Oh, The Places You'll Go

When Worlds Collide, Spill or Fall out of Cupboards: Five Ways it Could Have Happened Ten Years Later

Notes: So I wrote It's Not Only Ships That Pass in the Night for Porn Battle and a variety of people wanted to know what happened when Tony and wee!Tim met up again ten years later. This fic is the answer to that. Actually, it's five different answers, four alternate realities and one canon reality. Because I like to make life more complicated for myself, wtf, cat?

You probably want to have read the earlier fic first, but if you don't want to read consensual sex with one underage (US standard) participant that's fine, all you need to know is (highlight to read) (skip) Randomly meeting in Washington, Tim propositions Tony who doesn't know he's underage (16). There is sex outside a converted church. Tim owns a handkerchief (I promise this is relevant) Tony finds out how old Tim is and gives him money for a cab so he gets back to his hotel safely.

This fic is for lilac_one because it was her birthday and I love her. It could not have been written without the encouragement and support of soupytwist who said to hell with the fact that five thingses are supposed to be short. (I so failed THAT one. Even the title is too long for the subject line. Heh.) So very many hugs to you both. ♥ x 100000000

Spoilers through season 3. Some direct dialogue quotes. No warnings.


1. You Want the Moon on a Stick

Tony raises his gun and nods at Kate. She raps on the door.

"NCIS," yells Tony, "Open up!" Nothing happens. Tony's unsurprised; it's not like he's expecting the guy behind the door to pull the door wide and invite them in with a cheery smile, holding his hands out for the cuffs--though it would be cool if that could happen. Just once isn't too much to ask for, is it?

"Is it fifteen seconds yet?" he asks.

"By the time you've figured if you're leading with your shoulder or your foot it'll be more like thirty. Go ahead."

Tony pulls a face at Kate, then looks at the door. Pretty hefty. He's gone for the shoulder barge against solid wood one too many times for comfort, so foot it is.

The lock gives way more easily than Tony expected and he stumbles his way into the apartment. It's, okay, it's exactly what he was expecting. Except for the smell. The smell is kind of fresh and piney and not at all sad loser with poor personal hygiene. Pleasantly surprising. The rest of the place, though, oh, yeah. Tony takes it all in in a split second, the multiple monitors, the trailing wires, the broken down old couch with the odd spring sproinging here and there, the weird green glow of 'illegal technology at work.'

The suspect has his back to them and is frantically typing, apparently oblivious to their presence which Tony could forgive if it wasn't for, oh, the 120 decibels of splintering door.

"Hey," he says. "Crash Override, get your hands where I can see 'em."

"In a minute," says Crash, fingers still flying over the keyboard, "I'm almost done."

Tony exchanges glances with Kate. What, does the kid think this is some kind of timed assessment? Does he want to be graded? Because Tony's thinking A for effort, F for You Are So Fucked You Don't Even Want To Know.

"The point," says Tony, nice and slow so that it has a chance to sink into the densest brain, "is that we're stopping you being almost done. Here we are with guns--guns loaded with very eager bullets--stopping you from doing whatever the hell it is you're doing. With the hacking. Of the computer system thingies."

"In a minute," says the kid again, not giving even a millimeter.

"Oh, in a minute. Well, why didn't you say so?" Tony raises his gun above the suspect's head and fires to the left of him. A monitor explodes in a shower of sparks, glass and plastic. Tony swats at the air. Plastic tastes bad.

The kid jumps maybe ten feet in the air, but whacks another key when he hits ground again. And then, finally, he turns around to face them. He's looking way too smug for someone who just had an impromptu firework display go off within a couple of feet of his head.

"What did you do?"

"Like I'm telling you? What are you? Uncle Sam's brainwashed monkey? Please. Like you could even understand--you probably think a firewall is something Evil Knievel drove through." The kid stands and puts his hands behind his back to be cuffed by Kate. It's very courteous of him. Timesaving. The second team will be in any second, bagging and tagging everything down to the gum on the desk lamp; they need to get this loser back to Gibbs.

Kate, the traitor, is grinning and saying, "Have you met Agent DiNozzo?"

"No," says the kid. "But I know the type." He juts out his chin, which seems kind of weird until Tony figures out he's pointing without the use of hands. Nice.

"Handsome jock, never tried in high school. Got into college off the back of some arbitrary sporting prowess, solid C+ average, got into law enforcement because it was a steady paycheck and guns make some girls hot."

"Wow," Kate gives the kid a push to get him moving, "You have met him."

Tony narrows his eyes and tries to look menacing as he falls into step beside the two of them. "And my...gun...will be making girls hot long after you're locked up in a cozy little cell for two with Hector the double homicide who misses his wife. Have a nice life, Crash."

For a second, all the front drops away from the kid and he glances at Tony, scared and defeated. He must look about sixteen.

Tony freezes.

"What's your name?"

The kid pastes his attitude back on, but the cracks are showing. "Crash Override, according to you."

"No, really."

"I plead the fifth."

"Not that one again," says Kate. "Seriously? We have the world's best forensic tech. Once we have you processed you'll be IDed faster than you can say hypertext transfer protocol." Both the kid and Tony stare at her. "What? I can't have breasts and a functioning knowledge of technology...stuff."

"You were doing real well up until the 'stuff' there, Kate," Tony grins, almost forgetting why his insides are making a break for the border. The kid snorts and Tony remembers. Oh, how he remembers.

"Name," he says, "It'll be easier in the long run, I promise."

"Timothy McGee."

And there it is. Of course, there are plenty of Tims in the world and he could be mistaken, but the kid's in a ratty old MIT hoodie that's seen better days, he's clearly a freaking genius by the way the Navy have been going crazy trying to stop his incursions into their systems, and then there was that look. The look that said oh my fucking god I'm so out of my depth but I'm not telling you. It has to be.

If the shove Tony gives the kid's head to get him into the car is more gentle than usual, he's not saying anything. Point of fact, he's not saying anything at all. He keeps stealing glances in the mirror at Tim--at McGee--trying to convince himself he's wrong.

"Watch it, Tony!" yells Kate, grabbing for the steering wheel. Tony wrenches it back from her and they just manage to avoid an eight-wheeler.

Yeah, so considering Tony has no ambitions to know how a pancake feels, probably he should be concentrating on driving. He looks in the mirror one last time, though, and finds he's locking eyes with McGee, who is looking more freaked than might be expected after a totally-not-close-at-all escape from making the perfect combination with peanut butter.

Oh, crap.

Tony doesn't think about it. He is so damn good at not thinking. He has not thinking elevated to an art form. If they gave awards in not thinking, he would get gold, no question. Still, he gets McGee into the Interrogation Room and sends Kate off for Gibbs. Just because he's not thinking about it doesn't mean Tim--McGee. Distance, Tony!--isn't.

He straddles a chair the opposite side of the table from McGee and hopes to hell he looks more relaxed than his hammer heart suggests.

"So."

McGee has been staring at his hands, handcuffs off now. He can't get anywhere and it's not like he's going to try anything, he's the kind to hide behind anonymity and ideas, not duke it out with fists and blood. Besides, Tony could totally take him out with one little finger. Okay, maybe two. McGee looks up, straight at Tony, and his eyes are hard like glass. It's not the kid Tony remembers, unsure and eager and dazed. Maybe he's wrong.

"So maybe you let me go or I tell your boss about what you did ten summers ago."

Tony's stomach twists and he really, really wants to throw up, but he's played poker often enough to keep it together.

"Number one, it wasn't summer, McGee and b, you wouldn't."

McGee's whole face changes, then, just like before, and the years vanish from him. He looks at Tony, eyebrows drawn, pressing his lips together and giving his head a little shake.

"No," he says, with a shrug of his shoulders. "I wouldn't. I'm not that guy."

Tony resists the urge to noogie McGee in relief. He's a good kid. He always was.

"I, er, I didn't set you on the path of crime, did I?"

McGee smiles then, and Tony's not the kind of guy that thinks of another guy's smile as sweet, but that's exactly what this is, no getting around it. He really, truly regrets that they're going to have to put him in prison.

"No, Tony, you did not. And it depends on how you define crime."

"I define it as breaking the law."

"Moral law is a higher calling."

"Are you confessing?"

