Manipulation in Five Acts

Act I

"Come on, Tony, please?" Abby begged. Tony cringed, hating the fact that he was just not good at saying 'no' when she gave him that wide-eyed look. "It's a balance thing. I can't get in unless I bring a guy."

Normally Tony was in favor of any event that involved large numbers of semi-naked people doing semi-legal things, but he'd learned that Abby's friends were just a little too scary for his tastes. There was tasteful flirting, and then there was freaky-ass women with leather and men who made very explicit offers involving shower gel. Tony was a big enough man to admit that Abby's friends terrified him.

Maybe she realized he was about to say 'no' because she moved in on him, tilting her head to the side and giving him a pout that would make any man offer up his wallet and his soul. "Please? I promise Bruno will be nice and not hit on you this time. I think he only hit on you last time because it was fun watching you try to not have a heterosexual panic."

"Well, yeah!" Tony agreed. Bruno was about three hundred pounds of muscle, so suggesting that homosexuality was gross seemed a little suicidal. "Seriously, Abs, he offered to wax me. That's just not natural."

Abby shrugged. Of course, with Abby, the concept of natural took on whole new definitions.

"Why don't you ask Probie?" he asked desperately.

She shrugged again. "He's busy. He's doing something for his book." Tony frowned at the suggestion that she'd ask McGee if he weren't busy. As far as Tony was concerned, if McGee ever stepped foot in one of Abby's clubs, he'd have an immediate heart attack and ambulances would be involved.


Abby gave him a reproachful look. "The point is that everyone has to bring someone of the other gender, Tony."

"Oh, trust me," Tony said with great confidence, "Ziva has huge balls under her..."

"Ziva!" Abby sang out with joy. Either she was really happy to see Ziva or she was trying to keep him from getting killed. Tony liked to think that she might be covering for him. He turned and found Ziva looking at him suspiciously.

"What were you talking about?" she asked, her voice edged with disapproval and warning.

"Tony says that you have really big balls," Abby offered up cheerfully. Well, so much for her covering for him. Tony put on a cocky grin and matching leer. For a second, he really thought Ziva might do something... like grab his balls and squeeze until he shrieked like a little girl. She'd done that once. It hadn't been pleasant.

"Is anyone working on my case?" Gibbs demanded as he swept into the room and instantly became the center. Tony envied that--the way the man could just command with a word... or a look. A look from Gibbs pretty much sent people scrambling. At one point Tony thought that if he watched long enough, he would learn to do that for himself. He never did. Nope, when the team had been his, he'd inspired... Tony mused for a second. He'd moved Probie to fear and awe, but that wasn't such a hard task. Ziva had followed his orders the way a trained lion might, with an amused look that made it clear she was doing it because it pleased her to do it and that she might eat him at any given time. Abby had clung to him as a substitute for Gibbs, but while she'd sought his attention, she'd never chased after his approval the way she had with Gibbs. No, whatever Gibbs had, Tony would never be able to recreate it. He was starting to think that he shouldn't try.

"Oh! I am!" Abby offered, raising her hand and bouncing on her toes like a school girl with an answer for the teacher. "The dead marine had water in his lungs!"

"He drowned," Gibbs pointed out dryly.

Abby pointed at Gibbs with both hands. "Yes, but he had aquarium water in his lungs. I found traces of Acurel F which is used to fix cloudy water. Gimmie!" She held her hands out for the oversized drink Gibbs had brought. He handed it over.

"Good work, Abby."

"Which suspects have aquariums?" Gibbs asked, turning to Tony and Ziva. Tony froze, his brain spinning as he tried to mentally review all the interviews he'd done. There were a lot... too many.

"Oliver does, Anderson and Chesterfield do not," Ziva said confidently, and Tony glared at her. Suck up.

"DiNozzo?" Gibbs demanded in that tone of voice that made Tony want to scamper off and find something so that he didn't have to feel like an idiot with absolutely nothing, which is what he had now.

"I'm not sure, boss," he admitted with a cringe.

"Then make sure," Gibbs ordered, and then he swept back out of the room. Tony ignored the superior look Ziva was giving him. Yeah, he'd fucked up again, by not being as good as the Mossad agent at memorizing every pointless detail about a suspects' home in one glance.

