Oh, The Places You'll Go

Cat Out of the Bag

Notes: Written for the birthday of the most wonderful soupytwist. This is set around 708/709, so spoilers for those. Many thanks to the lovely celli for beta. Some dialogue lifted directly from the show. Thanks, writers!


"God, you're good at this, McGee" says Tony through his improvised megaphone of awesome and is so busy doing info dump and being snuck up on by Gibbs that he doesn't have time to be surprised at how easy that particular sentence comes out.

He has plenty of time to think about it later, though, hand-filing evidence custody documents. He's already gone through his go-to boredom topics--favorite Victoria's Secret Angels from 1999 to the present day, the films of Gary Cooper, planning the next step in his ongoing prank war with Abby--and he's still only up to F.

F is for flirting and Tony's mind wanders back to the elevator and what McGee and Ziva were doing in there together in the first place. Not that either of them had looked anything but relieved to be let out of there. Tony rolls his shoulders--this filing business is exercising strange muscles--and considers the two of them. Ziva's hot, that's a given. It's like the sky being blue, Palmer getting lost on the way to a crime scene, Gibbs and Ducky splitting all their words between them (Tony's not exactly sure who got stiffed there, Gibbs with his tiny percentage or the rest of the world with Ducky's lion's share). She's hot and scary, but in the good way where she gets to be on their side and she's nice to the Probie. Mostly. So it's easy to see what McGee would see in her.

Tony rolls his shoulders again. Damn muscles! But what about Tim? He's just a pudgy kid who- Okay, so Tony can't keep that up, even to himself. It's been bugging him lately, this iteration of McGee. He's always liked the guy, even when he was so green you could've stuck him on the Muppet Show and called him Kermit, and he's watched him change over the years. It's like--Tony shakes his head and stuffs the folder in the box--it's like he's had a testicle transplant. Or he's wearing his balls on the outside these days which, okay, not the world's most appealing mental image but there's this whole self-assurance thing Tim's got going for him in the last few months that's intriguing in a way Tony just can't put his finger on.

Shoving another document in the box, Tony rubs absently at his belly, rocks on his still aching feet and wonders if Tim needs a hand up there in MTAC. It' s got to be more interesting than what he's doing. And they have proper electricity with things that go beep, pause and rewind. God, Tony misses power. He drops the box onto the floor with a satisfying thud, though the half-skip he takes backwards to avoid it dropping on his toes was not part of the plan, and takes the stairs two at a time.

Beeping things, red lights, McGee looking all...all in charge. Tony rubs at his belly again. Maybe he ate something bad. The room temperature milk he'd swiped from the fridge in the breakroom had seemed okay, though.

"Hey, need any help?"

Beeping things, red lights, McGee being all in charge and Tony's heading back down the stairs before he knows it, half-dazed from the way Tim had practically chased him out of MTAC.

"McGee did not require your help?" asks Ziva, still puzzling over the Jurassic era copy machine.

"No, he did not," says Tony, dumping the box back on his desk with a frown and almost ripping a piece of paper as he snatches it up.

There are feelings. He's having feelings and they're not nice ones. At least, he doesn't think they are, he's usually too busy interrogating others' motives to have any time to spare for his own. Plus, there's the whole thing where emotions are messy and if his mom ever taught him anything, it was to keep his room tidy. There's an ache in his belly that's been there since this morning and he knows he doesn't have the technology smarts that McGee has, but he really wants to be up there, helping. He could probably find the answer if he could just figure out the question, only he's not so sure he's even equipped with the right vocabulary.

Tony leans back on his hands and yawns, fielding Abby's pissy glare with a "Do you want me to turn into Quasimodo? I think you don't." There are fingerprint cards all over the floor, Abby's gotten through three-quarters of the lemons, and Tony's got to take a break before he goes blind--all the whorls are turning into whirls. He looks around at his co-workers. Abby's face is as expressive as usual, even though half of it is hidden behind her weirdass headgear. Her mouth quirks and frowns and curls all in the space of twenty seconds as she tries to make a match. Ziva holds herself very still and calm--Tony figures it must be all the Pilates--and has only threatened to break Tony's neck once in the last four hours. That's pretty good going. Tim sits there all cross-legged and eyebrows furrowed in concentration. His elbows rest on his thighs and the slight lean forward leaves his neck exposed and Tony can't look away.

