AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Timothy McGee/Jimmy Palmer
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Tim arrives at the Navy Yard on the first working day of the New Year to find a single rose on his desk. He has no idea who put it there, but to begin with he thinks it's some kind of joke and then more roses appear.
WORD COUNT: 4,280
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for angstytimelord: R - Roses
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Taking care not to slip over, Tim made his way across the icy and bitterly cold car park and into the warmth of the Navy Yard. He showed his ID to the security guard and wished him a Happy New Year before he took the elevator up to the squad room. Even though he wore gloves he could barely feel his fingers and it took him two attempts to press the right button.
As the elevator stopped and the doors opened he unwound the scarf he'd wrapped around his neck and undid his overcoat. There were very few people in the squad room at this early hour; most of those who had made it in were holding mugs of what Tim presumed to be hot drinks and chatting to one another. As he made his way through the room several called out to him wishing him a Happy New Year and he returned the greeting.
He reached his desk, put his bag down and pulled off his overcoat even as he was leaning over his desk to turn his computer screens on. He suddenly stopped and stared down at his desk; there in the middle of his completely clear desk was a rose - a white rose - in a small vase, the kind that held a single flower.
Tim blinked and rubbed his eyes before looking down at the desk again to see if somehow he'd imagined it. But no, in effect staring back up at him, there was the rose. Tim pulled off his gloves, rubbed his hands together to get the circulation going, blew on his fingers and then carefully reached out one finger and touched the still partly folded petals. It was a real rose. He picked the vase up and sniffed the rose; its scent was very faint. Tim glanced around him, but no one was paying him any attention; no one was looking at him and no one was actively avoiding looking at him, which seemed to imply that whoever had left the rose on his desk, wasn't one of the agents in the room.
He carefully put the vase back down, moving it from the centre of his desk to the right hand side, sat down in his chair, turned his computer screen on and began to ponder who could have left the rose on his desk and what it might mean.
He didn't have a chance to think for long because suddenly, rubbing his hands together and shivering, Tony appeared. "Hey, Tim," he said, putting his bag down by his desk and looking at Tim. "Happy New Year."
"Happy New Year, Tony," Tim replied, looking at Tony whose gaze had come to rest on the rose. Tim waited for Tony to comment on the rose, to make some kind of joking or sarcastic remark. However, after just staring at it for another second or two, Tony looked away, took his overcoat off and sat down.
"Boss in yet?" he asked.
Tim shook his head. "No."
Tony grinned, rubbed his hands together and pulled out his phone. "Good. Guy in accounts beat my high score in Tetris over the holiday; now I've got to beat his." And with that Tony turned his attention to his phone.
Tim watched Tony for a moment or two before saying, "I'm going to get a coffee; do you want one?"
Tony didn't glance up, but he nodded. "Yes, please."
Tim stood up, stared at Tony again before crossing the squad room and heading for the vending machines. It really was far too cold to go out and get a decent cup of coffee; of course the cold wouldn't stop Gibbs, but Gibbs was . . . Well - Gibbs.
As he waited behind two other agents, Tim wondered if Tony had been the one to leave the rose, to tease Tim, to make him think that someone liked him. He frowned; it was the kind of thing Tony would do - except it wasn't, not any more. Six months ago, Tim would have been certain Tony had been the one the leave the rose, but Tony had changed over the last six months.
He still teased Tim, he still made constant movie references, he still played his 'I'm the senior agent' card, he still did as little as possible to get the job done, but he'd become quite a bit more serious - everything wasn't a joke to him any longer. He'd grown up and Tim knew why.
He could still remember the day six months ago which had shaken Tony more than Tim believed Tony could be shaken.
Tony's dad was in town visiting his son and Tony was complaining to Tim about - To be honest given he spent all day complaining about his dad and wondering why he'd chosen that moment to visit, Tim hadn't really been listening. Thus, he couldn't remember exactly what Tony's gripe had been that day.
