Oh, The Places You'll Go

Notes: Written for and from a prompt by schtroumph_c who is stealth awesome. Not at all stealth, but entirely awesome is soupytwist who provided beta. Set sometime after 7x02.

The door to the elevator pings open and Tony bounds through, ready to berate McGee for letting the door slide shut in his face--it wasn't like he'd meant the thing about how the man hands and pretty eyes could refer to McGee just as much to his on-again off-again occasional dating partner--but McGee is standing slightly to the side of the entrance to Abby's lab and is motioning at him violently to be quiet. Tony frowns, zips his lips and does an exaggerated tiptoe over to Tim's side.

"What's the what?" he whispers low and close to McGee's ear.

McGee stabs one index finger in the direction of the lab and then taps his ear twice. That's an easy signal to get; Tony listens.

"And it's kind of sweet that they think they're being so stealthy." Abby's voice floats out through the open door, getting louder and quieter by turns. Tony can see her pacing in his mind's eye.

"I know." The second voice belongs to Ziva. Tony can't help but be intrigued. "They are becoming more obvious by the day. It is only a matter of time before Gibbs works it out."

"If he hasn't already."

Both women laugh and Tony pulls a face at Tim. What exactly is going on here? Who isn't stealthy? And what's Gibbs got to do with it?

McGee simply taps at his ear again. Okay, DiNozzo, shut up and listen.

"It is the way they look at each other, I think," says Ziva. "Like there is no one else in the room. It does not matter what else is happening, their first instinct is always to turn to the other."

"Yeah," says Abby, and it's obvious to Tony that whoever they're discussing she's totally on board and would probably like to watch. "And Tony's so handsy with him. I mean, I know he's all about the touching anyway, but with Timmy? Wow. That's not at all subtle for someone who's supposed to be good at undercover."

"Agreed," Ziva returns and adds something else that sends Abby off into a cracked peal of laughter but Tony doesn't hear it because what? What?

He swivels his head, making bug-eyes at McGee who appears to be torn between laughter and horror. He grabs him by the lapels and tugs him back into the elevator, letting go long enough to slam one hand on the buttons. A few seconds speeds them upwards to relative safety and Tony reaches out again and hits Stop. The elevator lurches to a halt and Tony stumbles. How come that never happens when Gibbs does it, that's what he wants to know?

"Regroup," he says. "We need to regroup. They think we're-"

"That would seem to be the case, yes." McGee's doing his solemn face but his eyes are dancing and somehow that makes everything just fine. Tony'd been totally prepared to have a full-on 'but-I'm-so-straight' freak out complete with side forays into why exactly Probie-san is so very much not his type even if he was into guys, which he's not, and that thing in college and the other thing when he was drunk and the accidental boyfriend don't count, but faced with an obviously amused McGee none of it seems important any more.

"You're okay with this?" he asks because it's always better to clarify. ("Are you sure you're over 18?" "You do know how to drive stick?" "You did take out the poisonous part, right?" Oh, experience. Such a useful learning tool.)

"Yeah. Aren't you?"

"Um." Tony scratches the back of his neck. "I guess I am. Huh. I wonder how long we've been dating."

"Abby thinks since I rescued you from death by concrete that time, but Ziva figures that maybe we were fuckbuddies back then and only started dating seriously in the summer."

Tony blinks.

"You missed that part," adds McGee, with his best I'm-helping smile. It's not helping.

"Wow. What else did I miss?"

McGee grimaces. "Not sure you want to know."

"Come on, McMPAA, don't get all censory on me, now."

Screwing his face up and looking at a point on the wall somewhere behind Tony's left shoulder, Tim says, "There was speculation on--ah--positioning."

Clarify, clarify, clarify. "On what now?"

McGee rolls his eyes--it's a look Tony's getting very familiar with--and continues staring at the point on the wall. Good thing he doesn't have laser vision or the elevator would be melting around them. "They were trying to figure out if we split into bottom and top or if we switch off."

Okay, then! Note to self, thinks Tony. Never ask a question you're not ready for the answer to.

"I'd be on top," he says because it's always important to stake your claim, even if you have no intention of actually claiming it.

