Oh, The Places You'll Go

Work Up a New Appetite

Notes: Written for picfor1000, 2010. You can see my prompt picture here. Nom nom nom. Read-through by dearest soupytwist. ♥ No warnings, no spoilers.

It started with the spaghetti. Which, okay, taken out of context might sound weird. Unless you're talking dinner and Tony is, only he's not, not really, and anyway- Crap. Start again.

It started with the spaghetti.

Tim wanders into Tony's kitchen where Tony is manfully battling with a particularly gnarly cork and says, "Can I help?"

Tony tells him to check the pasta and then yelps as a flying noodle spins past his head to splat on a cupboard door.

"What the-?" he exclaims. "I said check it, not weaponize it, McOppenheimer."

"It's ready," shrugs Tim, with a grin. "See, it's sticking."

"Are you insane?"

"Old scouting trick. Not exactly reliable, but it has a certain value." His grin flashes wider. "You should see your face."

"Shut up and drain the spaghetti."


Tony finds himself smiling at Tim's back, the wine forgotten. He should probably peel the pasta off his cupboard before he has to chip it off with a chisel.

Ziva and Abby are in a heated debate on the relative merits of long hair versus short hair on guys.

"Michael Bolton!" declares Abby. "Case proved!"

"Ah, yes, but there's the elf man to take into account," counters Ziva and Tony's lost.

It's okay, though, because he's watching McGee eat the spaghetti that's survived wall-flinging. He twirls flawless forkfuls that have no escaping strands or dangly ends and are the exact same size every time. Nothing flicks off and stains his shirt or his chin or cheek (or like in one memorable case for Tony, someone else's forehead), not a drop. It's perfection, is what it is. Tony's mesmerized.

"What?" says Tim. "Do I have something in my teeth?"

"No," says Tony. "No, you don't."

The next time it's his turn to host the Friday dinner he makes corn on the cob. Just to see.

The way Tony handles it is this: he slathers butter over the whole thing and attacks it at random, dipping it back in the melted butter that's dripped onto his plate. By the time he's finished there are half kernels of corn left sticking all over it. It looks like a kid's been let loose with a bottle of peroxide and blunt scissors. He needs napkins. Many napkins.

The way Tim handles it is this: he smears butter along a few rows and then holding each end of the cob with the tips of his fingers painstakingly nibbles his way along them with perfect teeth, left to right. Rotate, rinse, repeat. When he's done it's entirely bald, no wastage. He dabs his mouth with his napkin and sets it down. No great, greasy handprints for him.

Tony is so fascinated he ignores Abby three times and that's how he winds up limping for the next week.

Maybe Tim's just good with the grains, though, so Tony keeps up the experiment. He consults etiquette guides and over the next few weeks he tries cherry tomatoes (Tim pops them whole into his mouth--Tony might even say sucks them--and chews with no escaping pips reaching terminal velocity), artichokes (Tim strips the leaves and choke like a pro at the same time as holding down a discussion on the finer points of MMORPGs--it's almost beautiful except for the mind-numbing detail), lobster (which Tim dismantles and eats like a work of art, and not one of those ones by the guy who sticks one eye in the middle of the forehead and paints people with three arms all facing in different directions) and finally, a banana.

They're out in the field for this one, sitting on a curb waiting for Ziva and Gibbs to return with the car and Tim's whining about being hungry. Tony doesn't think about it, just rummages in his backpack and hands over a banana.

"Hey, thanks," says Tim and starts to peel it.

Tony stares at him with unabashed fascination. He's going to take that banana and... Tim reaches into his pocket, flicks open his penknife, slices the top off the banana and tosses it into his mouth.

Tony flinches, automatically squeezing his legs tight together, and is filled with a sensation of deep, deep disappointment.

And that's when it all falls into place. His obsession with Tim's mouth isn't to do with what Tony sees going into it, but with what he wants to go into it.

Oh god, how does he never see these things coming?

Thing is, he figures later, he could try and forget all about it, but surely, as senior agent it's his job to make sure McGee knows how to eat a banana the manly way, right? Looking back on that sentence, Tony wonders just how long he's been sexually confused. It may be a lot longer than he thinks.

It's tricky, though, and Tony finds he's doing a lot of staring at Tim and his stupid attractive mouth, which is not so awesome for productivity. He stays late to get finished up with his report, only Tim has some computer thingy to run and stays behind, too. It's... unhelpful. He stares some more, trying to beam, "You know, it's okay to do me," into Tim's head.

After a while, Tim heaves a sigh and says, "What do you want, Tony?" so maybe it's not working so well.

Fuck it, thinks Tony. Just. Fuck it. He leans back on his chair. "Justice, truth, a whole bunch of stuff I'm not going into right now. Are you going to get over here and kiss me or not?"

Tim's head jerks up and his mouth--beautiful mouth--drops open. "What?"

"Um," says Tony, sitting back up and watching his confidence slink off for an illicit liaison with his dignity. "If you want to, I mean. I can't. Your mouth. It's very distracting."

"Huh," says Tim. "You think so?" A smile spreads across his face and Tony knows that everything is going to work out just fine.

"Tell me," says Tony. "How do you feel about cherries?"

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