And then Tony received a phone call. Tim happened to be looking across the room, looking at Tony as he took the call. His face visibly paled, he gripped his desk with one hand and even began to shake just a little. Even though Tony was still listening and saying 'I understand' from time to time, Tim got up and hurried over the room, sat down on Tony's desk and put his hand over Tony's hand. The next second Tony turned his hand over and gripped Tim's hand.
After another 'I understand' and an 'I'll be there as soon as I can', Tony ended the call. He looked up at Tim and Tim saw what he'd never seen before in Tony's eyes: complete and total fear. Tony told him his dad had been rushed into the hospital having suffered a major heart attack and the prognosis was not good.
Tim didn't even paused; his car was being serviced, he didn't want to drive Tony's, so instead he grabbed the sedan's keys from Gibbs's drawer, pulled Tony to his feet and guided him across the squad room, into the elevator, out of the building and through the car park until they reached the sedan. He manhandled Tony into the car and drove, at a speed he thought Gibbs would be proud off, to the hospital.
Tim was the one who talked to the nurse and found out where Tony's dad was and it was Tim who guided Tony to the room. The nurse had told Tony he could see his dad for five minutes, but no more.
"You'll wait, won't you, Tim?" Tony asked, as he put his badly shaking hand on the door knob.
Tim nodded. "Of course, Tony."
Tony went into his dad's room and closed the door just as Tim's phone rang. Gibbs's name showed on the called ID.
"Boss, I -"
"Where the hell are you, McGee? And where the hell is the car?" Gibbs's anger was clear; in fact Tim wasn't certain 'anger' was a strong enough word to describe the waves of fury that came out from the phone.
He swallowed hard, gripped his phone tightly and quickly explained. "I'm sorry, boss," he said, once he'd told Gibbs what had happened. "I didn't want to waste time leaving you a note; I wanted to get Tony here as soon as possible."
Gibbs was silent for a moment then he said his tone far softer, "You did the right thing, Tim."
Tim breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you, boss. What do you want me to do now?"
"Stay with Tony."
He and Tony spent twelve hours in the hospital where Tony was allowed to see his dad for five minutes every hour. When he wasn't in his dad's room Tony was pacing up and down or berating himself for being such a bad son or drinking endless cups of what the vending machine called coffee, but was even less like coffee than the stuff the NCIS machines produced.
Finally, with midnight only five minutes away, an exhausted looking young doctor came out of Tony's dad's room, headed towards where Tony and Tim sat and smiled at Tony. "Your father's going to be all right, Mr. DiNozzo," he said.
Tony had grabbed Tim's hand as soon as the doctor had left his dad's room and his grip was now so tight that Tim felt he was losing sensation. "All right?" he whispered. "Really?"
The young doctor (Tim couldn't see his name badge) smiled and nodded. "Yes, really. I'll be honest and say no one expected him to be okay - but it seems he's one stubborn man."
Tony laughed softly. "Yeah, Doctor, he is. Can I see him?"
"Of course and you can stay for up to half an hour. But then I want you to go home and get some sleep." He looked at Tim, "Will you make sure he does that?"
Tim nodded. "Of course Doctor."
When Tony had gone into his dad's room again Tim had pulled out his phone and called Gibbs.
His dad had remained in the hospital for ten days before Tony got to take him home. The incident (as DiNozzo senior called it) had brought father and son closer together. Past barriers and problems had been pushed aside and pretty much buried as they both seemed intent on getting to know one another as they should have done all those years ago and becoming as a real father and son should be. Tony's dad decided to move permanently to DC and Tony and he saw one another on a regular basis and were getting on very well indeed.
The incident had shaken Tony tremendously and that was when he'd changed to an extent. That was when he'd given up playing cruel practical jokes. That was when he had begun to tak life just a little more seriously.
Carrying the two Styrofoam cups of so called coffee, Tim made his way back to the squad room. No, Tony hadn't been the person to leave the rose on his desk; it had to be someone else.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Tim arrived at his desk to find another rose in another single flower vase in the centre of his desk; this one was yellow. Its petals were as soft as the first rose had been and one of them had a drop of moisture on it and its scent was a little stronger.