Tim does look at him, then. There's more eye-rolling. If he doesn't quit it, Tony's fairly sure that one day in the not-too-distant future the eyes are going to roll right out of their sockets and down the nearest hole in the floorboards, and then where will McGee be? And what about Tony? Forced to spend the rest of his life narrating computer games and movies out of guilt from being the worst eye-roll instigator ever. What a tragic waste of two lives. They'll probably make a Hallmark movie of it.

"Are we back on the height thing again because I told you, Tony, I'm ex-"

"-exactly the same height as me. I know."

"And you can't pull the good-looking card because everyone knows that pretty boys get screwed."

"McGee!" Tony doesn't know if he's genuinely horrified or strangely proud. McGee's not looking even the least bit ashamed of himself, though, so Tony figures he'll probably come down on the side of the latter. He's proud of Tim a lot these days. There was the whole thing with the rescue and- And suddenly he's thinking about Ziva and Abby again. He furrows his brow. "You know, where do they get off with- Oh." Of course!

"With what?" McGee is looking at him curiously.

"They get off on it, McGaybyconsensus. They get off on the idea of us together. That's so- No, wait. It's just like- Huh."

"Is this a private conversation or can anyone join in? I'm just asking because if we don't get out of this elevator soon either Gibbs will shimmy down the cable and bust us out and then bust our asses for goofing off or they'll send the maintenance guy and he'll screw it up and we'll be genuinely stuck here for two days, and they'll feed us flat food through the crack in the door. And I don't like processed cheese, it gives me hives. Also other things that are bad in confined spaces."

Tony laughs and claps McGee on the shoulder. "I like you, Tim," he says, as if it's a revelation and, while it's really not, for a second it feels like just that.

"I like you, too, Tony. Three out of every seven days." The grin that accompanies this barb takes any potential sting out of the words and Tony has an idea so blindingly brilliant that it takes everything he has not to jump up and down and clap his hands.

"Let's fake it."

"Fake what?"

"They think we're secret boyfriends? Let's give 'em secret boyfriends. It'll mess with their minds, Probie-Wan Kenobi. The force is with us."

"Are you having a stroke? Can you smell burning toast?"

"No, listen," Tony shakes McGee as if that's somehow going to drive his point home. "You heard Abby same as I did. She thinks it's hot, whatever her imagination has cooked up us doing together. Ziva, too. So we give it to them, only they never get to see anything good. Mostly because, you know, we're not dating, but because every time it looks like something might happen we stop. It'll drive them nutso. Awesome."

"Hmm," says Tim, his lower lip sticking out as he considers the proposal. "Your evil is more fun when it's not directed at me."

Tony slaps his hand on McGee's shoulder one more time before starting up the elevator. "Stick with me, McGee, and you'll go far."

"Probably I'll go to jail," mutters Tim, but Tony's not really listening, there are plans to be made.

They start easy. Ziva had mentioned the looks he and McGee supposedly give each other so they take that as their jumping off point. Every time Gibbs is out of the squad room (because they're not crazy) Tony lets his gaze linger on Tim, the fond smile he's practiced in the mirror playing on his lips. The second Ziva looks up he cuts away, studiously shuffling paper or frowning at his monitor. He can feel McGee's gaze on him sometimes, doing the same thing, but, for some reason, he never looks around to catch his eyes.

As for looking at Tim first every time something happens, Tony'd figured he'd need to work on that. Turns out he does do it as a matter of course, which makes sense once he thinks about it because you don't share the same 'oh fuck!' or 'awe-some' looks with your boss and Ziva's short, it takes extra energy to look down. Still, he holds eye contact a second or two too long and sometimes even lets his eyes wander to McGee's mouth when he's talking.

Ziva's doing a lot more muttering in Hebrew these days.

In Abby's lab they stand as close as they can without touching. When Tim is bashing away on a keyboard, super-teching it up, Tony stands behind him, craning over his shoulder so close he can almost feel McGee's stubble growing (though, to be fair, he'd have to stand in one place for at least three years before it was substantial enough to pierce Tony's micro-thin personal bubble). When Abby tears her face from her own screen and looks towards them, Tony peels off with a stretch and a yawn and goes to stand the other side of the room. He's thinking of buying her a new keyboard for when her frustrated typing finally breaks the one she's using. Who knew fingers could be so loud?