"They may have had an aquarium where you couldn't see it," Tony pointed out spitefully. Damn, that was good. He should have said that to Ziva in front of Gibbs.

"I searched their apartments when they went to retrieve water for me," Ziva said, her eyebrows raised in a very clear challenge. Tony glared for a second before turning his back and walking out. He could get abused and shot down anywhere; he didn't need to stick around for Ziva to do it.

Act II

"Tony," Abby sing-songed, and Tony cringed. He was so going to cave and do whatever she wanted eventually. He didn't know why he even tried to squirm out of it. The girl played at being a sub, but she never stopped until she got her way. She was a domme in sub clothing.

"No," Tony said as he turned and faced off with her.

"Please?" she asked as she came right up to him and tilted her head in that pleading way she had. "I promise to make it up to you."

Tony looked at her. "Make it up to me?" he asked incredulously. "Which part will you make up for? The three hundred pound man making lewd and lascivious offers or Xena, warrior princess threatening to tie me up?"

"You do put out sub vibes, Tony," she said in an amused and conspiratorial tone. For a second, Tony lost all control over his mouth. He was speechless. He honestly could not even come up with an answer for that.

"I am not a sub," he finally hissed in anger.

Abby took a step back, her eyes wide and tragic, and Tony realized his mistake about two seconds too late, which was always his problem. He fucked up and figured out too damn late to fix it. "Not that there's anything wrong with being a sub," he stumbled over his words. "Subs are... you know, really great." Tony flinched at his own lameness. God, Probie could do better than this. "I didn't mean that there was anything wrong with being the sub," he finally managed to untangle his own tongue long enough to say. "I just don't see myself that way."

Abby frowned at him. "Is that why you won't come with me to Calluna's?"

Tony sighed. "I have to inventory the evidence from the Wolfe case. I have fish to count and coins to list on inventory sheets and pages of weird crap to sort through for evidence of Wolfe's other murders." The fact that Gibbs had given him this job made Tony's chest ache. He was senior field agent, but he got the scut work. McGee was too busy working on Wolfe's computer, and Ziva... yeah, even Tony had to admit that Ziva would set fire to the evidence before she'd sort through hundreds of pages of the guys' pathetic diary. Ziva and paperwork was not a good combination--not unless you counted paper targets with a nice silhouette of a man printed on them. But their skills meant that Tony was, essentially, on the bottom of the totem pole again. The old itching in his feet was starting to bother him, the urge to move on and find greener pastures.

Tony still didn't know what he was looking for, but it was starting to look like he wouldn't find it here either. At least he'd stuck it out at NCIS longer than at his other jobs. A person who switched agencies too often started to look like a problem, and Tony didn't want to be seen as a problem. Sadly, he realized he probably was one. Without him, Gibbs could get a new probie in, someone to do the real crap work without complaining, and the team would be perfect. McGeek would be geek-boy, Ziva would do the ass-kicking, and the new guy wouldn't even know enough to resent the fact that he was the one left to pick through garbage and read serial-killers' diaries.

"Tony, please? You have to come!" Abby stomped a foot. "I'll pick you up at seven o'clock, and wear something really cute. I know you'll have better luck this time," she said confidently, and then she spun and walked away without even waiting for him to argue. The sad thing was that he would be ready at seven. He knew it and she knew it.

"Night, boss," Tony offered as Gibbs passed him. Gibbs gave a grunt and a nod, which was pretty standard for Gibbs, and Tony headed for the evidence locker. Between now and six, he had to find something in that evidence or in the morning he was going to be treated to one more round of humiliate-Tony as everyone else had something to share and he just sat on his ass.



"I told you that you'd like it," Abby said with a smug look and a quick shoulder-bump. She was dressed in her goth sub finest, a black collar with swags of chain that hung down from it, a tight black skirt and red stockings and black boots that went up to near her knees and had small padlocks at the ankles. She wasn't showing any cleavage at all, but her entire tattoo was exposed by a low back on her black shirt, and red opera gloves finished off the look. Tony had to admit that she looked hot. He'd pretty much given up on chasing her, but if he hadn't, this look would have made him follow her anywhere. Then again, he had followed her to Calluna's, so maybe he wasn't that over her.

