The night they met was crisp and cold, fresh snow covering the city and making it look sparkly fresh and new. It was Christmas Eve, and they'd just come off a brutal case earlier that afternoon. When Tony had gotten home, the stillness and silence of his apartment had been suffocating, even with 'A Christmas Story' playing softly in the background.
So he'd pulled on a pair of thick dark wash jeans, a thick black turtleneck and his well-worn leather jacket, and set out into the night. His gun was tucked into its shoulder holster, unable to leave behind the security blanket while he was still so on edge. He didn't take his car, knowing he was planning to drink and not wanting to leave it at the bar. It was another reason he should have left the weapon behind, but logic was a tough defense against paranoia.
He walked the few blocks to the dark jazz bar he liked to frequent. It wasn't often visited by his co-workers, it honestly being a bit high class for most of them, but he occasionally saw Sec Nav, Sec Def, and an array of other high-ranking officials that lived in or frequented the DC area. It also hosted its fair share of expensive lawyers, politicians, and more of the like.
Despite it pushing eleven, the bar was comfortably full, a quite hum of conversation filling the dimly lit space. He headed directly to the bar, trading nods with a few people he was familiar with, but not stopping to exchange pleasantries.
Luckily for him, most of the men (and the few women) who were there, were there because they didn't have a family to spend the holidays with. For many of them, it was because they had chosen to put their careers above their personal lives. Thus, the holidays ended up feeling more melancholy than cheerful for the patrons, and so most of them were keeping to themselves that night.
He headed to the darker end of the sleek wooden surface, only to see a man already seated in the chair he'd been intending to take. He shrugged it off, sitting instead two seats over, leaving one empty between the two men. It left two seats on the other side in-between him and the next patron.
The bartender was familiar to him, and didn't that make him feel a bit pathetic. He tried to ignore the feeling, nodding his thanks when Joey slid a glass of his preferred scotch silently on the bar before him. It was too late for a live band, but smooth jazz was playing at a comfortable volume throughout the room. The first glass went down quickly, and it wasn't until he was into his second glass that he felt relaxed and comfortable enough to shrug off the soothing weight of old leather, leaving it draped over the back of his barstool.
His phone buzzed once in his pocket and he stretched his right leg out to pull the device out of his snug pocket. It was a group text from Abby, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. The clock read 12:00. He let out a quiet snort and thumbed the screen back off, tossing it face down on the bar, unanswered. He ignored the next few buzzes that signaled several of the people she sent it to responding. He hated group texts, but that never seemed to stop her from adding him to them, and he just wasn't in the mood to send out fake-cheerful holiday salutations.
Ironically enough, the man to his right seemed to have the same problem, if the series of buzzing was any indication. Tony eyed him from his peripheral vision, taking in the distinguished features of a man who had aged very well and still looked strong and fit despite his greying hair. He held himself like a soldier, even slumped causally over as he was, one elbow lazily propping up his head.
He wasn't sure what it was about the older man that caught his attention, but once he was aware of him, it was hard to ignore his presence. Any another night, Tony might have tried to strike up conversation, but he just couldn't bring himself to 'be on.' Instead, he ignored the slight buzz of attraction, finished his third drink, tossed down the cash to cover his bill plus a generous tip, and then left the warm space.
If he never saw the other man again, he probably wouldn't have spared him another thought.
A week later, Tony found himself "celebrating" the New Year at the same bar. This time, the atmosphere was much more festive. A live band was playing through the night, and the patrons were much more talkative and, consequently, or at least seemingly, much more drunk. He headed in his normal direction, though he allowed himself to be snagged into conversation more than once on the way.
While he was passing through, he noticed the man from last time he was here standing amongst a small group of men who he knew worked at the Pentagon. He obviously knew the men, but Tony saw him roll his eyes the slightest bit when the other three weren't looking his direction. The sight of such a childish gesture on such a distinguished looking man caused a flair of amusement to spike through him.
When he arrived at the bar, he saw that the majority of the seats along the end were empty- most of the room gathered at tables closer to the stage holding a large Grand Piano that took up a corner on the opposite side of the large space. After brief contemplation, he took the same seat he'd sat in the week prior. The bartender was a different one, a college aged girl with dark hair pulled up into a high pony, and a friendly smile when she asked what he'd like. He'd gotten so used to automatically being handed Scotch that he paused and thought about it.
A minute later, the smooth rich flavor of a dark beer was filling his mouth and he took a moment to savor it. A bowl of bar nuts was set before him and he picked through them as he drank. A few minutes after he sat, the man from before broke away from his small group and made his own way over to the bar, reclaiming the furthest seat at the end, just as he had before.
He ordered a beer of his own and then reached out to casually dip his hand into the bowl resting beside Tony. Tony turned and followed the appendage as it pulled back and casually tossed a palmful of nuts into his mouth. The older man met his eyes boldly, almost challengingly, but with a hidden playful depth.
Tony turned to him more fully, tilting his head and raising a brow as the bartender set two beers down between them. He took the last swig of his previous bottle and then pushed it empty across the bar for the woman to grab more easily. When she'd walked away he turned his focus back to the stranger. "Thank you." He murmured when older man grabbed his own bottle and held it up to tap against Tony's new one.
"Jack O'Neill." He offered freely.
"Tony DiNozzo." He hoped he was reading this right, because he couldn't help but drop his eyes and smile a bit flirtatiously. "Are you new to the city? I don't think I've seen you in here before last week." He led, freely acknowledging that the man had caught his attention enough to be memorable, despite the fact that they hadn't spoken or really even traded a look.