How does this even make sense? Hot chick one and hot chick two are sitting within lunging distance, but it's McGee Tony can't take his eyes off. The ache in his belly chooses this time to erupt into full-blown cramp and Tony excuses himself and quick marches to the head.

Turns out it's not the milk. Maybe he's just over-tired, can't pull the all-nighters like he used to. Tony splashes water on his face to see if that improves matters any. He achieves cold dampness and a particularly irritating trickle of water down his neck which makes him do a hasty breakdance on the spot, but the weird (not entirely unpleasant) throbbing's not going anywhere. If anything, it intensifies when there's a knock on the door and McGee's voice floats through the wood.

"You okay, Tony? Abby said if you've fallen asleep in there I can shoot off the limb of my choice."

"I'm just peachy, McTriggerhappy," yells Tony, leaning forward onto his hands and staring at himself in the mirror, hard. It's beginning to dawn on him that there's a possibility he is entirely fucked.

"Good to know. I'd hate to shoot off anything vital."

Tony's stomach flips and his brain goes straight to the bad place, not even acknowledging the existence of the word 'Go', let alone passing it, and the possibility fledges into awful fact. He grimaces at his reflection and mouths, "Nice going, DiNozzo," at himself.

"Get back to your loops, I'll be right there."

"Sure," says Tim and then there's a silence.

Only it turns out Tony knows McGee better than he'd thought because he knows the guy's still there, waiting. He waits, too, and eventually hears footsteps disappearing down the hall. Tony lets go of his death grip on the edge of the basin and hits his forehead off the mirror, hard enough to hurt but not enough to give him seven years bad luck. It's not like he needs the extra complement.

"You're an idiot," he tells himself, through clenched teeth, and isn't sure if that's because it turns out he has the hots for the team's alpha-geek or because it's taken him this long to figure it out. It's been a long time since the whole college 'helping hand' (or mouth) thing, but that doesn't mean Tony's been entirely oblivious to the male population the whole time. He must be rustier than he thought. Real rusty.

There's nothing he can do right now, though, and, seeing as how he's attached to all his limbs--literally--he can't avoid going back to the lab any longer. If he's anything at all he's a great actor, he can totally do this. Nothing has changed, not really, and if he tells himself often enough he'll begin to believe it.

For the next week he manages mostly to subdue the urge to back Tim into a corner and kiss him until that calm façade crumbles into flustered confusion. Well, in his waking hours, anyway. Tony ruthlessly pinches off any shoots of inappropriate thoughts but he's never been a gardener and doesn't understand that if you don't yank them up by the roots they stay there, buried underground, only to reemerge when your back is turned. And it turns out that these are freaking Audrey IIs of thoughts because they come back with a vengeance the second Tony hits REM sleep.

He dreams filthy, filthy things. Or, at least, he's pretty sure he does because he wakes up with vague memories of Tim's face and is going through more sheet changes than he has since he hit puberty. The details slip away, though, and Tony can't decide if he's grateful for or pissed off at that.

And then McGee swans into the squad room, looking damn hot and entirely untroubled by the several flights of stairs Tony's imagining him jogging up in slow-motion (Baywatch slow-motion, not actual, pretending-you're-running-through-molasses slow-mo jogging, that would be dumb).

"You're not taking the elevator?" asks Ziva, who steps out of it as Tim rounds the corner.

"I took the stairs. It's all about the cardio these days."

Tony should know better than to say anything, it's not like he's got his head around this whole...situation yet, but McGee's feeling his pulse and Tony can't help but get up and move towards him. "You have been looking increasingly Kate Mossish there, McTim. What are you down, two, three pounds?"

"Fifteen pounds, actually, and thank you for noticing."

"Well, that's what I do for a living. Eagle-eyed special agent." Tony waves his hands around and wonders if McGee and Ziva are as aware how crazy he sounds as he is. "Girl?" Dammit.

"No girl."