"Have fun," she advised him, and then with a little wave of her fingers, she vanished into the crowd of dancing, sweating, leather-wearing Doms and subs that mingled on the dance floor. Red strobe lights swung back and forth across the crowd, and Tony felt a rush of shyness that was not his normal MO sweep through him. Normally, when he came to a dance place, he was the first to rush in and target a woman... or three or ten. Sometimes it took some time to find a woman who appreciated his sense of humor and communication style. Right now, he just wanted to find a quiet corner.

He migrated toward the dark corners in the back of the club. Nothing in those corners was exactly illegal—it just pushed the boundaries of the decency laws. A man with nothing on but a pouch connected to a strap that went up between his ass cheeks was chained over a bench while a woman spanked him with her hand, every slap echoing slightly off the concrete wall and making the chained man jump. Tony looked back toward the dance floor and found a chair near the wall. He was never letting Abby drag him to this place again.

"Don't you look delectable?" a deep voice asked. Tony looked up to find a man with leather pants checking him out.

"Hey! Eyes off," Tony objected. The man smiled.

"So, you like to put up a fuss? I can handle that," he offered, stepping closer.

"Federal agent," Tony said reaching for his badge, realizing about two seconds too late that Abby made him leave it in the car. "Who doesn't have his badge, but that doesn't change the fact that you're threatening a federal agent," he finished. Damn it. This place just drained the intelligence right out of him until he sounded like Probie.

"Threatening? Only if you want me too." The guy was older, a square-shouldered man who looked like he worked with his hands all day. Tony had the advantage in hand-to-hand training, but he was guessing this new guy had the advantage in strength.

"I don't," Tony said firmly. The guy stared at him for a couple of seconds and the shrugged.

"Your loss," he said, his voice a good deal colder now as he turned and wandered farther into the shadows.

Tony turned his attention back to the shadows, a matter of watching his back more than any prurient interest. Okay, so maybe there was a little prurient interest mixed in there. He leaned back and watched a woman with cleavage down to her belly button. Oh yeah, he could feel a little prurient about her. Maybe she felt him watching because she turned and gave him a cold stare. Yep, it was hate at first sight, but Tony never let that stop him from appreciating a fine female form. She frowned, and then turned and left.

"Your loss," Tony said softly, echoing the other man's words. Then again, he didn't really have what she was looking for it the whip at her waist was any indication. Tony got hurt at work often enough that the idea of having someone hurt him for fun just didn't do it for him. At least, not usually. He was the first to admit that a spanking sometimes came down more in the pleasure column than the pain one, but any woman with a whip was not really someone he wanted to mess with. Now look at? Oh yeah, he could look at her.

"That one will likely come back and cause you great injury if you do not stop staring," a familiar voice warned. Tony had been leaning back in the chair, but the front chair legs hit the floor and he was half out of his seat before he even spotted her.

"Ziva. What are you doing here?" Tony looked around, suddenly horrified by the thought of someone else from work seeing him, Gibbs or... god forbid... McGee. He never would have worn the tight, black muscle shirt or the black ripped jeans if he thought someone he knew would see him. And he really didn't want this little episode showing up in one of McBlab's books.

"I am people watching," she said with a shrug. "You have often pointed out that I do not understand enough of American culture. Should I not take the advice of the senior field agent?"

Tony narrowed his eyes and looked at her. Ziva taking advice was not only wrong, but disturbing in a potential world-ending sort of way. He should check in the basement for pods or alien dopplegangers.

"Did you come to provide cover for Abby?" Ziva let her eyes travel the dance floor. If Abby was out there, Tony couldn't see her, and Tony didn't want to see her. He might understand the idea of kinky as a general concept, but some of the specifics were a little disturbing. If Gibbs ever found out what she liked for men to do to her, he was going to build her a nice little cage next to the boat and keep her down there. And sadly, she might like it.

Tony didn't answer.

"Maybe you came looking for something for yourself," Ziva said, and her voice became husky and slow. Even though this was Ziva, who sometimes terrified Tony, his cock still reacted to that silent promise of sex. Unfortunately, his cock was stupid, because any time Ziva appeared to be coming onto him, it always ended with a death threat.