"Nah. Wouldn't want to make things too easy for you, would I?"

Tony bites back the, "You didn't say that ten years ago," that's on the tip of his tongue. "Come on," he says, "Give me something that'll help me get you off light."

"Aww, Tony, you always did have a kind heart. That $20 is in my wallet if you want it."

"What about added interest?"

McGee looks down and then back up. "Oh, you have that." It's a valiant try; Tony's heart goes out to him.

"Quit flirting with me, Timothy, it's not as distracting as you'd like." But Tony can't help smirking.

Of course, that's when Gibbs comes in, and Tony most definitely does not mouth 'Good luck' at McGee as he backs out of the door.

Soon Gibbs will have him singing like a baby. A canary. Something that sings a lot. Whatever, he'll be on his way to orange jumpsuits and bending at the knee not the waist and Tony will be able to forget the whole thing. Again.

He watches through the one-way glass, McGee stumbling over his words so fast he only catches half. Gibbs probably catches even less--it's mostly technical mumbo-jumbo. The kid looks tired and resigned. He knows how it's going to end. There's no taxicab ride at the end of this one.

Tony puts his hand on the glass. Someone should tell McGee to be safe.

Maybe he will.


2. You Can Prove Anything With Facts

"This is not happening. This is not happening. This? Is not happening. This. Is. Not-"

"With due respect, sir," interrupts Weasel 1, the VP Tony'd been willed along with the company, "this is happening, the agent is here now, and you're going to have to speak to him whether you choose to reside with us here in reality or to float along in your happy bubble of denial."

Tony snarls at Weasel 1 who winces with fear, even if he doesn't back down. "Of course I'll speak to the nice FBI man, W-, er, Nordberg. Co-operative is my middle name. Well, actually, it's Drambuie, but that's not important right now. What's important is that I tell him the truth and get him the hell away from here before anyone notices. Just one hint that the Feebs have been sniffing around and the stock will drop faster than a virgin's panties on Prom night."

Weasel 1 fails to look impressed at the analogy, but then, he failed to look impressed at Tony's Captain Jack Sparrow impersonation so he's obviously difficult to please. That or Tony's never playing him at poker.

Compulsively, Tony smoothes his hair as he comes out from behind his desk. "You can go," he says to Weasel 1. "Send in the agent on your way out."

"Yes, sir," says Weasel 1 with an infinitesimal pause before the 'sir' which Tony does not miss. He doesn't have time to worry about it now, though, and parks one butt-cheek on the polished black wood.

The door swings shut behind Weasel 1 and Tony's alone for a few moments. Some asshole's been making false allegations, is what it is. There's nothing wrong with the business--point of fact, it's booming. The new Space Bubblegum is a surefire winner. At least, according to those pretty graphs they make him stare at once a week. He'll answer the questions, get the Fed off his back and take an early mark to get ready for his hot date with Miss Maryland.

The handle turns and Tony crosses and uncrosses his arms, trying to find the best serious-but-not-imposing pose. The Fed is tall, sandy blond hair cut short. He's in the regulation trench coat (at least Tony figures it's regulation, the only variation he ever sees in Fed outerwear is beige versus navy) and Tony's willing to bet there's a slightly ill-fitting suit underneath.

"Mr. DiNozzo, thank you for agreeing to see me," says the guy. He's so serious that Tony wants to chuck him under the chin, make those round, pink cheeks flush. He won't, though, they tend to frown on that sort of thing.

"It's not like I had any choice, Agent..." Tony stands up, holding out his hand.

It's a strange thing, but there's a flicker of an expression across the Fed's face, which Tony could swear was apprehension, and it's gone again before he can confirm it.

"McGee," says Agent McGee, shaking the offered hand.

Firm, cool grip. Always a good sign. Unless it's a robot hand, and then you're out of luck. Tony has the weirdest sensation of déjà vu. But he left the police ten years ago now and hasn't hung out with law enforcement since he went all corporate. And it doesn't matter how serious this Fed looks, back then he would have been still at school, no way would their paths have crossed.

"Agent McGee, sit. Coffee? Tea? It's a little early for alcoholic refreshment and then you have that whole drinking on duty thing . The not part of that, not the drinking part of that because no one needs their upholders of justice having difficulties walking in a straight line if you know what I'm saying? You're boggling at me, aren't you? This is usually when people tell me to stop talking. Except usually they're less polite." Tony stops himself by the simple expedient of biting his lip. What the hell is wrong with him? He has no need to be nervous; he's done nothing wrong. There's just something about how this guy looks at him, like he knows every last thing and he's just waiting for Tony to confirm it.

McGee isn't boggling, actually. His mouth is set in a straight line, but Tony can see the twitching at the corners. Maybe he isn't a humorless law-monkey after all.

"Nothing for me, Mr. DiNozzo. If we could get started?"

"Sure, sure." Tony gestures to the corner of his office where two small sofas stand at right angles. "Shall we?"

They settle across from each other, Agent McGee unbuttoning his coat to reveal a better suit than Tony was expecting. McGee pats his pockets, pulling out a notebook and pen and accidentally dislodging a handkerchief, hastily shoving it back out of sight. Who carries a handkerchief these days anyway? And there it is again, that weird sensation that Tony knows this man.

"You understand that these are just preliminary enquiries and that you are not obliged to-"

"I used to be a cop, Agent McGee, I know my Miranda rights. I waive them. Do I know you?"

Agent McGee blinks, rapid fire, and Tony can see he's knocked. Maybe he's one of those guys that gets off on order. Too bad for him Tony lives to disrupt.

"Actually, the FBI was warning for rights well before Miranda," says McGee, who, okay, may be made from rubber after all. "And no, you don't know me." His eyes flicker to the left at that and Tony frowns.

He shifts on the sofa, leaning back with his hands behind his head. "Ask me something," he says.

McGee flips open the notebook and scans it, tapping his lower lip with his pen. There it is again. Tony leans forward.

"No, I know you," he says.

"You don't," replies McGee without looking up. "Mr. DiNozzo, are you aware that the value of your stock has risen by-"

"Did I used to date your sister?"

"No!" McGee's head jerks up and he stares at Tony with big, round eyes that Tony thought didn't exist outside of cartoons. "She still in- How did you know I have- My sister is none of your business. If you could answer the questions."

"You have to ask them first."

McGee's jaw clenches and if he grips the pen any tighter it's going to break. And as fun as it is to push the guy's buttons (it's a lot of fun), Tony's got to wonder what's gotten him wound so tight.

"Your stock. Has risen by 25% over the last two months against a general down trend. We're looking into allegations of share inflation and accounting fraud. Do you-"

This is serious, Tony knows it's serious, but he can't help himself. "You are so familiar. Are you sure we haven't met?"

There's the jaw clench again and then McGee slowly, deliberately lays down his notebook and pen beside him on the sofa and looks back at Tony, completely impassive.

"Okay, Mr. DiNozzo, I give up. Will you answer my questions if I tell you where we met?"

"Sure," says Tony, grinning with triumph. "I knew I never forgot a face."

"I gave you a blowjob when I was sixteen. Are we good now?" McGee picks up the pad and pen and settles, expectant.

Tony is too busy flicking through his closet of emotions to pay him any attention. Is he shocked? Stunned? Numb? Appalled? Intrigued? Musing at the ironic twist of cruel fate? All of the above?

"Tim?" It's as good as he can manage right now. He's pretty proud of articulating any response, actually.

"I still think of you fondly," says McGee with wry sarcasm and Tony finds himself again grinning at the guy despite the whirlwind of what-the-fuck in his head.

"Of course you do. I'm awesome, it's a well known fact."

McGee doesn't crack a smile but the twitching is back and Tony's insides unwind a little. Nothing like a shared orgasm to create a bond between guys. Or. Yeah. Okay, maybe that's not how it usually goes.

"A few weeks after...you know...it, I saw your picture in the Wall Street Journal. After you took over here from your dad. I tried to swap off this case but we're swamped so no luck."

"You've known who I was the whole time?" Tony's closet is not equipped with whatever he thinks he should feel about this.

"Yeah." McGee rubs the back of his neck. "I nearly mailed you the $20 you lent me, but I figured I needed it more than you. That might be less true now considering the circumstances."