Tony was already in the squad room and he looked up as Tim arrived and saw the rose. "Before you ask, no, I didn't see who left it," he said. "It was there when I got here twenty minutes ago. Oh," he added, getting up from his desk and sitting on the edge of Tim's, "in case you're wondering, it's not me."
Tim looked at Tony and smiled. "I know it's not Tony," he said quietly, and for a moment they just looked at one another and silently acknowledged quite why Tim knew Tony hadn't left it.
Tony nodded. "So who do you think it could be, Timmy?"
"I don't know, Tony. It's not as if anyone is acting differently or going out of their way to talk to me or stop by my desk. Nor is anyone doing the opposite and going out of their way to avoid me."
Tony frowned. "Hey, look, we're special agents, we figure things out for a living; we'll figure this out. Oh, I know who it could be?"
Tim shook his head. "No, it's too subtle for her. Anyway I made it clear I wasn't interested. This is someone who -"
"Grab your gear!" Gibbs called, striding into the squad room, dumping his brief case on his desk and grabbing his cap.
When they returned from the crime scene, Tim once again carefully placed the rose in its vase on the right hand side of his desk where it remained until after its petals had opened fully. Once that had happened, Tim took it home and carefully, as he had done with the white rose, pressed it between the pages of a large plain paged note book he had bought.
Tim didn't really want to get his hopes up, didn't really want to admit it, but he was expecting to find a rose waiting for him when he got to his desk. He got to the Navy Yard early, but not as early as Tony who was lounging against the wall when the elevator doors opened.
"Morning, McTim," he said brightly. "Guess who has roses waiting for him on his desk?"
Tim looked at Tony. "You," he said.
"No. Well, actually, yeah, but they don't matter. That's not what I meant, he added as Tim widened his eyes as Tony's dismissive attitude. "You, my friend, have three roses; pretty small ones and peach not red, but three. Well, come on," and before Tim could say anything, Tony had grabbed his arm and was pulling him across the squad room to his desk.
As Tony dragged Tim past his desk, Tim glanced and saw several bouquets as well as a few single buds and boxes of candy covering Tony's desk. "That's a lot of flowers and candy," he said.
Tony shrugged. "Yeah, not bad. I expect I'll get more later. But look at yours." He stopped in front of Tim's desk and physically turned Tim around so he could look down at his desk.
There, just as Tony had said, was a larger vase than the previous two, with three beautiful peach roses. One was a tight bud, another half open, the third was in full bloom, and as well as the roses there was some additional greenery.
Tim just stared at the vase and its contents and realized that whoever was leaving him roses, clearly liked him a lot. It wasn't just the roses, it was the trouble the person was going to not just to choose the roses and the vase, but also to ensure the vase was placed in the dead centre of Tim's desk with just the right amount of water in it.
The person had to be someone gentle, someone sensitive, someone thoughtful, someone capable of caring deeply, someone - Someone special Tim realized. But who was it? Which of the many women who worked for NCIS was capable of doing such a thing? It had to be someone who worked for NCIS; it would have been impossible for an outsider to keep gaining entrance. But who was it?
As a delivery man arrived with another ostentatious bouquet for Tony, Tim sat down at his desk and picked the vase up and carefully turned it around so he could admire the roses from every angle. As he admired them he once again turned his attention to thinking about just who might be responsible.
Systematically he ran through all the female agents and dismissed them all; then he considered the female admin staff, but again ended up dismissing all of them as well. None of them seemed to fit the profile of being gentle, sensitive, thoughtful and capable of caring deeply; none of them seemed the kind of woman who would go to that much trouble. One rose, maybe, but he now had five and they had been chosen with care, he knew that - just as the vases had been chosen with care.