"I'm just enjoying the view," Tony said as he very obviously looked Ziva over. She was wearing leather pants that had lacings all the way up the sides to show off her legs. Her top was reminiscent of a old-fashioned corset, low cut, but with a bottom that flared out to make Ziva's already small waist look smaller by comparison. Tony also suspected that that shape hid any number of weapons. The club had a no-weapons rule, but Ziva wasn't the sort of woman who followed rules. The corset also pushed up her breasts and gave her deep cleavage, which Tony ogled. When he finally finished checking her out, he looked up.

Ziva looked amused. "Enjoy?" she asked.

"Oh ho, you know I did," Tony agreed with a wide smile guaranteed to send her running for Gibbs to complain about red lights and sexual harassment, never mind that she was the one who stuck her tongue in his ear in the middle of the damn sexual harassment workshop.

Instead of leaving, Ziva moved closer, trapping him between the chair and her own body. "I think you like what you see."

"Well... yeah," Tony pointed out in his best no-duh voice.

"I think you like what you see quite a lot." Ziva ran her hand up Tony's arm, and prickles of interest and fear made the hairs of his arm rise. "I think you would like to see more." She moved her hand to his chest, and pressed him back, forcing him to sit in the chair while she hovered over him.

"Why, are you offering to give me a show?" Tony asked, forcing a bright smile onto his face.

"Have you earned a show?" Ziva asked. She moved closer, straddling Tony's legs and carefully settling herself on his knees so that he was eye to breast with her. Tony felt a little like he did when he was handling explosives.

"I don't know, what do you think?" he asked slowly and carefully, not really sure if he was about to set a bomb off. What he had earned or hadn't earned... that was a topic that he really didn't want to get into. Things he thought he had earned, he wasn't given. Things which he was given, like a chance at a major undercover assignment, ended up being more than he could handle. Tony kept his hands on the chair and didn't react when Ziva brought her hands up to his shoulders.

"I don't think you have earned anything, but I think you want very much." Ziva allowed her hands to trail down over his stomach and to his lap, where his cock was starting to get very much interested in this conversation. Tony's brain might understand that Ziva was fucking with him, but his cock did not believe that bit of intel.

"My dick is very much wanting any sort of female he can get," Tony said, trying for crude and off-putting. Instead, Ziva smiled.

She leaned forward pressing those breasts dangerously close to Tony's face and leaning over to whisper in his ear. "I am lonely. What would you do to earn my attention?"

Tony's mouth fell open. Either she was looking to blackmail him or she was taking some pretty potent drugs because this was too far, even for their teasing.

"Maybe we should call it a night," Tony suggested. He went to stand up, but Ziva tightened her thighs around his legs, warning him that she was not going to be moved, and his cock was, once again, entirely too willing to misinterpret that signal.

"Do you not find me attractive?"

"I find you entirely too attractive, but we work together. There are rules."

"Red light," Ziva quickly said, proving that she remembered that sexual harassment workshop. "I believe that woman needs to get much."

"Get some." Tony cleared his throat because it was feeling entirely too dry.

"Get some, but would she not already get some? If I believe she does not get enough, would I not say she does not get much?" Ziva asked. Tony might have offered her an explanation, but her fingers were working their way into the waist of his jeans, and this was definitely farther than they had ever taken their teasing in the past.

"I want you bent over a bench, on your knees," Ziva whispered in his ear. "I want you offering yourself to me, giving me your unprotected back so that I might caress it and place kisses down the spine, so that I might slap your ass and watch it turn red." She pulled the button of his jeans loose.

Tony gaped, his mouth and brain temporarily disconnected as he struggled to put this into a reality that he could understand.

"I want to watch you come." Ziva stood up, pulling Tony's now-open jeans so that he had to follow her or fight her, and he didn't have enough brain cells for any sort of coordinated defense. Not with her eyes going over him with such obvious pleasure. Ziva backed up, pulling Tony with her, and every objection, every warning bell was silenced by the sudden need that took over his being. He needed this. He needed this like he needed air, and he couldn't turn her down anymore than he could stop breathing.