"It wasn't a loan," says Tony, flopping back and closing his eyes. "Not that it was payment or- It was a gift, okay? Fuck."

"That's what I said," says McGee. There's a long pause and then he adds, "Thank you. For keeping me safe back then. It was...it meant a lot."

Tony's eyes fly open but McGee's not looking at him. There's a strange twist in Tony's stomach and he wants to ask, "What happened to you? Did everything work out? Are you happy?" He has no idea where that came from and he's not sure he wants to know. He'd spent months systematically trying to forget every second of their encounter and it had been hard going. Because up until the 'sixteen' confession, Tony'd been having a pretty damn good time. He wasn't great at forgetting good sex, even surprise gay sex, and kind of resented the fact that he'd had to.

"Look," says McGee, and that's when Tony realizes he's failed to respond. "I can try harder to get taken off the case. I just. I figured it was best for both of us if our previous, erm, relationship didn't factor in to the decision."

"No, it's okay," says Tony, slowly blinking back to life. "You've had ten years to ruin my life and you haven't. I trust you to do this right."

McGee does those cartoon eyes again. It needs to be less endearing, Tony thinks. The man's got a job to do.

"It never occurred to me to-"

"I know."

They lock eyes then, and it's weird, but there's something there. Something more than a connection from a ten-years-old blowjob. Tony's life over the last decade has been a mix of hard work and partying, meaningless hookups with meaningless people who see the clothes and the car and the ten different bedrooms to have sex in. He loves it--how could he not?--the effortless sex with the hottest women the city has to offer, but sometimes Tony thinks there's got to be more to life. Sometimes he wants to swim at the deep end of the pool--it's just no one ever seems to throw him a float.

"We should probably-" says McGee.

"Yeah," Tony agrees.

Three hours and a cancelled date later there are papers everywhere, covered in figures and graphs and notations and Tony's freaking out. He's confiscated McGee's pen because the sucking was distracting and now is really, really not the time.

"Oh god, I am so screwed," says Tony, head in hands. "I broke the company and I don't even remember signing half those documents. This is what I get for giving up the only thing I wanted to do just to keep a dead guy happy. You can't make dead people happy, not unless you're donating your brain free of charge to a zombie. Idiot!" He smacks himself around the head and then holds out his wrists, pressed together. "I'll come quietly," he says. "Just pick me out a cell with a view."

But McGee ignores him. He's rifling through papers like a madman, lower lip stuck out in concentration. Suddenly he stabs his finger down onto a page with a loud, "Got it!"

"Got what, McGee?" Somewhere around the third coffee, they'd lost the 'Agent' and 'Mr.'. If it wasn't for the fact that McGee was going to have to arrest him, Tony was fairly sure that they'd be braiding each other's hair and swapping recipes before the day was out.

"You didn't do it," says McGee and the smile on his face is blinding. "You couldn't have done it."

"Well of course I didn't do- I didn't do it! Awesome! How didn't I do it?"

"These are all original documents, time-stamped by the printer and correlated by signature. You were out of the country on three separate occasions when you supposedly signed your name. I believe one time you were half way up a mountain."

"Way to go, me!" Tony grabs McGee's hand and pumps it up and down. "Way to go, you!" The relief that washes over Tony is short-lived, though, and he stops mid-shake. "Which son of a bitch set me up?" he asks quietly.

"We'll figure it out," says McGee, laying his other hand over Tony's. "Trust me, Tony."

And it's been a weird day, one of the strangest, really, so no one should be surprised when what comes out of Tony's mouth is, "You gonna loan me your water wings?"

McGee scrunches up his nose in confusion. "Um. What?"

"It doesn't matter," says Tony, and smiles. "Let's do this thing."


3. Curious Orange

Tony loves the convention. It would not be so far off the mark to suggest that he understands less than half the hocus-pocus technical crap the R&D guys pour into his ear accompanied by such intense, vibrating zeal that Tony's all okay, step awaaay from the crazy people. It would not be even an inch off the same mark to suggest that Tony sleeps his way through most of the seminars on Your Security System And You: Arming Yourself Against the Unarmable (because, what?). It could even be considered to be 100% completely and totally no take backs on the damn mark to suggest that spending three days in the company of his deputy, Brad, is obviously some kind of penance for some wrong Tony did back in the day--it's not like there's not plenty to choose from. Still, he loves the convention.

He loves it because it happens to take place in Daytona Beach and hits the tail-end of Spring Break. Someone somewhere, Tony figures, just wants security guys to be happy. It's a noble endeavor and he applauds it. A lot. Sometimes, when he sees a group of particularly fine bikini-clad asses, literally.

The days aren't a complete drag, there are shiny toys for Tony to play with and the board at Leerman and Schreib are big fans of shiny. The more red laser beams involved, the happier they are. (Tony suspects an over-attachment to Star Wars, especially given Theo Leerman's resemblance to a Wookie.) Tony likes it best when he gets to play bad guy and try to get past the system. He hasn't managed it yet, but then he wouldn't get to fall to his knees, arms outstretched and begging to be let off easy, he was only stealing to feed his poor mother and eleven brothers and sisters. and what will they do with their Tony locked up, they'll starve, that's what. So, you know, swings and roundabouts.

The nights, though, the nights are the best. Tony's been doing this convention for five years now and it never gets old, cruising in the warm spring air, watching the girls go by. Heading out to a bar, maybe two, maybe three, shirt unbuttoned just right, looking for a hookup who's not so drunk he's taking advantage but not so sober that Tony has to make too much effort. He can figure out what they want in seconds, switching from sophisticated man about town, to regular Joe, to frat boy in the space of two heartbeats. It's always good to have a string to your bow, his mom had said, before mixing the best mojito on Long Island.

Of course, some nights he gets stuck with Brad who has one gear: full-on. At least over the years Tony's managed to teach him that groping is not the answer and it's true that Tony can't help but look extra awesome in comparison, so he tolerates the guy.

Tonight they're wandering the path at the edge of the beach on their way to bar number three. They'd skipped the first one after a couple of drinks because there were way too many sweaty middle-aged security guys in there. They'd managed another few drinks in the second bar before Brad had made some inappropriate comment to a raven-haired beauty who'd turned out to pack a punch like Mike Tyson and had a scream like Whitney Houston on a bad Bobby day. Third time's the charm, thinks Tony and wonders how he can dump Brad. Preferably in the ocean.

"Aww," says Brad, pointing at a couple standing half under a street light, kissing. One half of the pair is almost obscured by shadow and by the other's body. Still, the hand inside the guy's shirt and the one on his neck suggest a good time is being had. "It's love. If only for tonight."

"Don't be a stranger," murmurs Tony automatically, but his eyes are drawn to the pair. As Tony and Brad get closer, they shift and- Oh. That's. Okay, surprisingly hot.

Brad stops dead. "Fucking fags."

"Hey," says Tony, turning to glare at him. "Less judging. We're all special sunbeams, even you, with your blue cheese fetish and your ferrets."

"Are you a fag, Tony? Because I heard about subliment- suppli- diverting attention from gayness by being a slut and you got that down."

"Shut up, Brad. You're not required by law to be an asshole."

Brad sneers and cups his hands around his mouth. "FAGGOTS!"

"Jesus fucking Christ! Go. Just. Go. Before I do something we'll both regret. Well, maybe not me." Tony takes Brad's shoulders, turns him around and shoves him hard. Brad stumbles, and then rights himself, weaving off down the path and flipping Tony the bird without looking back.

Tony turns to the couple. "I'm so sorry about him. He's-"

"A homophobic jerkwad?" replies the taller of the two. "What's new?" He turns fully into the light and, ohfuckohfuckohfuck, that lower lip, still glistening from the kiss, Tony would recognize it anywhere. He swallows a hysterical laugh at the coincidence. Maybe Brad is his penance for that. He might go so far as to call it irony, only Alanis has screwed with his ability to separate that out from no-seriously-are-you-fucking-with-me?

"Hey, Tim," he says, with a nonchalance he's no way near feeling. "Long time no see."

"You know each other?" says the other guy, the kissee, and makes a proprietary grab at Tim's arm.