"Ziva's coming," says Tim and pushes Tony into the wall of the corridor, hand splayed on his chest. He leans in close and whispers in Tony's ear. "So Gibbs wants us to follow up on the anomalies in Deacon's files. We should-" he pushes off Tony and continues at normal volume, but with a slightly flustered air, "Ziva and I can take the widow, if you want."

"Sure," says Tony, as Ziva appears in his peripheral vision. "Make sure you report back to me later...Probie." He draws the last word out and it's only because he's looking for it that he sees the minuscule quirk of McGee's lips as he turns to Ziva.

"Mrs. Deacon for us," he tells her. "Be nice and I might let you drive."

"I am always nice," Ziva replies, turning with McGee and disappearing with him back around the corner she'd just appeared from. "Also, I do not need your permission to drive, McGee. You forget, I run faster than you. Last one to the car takes popgun."

A scuffle, jangling keys, a pained 'Ow!' from McGee and two pairs of rapidly retreating footsteps. Tony hopes McGee isn't going to injure anything important. His heart is beating fast--his body doesn't know the difference between pretending to be nearly caught and actually being nearly caught, apparently--and he leans against the wall, recovering. Tony can still feel the handprint from where Tim kept him in place--it's weird, he never used to bruise so easily. Maybe he's getting old.

After that, they step it up even more. Tony executes a really obvious yawn maneuver every time he and McGee are passengers in the van, his fingertips barely brushing McGee's shoulder. Both McGee and Tony suddenly develop extreme clumsiness at their desks, which can only be remedied by immediate assistance from the other--if assistance means staring at the ass on display, disappearing behind the other's desk to 'help out' and emerging with mussed hair and a glazed expression.

Ziva spends a lot of time musing on what could have happened to Tony's superglue and the possibility of some idiot-virus striking both men at the same time.

Then there's the touching. Abby was right, Tony's always been pretty tactile, there's something about putting his hands on something--a person, an object--that Tony finds reassuring (and now is not the time to think about the tragic and mysterious loss of his Blankie the day after he turned twelve). He's always poked and prodded at Tim, slapped him on the head, the shoulder, the back, adjusted his clothes for him, hugged him, ruffled his hair. It's not new, what he's doing in the name of sweet, sweet revenge, it's just the same old same old, only...

"Nice one," says McGee, grinning at him as they get in the elevator.

"What?" asks Tony, genuinely puzzled.

McGee flaps his hand at his chin and says, "The thing. With the wiping the jelly off my face. Genius. Did you see Abby's face?"

Tony frowns because he hadn't- Well, he had. He'd seen the glistening jelly lurking just below McGee's lower lip and he'd reached out without thinking, wiping it off with a thumb, which he'd then sucked clean. But there wasn't any forethought in it, no planning, he'd barely even realized Abby was there.

"Yeah," he replies, but he's far away, brain working a mile a minute. "Awesome. We've got them on the ropes, for sure."

There's a pause, filled only by the hum of the elevator cable and then Tim says, "When should we come clean?"

"Soon," says Tony. "Soon." And isn't your stomach meant to plummet when the elevator is going down?

The next few days contain more of everything, including three almost-kisses and one not-at-all-metaphorical, in-real-life, falling out of a closet. Their stuttered 'explanations' are a thing of beauty, Tony thinks, McGee's slightly untucked shirt an inspired touch. Seeing Abby's big eyes and Ziva's narrowed ones is reward in itself, but Tony is having so much fun plotting with McGee it seems a shame that they're going to have to end it.

It's Friday night, they have the weekend off and Tony persuades Abby and Ziva out to a bar with him and McGee. He doesn’t have to work hard at it at all even though Abby's been talking all week about Plastic Death coming to town and Ziva likes to unwind with some weird hybrid yoga-martial arts thing which Tony does not get at all but is totally prepared to believe Ziva can Salute the Sun and kill him with one finger at the same time. Who knew secret boyfriends were so endlessly fascinating?