And Tim looks at him and if Tony didn't know better, he'd say the guy was flirting, but it's got to be wishful thinking, it's not like he's noticed anything before and it would be way too coincidental for McGee to develop a crush at the same time as Tony's brain finally figured out why the Probie's always left him Fascinated with a capital F. They're still talking but Tony has no clue about what, his head is fizzing with at least thirteen different ways in which he could be wrong. What if he's wrong?

The way Tony figures it, the fake food poisoning of budding crushdom is about on par with the real deal from the deceptively tasty clam chowder. He's not sure what this says but it's probably something along the lines of 'Dude, you are screwed, and not in the good way.' Still, it's mostly passed by the time they're all gathered around Ducky's table and Tony risks a little turkey and mashed potatoes.

"So Angela's smarter than you, McMIT," he says, after Gibbs reports that mother and daughter are doing just great, thank you. "How does that make you feel?"

"There are plenty people smarter than me, Tony. It's how I sleep at night, knowing at least some of them are running the country."

"Yeah, but she's a little girl. Don't you feel threatened by the younger generation?"

"Nope," says Tim, with a wide grin. "Believe what you like, DiNozzo, I'm not a bundle of helpless insecurity. That ship sailed."

"It certainly did," says Ziva, patting Tim on the shoulder. Tony manages to stop himself kicking her under the table. Note to self: you have no proprietary rights.

"You are an excellent agent, McGee," she adds. "Your confidence is entirely warranted."

"I concur," says Abby, raising her glass in McGee's direction. Et tu, Brute, thinks Tony. "Ooh, concur, that sounds funny in my mouth. Concur, concur, concur." Tony removes the wine glass from her hand and sets it out of reach.

Tony catches the tail end of a look between Ducky and Gibbs. If he didn't know better he'd think it meant, "Look at our children," but that seems a little domestic, even for their strange family group.

"Children," begins Ducky and Tony blinks, re-evaluating. "Given that the night has long drawn in and a great deal of alcohol consumed, I invite you all to spend the night here. Ziva and Abigail, you may take Mother's room. And for you gentlemen, well, the guest room can accommodate two of you and I believe the sofa in the den is quite comfortable."

"I'll take the couch," says Gibbs in the tone that brooks no argument.

"Are you sure, boss? Because I don't mind sleeping on the couch," says Tim and half of Tony is willing him to shutupshutupshutup and the other half is saying yes, take the damn couch, McGee, because he'd actually like to get some sleep tonight.

"I'm sure," says Gibbs. "I don't share well."

Tony is about to make a joke about that but he sees another look pass between Gibbs and Ducky and he opts for the whole discretion is the better part of valor thing.

"Looks like it's you and me, McGee," he says instead, ignoring the way his stomach swoops at the idea.

"Great," deadpans Tim. "Anyone got any shin pads?"

"Hey!" Tony objects and everyone else dissolves into laughter.

It's past two by the time they hit the sack so sleep should come easy, right?

Yeah, wrong.

Tony'd stripped down to his wife-beater and boxers trying not to watch Tim undress and failing. Tim had no undershirt on and it wasn't like he could borrow a t-shirt from the obviously-descended-from-gnomes Ducky, so he'd gotten into bed practically naked. How the hell was Tony supposed to sleep after that? He'd tried to come up with a crack about the whole situation but his well was as dry as Sahara dust.

"'Night, Tim," he'd managed eventually, and turned to switch off the lamp.

So now he's lying here, flat on his back, arms ramrod straight by his sides like he's doing a horizontal stand to attention (though thank fuck there are certain parts of him too lazy to attend), staring up at the ceiling with the current object of his lust sprawled beside him like he doesn't have a care in the world. This is probably the dictionary definition of 'unfair'. Tony scrunches up his eyes, grips the covers under his chin and tries to will himself to sleep. But the soft breathing from the sleeping form next to him worms its way into his head and magnifies and the warmth of Tim's body heat rolls over Tony like a blanket. There's no sleep out there with his name on it, none at all.

Tony gives up and opens his eyes again, rolling onto his side so he's facing McGee. Tim is sleeping on his stomach, head turned away from Tony, one arm flung above his head. The sheet grazes his shoulder blades and there's little difference between the white cotton and Tim's skin in the dark. Tony can't help himself.