Tony considers replying, "In the biblical sense," but maybe this is the wrong audience. "Let's just say we're on first name terms," he says instead. He takes a couple of steps forward so he's in the same pool of light and Tim's eyes narrow and then widen.

"Tony?"

"That would be me."

"Who's Tony?" asks the other guy, tugging at Tim.

Tim doesn't take his eyes off Tony. "Give us a minute, would you?"

"I don't-"

Tim does look away, then, twisting his head around to kiss the guy full on the mouth. It's a private moment, Tony shouldn't watch, but he can't stop himself. The last thing Tony remembers in Tim's mouth is his own dick and now, yeah, maybe this guy's only got his tongue in there but it's intimate in a way Tony knows their shady assignation never was. His stomach lurches a little. He probably should have eaten more than a handful of peanuts before those last three tequilas.

"It's okay," Tim says, pulling away from the kiss. "Nothing bad is going to happen in five minutes." He smiles.

"Five minutes, that's it." The guy frowns at Tony and then melts into the darkness. Neat trick, thinks Tony and wonders if an invisibility cloak might be the next step forward in secure systems. That and advancing the cause of panty raids everywhere.

"Hi," says Tim.

"Hi," says Tony and racks his brains for some appropriate sentiment that sums up a decade of intermittent worrying that someday the shit was going to rain down on his head for doing the do with Doogie Howzer interspersed with wondering if the kid had turned out all right. He's got nothing.

"Thanks."

"For tonight or for letting you blow me when you were a minor?" Tony's pretty sure they don't make greeting cards for that one.

"I...yeah." Tim's face twists in embarrassment and he runs a hand through his hair. It's already mussed from the public display of affection and Tony resists the temptation to smooth it down. He's not the guy's mom. Which, yeah, that would be really disturbing because of the- Oh god now he has the mental image, why do people let him think? Say something, Tony. And make it not creepy.

"So you came down on the side of gay, huh?" Way to go with the not creepy, DiNozzo.

Tim shrugs. "Mostly."

"Mostly?"

"Mostly. It's not a difficult word. Not even for a cop."

"Not a cop any more."

Tim frowns. "Is that my fault?"

"Nah. There was a thing."

"A thing?"

"An incident."

"Another one?" Tim's eyebrows are threatening to go into orbit.

"Not like that. Not like ours." Tony grins. "Well, not exactly. Let's just say that my Captain is very protective of family. I work security now, that's why I'm in town."

"Huh, me, too," says Tim. "R and D. I'm giving the seminar on biometrics tomorrow. My boss was supposed to be taking it but he decided getting shingles in his groin would be a better idea."

"Ouch." Tony winces in sympathy. "The boss thing, not the seminar thing. I'm sure that'll be just peachy."

Tim quirks his lips. "If you're going to sleep through it at least don't snore," he says. "Ten years got me good at your type," he adds off Tony's mock-affronted look.

Tony thinks about defending his honor, but, hey, Tim's got his number and besides, there are other things he's more interested in. Like, "Is he your boyfriend?"

"Uh," says Tim, rubbing his neck and looking at the floor.

"It's not a trick question. Two choices, yes or no."

Tim meets Tony's eyes. "Mostly," he says. There's a moment's pause and then they both crack up.

"Definition, please."

"We haven't been antiquing together yet. I think there's a gay rule. Want me to use it in a sentence for you?"

"Yeah," says Tony because why not?

"I 'mostly' beat off to memories of you for my whole undergraduate years."

It's okay, Tony wasn't using that oxygen that just deserted him anyway. "I- You- Good sentence. I- Wow. What happened after that?"

"Tate Sanderson. And his, er, impressive appendage." Tim's grin is wicked; he knows exactly what he's doing. He's had ten years to get good at this, it's not playing fair.

Tony's had sex with a couple of other guys over the past decade because Tim had made him curious and he's never been good at not-knowing stuff, but there was no flirting, not even any conversation, really, just sex. This should be wrong and weird because Tim might not be a minor any more but in the law's eyes Tony still corrupted him and he should probably be feeling bad about that. He's more wondering if muscle memory applies to mouths and if it's a long-term thing.

"Lucky Tate," he says and wets his lips. For a humid climate, it's sure dry out tonight.

"Lucky me," says Tim. His eyes unfocus, looking over Tony's shoulder and his entire posture changes, shrinking into himself like the flirt got pricked out of him. "Who knew five minutes was so fast?" he says with the shy smile Tony still sees in flashes in dreams. Tim leans forward, grasping Tony's arm. "Come tomorrow."

"Maybe." Tony doesn't know why he doesn't just agree.

"You might learn something." Tim squeezes Tony's arm before letting go. "At worst you can catch up on your sleep."

"There's that," says Tony. "Okay, I'll try to be there."

"Do or do not. There is no try." Tim smiles again, giving his eyebrows a double twitch, and then he sidesteps around Tony and jogs away.

Tony turns around to watch him come to a halt by the 'mostly' boyfriend, bumping shoulders before they walk off together.

"Geek," he says under his breath, but for some reason he can't stop smiling. He's never stayed awake through a whole seminar before. Still, there's a first time for everything. Actually, it'll be his second first time where Tim's concerned. Another first in another ten years and they could be calling it a habit.

Tony's getting more impatient as he gets older, though. It's something to think about.


4. This is not an 'Ahhh' Situation

There's no dead body yet, just a UA that looks shonky at best and probably really scary at worst, and Gibbs and the XO he's questioning are off on some crazy reminiscing about the days were men were real men and everyone knew how to shine their shoes so they could deflect a bullet with their sparkle or something, so Tony allows himself the luxury of tuning out and looking around.

It's an ordinary room, functional and neat, not much cluttering the surfaces except for a few photographs on the mantelpiece. They're too far for him to make out clearly, but that's definitely a hot girl in one of them, long hair dark and wavy. There's a guy, too. Has his arm wrapped around a much younger girl--the same one, pre-hot era--in another picture. It's got to be the kids, Tony thinks, and has an inexplicable urge to get up and examine them more closely.

There's a pounding of feet, then, and the door flies open.

"And you are good to go, Dad. No one could get through your firewall, not even the Pent- Oh. Sorry. You have company."

Tony sees the newcomer--the XO's son--straighten up almost imperceptibly. Must be that military upbringing. It looks kind of funny on him, though, all soft round the edges that he is, like shoving a stick up a teddybear's butt.

"Agent Gibbs, Agent DiNozzo," says Commander McGee smiling broadly, "this is my son, Tim. He's just been fixing up my home network." He leans in as if he's imparting some great secret. "He's quite the genius, you know. Graduated MIT with a Master's by the time he was 21. Going to be director of computer forensics at the FBI before he's 30. Next stop, the world, eh, Timmy?"

"Dad, quit embarrassing me," says baby McGee and flashes a smile, half-proud, half-oh-my-god-please-stop.

Tony flicks his eyes back to the photographs, the kid used to have a lot more hair but the shy smile's the same. Something pings in Tony. Something that nearly makes him miss Gibbs saying, "Tony can count to twenty all by himself now."

"Hey!" says Tony.

Commander McGee laughs and his son does a double take at Tony that would be hilarious if it weren't for the fact that--oh Jesus god, no--the one blowjob that Tony's never quite managed to forget or file is standing right in front of him, looking like a fish slapped him in the face. Well, okay, not the blowjob itself, but hey, Tony's dealing with trauma, he shouldn't be expected to make sense.

Tony has to say something. Only, of course, he can't say something because the guy's dad is military and Tony doesn't know if there's a statute of limitations on retribution for an assist in the gaying of a son. Although the Commander obviously thinks the sun shines out of his kid's ass (and Tony really needs to not be thinking about ass right now) so maybe he's cool with the whole rainbow parade. Unless he doesn't know.

Tim is kind of hovering, sneaking glances at Tony, obviously not sure whether he should be out or in, which would make Tony snort but he's too busy waggling his eyebrows to signal, "Does he know you're gay?"

Tim's eyebrows volley back with the swift pull of "What the fuck?" and Tony repeats himself twice before there's a dawning of something that could be comprehension on Tim's face and he's doing this weird combination of bug eyes and face rubbing.

Tony sees the wedding band. Oh.

He waggles furiously again, ending with one eyebrow nearly through his hair line. "You're married to a guy and your dad doesn't know?"

