AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Anthony DiNozzo/Timothy McGee
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Tim realizes he has feelings that go beyond those of friendship and co-worker for Tony. However, more than one thing stops him from acting on them.
WORD COUNT: 2,960
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for birggitt: H - Holding back
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
When Tim first thought his feelings for Tony went deeper than those of a friend and co-worker, he not only ignored them, he also laughed at himself and told himself he must have a fever or had had too many late nights or was even beginning to go mad.
Why on earth would he like someone who was basically a bully? Someone who seemed to take delight in putting Tim down at all and every opportunity? Someone who took pleasure in playing tricks on Tim and seeing him fall for them? Someone who didn't have any respect for anyone other than Gibbs and maybe Ducky? Someone who needed to grow up and stop acting as if was the only person in the world who had ever had problems with his father? Someone who had to be the center of attention at all times? Someone who thought, who actually believed, he was right at all times and everyone else was wrong? Someone who appeared to be homophobic? Someone who hit on every woman he saw and took pleasure in boasting about all the women he'd slept with? Why would he want to like someone like that? So he ignored the feelings and told himself he didn't feel them and went on putting up with Tony's teasing and putting him down.
Until one day he stopped and really thought about Tony and his teasing and flirting and bullying and realized it had a pattern to it. He was sitting at his desk, apparently concentrating fully on what he was doing on his computer, but given it was something he could have done in his sleep, his attention was actually on Tony and the latest woman who he had his eye on and on whom he was using his usual chat-up lines.
Tim watched as Tony went into his routine, flattering her, being just a little sexist, making out that he was the greatest man ever, inviting her out for a drink and other things. And everything was going as it normally did until the woman called Tony's bluff and turned the tables on him and started to be as aggressive, as sexist, as pushy as Tony was. In an instant Tony suddenly 'remembered' an urgent phone call he had to make and had run, yes, he really had run, away from her. He didn't like aggressive woman; he had to be the aggressor. And suddenly Tim realized that lot of Tony's act with women was just that: an act.
A few days later he observed Tony's reaction when a young agent on another team knocked Tony's coffee over and a few drops splashed onto Tony's jacket. Tony shrugged it off, saying it could happen to anyone and that he'd been intending to take his suit to be cleaned anyway. Tim recalled a similar occurrence when he had knocked Tony's coffee over. Tony hadn't held it against him as long as Gibbs tended to do, but he had made Tim not only buy him another cup of coffee but also made him pay for his jacket to be cleaned.
A few days after that, Team Gibbs was assigned a temporary, probationary agent to help with one aspect of the case they were working on. Tony was not only polite and respectful to the young man, he not only listened to his ideas, he actively encouraged him to share them and patted him on the back when his suggestions had proven to be correct.
As he drove home Tim once let his thoughts drift to Tony and suddenly he realized what it was. It wasn't that Tony was a bully or had no respect for people or took great pleasure in playing practical jokes and putting Tim down - well he was, but he had a good reason for it. For all his apparent self-assuredness, Anthony DiNozzo was actually more than a little insecure. He put Tim down, he played jokes on him, he treated him as he did because he feared Tim; or rather he feared his place on the team, his place in Gibbs's affections.
Tony had to be Gibbs's right hand man and when he came across anyone who was smarter than him, more intelligent than him, more versatile than him, someone whom Gibbs liked, respected and listened to, Tony had to go out of his way to belittle that person, to in effect bully them, because he couldn't face the day coming when he'd be second in Gibbs's eyes, at least as far as the field team went. He'd accepted, he had to accept, that both Ducky and Abby were more important to Gibbs than he was, that Gibbs liked them more than he liked Tony, but that was okay, because they weren't members of the field team; Gibbs didn't spend as much time with either of them as he did with the field team.
Tim was very intelligent; Tim was versatile; Tim learned quickly; Gibbs liked Tim; Gibbs respected Tim; Gibbs listened to Tim; Gibbs told him 'good job'. And so Tony feared one day Gibbs would not only move Tim up in his affections but also move him up on the team.
"Oh, Tony," Tim murmured, as he pulled up outside his apartment, "as if that would ever happen."
Okay, so he now understood some, in fact most, of Tony's behavior and why he did what he did, why he acted as he did, why he treated Tim as he did - but that didn't mean he would now act on his growing feelings for Tony. He couldn't; there was no point, because even though he'd sorted out one thing, one big thing it had to be said, the thing that still remained was that Tony was homophobic. He'd proved it enough times for Tim to be quite certain. He never quite crossed the line whereby Gibbs would throw him off the team, but it was clear for all to see. No, Tim was better off just pushing aside the feeling he had for Tony, and be happy to be his friend and co-worker. That would be enough; that had to be enough.