They're at a table, McGee opposite from him and Ziva on his right. For a warm up Tony instigates a game of Bad Footsie in which he kicks Abby's ankle more than once 'by mistake'. It's not like it's going to hurt, she practically wears armor-plated boots, but it gets her attention and Tony moves on to fidgeting with the same beer mat that Tim is flipping. He doesn't even look at McGee, carrying on a conversation with Ziva about the poorly explored differences between smooth and crunchy peanut butter. Every now and then their fingers brush against each other and Tony gets a weird little shock, like he'd been aware McGee was there, but not that McGee was there. Yeah, it makes no sense to him either.

"I'm going to the bathroom," he says, several drinks in, with a significant look at McGee.

McGee looks down and then up, doing that eyelash-fluttering thing that he's been wielding the last few weeks. Tony doesn't understand why he doesn't use it on women; they'd definitely go for the doe-eyed Bambi innocent look he's got going.

"I'll come with you," says McGee, and stands up.

"Since when do guys go in pairs?" asks Abby, lips pursed suspiciously.

"Since we wanted to figure out why chicks always do," Tony retorts. "Or can't we do that? Don't be a reverse sexist, Sciuto." And he walks off, grinning to himself, leaving Abby's mouth hanging open.

McGee shuts the door and leans against the washbasin unit. "How long do we need to be in here for?"

"I don't know, McDetail," says Tony, getting up in McGee's face. "How long does it take you to get sucked off by your hot secret boyfriend?"

McGee blushes a fiery red and Tony spins on his heel. "Some of us need to pee, actually," he adds, and steps up to the urinal, unzipping. "Ahh, that's better."

"Oh great, now I need to go. Thanks, Tony." Tim skips a stall because restroom etiquette is probably hardwired into his brain and Tony hears his zip go.

"That's the power of a powerful stream, McIncontinent," says Tony. "The wonder of a waterfall, the rush of the rapids." He shakes and tucks himself away.

"Shut up, DiNozzo."


Tony crosses to the washbasin and he doesn't mean to, but he can't seem to stop his eyes sliding to one side and sneaking a quick glance at Tim's penis. Solid, he thinks, like Tim, and then slams on the mental brakes. Fake boyfriends, he reminds himself. That's the problem with undercover, you go in too deep and you forget who you are after a while.

McGee washes and dries his hands as carefully and methodically as he does everything else and then checks his watch. "Should we-?"

"Okay, so if I got you off that fast it would say something awesome about me, but you wouldn't be covering yourself in much glory. So, you know-"

"Hey, who says anything about you getting me off? You are way more likely to have premature ejaculation problems than I am."

"Oh, but I don't think so."

"Oh, but I do." And Tim starts counting off on his fingers, stepping closer to Tony with each point made. "One, poor impulse control, two, general over-excitability, three, classic over-compensation, four-" he pauses, barely inches from Tony, and grins, wide and inviting, "it's funny."

Tony's lips quirk. "Why, you-" But his response is lost as the door opens and some random guy comes in and sets up shop at the urinal. Tony drops back a step and fidgets with his collar. "It's hot in here, right? Isn't it hot in here?"

"Seems fine to me," McGee says, but Tony sees the sweat beaded on his forehead and knows he's a liar.

It's kind of creepy hanging out in the restroom trying not to watch a random stranger pee, so they head out back into the bar. Just as they're nearing the table, Tim leans in and whispers in Tony's ear, "Some guy once told me I have a blowjob mouth, you know you just came too fast," and it's five minutes before Tony can breathe properly again.

"Are you okay, Tony? You appear to be choking," says Ziva with what Tony considers an inappropriate smirk on her face.

"Just something I-he-ate," says Tim, with an answering smirk and that's it, Tony's going to have to kill him if he doesn't end up dead from oxygen deprivation first.

Tony doesn't commit murder in any degree, though, and by the time Monday rolls around he's totally over having his staying power called into question. Still, maybe it's time they call the whole thing off. Do the whole 'you've been Punk'd' thing and get back to normal. Whatever that is.