Tim's responding escaping eyebrows can only be parsed as, "Are you insane?"

Well, Tony considers, there is some clinical evidence to suggest- He's about to do a complicated eye twirl and eyebrow dance thing to explain when,

"DiNozzo!"

Tony flinches, expecting the headslap despite Gibbs being out of reaching distance. He whips his head around to see Gibbs and Commander McGee looking at each other and shaking their heads, smiling.

"Kids," they chorus.

"Aren't you supposed to be writing this down?" asks Gibbs.

"What, boss."

"The names and addresses."

Tony does not say "What names and addresses?" because he'd like to minimize the brain damage he'll be receiving later, but he does say, "Sorry, boss," and flip open his pad.

Halfway through the third one Tony's distracted by Tim, who disappears with a minute jerk of his head. Tony assumes it's directed at him and not some random tick he's picked up from making his brain too heavy with sheer volume of stuff for daily use. He has to ask for a repeat, which earns him a murderous look from Gibbs. Tony's head stings in anticipation.

Job done, Tony counts out sixty seconds and then asks, "Can I use your facilities?"

"Sure, son," says the Commander. "Down the hall on the right."

Tim is waiting for him outside the room and drags him down the hallway into a closet under the stairs. It's small and musty and entirely dark and Tony senses the shifting air as Tim leans in toward him, reaching over his shoulder. Tony blames the stuffy warmth for the reason he's finding it hard to get his breath. Then Tim flicks the light on and straightens up.

"Light," he says.

"Oh," says Tony, and does not feel at all disappointed.

"So," says Tim.

Baby McGee is so uptight it's all Tony can do to stop himself slouching against the wall and putting on his best seductive drawl. But it would be like kicking a puppy and Tony's always been fond of dogs. "So."

"Oh my god," says Tim, deflating suddenly. "In front of my dad."

"I know," Tony nods vigorously. "In front of my- Um. In front of my boss." Oh, excellent, Tony thinks. Daddy issues. Isn't this all kinds of fun?

"Do you think they suspect?"

"What? That you sucked me off on day release from MIT when you were a minor? Probably not the first thing that's going to cross their minds."

"Johns Hopkins."

"What?"

"I wasn't at MIT yet. I just. I liked the hoodie, okay?"

Tony claps his hands over his mouth to stop the laughter escaping. "Oh god," he manages eventually. "Are you sure your name's not McGeek?"

"Wow, that's the first time I've heard that one. Look, despite how we're actually in a closet here, I'm not in the closet. I'm not gay."

Tony flashes back to Tim's desperation, to the way sucking Tony's dick had gotten him so hot he'd had to touch himself, coming hard with the taste of Tony still in his mouth.

"Okay," he says slowly.

"I'm married, Tony. To a woman. And yes, we do have sex. Good sex." Tim looks belligerent but he's telling the truth, Tony can tell.

Still. "So you're saying that if I told you to get on your knees right now and use your mouth for something better than talking you wouldn't be into that?"

Tim rubs his eyes with forefinger and thumb and then looks hard at Tony. "I'm saying I love my wife and I'm saying I'm not gay."

And Tony hears, "I'd do you in a heartbeat only I'm a good guy." And that's okay.

"I respect that," Tony says, and it turns out that that's true, too. "I won't say anything to anyone. I mean, I haven't in the last ten years, why start now?"

"Me either," says Tim. "Just out of interest, did you-? After me?"

"Nope. You're the exception that proves my rule, Timmy."

Tim grins with something that could almost be pride. "Nice," he says.

"Look, I better go. Gibbs is already going to be headslapping me from here to next Christmas and we've got a missing Petty Officer to find. Preferably with a heartbeat. Maybe I'll see you in another ten years."

"Maybe," says Tim, and flicks the light off again as Tony opens the door.

They're wrapping it up as Tony gets back and it's not long before he and Gibbs are heading for the car.

"What was going on with the son?"

Tony has long learned to control the brief urge to blurt out all and any truths to Gibbs and he says, "Um, nothing d-, er, boss."

Gibbs gives him a patented stare but Tony doesn't flinch. It's Gibbs that breaks first, pulling out his phone and dialing Kate.

Tony lets out an inward breath of relief. So the kid's married, huh? And happily it seems. Maybe he'll put a bet on the Marlins to beat the Yankee in the World Series. After all, stranger things have happened.


5. What Really Happened

"Why are you making him stay here?" asks Kate.

"Because I can."

Because fucking with newbies is fun and this one is so fuckable. With. Fuckable with. (Stupid slippery prepositions and their inability to stay where they're put.) With his mask and cap and his big, round eyes and big, round cheeks and his "yes sir's and his newfound Gibbs-fear, it's almost too easy.

Tony grins at Kate--who was a lot of fun in college--and then yells a "Be safe," over his shoulder. Might as well keep the guy on his toes.

There's a crash behind them and Tony whips around, one hand on his gun. It's too dark for details but he can make out the shape of a case that's split open and its innards are rolling shadows all over the tarmac. McGee isn't picking them up, though, he's standing absolutely still and staring in their direction. Jumpy or what?

"Don't just stand there, Agent McGee," yells Kate. "That's valuable equipment."

The kid snaps out of it with a visible shudder. "Yes ma'am. Sorry. I'll just..." He gets on his hands and knees and starts picking things up.

Tony and Kate exchange looks and resume their walk back to the car.

"If he's that clumsy now, think what he'll be like tomorrow on no sleep," says Kate.

Tony simply grins.

Never let it be said that Tony is completely made of evil, though. He's not above doing the odd solid for his inferiors, and besides, he'd had a great night's sleep, so a cup of coffee is the least he can do.

"Thank you, sir," says McGee, grabbing the cup with both hands. He sounds pathetically grateful. Gratitude is one of Tony's favorite emotions to work with. He's gotten everything from his homework finished to some of the best sex of his life through gratitude. Tony figures that for the coffee he'll get, at the least, complete obedience until the caffeine wears off. He wonders what he'd get if he threw in a donut.

They get into a rhythm, him and the kid. It's pretty plodding, no syncopation, and some beats get dropped, but McGee's trying so Tony gives him props for that. After all, he was green once, too.

The red head in the personnel office is hot. She's all buttoned-up and starched and competent, but Tony's willing to take bets she owns at least one non-regulation set of handcuffs and isn't afraid to use them.

"Uh, sir?" The bubble containing the naked Lieutenant doing very, very dirty things to Tony pops and he's left with the reality of Agent McGee. It's not quite the same.

"Yes."

"May I ask the Lieutenant a question?"

"McGee, you don't need to ask permission to ask a question. Unless you're thinking of asking her on a date."

"No sir, not my type."

Not his type. Huh. Hot body, attractive, strong. How is that not every man's type? What is McGee doing being so picky? Tony frowns, puzzled. Still, it's not his job be concerned about the kid's sex life, or lack of it, they've got an impostor to catch.

If Tony were going to have a secret entrance to a center of crazycakes operations hidden behind a bookcase, he wouldn't have a DSL cable leading behind it and not coming out again. The guy may be an evil genius for all Tony knows but he's shitty at not being obvious. He thinks about telling this to McGee but McGee's already attacking the keyboard as if it had insulted his mom.

"You've taken computer classes."

"Masters in Computer Forensics, MIT."

"I see."

There's something. There's something that's itching Tony softly at the back of his brain and he can't quite- And then McGee's sounding all Ruh-Roh, Shaggy, and spouting words with way too many syllables and Tony's having to admit he was a Phys Ed major to what looks like a certified genius and it's not polite to scratch in public anyway.

Tony relays the news of the eco-cell to Gibbs and Kate and then flops down on the porch steps. He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a crumpled paper bag. The yum yum is more of a mmhmm? being as how it's all squashed, but he splits it in half anyway and passes a piece to McGee who's hovering next to him.

"Sit down, McGee, you're making me nervous," he says.

McGee sits and looks at the pastry in his hand like it's the Second Coming. "I haven't eaten since yesterday," he says tipping his head back against a post and wrapping his mouth around the yum. He makes an obscene, happy grunt and closes his eyes.

Wow, is it really necessary to be pornographic over pastry? Does he want people to think he's good with- Oh.

Ohhhh.

Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.

Oh.

The quiet itch is full on hives now. He knows this. He knows it. All the pieces slot into place like a perfect game of Tetris and, as much as Tony really wants to be wrong, he knows he isn't. This is Tim, the boy Tony debauched, all growed-up. All growed-up and eating cake in a way that is making Tony feel queasy and maybe not for all the right reasons.

Tony leaps to his feet, bits of pastry fluttering around him as he squashes it in his hand. He's all sticky now and that's just- In the circumstances that is so wrong.

"Okay, break's over!" he says with his best cheery voice. "Gotta get the delivery system back to Abby and it's a long drive. Come on." He tries to surreptitiously wipe his hand off on the porch railings.

McGee gives him a funny look and hands him a handkerchief. Tony drops it as if he'd been scalded because what if it's the same one? The one that McGee--Tim--the kid--McGee--oh god he is so dead--had cleaned up on. How is Tony supposed to know the statistics on the longevity of handkerchiefs?

"Are you okay, sir?" asks McGee and Tony tries to figure out if McGee knows and if he knows Tony knows but there's nothing except real concern in his expression, so maybe it's going to be just fine. Maybe Tony will drop McGee back on base and then head on back to the Navy Yard and their paths will never cross again.

"So what’s Agent McGee like?" Abby asks, and Tony has to refrain from saying "Gay. Precocious. Good with his mouth. Not that great with personal safety."

"Ah, like most newbies. Quiet, green, gullible." Safe ground, Tony. Nice work.

"Bi?"

What? What is she doing? Reading his mind? Because what kind of question is that to ask? Maybe she'd picked up a vibe over the phone. Women were supposed to be good at that sort of thing, right?

"I don’t think so," Tony says, and doesn't add, "Because he's gay. Gay, gay, gay as a unicorn dancing on a rainbow, dressed like Liberace and singing 'Tiny Dancer'."

Abby gives him a look and more or less tells him he's an idiot. It's a fair assessment.

And then the case is done, Gibbs and Kate are finally off the submarine and Tony has a brief second of believing that things can get back to normal. Of course, he should never have forgotten that the definition of 'normal' got struck from his dictionary the second he joined NCIS because here's McGee all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and way too chirpy for it to be good for anyone. He's here to torture Tony, that's not a report on the case he's handing Gibbs, it's a detailed description of that night in Washington, he's here to take revenge on the man that took his innocence, he's here to...to date Abby?

Okay, so that's an interesting tactic. How does dating Abby get back at Tony? And getting a tattoo on his ass, surely that's a step too far? Tony stares after him, speechless. He'd better watch himself that's all. Abby's the kid sister Tony never wanted and if McGee hurts her he's going to need all the excellent health benefits the government provides.

Turns out the no paths crossing was too much to hope for. Point of fact it is verging on ridiculous how much random path crossing is going on. Are there no other agents at Norfolk any more? He'd think it was deliberate but McGee can only spread computer viruses, not real ones, and besides, he never does a single thing to suggest he's out to get Tony. Maybe he doesn't know. After all, it was a long time ago and it was dark. Tony's still surprised he recognized McGee after all these years, what with the floppy hair and the gangling both being long gone. McGee had just been a scared kid, he's probably repressed it all or something.

When McGee's promoted to the team, Tony considers either laughing or drinking himself sick but by now that seems like an overreaction. He likes the kid. Okay, so Tony might be a little mean to him here and there. Okay, okay, so a lot mean, but it's only because he doesn't want McGee getting ideas, especially after the whole shemale incident. It's kind of weird how vague McGee seems to be about his sexuality, though, what with the whole Abby thing, but Tony's not vague, dammit. (Dreams about a particular Probie's mouth do not count. It's not like Tony can help what his subconscious chooses to remember, although he can't decide if he's grateful or not that it's updated the incident to the present day.) Even if McGee doesn't know Tony is that Tony, he still can't miss the fact that Tony is hot. And awesome. There's a reason Gibbs has Rule #12 and Tony doesn't want to have to do awkward explaining.

So things settle down and Tony's just keeping a watchful eye on McGee who, for some reason, keeps expressing an interest in women. He has dates. And talks about reading women's magazines to get to know women. Tony, of course, knows he reads women's magazines because he is one, but it seems to be working on Agent Melankovic. Jane. And, really, someone should tell her she's barking up the wrong tree. It wouldn't take a lot for Tony to be persuaded to climb down from his branches, he's just saying.

And it's not exactly like McGee's doing a lot to hide his gayness beyond the odd reference to the female form. Tony's seen his apartment. There's not even a couch there so clearly he's having sex with guys because straight-to-bed-do-not-pass-go-do-not-have-to-cuddle-or-make-conversation-on-the-couch is living the dream, but only another guy is going to get that. Also, jeez, no self-respecting female (or even self-loathing bad hair day one) would let herself get laid among that tangle of wires and dinosaur cereal.

Then there's McGee's disclosure of the 'girlfriend' who collected Barbies. 'Girlfriend', Tony's ass. What self-respecting straight guy uses the word 'pumps'? Outside of it being related to iron and big muscles and sweaty men in the gym and, okay, this train of thought needs to be derailed. Luckily there's the Scott Baio incident to help with that. And really? Tony has to wonder if this is McGee's subtle way of coming out because whether it's Chachi or Charles in Charge that gets them going, it's the girls who are supposed to be screaming over Baio, not six-foot something field agents with a pleasing baritone and a penchant for shooting up pixels on a screen.

Add to that the muffins--poppyseed, really?--and McGee wiggling his ass and wanting to be judged--which, okay, maybe Ziva's right about the 4 out of 5 thing, it’s not Tony's place to say--and the evidence is pretty solid. So gay. So very gay.

Not that it matters, because McGee's a good agent and a good guy. It's not like his sexuality is important. It's not that Tony really cares who McGee prefers to do, it's just that, well, so the Abby excuse is long behind him but Tony can't help wanting to know. And he can't help wondering why it's such a big deal to keep it hidden. They're all friends, aren't they? Why can't McGee just say something?

And then the Probie kills a cop. Tony can't stand to see the way he can barely bring himself to stand up straight under the weight of it. So he goes over to the Apartment of Doom with the best of intentions, if McGee wants to play it straight then they'll hit on women, if he wants to 'fess up to something way less depressing than his first kill, Tony's got a list of gay bars ready to go. But when McGee is looking up at him big eyes all shiny and wet with unshed tears, lower lip jutting out and only just not quivering, Tony gets this urge out of nowhere to kiss him better. He doesn't, of course, it's just misplaced sympathy. He tells him about the pant-wetting instead. It's equivalent. Kinda.

It's okay, though. It's not like Tony's worried about his own sexuality just because of the wanting to kiss thing. He has that explained away, no problem, and it's not like it recurs. And the thing where he noticed the Director's haircut and Gibbs didn't? It's all about using his powers of observation. That's all.

And he isn't at all disturbed when the beautiful Agent Larson asks out McGee. Okay, yeah, he is disturbed by that. But only because McGee is his beard. No. Not his beard. His moustache? His something. Anyway, whatever, she was supposed to want Tony and not McGee. There is something fundamentally flawed with the universe if Tony's brilliant plan of brilliance brought about this weirdass conclusion.

Only this is when it starts getting annoying. Because there's Larson and then there's the hot chick on the iPod and, fine, fine, whatever, it has to be McGee's sister on the iPod because a) she's a first draft pick to Probie's minor league substitution and b) McGee is gay. Tony's not telling Ziva that, of course, the whole out and proud thing is up to the Probie. But, god, it's starting to drive Tony crazy.

It gets worse when McGee actually takes Agent Larson out. WHAT IS WITH THAT?

"Real men always kiss and tell," says Tony, but even that doesn't goad McLiar into the truth. WHAT WILL IT TAKE? WHAT? And seriously? If every time he looks at McGee he's going to be thinking in capslock, it isn't going to take Tony long before he loses it, calls McGee a cocksucker and means it literally.

That night Tony gets very drunk and jerks off angrily to the dirtiest porn he owns then gives himself a stern talking-to about workplace boundaries. He hopes he's listening.