FRIDAY NIGHT TWO MONTHS LATER
Gibbs turned his computer off, stood up, pulled his coat on and pushed his Sig into the pocket; briefcase in hand he headed towards the elevator. "Go home, all of you," he said as he walked past the member of his field team.
Gibbs stopped and turned around. "What part of 'go home, all of you' didn't you understand, DiNozzo?"
Tony flushed slightly and Tim felt a flash of sympathy for him. "I just - Go home. Right, boss. On it, boss." And after staring at Gibbs for a second or two, Tony hastily stood up. "Well," he said, looking at Ziva and Tim, "you heard the boss, go home."
Ziva didn't need telling twice and before Tim had turned his screens off she was on her feet. "Good night," she called as she hurried towards the elevators.
"Night, Ziva," Tim called. He stood up himself and took his Sig from his desk drawer. Tony was still at his desk and suddenly Tim heard himself saying. "Would you like to go for a drink, Tony?" He cursed himself even as he said it and waited for Tony to remind him that it was Friday night and that he already had plans and exactly what his plans looked like and - "I'm sorry," he was forced to say, as he realized Tony had answered him and he hadn't heard him. Again he silently cursed himself as he waited for Tony, in true Tony fashion, to start laughing at him or something
However, Tony just gave him a gentle smile and said, "I said I'd like to."
"You would?" What was happening to him? Why was he turning into an imbecile?
"Yes, Tim, I would."
But Tim still wasn't convinced that Tony wasn't winding him up. "Don't you have a date?" he asked.
Tony shrugged and held Tim's gaze. "No," he said softly. "Do you?"
Tim gave him a rueful grin. "No," he said.
"Well then; shall we go?" Tim nodded and grabbed his coat. "In fact," Tony said as they headed towards the elevators, "how about making it dinner? I know this new Italian place, not many people know about it yet, so it's never busy, not even on a Friday."
Before he really thought about it, Tim found himself saying, "Sounds good to me."
Tim took Tony's advice when it came to ordering the food and while they waited for the main course they each had a beer. They talked mainly to begin with about work and the current case and then Tony told him he was planning on spending a week in the summer with his dad, but asked Tim not to tell anyone else. In turn Tim confessed he'd been thinking about his dad recently and of ways to maybe get back on proper speaking terms with him.
Before he knew it two hours had gone by and they were still in the restaurant, still talking as they drank Italian coffee and some liquor that Tony had insisted they had to have. "We should do this again," Tony said staring across the table at Tim.
Tim smiled and tried not to sound too pleased when he said, "We should."
Then to his surprise Tony said, "Maybe one time we could ask Dorneget to come with us."
"Dorneget?" Tim said, "Ned Dorneget?"
Tony looked at him. "Is there another Dorneget at NCIS?"
"Well, no, but -" Tim stopped speaking and glanced away from Tony.
"But what? Come on, McGeek, what have you got against Dorneget?"
Tim looked up and frowned. "Me, nothing. But . . ."
Tim sighed and leaned forward. "You do know he's gay, don't you?"
Tony shrugged. "Sure."
"And you still want him to come out to diner with us?"
Tony stared at Tim. "Why wouldn't I?"
Tim leaned forward even more. "Because, Tony, you're . . . You have . . . You seem to have a . . . A problem with gay men."
"I do not."
"No- What makes you think that?" Tony looked genuinely surprised.
"Tony! Look at the time you went on about me being gay, after you went through my desk drawers and found the moisturizing cream I had."
"The deep moisturizing cream." Tony grinned.
Tim rolled his eyes. "All right, the deep moisturizing cream. You went on and on about it, Tony, you -"
"Went too far? Yeah, I know I did, Tim, and I know it was a few years ago, but I'm sorry, I gave you such a hard time about it. I'm sorry I was really horrible, wasn't I?"
Tim looked at Tony. "Yes, Tony, yes, you were."
"Sorry," Tony said again and to Tim's surprise he put his hand over Tim's and squeezed it for a moment. "So what else makes you think I have a problem with gay men?" he said after a moment or two.
"How about that time you kissed that woman who was actually a man?"
"That was different."
"Come on, Tim, can you tell me if you'd kissed someone you thought was a woman and it turned out to be a man that you'd just shrug it off? Can you?" Tim thought about it for a minute, but before he could reply, Tony went on. "I mean it's one thing to kiss a man when you know it's a man, but kissing a man when you think he's a woman is . . . Well, different." He glanced away from Tim.
"You know what, Tony," Tim said slowly, "you're right. It is. Sorry," he said. Tony frowned. "For giving you such a hard time about it."