In the end the only person he couldn't rule out totally was Abby. And yet, it wasn't really her style; when they'd dated, it had been him not her who had been the romantic one, the sensitive one. Abby cared, he knew that, Abby cared passionately, but this wasn't her. Anyway, this seemed to be someone whom Tim hadn't dated, this was a kind of . . . Well, a kind of seduction and Abby didn't need to do that. She wouldn't do that. Thus, even though she was the only person left, the only one he hadn't instantly dismissed, he was going to have to rule her out.
Which left . . . No one. A fine investigator he was - except Tony wasn't doing any better! He was as clueless as Tim was. And it wasn't as if he could ask Gibbs who Gibbs thought it might be. Gibbs had obviously seen the previous two roses and had raised an eyebrow and looked at Tim, but that was all. He'd never commented on them.
"Good morning, Anthony. Good morning, Timothy; I see your admirer has been at work again."
"Hello, Ducky." Tim smiled at Ducky.
"Hey, Ducky," Tony said, getting up from his desk and joining Ducky at Tim's desk. "Nice, aren't they?"
"They are indeed. And they stand out amongst all of the red roses. Someone clearly thinks a lot of you, Timothy."
"I just wish I could figure out who it was."
"Haven't you any idea?"
Tim shook his head. "No, Ducky. Not a clue. It's got to be someone who works for NCIS. But I've ruled everyone out."
"Everyone?" Ducky asked.
Tim shrugged. "Well all the women. I did kind of wonder if it might be Abby, but -"
"That's not her style," Tony said decisively.
"Yeah, that's what I thought."
Ducky cleared his throat and Tim and Tony looked at him. "If you'll forgive me for saying so, Timothy, you haven't ruled everyone out," Ducky said quietly.
Tim frowned. "I have, Ducky. I told you, when I ruled out Abby, I'd ruled out all the women who work for NCIS."
"Well, now, Timothy, it is not just women who work here, is it? Ah, there is Jethro." And with that Ducky left Tim and Tony and, walking just a little more quickly than he normally did, went across the room to meet Gibbs. Whatever it was he said it made Gibbs turn and together they went into the elevator.
Tim and Tony stared at one another; Tim expected Tony to start laughing and teasing him about being gay or to start listing all the men it could be. As well as Dornie there were three other gay men who Tim knew about working for NCIS.
However, Tony said seriously, without any hint of teasing or anything negative, "Guess the Duckman could be right."
Tim frowned and shook his head. "No. I mean it's not - It's not something a guy would do for another guy, is it?"
Tony shrugged. "It's not something I'd do, but then, I wouldn't even go to this amount of trouble for a girl," he grinned at Tim. Then he said his tone serious, "What if it is a guy? Does it bother you, Tim?"
Tim opened his mouth and then closed it again as he realized he didn't actually know. Slowly he shrugged and found himself shaking his head. "I don't know, Tony," he said quietly. "I'd never thought about it. I mean -"
Tony put his hand on Tim's arm and said, "Love's love, Tim. And life's too short." And with that he put his hands into his pockets and sauntered back to his desk to take delivery of yet another large bouquet of red roses.
Tim arrived to find a single rose in a small vase in the centre of his desk. It was red, the first rose to be red, and it made an even dozen. He touched it gently and lifted it to his nose to smell, before carefully moving it to the right hand side of his desk, sat down and turned on his computer.
The other six roses had been left at fairly regular intervals during the months between Valentine's Day and today and each one had remained at the office until they had been in full bloom for several days, at which point he'd taken them home and pressed them. With the exception of the three peach ones he'd got on Valentine's Day, they had all been different colors, or at least different shades.
He didn't know why, but he had a strange feeling this rose would be the last and that he'd never find out the identity of the person who had been sending them. He (because after once again going through all of the women, both one his own and one night in his apartment with Tony, Tim was convinced Ducky had been correct when he'd suggested the person might be male) clearly didn't intend to let Tim know who he was. Tim had added shy to the other characteristics that made up the person who had left all the roses. However, after dismissing Dornie and the other known about gay men, he hadn't bothered to go through all the other men.