It works for a few days. In fact, Tony's just getting a handle on respecting McGee's personal space when McGee calls him boss and it's. Wow. It's, no. It's not hot. Hot is what it's not. It's just. McGee's been all growed-up and they're this team now, even if Tony still rags on him and it's. Yeah. Wow. Boss. It makes Tony feel- Actually, he has no clue how it makes him feel apart from inarticulate. Boss. A man given to self-reflection would maybe try to figure out why that simple word provoked such a strong reaction. Unfortunately, Tony gives mud a run for its money in the reflective department, so that's not happening then.

And then Tony finds the face cream. And really, isn't this the signal that McGee's ready to step out of that closet he's been in for the last who knows how many years? Must be pretty cramped by now. So he brings it up to Ziva.

"Maybe the Probie is gay," he says.

But McGee denies it. Again.

"Bicurious," tries Tony and goes off on one about sensitivity and feminine glows and forgets to listen for the answer. Dammit. Listening. Should be in the top three of his ninja skills. Maybe he'll put it on his performance management for next year.

So he tries again. Tells McGee he's setting off gaydar across the entire Atlantic seaboard. It sounds like needling, it is needling, but he's trying to say look, come out, come out COME OUT before I have to kill you or fuck you over the desk in front of Gibbs and everyone to prove what you are. But McGee denies it. What is this? McGee as Peter the disciple? Because Tony doesn't remember much about Sunday School, but he remembers a cock crowing and it kind of seems relevant to the situation in hand--mouth--hand. Oh god. He's going insane.

And then Tony finds himself touching McGee's face and it's a good thing Gibbs comes in when he does because it really is soft like a bunny and he just wants to keep going with the touching and the stroking and McGee all obliging and close-eyed for that brief second before the boss turned up. It makes Tony go kinda weird inside.

Okay, Tony thinks, obviously McGee is happy in Narnia and this whole thing is getting all confusing for a DiNozzo so he backs off and tries to reconstruct the boundaries that he's smashed into pieces.

Then Gibbs blows up.

"Handkerchief," Tony demands, nose bloodied.

"I don't have one," says McGee and that's almost as shocking as the man launching himself out of the elevator and knocking Tony over.

"But you always have one," Tony wants to say. "Since you were sixteen."

But what if McGee's changed? What if he doesn't carry handkerchiefs anymore? What if Tony is using a really bad linen-based metaphor for McGee's apparent gayness or lack thereof? Why is this even a problem?

Then he hears about the slapfight between Abby and Ziva and forgets all about it. After that there's the whole Gibbs Goes To Mexico crisis and then it's two months later and Tony can't remember the last time he tried to out McGee or the last time McGee wasn't anything but exactly what Tony needed him to be.

They're heading back from the Naval Observatory after investigating the unexplained death of Seaman Apprentice Carlew. Turns out the butler did it. That is, Jeb Butler, the ex. They'd gotten the phone-call from the District Police just as McGee was getting over-excited about the size of the telescopes. ("It's not how big they are, McHubble, it's what you do with 'em," Tony had said.) The guy, Butler, is all remorse, apparently, and had turned himself in. The LEOs will keep him overnight and release him to NCIS in the morning. Job done.

The car breaks down exactly one minute after Tony says, "That was easy, we'll have you in bed before 10, McGee." He considers spending a half hour pretending he knows how engines work but McGee gives him a look and says it's not a '67 Chevy, Tony, it's complicated and if the onboard chip is fried there's nothing either of them can do to fix it. Tony refrains from making a snippy remark about the awesome simple complexity of the Chevy engine and calls the fleet pool.

"Well, thank you, too, Chuck," says Tony acidly, and flips his phone shut with a snap. He turns to McGee. "We're not high priority. We have no breasts and we're in a built up area with public transport. So we can wait with the car or we can start walking."

"How long?"

"Couple hours at least."

"I vote walk then, boss. I have to be home by 9."

"You know you don't have to impose your own curfew, McGee, you're a big boy now."

"I'm meeting some people. Online. For a game. Shut up."

"I said nothing," says Tony, lifting his hands in his best display of sincerity. "Come on. Cab or bus, whichever comes first." He sets off without waiting.

"I think this is the wrong way, Tony," says McGee after a couple of minutes. "Shouldn't we be headed south east?"

"Think? Should? Those words have no place in your vocabulary, McGee," says Tony, continuing to walk. Don't change your mind, that's a sign of weakness. No, wait, isn't that an apology? Screw it, Gibbs isn't here and Tony gets to change up anything he wants.

"Wrong really needs to have a place in yours," mutters McGee.

"What's that, McMumble?"

"Nothing, boss," says McGee and falls into step beside him.

This is, of course, the second that the threatening clouds stop threatening and get on with the business of heavy pounding. The rain is torrential and in seconds they're already drenched. Tony points at a building a couple hundred yards up the street. It has a porch running the length of its side.

"Run."

They run. From under the safety of the stone porch Tony peers out at the dark clouds.

"That does not look good," he says, and turns towards McGee, shaking himself like a dog. Water droplets fly everywhere.

"Thanks for that, Tony," says McGee. "I'd be pissed only it's like throwing a cup of water into the ocean." He pulls off his jacket and whacks at it ineffectually.

Tony grins. "You look like an unfinished wet shirt competition. Like, oh no! Protect the nipples!" He makes circular motions in the air with his fingers.

"What are you-? Oh." McGee looks down at himself. There's a wet stripe down the middle of his shirt but the rest of it is dry. He looks back at Tony. "You're no better. I can see exactly where you've been putting those extra donuts."

"Hey! More respect for the boss." Tony checks himself out. Huh, McGee is such a liar, Tony's shirt is clinging to him in just the right way. He's still got it.

"Sure. Sir." McGee shrugs back into his jacket.

"Thank you." Tony leans back against the wall, watching the rain pound down against the gravel. Some of it bounces back, some of it soaks right in. It would probably be a metaphor for life or something but Tony's not feeling philosophical right now, he's feeling tired. He leans his head back against the stone.

It takes him a full two minutes to realize the only things he can hear are the rain and the odd vehicle passing by. McGee is completely silent, Tony can't even hear him breathe. He opens his eyes and seeks McGee out. He's about six feet away and staring at Tony, white-faced. When Tony catches his eye he blinks away quickly.

"What's wrong, McGee?"

"Nothing, boss." McGee shoves his hands in his pockets and twists his lips. Yeah, right, nothing.

"I was just thinking we could probably face the rain. It's not so bad," McGee adds after a few seconds.

"Shut up, McGee."

"Got it, boss."

Tony surveys their situation. They could face the rain but this is an expensive suit and he's not ruining it so McGee can get home and play at being elves and fairies. And besides, it's not so bad here in this porch type thing. It's cool and out of the rain and, you know, nice arches. Very churchy, come to think of it. Oh!

"We could go in to the church, McGee. Get dry. Maybe get the priest to break out the bread and wine."

"It's not a real church, Tony," says McGee, refusing to meet Tony's eyes. "It's converted."

And just like that Tony knows where they are. And Tony knows that McGee knows and if he doesn't stop staring like one of Ducky's corpses, McGee is going to know that Tony knows and that Tony knows McGee knows and it was a whole 'knowing' thing that started this whole nightmare in the first place.

"Uh," he says, and that's when he realizes his mouth's hanging open.

"Oh god," says McGee, going slack-jawed himself. "You-?"

"U-huh. And you-?"

"Obviously."

"How long have you-?"

"First day on the job when you yelled at me to be safe. You?"

"The next day. You with the-" Tony waves his hands around in an attempt to describe just how disturbing the yum yum incident had been to his delicate psyche.

McGee inflates like someone stuck a bicycle pump up his ass. "You've made me walk on eggshells for two and a half years waiting for the other shoe to drop and you knew all this time. What is wrong with you?"

"What's wrong with me? What's wrong with you, McGee? You can't mix egg and shoe-related metaphors, it can't be done. And besides, I was the one guilty of a federal crime. Excuse me for not introducing you around as Agent McGee-who-had-my-dick-in-his-mouth-when-he-was-but-a-lad. Are you insane?"

McGee deflates a little, but looks thoughtful. "Is that why you rag on me the whole time?"

"No," says Tony. "That's because I love it when you pout, McGee."

McGee narrows his eyes.