She led him across the play area, around a man who was caning another man, past a woman who was walking on a man's chest with her high heels leaving little 'c' indentations in his skin. "Good boy. You are very attractive, Tony, especially when you heel so well."

Tony blushed, embarrassed that such a demeaning compliment could feel so good, but it did. It warmed him so that his cock grew painfully and struggled to break free of demin. It was working for Gibbs that made him so vulnerable to compliments. The man never complimented and every slip was met with a headslap. Sometimes Tony wondered why he put up with it. Most of the time, he knew. He did everything to get a smile out of Gibbs. To get a rare look of admiration, or once, a soft pet on the back of his head, a caress that soothed all the slaps. And now, Ziva's compliment had warmed that same deep-buried coldness that Tony carried with him.

Ziva stepped up onto a low platform and pulled Tony with her. There was a spanking bench here, and Tony stopped for the first time, fighting Ziva's lead.

"I don't think—"

"I do." Ziva stepped close, running her fingers over the back of Tony's head. "I want to see you squirm. I want to know that you are a strong man, and you choose to give me the power only because it makes me happy. I want this."

Tony looked at her, not sure how to react to such a factual statement. On the rare occasion that he hired someone for a bit of mild kink-play, the negotiations were blunt, but almost cold. When he could talk a woman into playing with him, he had learned to couch the requests in euphemisms, to dance around the truth of what they were doing. Well, that wasn’t always true. He'd had the one girlfriend who liked to wear his police uniform and cuff him, interrogate him for hours, and then torture information out of him by getting him so hard it hurt and then refusing to finish him off. But she had always been role playing, and that relationship ended the second Tony suggested that they could be kinky without the roleplay.

"I'm not sure," Tony tried again, and some distant part of his brain pointed out that 'no' was probably the word he was looking for. But if he said 'no,' she might actually take it to mean 'no.' And his cock vetoed any plan that included stopping Ziva.

"I am," Ziva said, her smile even wider. She tugged on him, and he followed to the bench. Carefully, she unzipped his jeans and pressed the denim down to his thighs so that his black thong and bare ass was visible to everyone in the club, and one of those someones was Abby. Tony felt himself blush.

"So responsive. I like that you allow me to do this, that you trust me to make sure that no one sees you who should not. I would never allow you to be exposed," Ziva promised, and the head of Tony's cock pressed up against the thong's pouch. She moved behind him, her fingertips trailing over his exposed ass, and Tony's whole body shivered in response. It'd been too long. It'd been since Jeanne. Ziva pressed against him, her hands guiding him, and Tony lowered himself to the kneeling platform at one end of the bench and allowed her to press his chest down onto the board designed to hold the weight of his upper body. For a second, she lay on top of him, and his erect cock and the feel of another person's hot skin against his made Tony thrust forward, but the bench was designed to leave him dangling and exposed, so all he could feel was the satin thong pressing against his hot erection.

"I warned Ari when he first came, I warned him to not be fooled by your façade. You've killed. You're not as inconsistent or as irrational as you play at. You are an officer, an agent, who has brought down so many powerful men who thought that they were smart enough to deceive you." Ziva stroked his shoulder and then pushed herself up. Tony trembled, uncomfortable kneeling on the bench without hands to hold him there. Ziva came to the side and squatted down so that he was, again, eye to breast with her. He was starting to think she was doing that on purpose, but then she was the woman who called sex an effective interrogation technique. Tony distantly wondered if she was interrogating him, because if she was, he was so going to end up talking.

She tickled her fingers down his arm and to his wrist, encircling it with her grip. "May I? she asked, using her other hand to touch the strap that waited.

"Are you planning on tying me up and leaving me here?" Tony asked, and fear and suspicious cleared the lust from his brain.

Ziva looked shocked and for a second, she could only stare at him with an open mouth.

"What? No. Of course not. Tony, I would not do such a thing. Perhaps this is miscalculated." Ziva still crouched next to him, but she had leaned back onto her heels to put some space between them.

Tony gave a weak laugh. "You have to admit, it'd be a good joke," he pointed out.

"No, no it would not be. I very much desire to..." she paused, making the face she so often did when a word escaped her.

"Tie me up and spank me?" Tony guessed.

