selecting the blade that doubled as a screwdriver, Tony began to loosen the screws that held the vent in place. "Was his ass busted?"
Mallard pushed his sliding glasses back into place on his nose and considered Tony's question for several seconds. The smile that appeared on his face reflected the light of devilment in his blue eyes. "If memory serves me right, Jethro's ass did indeed . . . ."
Gibb's thunderous shout not only interrupted his colleague's stroll down memory lane but startled him so much that Ducky took an instinctive step backward, one foot hitting against the chair Tony was standing on and causing the ex-cop to drop the borrowed knife. Before either man could retrieve the fallen item, Jethro was there beside them, bending down and collecting the recognizable knife.
With his steely gaze trained on Tony's stricken face, Jethro flipped the open blade closed and handed the knife to the ME. "I believe this is yours."
"Boss, I can explain."
"Jethro, I was just telling our associate here about the time you . . . ."
"Ducky, Kate needs you outside." Jethro gave his old friend a tight smile before turning his attention to Tony. Seeing the shadow of fear in the younger man's eyes, his grin grew downright wicked. "I'm waiting, DiNozzo. Where's my camera?" he barked once the two of them were alone.
Tony twisted around and jerked so hard on the vent's outer casing that he nearly fell off the chair. His premature tumble to the floor was prevented by a well-placed hand on his still sore ass, and a blush stole across his cheeks as he handed the discovered vidcam to Gibbs. "Got it." His voice came out as a squeak, and Tony swallowed hard to dislodge the timid mouse that had crawled into his throat. "Here it is, Boss."
Climbing down off the chair, he faced his lover and gasped aloud when Gibbs grabbed him by the front of his shirt and yanked him forward. His momentum was stopped when Gibbs slid one of his legs between Tony's. "Boss!"
The heated breath that carried the question of 'Where's your knife, Tony?' tortured the sensitive skin below his right ear, and Tony gulped nervously when his body responded instinctively to the man standing only inches away from him. "I . . . I . . . ."
"Find it," Jethro instructed tersely before releasing Tony's shirt and stepping away. Collecting the camera that rested beside Tony's kit, he tossed it to his stammering lover and instructed, "I want every inch of this room photographed, and then I want you outside with Kate canvassing the exterior."
His mouth still trying to form an answer, Tony watched Gibbs walk out of the room, and he nearly collapsed with relief when his supervisor disappeared from sight. Dropping down on the chair beside him, Tony ran a hand through his hair and pulled on the chestnut strands in frustration. "Right after work, I'm heading over to Benny's Surplus and buying that belt with the knife built into the buckle." Tony lifted his gaze to the sliding glass door and caught sight of his lover talking to Ducky. "I will not be caught empty-handed again."
Getting to his feet, he began clicking away with his camera. "Nope. No siree. Not in this lifetime, Boss."
"Can you handle it, Abby? Tony'll be here shortly with the evidence found at the scene." Jethro took a sip of his coffee before indicating the forensic tech's computer. "Once he heads down the stairs, I'll need you to give me about fifteen minutes."
Abby rubbed her hands together gleefully before running them over her pc's keyboard. "Not a problem, Gibbs. I've already recorded a fifteen minute segment. All I'll have to do is set the computer to loop it once I hear from you."
"This is between you and me, Abby. Not a word to Kate or Ducky."
Abby zipped her lips closed and threw away the imaginary key. She grinned when Gibbs rolled his eyes at her. "It will be an honor to assist you with your current assignment."
Jethro finished the remainder of his coffee and pointed the cup at Abby. "And you wonder why I don't have any children."
"Hey! Maybe now that you're with Tony, you'll change your mind? You two could adopt." Chuckling, Abby expertly ducked to the side and avoided the empty styrofoam cup thrown in her direction. "Or you could always advertise for a surrogate mother. Maybe Kate?" A growl echoed back at her from the door and threw Abby into giggles. "Kate would make a wonderful mother," she yelled at Gibbs' retreating form.
Turning back to her computer, Abby muttered, "Well, she would. Just look at her hips."
"Look at whose hips?" Tony entered the lab with an armload of sealed evidence bags. "Need any help looking?"
The raven-haired tech collected the bags from Tony and placed them in the appropriate bins on the table beside her desk. She then rolled her chair closer to the ex-cop and lowered her voice, "Besides, I thought the only hips you were cruising nowadays were those that are lean and hard."
Tony pushed Abby back toward her computer and slapped a hand over her mouth. "Cool it, Abbs," he whispered in her ear. "Gibbs would skin me alive if he found out I told you about us."
Peeling Tony's hand away from her mouth, Abby shot a grin at her anxious colleague. "Speaking of our illustrious leader, I've been informed that you, once again, showed up at the crime scene today . . . umm . . . ill-equipped?"