"Tim," he whispers, and when there's no reply he curls his fingers into a loose fist and oh so lightly strokes the outside of them along Tim's upper arm. The skin is smooth and Tony's hand follows the curves of muscle and bone up to the elbow. It's all Tony can do not to spread his fingers over Tim's arm and sweep back along to his shoulder and then down his back and...

"Tony, whatcha doing?" asks Tim, low and sleepy.

Tony snatches his hand away and tucks it behind him, as if pretending it doesn't exist is going to help in any way at all.

"You're not asleep?"

"I think I ate too much to ever sleep again," says Tim, rolling onto his back. "Probably lying on my stomach was a bad idea."

"You think?"

"Mmm," says Tim and then there's nothing. Tony lets himself believe he's gotten away with it. And maybe it's a good thing he never made it to the poker tournament because, apparently, his luck is right out.

"What's with you and the touching thing, anyway?"

"I don't- I- It's-" Tony stammers.

"I mean, you do it with everything," Tim continues, barreling over him. "My stuff, Ziva's stuff, Abby's stuff. Even Gibbs' stuff when you're pretty sure you're safe." He snorts a laugh. "You're like a kitten claiming objects by touching them all the time. Mine," he says, twisting the sheet in his hand. "Mine." He smoothes the pillow. "Mine." He reaches out and shoves Tony lightly in the forehead. "It's a wonder you don't rub your head all over stuff. Although there's the hair issue, plus you'd've been arrested more often, to be fair."

Tony's stuck on the third "Mine," but he still blurts out an offended, "Hey! Unless you mean the alpha-lion King of the Jungle, beautiful flowing mane and a roar that would burst your eardrums at ten paces I'm not admitting to being any part of the cat family."

"A little tabby kitten with green eyes, a tendency to shed everywhere and an inability to stop meowing ever."

"Shut up."

"Make me."

"Oh, I will."

"Like you could."

Tony half-shoves, half-slaps Tim's shoulder. Tim returns the favor and before Tony knows what is happening they're involved in a cross between a girlie slapfight and a more manly wrestling match--stands to reason, thinks Tony as the sheet tangles between them, given the interesting sideways step his masculinity has taken the past few days. Tim tugs and Tony lands on top of him with an oof. Immediately he raises his body, terrified that Tim might figure out just how much fun he's having, before straddling Tim and grabbing his wrists to pin them above his head.

"Who's the daddy?" crows Tony.

"Gibbs," says Tim and takes advantage of the Tony's horrified freeze to scissor his legs, knocking Tony off balance and back down onto Tim's chest. With a heave Tim rolls them both over until he's on top and his face is just inches from Tony's.

"Wanna quit playing games, now? We can stop any time you like," says Tim, quiet and deadly, body tight to Tony's, and Tony realizes that what he'd been trying to hide, Tim is clearly out and proud about. He wriggles his hips just to confirm and, god, that's almost entirely distracting.

But it piques Tony's competitive streak that Tim's somehow gotten the advantage, both in the fight and in the being-okay-with-the-crush thing and he's about to try to win back ground when it dawns on him that oh, okay, this is actually a desired outcome and he looks Tim straight in the eyes and says, "I surrender."

"Be more specific," says Tim, and Tony hates him for the briefest of moments.

Screw it, he thinks, succinctness has never been my strong point, and he lifts his head and kisses Tim hard. Tim presses back, lips full and warm on Tony's, pushing him back down for which the emerging crick in Tony's neck is entirely grateful. Oh, to be young again. Tony clenches his fingers tight and it's not a surprise to find that somehow he and Tim are holding hands.

They kiss for what could be seconds or could be hours, Tony's too busy tingling in all available square inches of skin to pay much attention to the passage of time. It's quieter than he'd thought it would be, less about who's on top and more about cooperation, and that's his first surprise. His second is that though his dick is still singing the same old tune, he's not nearly in the same hurry to get to the final chorus as he usually is. He's happy to lie here, hands locked in Tim's, exploring each other's mouths slowly, lazily as if there's nothing else in the world. And maybe there isn't.

Eventually Tim pulls back, loosening his grip on Tony's hands and sliding halfway off his body, pillowing his hand on Tony's belly which is aching in a whole new way, now.