"Well, that too," she agreed. She reached out and rested her warm hand against his arm. "I would also care for you. I would very much like for you to fulfill my... interest." Ziva took Tony's hand and guided it to her pants. "I very much would like to... finish this." Tony listened as her English struggled with this subject, but then he was guessing that not even Mossad training covered English words for sadio-masochism. She leaned forward and rested her forehead against his shoulder, opening her legs and pressing on Tony's arm to encourage him to reach deeper into her pants. He found her curled hair and the soft lips that guarded the sensitive clit. She was wet.

He looked at her, calculating the odds of her playing him and the odds of her deciding after all this time that she wanted to have a kinky affair with him. He pulled his hand back before someone could see him and point out that the touching or exposing of genitals was technically illegal.

"Okay," he whispered. She smiled at him and guided his hand into the restraint, tightening it until Tony couldn't move at all before placing a kiss on his elbow. Then she went to the other side and repeated the process. Once he was tied down, Tony found himself relaxing. He'd made his choice, and he couldn't control what happened now. If he'd just made a career-ending mistake, he could only endure it until she released the straps.

Instead she pressed herself against the back of his thighs, her hand stroking up his back, pushing his shirt out of the way before she drew her nails over his hot skin. Tony hissed and arched his back. Oh god that felt good.

Ziva chuckled. "You are hot." Tony might have pointed out that he was hot in more ways than one, but then she put her knee against the backside of his balls and leaned forward.

He gasped. She backed off and ran her nails over his exposed ass. Tony couldn't do anything except squirm a couple of inches to the right or left. So he squirmed. The first slap on his ass came down so hard and with so little warning that he couldn't control a shout that erupted from his mouth. Ziva chuckled again and then delivered two more slaps, these two mere love-taps compared to the first, but Tony's right butt cheek was on fire. Ziva ran her hand over the hot flesh, her body heat leaving a hot trail that tingled long after her touch had vanished.

Air traveled over his skin, cooling and making his body shiver. He looked over his shoulder and found Ziva blowing across the skin she had just spanked.

"Aw crap, Ziva," Tony gasped out. His cock was going to break.

"I enjoy to see you squirm. Your ass turns a very attractive shade of rose."

Tony let his head fall to the bench, and took a shuddering breath. The air went out again as she brought her hand down on his left side, spreading the heat out. Three more hits, softer ones, and then she turned her attention to his balls. He tensed, afraid that she might do something to hurt his boys, but she just slipped a finger inside his thong and ran a finger up the back of them, squeezing them before she reached down and fingered the slit of his cock.

Tony was nearly hyperventilating, his back arching in a vain attempt to thrust, and his cock throbbing. She slapped his ass, and the heat travelled through his to his cock and Tony shouted, coming in waves of need so strong that he could only ride them, gasping for breath and pulling against the wrist straps so that he didn't go flying off into space.

The fog slowly cleared, and he found Ziva again laying on him, her weight holding him down and her fingers dancing figures on his bare arm. Still laying on him, Ziva reached down and flipped open the strap lock that held the wrist strap secure. Tony pulled first one arm free and then the other. And then, because he didn't know what else to do, he lay still under Ziva as her breathing slowed. He wondered if she had come, but he wasn't arrogant enough to think he had the sort of sexual prowess to make a woman come just by looking at him. He'd claim he could, but he didn't believe it.

I shall go back to the table, and you shall follow me," Ziva ordered, her fingers still tracing some design on his arm.

Tony nodded.

She stood up, and he had to struggle to get his own balance. Before he could do anything about his jeans, her hands were there, smoothing his ruined thong and tucking it inside his jeans before she carefully closed the zipper and button. White come streaked her fingers, and Ziva reached up under his shirt and wiped his come off on his stomach.

"Follow," she said, and then she turned and headed back for the table at the edge of the shadowed area where they'd started this madness. Tony did follow because he couldn't figure out what else to do. She sat in the chair where Tony had been sitting and pointed to the floor.

"Kneel," she ordered. Maybe it was because he'd followed so many of her orders already, but kneeling seemed the only natural thing to do. He knelt beside her, and her hand cupped his cheek, pulling him closer until he rested against her leg. The side lacings on her pants pressed lines into his cheek and he could feel her body heat radiating out.