"Ducky spilled the beans, didn't he?" Tony pulled up a chair and sat down beside Abby, pausing to tiredly rub his hands over his face. "I swear I had my knife yesterday. In fact, I know I had it. Used it to quarter the apple I ate for lunch."
"Was Gibbs mad?"
"He wasn't happy, that's for sure." Tony started lifting files and peering beneath them. "I've searched everywhere, Abbs. Maybe I left it . . . ." The ring of Abby's phone interrupted Tony, and he stopped talking to listen to the younger woman answer the call.
"Yes, he just delivered them. Now? No problem, Gibbs." Abby hit the enter button on her keyboard. "The program's up and running. Okay. I'll be waiting." Hanging up the phone, she smiled at Tony. "Your man's on his way here."
"Gibbs? Coming here? Now? Shit! I do believe that's my clue to leave." Unwilling to face another dose of Gibb's disapproval, Tony jumped up from his chair and headed for the exit stairwell. The warning bell that announced the elevator's arrival added haste to his steps. "Later, Abbs."
Chuckling, Abby waved a welcome to the empty elevator. "I do so wish I could be a fly on the wall right now." Returning her attention to her pc, she pulled up a specific file and started clicking away. "Maybe I could. There's that camera right below the one Gibbs wanted me to . . . Oh yeah. Hello, boys."
Tony hit the stairs running, stumbling abruptly when his lover stepped from out of the shadows midway between floors. "Boss! You trying to scare the shit out of me?"
Jethro slowly advanced upon Tony and trapped him against the far wall. "Did you find your knife, DiNozzo?" He slipped a hand inside the front pocket of Tony's slacks. "Shall I help you locate your misplaced equipment?"
The hand inside his pocket shifted to the left, and Tony was suddenly unable to speak. "Uh, uh."
Jethro moved closer and kicked Tony's legs apart, insinuating one of his between them. With his knee, he nudged Tony's groin and welcomed the answering groan with a knowing smile. "It seems I need to search elsewhere." Jethro removed his hand and slid it inside a rear pocket. He gripped the rounded muscle beneath his fingers hard and was rewarded with a breathless plea.
"Could . . . could you . . . Boss, please."
"Could I what?" Jethro released his grip and tenderly rubbed the abused territory. "Could I what, Tony?" he again asked.
Tony swallowed the second groan that rose in his throat. "Could you . . . would you please widen the perimeter of your search?"
Jethro chuckled, obliging his lover by placing both his hands over the burgeoning erection tenting Tony's slacks and squeezing lightly. "Is this satisfactory?"
Tony thrust against the hands torturing him. "More. Search more." Skillful fingers traced up and down his shaft, circling the head and pinching it repeatedly before sliding lower and cupping his balls.
Jethro captured his lover's mouth and muffled the howl that accompanied a certain move of his hands. Shifting his grip to Tony's arms, he braced him against the wall until he was steady enough to stand without assistance. "Forget your knife again and I'll be forced to do a more thorough search, DiNozzo."
Sliding down the wall to sit on the floor, Tony dazedly watched his lover pull out his cellphone and dial a number.
"Abby, it's Gibbs. I'll be there in one minute. One minute, you understand?" Jethro slapped his cellphone shut and slipped it inside his jacket, a genuine smile gracing his face as he knelt beside his panting lover and briefly ran a finger over his lips. "See you tonight?"
"Got to drop Gerald off at his place first, then I'm all yours." Tony caught Gibbs' finger and gave it a quick nip. "And remember, it's your turn to pay for the pizza."
"Yes, and it's your turn to buy . . . ."
Tony slid his hand along Gibbs' thigh and brushed his fingers over forbidden territory. "I know what it's my turn to buy."
Jethro shifted his groin out of danger. "Back to work, DiNozzo." A single finger refused to comply and was forcibly removed. "Now."
"Aye, aye, Boss." Watching only long enough to appreciate the rear-end beauty of his lover disappear from sight, Tony jumped to his feet and hauled his ass downstairs to the nearest restroom for a quick clean-up detail before heading back to his desk. The sooner he got back to work, the sooner he could head home to the sexiest man the Marines had ever produced.
Skidding to a stop once he reached his work space, Tony dropped down into his chair and propped his feet on his desk. He was in the process of grabbing the nearest file when he spied a familiar item sitting atop a pile of papers near the computer.
His lost knife.
Smiling, Tony fingered his find for a moment before scooping it up and tossing it at Kate. "Catch!" he yelled.
The former Secret Service agent fumbled the catch and had to bend down to collect the knife from where it had landed on the floor. "And just what do you want me to do with this, Tony?"
Tony dropped his legs off his desk, and after shifting his chair closer to the attractive brunette, winked and whispered furtively, "Lose it."
Out of the corner of his eye, Tony noticed Gibbs entering the area, and he couldn't help but grin when he recalled his lover's latest threat.
"Lose it, Kate, my darling. Lose it somewhere I'll never find it."