Clearly he was destined never to know who his secret admirer was. If he was totally honest Tim wasn't all together sure if he wanted to know or not. Maybe not knowing was better; what if it was someone who Tim was fond of cared about, liked? What if the man had made himself known and Tim had realized he couldn't do anything with another man? No, it was better this way.
A WEEK LATER
"Hey, McTardy," Tony called, as Tim hurried across the squad room to his desk.
"I'm not late, Tony," Tim said.
Tony shrugged. "Guess it depends on your definition of late. Letter for you - well a card," he added, picking up a white envelop from his desk and handing it to Tim. All it had was Tim's name printed on the front.
Tim took it and looked at Tony suspiciously. "How come you've got it? Have you been going through my desk again?"
"Now, Timmy, don't be so suspicious - I wouldn't do that. Well I have no need to; I already know what's in your desk." Tony grinned and laughed and Tim found himself laughing as well. While he liked the new more grown up Tony far better than the old Tony, he was glad the old Tony hadn't been completely replaced. "No," Tony said, as he stopped laughing. "It was actually on my desk."
"Oh." Tim stared at the envelope.
"Well, aren't you going to open it?"
Tim hesitated. "I don't know," he said.
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"I don’t know if I want to. What if - What if it's from hi- From the person who's been leaving the roses?" He corrected himself swiftly.
Tony shrugged. "I'm guessing it is."
"Yeah, me too. Well, what if he," Tim didn't bother to correct his word up this time, "wants to meet me?"
Tony shrugged again. "You go."
"And - Well, you won't know, until you meet him, will you, Timmy. Now give me it."
And before Tim could stop him, Tony had grabbed the envelope from Tim's hands, opened it and pulled out a card. On the front was a picture of three peach roses in a vase. Tony glanced at the picture, nodded, and opened the card. "Tonight at The Hill Top. Nice place."
"Yep." Tony stared at Tim. "Your grey suit," he said firmly, "and your dark green tie - it brings out your eyes."
Tim stared at Tony. "But, To-" He fell silent as Gibbs strode into the office.
"You finished your reports, McGee?"
"Er, yes, boss. I'll just get them, boss."
LATER THAT NIGHT
Tim, dressed as Tony had instructed, walked slowly into The Hill Top and looked around him. His eyes came to rest on Jimmy who was wearing a dark blue suit and a light blue tie and looked as nervous as Tim felt.
As Tim made his way over to the table where Jimmy sat he realized he wasn't surprised at who had been waiting for him. He wasn't surprised at all. He reached the table. "Hello, Jimmy," he said, putting his hand on Jimmy's shoulder.
Jimmy swallowed hard and looked up at him. "H . . . He . . . Hel . . . Hell . . . Hello, Tim," he finally managed and smiled.
Tim felt something inside him melt as he smiled back at Jimmy, pulled his chair out and sat down.
SOME HOURS LATER
They sat together on Tim's couch; Tim had his arm around Jimmy's shoulders and Jimmy's head was resting on Tim's shoulder. Both of them had removed their jackets and ties and two bottles of barely touched beer sat on the table in front of them.
"I should have guessed it was you, Jimmy," Tim said softly, as he lowered his head a little and lightly kissed Jimmy's exposed ear.
Jimmy made a soft noise of pleasure. "Why should you have known?" he asked, lifting his head and looking at Tim.
"Well, I worked out that the person who was leaving the roses had to be gentle, sensitive and thoughtful; someone capable of caring deeply; someone who was willing to go to a great deal of trouble; someone who was shy. Someone special. That's you, Jimmy. That's you to a tee."
He saw Jimmy swallow hard as his cheeks became just a little pink. "It's you too, Tim," he murmured.
Tim smiled and put his other arm around Jimmy, pulled Jimmy towards him and put his lips on Jimmy's.
He had been so wrong, so very wrong when he'd believed it would be better for him not to know who his secret admirer was. If Jimmy hadn't have found the courage to reveal himself, Tim knew he would have missed so much. He would have missed being loved and loving in the way he knew he already loved Jimmy and in the way it was quite clear Jimmy loved him.