For long minutes, he knelt beside her as she petted him and stroked his cheek and watched the crowd. This wasn't the sort of place where the patrons even noticed a kneeling man, but the general feeling of pleasure, of just *being* slowly faded as Tony became aware of other people and the growing stain on his jeans.



Act IV

"Ziva." Tony stopped, not sure what he should say. He'd talked his way out of some difficult situations, but this was about as awkward as they came. Gibbs' rule twelve came to mind: Don't get involved at work. Did it count as involvement when your coworker spanked you and made you come?

"Tony?" she asked, her fingers trailing down to his shoulder. Tony pushed himself up off the ground, and she looked at him with surprise.

"So, I should thank you for a fun evening. A surprising evening, but a fun evening. I should return the favor some time." Tony was babbling. He knew it, but he had a real dearth of good escape lines prepped for when he found himself kneeling at a woman's feet after coming from a spanking. He had all kinds of escape lines, like for when a woman said she wanted him to meet her family or for when she said she loved him. He'd just never had to find an escape line for this situation.

Ziva stood and looked at him. "You are upset."

"I'm fine," Tony said, shoving her hand away. She looked at him in obvious confusion, tilting her head. He went to leave, and she caught his wrist. He tried to twist away, and she reversed his move, planted a foot into the back of his knee, and he found himself face down on the table, his arm twisted up behind his back. And no one in the club even blinked.

"You will not lie and walk away."

"Or what? You'll assault me?" Tony demanded. Sadly, she could and there wasn't a whole lot he could do to stop her. Instead she let his arm go and took a step back. He slowly stood, watching her carefully.

"I like you," she said, which was funny because most women demanded more than just liking before agreeing to do what she had just done to him. One time, he'd actually had to pay five-hundred dollars, and the woman he'd hired hadn't been nearly as good as Ziva. "You are a good man and an excellent agent," Ziva said, her head high and her voice matter of fact—as though she was rattling off statistics on a weapon. "You often recognize others' motivations with far more facility than do I."

Tony frowned, not sure where she was going, but no way was he going to try and push past her again. He didn't need another reminder of how much Mossad training she had.

She sighed and looked away. "I do not know how to allow someone close to me, not unless I have control. I am trained to...." She stopped and grimaced.

"They trained you to be kinky? That Mossad training is—" Tony stopped dead when she scowled at him and held up a hand.

"They trained me to not look out for the first number." She had a grim look on her face, and she mangled the saying so badly that it took Tony a second to mentally untangle it, and he was used to her verbal acts of murder against the English language.

"Look out for number one," he corrected her.

"Yes, yes," she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "I enjoyed this. " She stopped and looked at Tony, her dark eyes studying him as though looking for some answer that Tony didn't know how to give. "I needed this."

Tony opened his mouth and then closed it without answering. A woman saying that she loved you was dangerous; one who needed you was like primed C4 sitting in the middle of a firing range.

"You need this," Ziva added, and Tony opened his mouth to argue. When she stepped forward and grabbed his balls, Tony decided that maybe he really didn't have an answer that was worth losing his balls over. "We do not have love, but this feels good. I need to control. You need to have someone who needs you. We are compatible, are we not?"

Tony considered his answer. "I don't think we are," he said slowly.

"So, you do not wish to do this again?" Ziva raised an eyebrow at him. Tony swallowed. It'd felt so good, on his knees, her hand on his head, her voice whispering encouragement in his ear. He'd known what to do, how to earn the approval, how to make her happy. He hadn't been lost in a maze of expectations and demands that he couldn't navigate. It'd been simple, and since Jeanne, since the director's death, since Gibbs' trip to Mexico and then his sudden return, nothing had been simple. He did need this; he just didn't know if he could take this from Ziva's hand.

"I want very much to do this again. I want very much to see you on your knees for me." She reached up and stroked his hair with her fingers. "I very much need to see you on your knees for me, Tony."

Tony could ignore his own need. He had trouble ignoring hers. Silently, he nodded his agreement. Slowly, she smiled.