He gets in early, hoping to get some paperwork done before anyone else arrives, but McGee is already there, hunkered down behind his desk, frowning at the monitor and typing one-handed, a donut in his other hand. Tony takes a moment to wonder how McGee is keeping his figure these days given the amount of pastries he seems to ingest and, whatever it is, can Tony have some of it? But then the inevitable happens and McGee is dripping jelly down his chin. How he never notices, Tony has no idea. And it's not like he wants to be Den Mother or anything, but still, someone needs to take care of the situation.

He strides over, perches a buttock on the corner of McGee's desk and reaches out, wiping away the jelly with his thumb, sucking it clean.

"I can't take you anywhere," he says, fondly.

Tim looks up from what he's doing. "You don't have to do that, Tony, there's no one to see."

And it's not like a punch to the stomach, or a Gibbs-slap. It's not like a blinding light or a chorus of angels or an arrow to the heart. It's a quiet 'huh' and the way looking at crime scene photos from another angle can open up whole new areas of thought. This thing, this warm feeling he gets in his belly when he sees Tim needing to be taken care of, the swelling pride in his chest when he does something great, the way it's Tim he turns to first because his is the reaction Tony cares most about, the peaceful happiness he gets when they're simply hanging out, having dinner, kicking back with a movie, walking Jethro, the really ridiculous amount of time he's spent looking at Tim over the past few months, 'admiring' his new found dress sense. He's a dumbass.

More even than usual.

"Tony?" Tim touches his arm and Tony realizes he's been staring.

"God, I'm sorry. I'm- Okay, can you tell Gibbs I had to step out for a couple hours?"

"Sure. Tony, what's the matter?" But McGee is talking to Tony's retreating back.

Tony gets out into the air, finds a bench and sits down, stuffing his head between his knees. He can't go back in there until he's figured out a way not to grab McGee and kiss him until his blowjob mouth turns red and shiny. Probably not thinking about it would help. Tony pulls his backpack onto his lap and opens it, searching for his notes on the Deacon case. There's something that doesn't quite make sense. If he just thinks about it the right way-

"Come on, come on, come on," mutters Tony, and if willpower could make the elevator go faster he'd have been there before he'd even started talking to an inanimate object.

He starts yelling the second the doors open. "I've got it. I know what happened. It's so obvious now."

Gibbs is on his feet and so is McGee. "Boss, I got it," says Tony, but his eyes don't leave Tim's face. "It's not fake. The records that didn't fit? It's not because they're fake. It's because it's not Leonard Deacon in Autopsy, it's his twin."

"But his wife..." says Ziva, and Tony waves a hand at her without looking around.

"Didn't know. They pulled the switcheroo years back, I can explain it all."

Gibbs is already on the phone to Ducky and Ziva is saying something about tracking phone-calls. Tim, though. Tim is staring at Tony like a deer caught in headlights.

"It's not fake, Tim," says Tony. "I couldn't work it out and then I did and do you get it now? It's not fake."

"He's not an idiot, DiNozzo," says Gibbs, putting his hand over the receiver. "Don't just stand there, bring in the widow." He half-turns away, continuing his call.

"Yes, boss." But Tony doesn't move until he sees McGee's slow blink back to life.

"It's possible I am an idiot," he says, eyes still locked with Tony's. "I'll keep you informed."

"Later, Probie," says Tony and walks backwards out of the squad room, Tim still in his sights until the elevator door closes.

They don't find Leonard Deacon that day and Tony spends most of it dealing with a hysterical widow who's spent the last fifteen years effectively being raped by the guy she's been mourning for the last eleven days and it's sordid and heart-breaking and all Tony wants to do is go home and shower. And then McGee comes in to the interview room, puts down a cup of coffee and says, "Decaf, so you're not up all night trying to figure out how you could have fixed something that started when you were still a kid in college. Even you aren't that awesome," and it's like a warm bath and Tony feels clean again.

He wraps his hands around the hot cup and looks up at Tim, long and lean in his dark suit, blue shirt making his green eyes very bright, and he smiles.

"So are you an idiot?" he asks.

"Nah. Masters from MIT, remember?"

"You never let us forget."