"Well, I think that's pretty specific," says Tim in Tony's ear. Tony can hear the grin in his voice and slaps Tim's chest with the back of his hand.

"The touching you up in your sleep was the giveaway, huh?"

"It was a great, honking clue, yeah, but I pretty much had you all figured out already."

"Really?" Tony's torn between horrified and proud of McGee's powers of observation.

"Yeah, well, that's what I do for a living. Eagle-eyed special agent." There's a shift in the air and the bed shakes and if Tony's eyes were open he knows he'd see Tim doing his best Tony impression. He chooses to keep them shut.

"Everything you learned, you learned from me."

"Like how to emotionally repress and avoid adult conversations about relationships?"

Tony doesn’t even bother denying that one. He chooses to change the subject. "I really wanna blow you, maybe even pop your Eagle-Eyed Cherry."

The bed erupts into heaving vibrations as Tim snorts and then buries his face in Tony's shoulder, muffling his laughter. Tony's justly chagrined and also grateful for the bathroom that stands between them and where Ziva and Abby are hopefully 100% more asleep than he and Tim have managed so far.

"I can't believe you went there," Tim chokes out eventually. "I can't even begin to respond to that. No. Wait. Let's table the blowjob for a second--and believe me, I'll be coming back to that one--and concentrate on who says my cherry, eagle-eyed or not, needs popping?"

"It doesn't? But I thought-"

"This is what I mean about adult discussion, Tony. If you asked, I'd tell. It's what grown ups do when they're communicating."

Tony can totally hear the air quotes around the last word. He steels himself for the whole grown up communication process. "So you, you know, with guys before?"

"Jesus, Tony. Your definition of adult includes porn so filthy it should be advertised with industrial cleaners and you can't even say, 'had sex'?"

"Hey, I'm trying. This is all new to me."

"What? Gay sex?"

"No. Talking. Sharing. It's not easy for everyone, Timothy."

"Aww. So the gay sex--or potential gay sex--because not now, no way, not with Gibbs downstairs-"

("And now my boner's definitely gone," mutters Tony.)

"-you've done it before." Tim ignores the interruption.

"Uh, I'm not totally inexperienced, no," says Tony and realizes just how annoying he must be when Tim sends back a "Go on," with an inflection that Tony finds entirely too familiar. He blesses the dark because, fine, sharing is for grown ups but it doesn't mean he has to like it or want to actually look at Tim while the whole sharing business is in progress.

"It was just a thing we did at school, you know, when we were drunk," Tony starts. "A handjob would take the edge off and sometimes you just didn't want girls around because, you know, you can't be guys when there's girls around and yeah, so we all grew out of it pretty much." He pauses, but Tim says nothing (and how has McGee got this silence thing down to such a fine art anyway?) so Tony decides what the hell and takes the plunge. "Well, okay, so me and my roommate Brad used to trade off sometimes, a handjob here, a blowjob there, maybe once a week after the game but he started going steady with some girl and it kind of just stopped." Tony stops then, too. That's enough sharing for one day.

"Er, Tony, you know that you had a boyfriend, right?"

"Um, no I did not, McCrazy. It's called convenience gay."

"It's called situational homosexuality, but that's not the point, or, you know, relevant. Just because you couldn't express your physical intimacy with this Brad except when you were both drunk doesn't mean he wasn't your boyfriend. It means you have deep-seated psychological issues I don't want to go near but, yeah, he was so your boyfriend. Did you cry when he broke up with you?" Tim's grin is so wide there's no way Tony can miss it, even in the dark. It's the annoying one.

Oh, that's just asking for it, Tony thinks and he twists up, rolls Tim over and pins him down. "No, I did not cry when he broke up with... HE DID NOT BREAK UP WITH ME I DID NOT HAVE A BOYFRIEND." And Tony clamps his hand over his mouth, eyes wide. They stay, absolutely still and silent until they're both convinced that no one is stirring and then, only then do Tim's shoulders start to shake, lips pressed tight together to stop the laughter escaping.

He pulls himself together quickly and puts on a serious face, nodding slowly. Tony finds he's nodding along and he drops his head to Tim's chest and says, "Oh god, I had a boyfriend."