Act V

Gibbs watched Ziva lead Tony through the dancers and toward the door. He wasn't surprised that Ziva had accepted his tacit offer to ignore the fraternization rules. He'd brought her, he'd shown her Tony sitting in the dark, and he'd left her to decide for herself what she would do. He was just grateful that she seemed to have done the right thing for Tony. The stiffness and fatigue that had been clinging to him had vanished, and Gibbs knew that he had found what he needed. Whether or not Tony and Ziva would be able to balance work and personal time was another issue, but he couldn't ignore the danger that Tony would reach a breaking point and leave, not any longer. The other departments might not have recognized why Tony left, or what he'd been searching for, but Gibbs did.

"He shouldn't be leaving with her," a voice said unhappily. Gibbs reached over and caught Abby by the back of her neck and pulled her close. "You should take him." Abby's arms went around his waist.

Gibbs watched Tony's back for a second. "After how he reacted to having kissed Lt Commander Voss and getting hit on by your friend, Bruno, I think it's pretty clear that I'm not the person who should take him in hand." Gibbs didn't even try to deny that he wanted to. His career meant that he kept his own bisexuality private, but he'd long ago stopped trying to lie to Abby. Like all subs, she had a way of knowing and understanding the needs of those she cared about, but then it was in the nature of a sub to watch and serve just like it was in Gibbs' nature to protect and cherish. He tightened his arm around Abby's shoulders. He just wished he had the right skill-set to take care of those he cared about. He didn't.

"He didn't think he was a sub, either, Gibbs," Abby said, her voice verging on a pout.

"He was wrong on that count." Gibbs had been surprised at how wrong. He'd thought that Tony's need to put up a front would have slowed him down and kept him from submitting so fully, but then Tony had been struggling with the need to submit for so long, maybe he shouldn't be surprised that Tony had lost himself so completely.

"She'll leave him," Abby pointed out.

"So would I," Gibbs answered. And he suspected that he would because his track record was not good, not with wives and not with subs. Tony was just too fragile and too new to the lifestyle to survive Gibbs' personal ineptitude without serious emotional damage.

"No, you wouldn't." Abby pulled back and looked at him with frustration twisting her features. "Ziva will go back to the Mossad, and leave Tony all lost. And when subs are lost, bad things happen, Gibbs. You have to go after them." Abby looked on the edge of crying, and that pain pulled at Gibbs, made his protective instincts rise in his chest. He wanted to ease her pain, but all he could do was reach out and pull her close again.

"I promise to look after him if he gets lost, just like I look after you when you get lost," Gibbs promised her. And he did. He couldn't do for her what she wanted; he didn't have it in him to perform the kinks that delighted her. But if a Dom ever went too far, he stepped in and took care of her. That tendency had actually worked against him once because she had hidden a stalker from him out of fear that Gibbs would deal with the weasely little pimple the way he normally dealt with the Doms who pushed her too hard or too far. Marine training did ensure that no one tried to push Abby after being corrected by Gibbs just once, and no one pressed assault charges because the community was just too secretive to take any complaints to any sort of authority.

"Promise?" Abby asked in a small voice. "Do you promise to look after him when this goes really, really wrong?"

Gibbs pressed a kiss to Abby's head. He couldn't promise to take Tony in hand; he couldn't promise to do what Abby really wanted him to do. However, he could promise to look after Tony. "I promise," he told her. "And I always keep my promises."

She looked up at him and smiled. When she looked over her shoulder, Gibbs spotted Sungson watching with barely guarded jealousy. "Go on," Gibbs said with a nod toward the other man. Abby danced away from him and stopped and looked at him for a second with some look in her eye that he couldn't decipher, but then she turned and hurried to Sungson. It was a good pairing. Bruce Sungson had compatible kinks, but he'd been a midshipman, so he had, no doubt, heard stories of Gibbs' temper. It meant that he'd be careful with Abby.

Gibbs sighed and looked out over the crowd. There were men and woman waiting to be chosen. As usual, the subs outnumbered the doms. Normally, Gibbs would push his worries aside and focus on trying to take care of just one person for just one night. Tonight, he couldn't convince himself that he cared enough to bother. Ignoring the hopeful and disappointed looks behind him, Gibbs headed for the exit alone.


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