"Okay, okay so a little bit, yes. I didn't want you to go getting ideas."

"Ideas about what?"

"You know about what. What about. What." Tony growls. Dumbass prepositions.

"No," says McGee, mouth set in a stubborn line, even though Tony knows he knows.

"Me. I didn't want you getting all ideas about me."

"Because."

"Because I'm not gay."

"And neither am I." McGee has his 'I'm talking to a mental patient voice' on and Tony thinks he might kill him.

"What do you mean, you're not gay? Might I just say, McGee, I beg to differ."

"And how exactly would you know, Tony?"

"Well-" starts Tony and the flash of sense memory he gets is vicious. McGee's lidded eyes, his mouth stretched and shiny around Tony's dick, the smooth strands of hair tangled in Tony's fingers. It's all he can do not to double up under the force of it.

"Sexuality is not an either or option," McGee is saying. "You should know that, Tony, you had gay sex and you liked it. Doesn't make you gay."

McGee's hair is slicked back with rain, his eyes big and dark and his lower lip is stuck out just about as far as it goes. He's not sixteen any more, he hasn't been for a long time. He's the guy Tony relies on every day of their working lives. He's the guy that gives as good as he gets and makes Tony laugh or roll his eyes or clap his hands in glee at his smarts. Sure, Tony's awesome, but McGee? He's just as awesome in his own way. And Tony finally gets it, that what happened all those years ago, however McGee defines his sexuality now, it’s not important. Because McGee is McGee and that's all that matters.

Only that's not entirely true. Without letting himself think about what he's doing, Tony takes a few steps towards McGee, getting in nice and close. It's not that Tony doesn't understand the concept of a personal bubble, he just chooses to ignore it. He puts out a hand.

"Show me your handkerchief, McGee," he says.

"Why?"

"Just do it."

McGee reaches into his pocket and pulls out a clean, folded handkerchief, putting it into Tony's open palm. For no reason Tony wishes to explore right this second, he is ridiculously relieved.

"Ha, ha! Handkerchief, I knew it!" he says, closing his fist around it.

"Um, okay," says McGee, taking a step backwards. He jerks a thumb in the direction they'd come from. "Did you leave your sanity back in the car, boss? Because I could go and get it if you want. No problem."

"No," says Tony, "See, it's proof." He takes another step forward, closing the distance between them again.

"Proof of what?"

"That you haven't changed. Not really. You're just the same, only with less hair and more padding. You're still you." He squeezes McGee's arm and doesn't add, "You still want me."

"Tony, don't-" says McGee and tries to pull away, teetering on the edge of the porch before over-balancing and pulling them both into the rain. Tony makes a grab for a pillar and McGee grabs at Tony's tie and somehow they manage to stay upright, pressed up against each other and it's the easiest thing ever for Tony to finish the job, to lean in and kiss McGee as the rain washes the world clean.

Tony's barely had a chance to register the warmth of McGee's lips, to slide his hand through the wet strands of hair when McGee is shoving at his chest and stepping away, wiping his mouth and shaking his head.

"You're my boss. We can't- I can't- I had this figured out, Tony. Don't."

"McGee." Tony reaches for him but he sidesteps away.

"I...I...I gotta go. I'll see you tomorrow, boss. It's okay, this never happened, we're cool." He turns on his heel and flees.

"Not cool," says Tony, knocking his head off of the stone pillar. "Not cool at all." He turns up his collar, glares up at the clouds and sets off back to the car. The breakdown service should be there any hour now.

He's on his third beer wondering if there's such a thing as a bicurious epiphany when the knocking starts. He briefly considers ignoring it, but he just knows it's a whole Schrödinger's door issue. If he doesn't answer it, it will be three Playboy bunnies looking for a little help in fluffing their tails and he'll have missed out on the most awesome sex of his life, if he does, it'll be Mr. Margolis from next door wanting him to unblock the drain again and Tony's beginning to develop a phobia of beard clippings.

"Coming," he says. And then, "Door number three," as he opens it to reveal McGee, dry and nervous-looking.

"Hi."

"Hi."

"Can I come in?"

"Guess so."

McGee takes a couple of steps into the apartment and then hovers. It should be annoying, it almost is.

"What is it, McGee? I'm tired." Tony pinches his forehead between forefinger and thumb and rubs. Bad enough that he's only just admitting to himself that he wants what he can't have without the guy doing the withholding standing in his apartment looking like seven different flavors of ice cream. There are probably laws against it. And if there aren't, there should be.

"I think I...Can we have sex, now?"

Tony laughs, startled and hopeful. "What, no conversation and cuddling on the couch? I was so right about you."

"Huh?" And, okay, if Tony's not supposed to use cutesy adjectives on a grown man, then McGee needs to not look like that when he's confused because there's no manly equivalent for adorable.

"Never mind. Didn't you blow me off earlier?"

McGee takes a step towards Tony and plucks at his t-shirt. "I had this thing where I was worried about breaking the rules but then I remembered I already messed with a marine's coffee so-"

"So," echoes Tony, sliding a hand around McGee's hip. His heart thuds a little faster. Must be the beer catching up with him.

"I'm really crappy at casual sex, Tony."

"That's not how I remember it."

McGee pulls a face. "Bad time for flippancy, DiNozzo."

"One step at a time, okay?"

"Okay." McGee nods, determined, with that so familiar pout, and Tony can't understand how he's managed to resist that mouth for so long. He kisses McGee for the second time. Only now there's no rain in his eyes, no hands pushing him away, instead there's the faint taste of mint and that lip, that full, expressive lip sucked into Tony's mouth, soft and warm.

"Step one," says Tony, breaking the kiss and pulling McGee with him into the bedroom.

Tony's given up being surprised by what he wants, it's his own fault for not paying attention, so when step two turns out to be him on his knees, unfastening McGee's pants it doesn't come as any kind of shock to realize how much he wants it. It seems reasonable, even, that they've come full circle.

McGee's hard, ramrod straight (the irony is not lost) and flushed dark. Tony has never been this up close and personal to an erection before (he's tried, but he's never been that bendy) and it's kind of exhilarating, a little scary and a lot hot at the same time. Tony knows that while he may be inexperienced he's never lacked enthusiasm and one way or another he's going to give McGee a good time. He wraps a hand around the shaft and gives the head an experimental lick. McGee hisses an inward breath and Tony jerks his head up to see if he's doing wrong. But McGee's looking down at him, eyes half-closed, a smile edging his lips so it's all good.

He reapplies himself to McGee's dick and sucks it in, cheeks hollowing around the head, tongue pressing it up, up against the roof of his mouth. And here's the thing, it feels great. It feels incredible. Its not just the noises he's pulling from McGee, the moans and the panting and the chanting streams of babble, it's the physical sensation of McGee's dick distorting Tony's mouth, it's knowing McGee trusts him not to fuck this up. Only a guy can understand how attached another guy is to his penis, it stands to reason. Only a guy can really appreciate what a blowjob really means. Tony can't believe it's the first time he's ever figured this out.

He needs to touch himself so badly it's killing him. He's humping the air as he sucks and licks and strokes and, dammit, he should've worn jeans because the sweats he's in aren't giving nearly enough friction. McGee's hands squeeze Tony's shoulders hard and there's a bitter taste in his mouth.

"Really. Close," McGee pants.

Tony lets go of the shaft and presses his palm flat but gently against McGee's balls. His mouth is flooded with warm, thick liquid and Tony's automatic response is to gag and spit it out, but no way is McGee getting the better of him on this one. He swallows and sucks until there's nothing left, running his tongue lazily over the tip before he lets it fall from his mouth. He looks up, grinning and wiping his mouth with one hand, the other already in his pants.

"Let me help you with that," says McGee, pulling at Tony's shirt.

"No time." And really, there's not, because it's maybe five strokes, possibly ten, and Tony's coming in sharp, bright pulses, curling his toes. "Good thing it's laundry day tomorrow," he says, rocking back on his heels and pulling out his spunk-covered hand. "I should really buy some handkerchiefs if I'm gonna be spending more time with you, McGee."

"Step three," says McGee, swiping the tissues from beside the bed and handing them to Tony, "Shut up, DiNozzo."

"Linen ones with embroidered initials," says Tony, and ducks.


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