Tim pets his hair. "There, there, Tony," he says. "I'd have sex with you now to dull your manpain only there's, you know, complications," and Tony bites him.

"Very grown up, Tony," says Tim dryly, pulling Tony off by his hair.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, McGee, hair sore!" complains Tony in a stage whisper, settling on his elbow and draping his leg across Tim's. "I'm through with embarrassing confessionals for one evening. Night. Morning. Whenever the hell it is now. Your turn."

"Nothing much to tell," Tim threads his hand through Tony's hair and soothes the scalp with his fingertips. It's almost shockingly intimate and Tony has to struggle to listen to what he's saying.

"I knew I was bi from a pretty early age--Stewie Greenspar saw to that with his...yeah--and I told my folks when I was sixteen. I was escaping to school, so I thought I might as well get it over with. That, and Sarah walked in on me kissing Bobby Cook and I couldn't afford the blackmail candy. It went okay. Dad was...Dad doesn't always react well when we fuck things up and I thought there'd be a whole lot more trauma than there was. But Dad lost some good guys to Don't Ask Don't Tell so he was mostly all business and, 'So you can't go into the Navy, son, what are you going to do, now?'"

"But you hate boats."

"Yeah, worked out well for me, didn't it?"

"You sly dog," says Tony, impressed. "You did that on purpose."

"What, being bi?"

"Actually, I wouldn't put that past you," grins Tony, "but no, the telling your dad part before he could stick you in a uniform and force you into a life of Dramamine addiction."

Tim's hand stills in Tony's hair. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean," he says, but his voice holds the edge of a smile and if there was a nail in the bed, Tony could totally hit it on the head even though sunrise is still hours away.

"What about me?" he asks, unable to stop himself.

"What about you?"

"You had me figured out but, boy, Tim, I wouldn't want to play poker with you."

Tim sighs. "Let's say that my history as a scout means I'm great at both keeping flames alive and covering my tracks and leave it at that."

"Oh, okay," says Tony, and tries (and fails) not to feel smug.

They're quiet together for a few minutes, Tony slowly dragging his hand in circles on Tim's chest. He has no idea what Tim's thinking at all, or even if he's just drifting off to sleep, but his own brain won't slow down long enough to let him slide into the arms of Whosit himself. The thing about being a law enforcement officer is that, okay, you learn that everything comes in shades of grey and not all things can be neatly packaged but at the end of every case (at least every case Gibbs works on) there's resolution and files and labels and boxes and everything gets tidied away. You get used to it.

It's not pitch black in Ducky's guest room, but it's not light out either.

Be a man and suck it up, Tony tells himself. He drums his fingertips on Tim's ribcage. "Hey, McTim, are you sleeping?"

"Didn't we go through this already?" asks Tim with a huge yawn. "Because I'm fairly sure I didn't dream it what with your boner being pressed into my hip at this precise moment in time."

"Yes, whatever, ignore that," says Tony and then has to stop because what? Ignore that? What the hell is happening to him? Did someone sneak in in the night and give him a personality upgrade? Because he's fairly sure he'd've noticed that, he has honed street smarts.

"Tony?"

"Yeah, sorry. I. Wow. This whole being an adult thing, I think I might get to be good at it after all."

"Okay, then."

"So, yeah--and I appreciate that this doesn't sound exactly grown up but I don't know if they invented the words for this scenario--does this mean we're going steady? Or is it, you know, a sex thing?"

"What, there's no in between, now? No casual dating, see how things turn out?"

Tony considers. Actually there's not. And if Tim goes for the sex-only option he's not sure he'll go along. Jeez, he's really getting old. "Not for me."

Tim's hand slips around the back of Tony's neck and he squeezes. "You know me," he says. "I've always been the steady one."

Tony's belly, knotted up with anticipation, releases with a growl.

"I'm DiNozzo, hear me roar?" says Tim, and his ribs shake under Tony's hand.

Tony drops his head to Tim's shoulder and rubs his cheek along the length of it, pushing into the curve of Tim's neck over and over again. Mine, he thinks, and his heart thunks in his chest even as he smiles to himself.

"Meow?" he says.


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