Tony shrugged. "Yeah, well, it was mainly Kate, not you." His voice was low and he seemed to be looking into the distance.
"If I could have traded places with Kate, I would have," Tim said quietly.
Tony looked at him and again covered his hand. "I know you would have, Probie."
They just sat and looked at one another as the waiter arrived to refill their coffee cups. To Tim's surprise Tony didn't snatch his hand away or make a joke or do anything as the waiter quietly filled their cups and went away again.
Tony took a sip of the coffee, looked Tim directly in the eyes and said quietly, "So, Probie, have you ever kissed another guy?"
Tim froze and then to his horror he felt his cheeks begin to burn; he glanced away from Tony's gaze, shrugged and said. "Okay, Tony, yes, I have. I was fifteen; he was my best friend and we messed around. So what do you want to make of it?"
Tony blinked. "Nothing. Don't be so defensive, Tim."
Tim swallowed a scathing reply and instead said, "What about you?"
He wasn't surprised when Tony looked away from him and he waited for the 'don't be stupid' or some other comment that would make him feel as if he were fifteen again. "No. But I regret it."
Tim blinked. "What? Why?"
"I was sixteen and my best friend was dying, cancer. He asked me for one thing, to kiss him, and I was too much of a coward. I bought him stuff instead - gave it to his mom or dad to give to him as I was too much of a coward even to see him."
This time it was Tim who covered Tony's hand. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, realizing again there really was far more to Tony than the façade he presented to the world.
Tony shrugged. "I made myself go to his house one day, I told myself I'd - I don't know if I would have, if I could have, but it didn't matter. I was too late; he'd died the night before."
Tim squeezed Tony's hand more tightly. "I'm sorry, Tony," he said again.
Tony looked at him. "Yeah, Tim. So am I." He was silent for a moment then he said quietly, "I vowed I'd never make the same mistake again. But like so many things I promise, it was just another crappy vow."
"I don't understand, Tony. Has someone else you know been dying and you haven't done what they asked you to do?"
Tony shook his head. "No. But I have held back when I should have acted or should have said something. That's what I meant."
The way he was looking at Tim made Tim's mouth become suddenly very dry; he reached for the liquor Tony had insisted they have and took a tiny sip. Surely Tony couldn't mean . . . Could he? He was staring intently at Tim, looking at him in a way he'd never looked at him before. What if he . . . ? Dare he risk saying anything? Did he want to say anything? Did he actually want to be more than just a friend and co-worker to Tony?
The answer came instantly: yes. He wanted it more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. He opened his mouth. "Tony -" he said, just as Tony said he his name. He instantly deferred to Tony. "After you."
"I was only going to say I've got some cold beers in my fridge, it you felt like one. It is Saturday tomorrow."
Tim swallowed hard and nodded. "I'd like that, Tony," he said.
Tony handed Tim a bottle of beer and waved his hand in the direction of the couch. "Thanks," Tim said, taking the beer and sitting down on the couch.
After a second or two Tony sat down next to him, not overly close, but slightly closer than Tim felt was usual. He took a quick swallow of beer and then began to turn the bottle around in his hands and looked down at his hands. "So," he said. "Have you kissed any other guy since you kissed your best friend?"
Tim shook his head and took a sip of his beer. "No," he said.
Tony was silent for a moment before he took another swallow of beer and looked up this time turning his head to look at Tim. "Have you ever wanted to?" His voice was low.
Tim froze and more for something to do than because he actually wanted any more beer, he put the bottle to his lips and took another sip. Finally, he threw caution to the wind, mentally crossed his fingers and said quietly, "Yes."
Tony didn't move; he didn't even blink. He just went on staring at Tim. "Why haven't you?"
Tim took a deep breath and said quietly, "Rule 12."
Tony nodded slightly. "Is that the only reason?"
Tim shook his head. "No."
"So what's stopped you?"
Again Tim mentally crossed his fingers. "What's stopped you from saying or doing whatever it was you wanted to do or say?"
Tony grinned at him. "Rule 12?" he made it a question.
Tim gave him a quick smile. "And?" he asked.
"And I doubted," Tony paused for a second, took a quick sip of beer and said firmly, "he'd be interested in me."
Tim stared at him, took a sip of his beer and said softly, "I'm sure he would be."
"Are you now, Timmy?"
Tim nodded. "Yes, Tony. I am. In fact I'm not just sure; I'm positive." And with that, he put his beer down on the table, snatched Tony's from his hand and put that down next to the bottle he'd put down. Then his gaze never leaving Tony's face he leaned closer to Tony and kissed him.