A silence falls, broken only by the scrape of a chair as Tim pulls it around the table to sit around the corner from Tony. He leans his head on one hand and lays his other arm on the table, close to the cup of coffee. Tony doesn't let go of the cup--the heat feels strong and real on his hands--but he shifts it, just slightly, so that their pinkies are touching.

"I love you, Tim," says Tony. And, "Huh, that was way less scary than I thought."

"I'm a soothing presence," says Tim, just as nonchalantly, looping his fingertip over Tony's. "I have it on good authority."

"Good to know."

They sit quietly for another minute or so and, forget about the decaf, Tony's fizzing with anticipation. It would take stepmom number 6's favorite horse tranks to get him to sleep now. Tim's knee falls against his and it's like that completes a circuit and Tony's whole body is electrified. He almost wants to toe out of his shoe and get his foot on the floor to ground himself.

"Me, too," says Tim, eventually. "The loving thing. You that is, not me. Though most days I'm quite fond, especially since-" He stops and rolls his eyes. If they fall out this time it's finally not Tony's fault. "Start again," he says. "I love you, Tony. This is weird, right? I mean, we haven't even dated, or kissed, or, you know, anything. Aren't we skipping some stuff?"

Tony shrugs. "Cut to the chase," he says. "Always works for Gibbs." He slides his hand under Tim's, turning it palm up and curling their fingers together. "Kissing would be good, though. What about the observation room?"

McGee rummages in his pocket and dangles a key, a triumphant smile on his face.

"I always said you were a genius," says Tony and leans forward, tugging Tim towards him. He's never had a first kiss with someone he's in love with before and the fluttering excitement chasing across his skin, the heightened awareness of himself and the sensation of Tim's lips on his and the painful thump of his heart because this is important combine to create a bittersweet moment that's as close to perfection as Tony thinks he'll ever get. He'll revise that statement several times over the coming weeks as new firsts come and go (mostly come), but right now, he's alive in this moment and if he could stretch time into infinity he would.

There's a muffled thump and Tony could swear he hears a squeak. Reluctantly, he pulls away from Tim and narrows his eyes, looking around.

The light comes on in the observation room and Tony can see Abby struggling to her feet, holding a piece of paper up to the glass which reads simply, 'HA!'

"I take back the genius thing," says Tony at the same time as Ziva's voice comes over the speaker, saying crossly,

"There is an intercom, Abby. You do not have to pass notes."

"It's not passing if there's glass in between, Ziva," says Abby, her nose squashed against the pane.

Tony mugs, "And what the hell do you call this?" at the two of them, Abby crazy-grinning and Ziva tossing her hair back with a particularly high level of smug, even for her, at the same time as tightening his grip on Tim's hand. Not that Tim has given any indication that he's running scared but Tony isn't prepared to take any chances.

"It took you long enough to work it out," says Ziva. "I had almost entirely given you up as a lost cause."

"Wait, you knew?" exclaim Tony and McGee in unison.

"Fake it till you make it," says Abby, flipping the sign over so it reads, "WELL, DUH."

"You set us up?" Tony swivels back to Tim. "They set us up." And back again. "You set us up?"

"What is that, Tony? I cannot hear you," says Ziva, white teeth gleaming as she grins an evil grin. "If you wish for us to know what you are saying, you must press the button."

"We totally set you up," says Abby, twirling around and jabbing a finger at the glass. "For field agents you're pretty crappy at seeing what's under your noses. Besides, we were bored and it was fun. You gonna make out some more now?"

Tony presses his lips together and shakes his head. "Go away, you annoyingly peppy Goth," he says, and, to McGee, "I told you she thought it was hot."

Tim stands, untangling his hand from Tony's. "She's not good at following orders if you don't have grey hair and boat building tools," he says. He looks over at the partition and over-enunciates, "This is not over, Sciuto. Tomorrow, you and me are gonna have words." He switches his attention back to Tony. "It's probably time to head out, anyway."

Tony's stomach lurches. How is this fair? It can't be time to go their own ways, even if it's only for the night--they've only just begun.

"Ahem," says Tim and Tony looks up. Tim is grinning at him, crooking and flexing his index finger. Now there's a signal that's easy to get. Tony gets to his feet and follows.

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