Oh, The Places You'll Go

Get to What’s Real

Ep tag for 7x22 Borderland. Unlikely to make sense if you haven't watched it.

He times it perfectly, slipping into the elevator just before the doors close. Tim acknowledges him with a nod and no other sign that their entire world got rocked just a couple of hours before. What's with that? Something big just happened. Didn't it? Shouldn't the world be looking different? Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

"Heading home?" asks Tim, and as much as Tony wants to read subtext into that, there's nothing there. Well, screw that. They have unfinished business whether McOblivious has noticed or not. He hits the stop button (is it looking a little worn these days or is that Tony's imagination?) and Tim lurches forward, shooting Tony a glare.

"What? What could you possibly be doing that for? I have a hot date with some bland food and a bottle of finest Pepto-Bismol, so could you just stop dicking around for one minute, Tony, please?"

Probably not the best possible start, but what was said was said, and Tony hasn't been able to stop thinking about it since. They're having this conversation, no matter the fallout. It's time. It's been time for longer than Tony cares to count.

"So that thing," says Tony.

"What thing?" Tim's forehead is creased with annoyance. Or confusion. Sometimes it's difficult for Tony to understand the difference. Which might explain a lot, actually.

"The one where I said I'd get back to you?"

"Yeees." Tim's expression changes from confused (or annoyed) to concerned.

"I, uh, didn't know you knew."

"Yes, Tony. I'm not an idiot."

"You mean Ziva told you."

"Yes. She did. Because she is a friend."

Tony dodges the invisible barb and soldiers on. "So, you, uh..."

"I what?"

"You...ah, crap." Tony rubs the back of his neck and stares over Tim's shoulder as if somehow his salvation is coming. It isn't though, and he has to spit it out. "You fell in love with m- With Claire?"

Tim sizes him up. It shouldn't take long; Tony feels about three inches tall, right now.

"There were things about her that were lovable, yes."

"Do you-? I mean could you still-? You didn't have to say- Are you, though? With me?"

"Wow. That's some serious mangling of the English language even for you, DiNozzo. Was there actually a complete thought in there somewhere, because I'm not sure I caught it?"

Tim's smirking, but his eyes are sliding away from Tony's and this will not stand. Tony reaches out and grabs Tim's wrist. Now. Or never.

"Hey, Tim. Were you in love with me?"

Tim closes his eyes and Tony has a moment to study the planes of Tim's face, the angles sharper these days, reflecting the tick-tocking mind on the inside. Tim's pulse thuds against the ring of Tony's finger and thumb and he hopes to hell that he sees what he needs to when those eyes open again.

"Yes," says Tim, eyelashes fluttering as he glances off to the side. Tony resists grabbing his chin and forcing Tim to look--really look--at him.

"Are you still?" he asks, trying to keep his tone neutral and calm. Sweat prickles on his palms and there's no way Tim hasn't noticed.

And then Tim's eyes lock with his, and they're wide and the green rings are virtually obliterated by the huge black pupils Tony is pretty sure he can attribute to utter panic, but there's more there, too. His heart thuds, painful with hope.

"Yes," says Tim. "And now you can punch me or kiss me. Your choice. But," he adds, holding up a finger, "before you reach a decision, I feel you should take into consideration the fact that, basically? This is all your fault."

"Huh. So no Claire, no feelings, is that what you're saying?"

"Yes," says Tim, for the third time and, like pretty much all third-time-out superhero movies, Tony likes this one way the least. "I mean, no. No. Claire just- Let's say I was primed and we can discuss that maybe later, after you've decided if you're going to give me a bloody nose or a blo- Um."

"McGee!" says Tony, delighted. "You have a dirty mind. Who knew?"

"Tony?" Tim twists in Tony's grip, thumb stroking the underside of Tony's wrist. "Jump."

"Okay," says Tony, licking his lower lip. "I can do that. Okay."

It's a short shuffle to be right into Tim's personal space, and Tony leans closer, closer, until his lips are millimeters from Tim's. "I wanted you to," he says, the shallow breaths from Tim's mouth a warm pulse on his. "Fall in love with me. I wanted you to." And now it's out there it's all over bar the shouting. Or, even better, the kissing. He leans in further.

"Jump," he says as he presses his lips to Tim's. Tim's lips stretch in a smile against him and Tony can't help but answer it. This time he's going to go longer than ten seconds. A lot longer.

Probably best they get out of the elevator first, though.

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