The older man grimaced slightly, but it seemed to be aimed more at the situation than at Tony himself. He hummed and took a deep drink of his beer before he answered verbally. "Let myself get promoted one too many times." Of offered blandly.
"Congratulations." Tony offered, though it was clear Jack wasn't thrilled with his new position, whatever it may be.
Jack grunted and then shook it off, smiling at the handsome younger man instead of commiserating that fact that he was now, technically, assigned to a desk. "How about you? Have you been in DC long?"
"About ten years now."
"Is living here as awful as it seems?" Jack asked bluntly, drawing a surprised, but honest, laugh from Tony.
"It's really not." He assured.
"Humm." Jack broke eye contact and took his own turn running his eyes down Tony, once more reinforcing where this was leading. "I can see it getting better." He continued when his eyes once again met hazel.
Tony smiled again, edges a bit softer, feeling pleased with the obvious appreciation. Conversation flowed easily from there, beginning with Jack talking about the home he'd left behind in Colorado Springs, and going from there. Over the course of the night the two men found they had a lot in common. At one point, Jack excused himself to use the restroom. When he came back, he sat on the bar stool directly beside Tony's, rather than leaving it in between the two.
They continued to drink as the hours passed by unnoticed. They'd ordered an appetizer plate to share at some point, and found they had similar taste in bar food as well. At quarter past eleven, Jack pulled back slightly from how close he'd gotten to the younger man and glanced around the now full bar. No one seemed to be paying attention to the two of them, tucked away as they were in their little corner. He looked back at his companion, taking in his attractive features, quick wit and obvious interest and decided take a chance. "You wanna get out of here?" He propositioned blatantly and then hid his careful observation of Tony's reaction behind a mask of casualness.
Tony paused with his bottle most of the way to his lips, but only for the briefest of seconds. He took the drink he'd been intending, though made it deeper so that he finished what was left. "Okay." He agreed easily, once he'd set it back on the bar. Jack smiled at him, a slow unfurling of his lips, and tipped his own bottle up to finish it, never breaking eye contact.
When the stood, side by side, Tony realized he was actually about an inch taller than the older man, though his commanding, if laid back, presence made him seem taller than he was. They pressed through the crowd, not quickly, but determinedly, neither allowing themselves to get caught up in conversation by various acquaintances.
The night was cold and sobering once they'd reached the main door, and both immediately hunched deeper in their outerwear. "My place or yours?" Tony asked, and it should have been cliché but it sent heat thrumming through Jack's eyes all the same. Jack didn't know it, but it was a bold offer in of itself for Tony, who normally wasn't willing to bring people back to his sanctuary. Jack though, Jack felt different, felt more important, like he might be worth the intrusion into his space.
"Mine's still pretty torn up from moving in." Jack admitted, voice a bit deeper.
"Mine's three blocks' that way." Tony stated in return, nodded behind them.
"Yours it is." Jack murmured, tucking his hands into his pocket casually.
"I have to warn you that my beds not very big." Tony said the, stepping a bit closer.
"I think we can make do." He replied, naught tone edging into his voice.
The two men turned together and began strolling casually down the street. It was lively for how late it was, everyone waiting to greet the New Year, or to say goodbye to the last one. They didn't act overtly affectionate towards each other, but they did walk closely together, with a bit more of a hurry in their step than they might otherwise have walked with.
As a result, they were entering Tony's apartment a brief time later. As soon as the door was closed behind them, Jack turned and pressed Tony back against the its surface and claimed his lips for his own. Despite the small start of surprise, Tony returned the gesture eagerly, pressing back against the older man and showing his own clear interest in the proceedings.
Despite their eagerness, both men were well into adulthood and neither felt a particular need to rush. They remained in the entry for several long moments, learning each other in a much more physical way than they had been thus far that night. Eventually, they began making their way through the apartment, allowing space between them only in small little gaps.
When they reached the living room, Jack pulled away enough to take in the baby grand piano filling a large portion of the space. "Do you play?" He asked, voice husky.
"A bit." Tony replied before ducking back in to nip at the older man's bottom lip.
"Mmmm." Was all Jack said in reply, reaching to push up the fitted black long-sleeved shirt Tony had been wearing under his favorite leather jacket, exposing his abs and chest to the other mans teasing hands. The shirt was pulled off fully a scant few seconds later, and Tony pushed forward to return the gesture.
Tony was pleased to find Jack as fit as a thirty-year-old under his own black t-shirt, dog tags enhancing the knowledge that this man had been a soldier, and was a man who was still at the peak of his fitness, despite the age his steely hair suggested.
They ended up in a tangle together on his narrow bed, but they did manage to make it work despite the challenges they faced. They were just getting to the good part when the sound of fireworks erupting somewhere in the city. Their lips broke apart, Jack quietly wishing him a Happy New Year just as he pressed inside his tight heat.
Tony was gone at that point, unable to speak in whole sentences and communicating only through a series of pants and bitten off moans. When they finished, they settled with Jack on his back, with Tony laying between his legs and resting on his chest, his only legs curled comfortably at the bottom edge. Tony cleared his throat quietly, fingers absently tracing across a faded scar on the flesh beneath him. "Happy New Year's." He was finally able to return, his own voice raspy. And the two quietly watched the splashes of color flaring from beyond his window until they fell asleep.
When Tony woke the next morning, Jack was already awake, though he hadn't moved to try and get out from under his bed partner. He lifted his head up to meet Tony's eyes when they blinked lazily open. "Good morning." He murmured to the younger man.
"Morning." Tony replied, lips curling into a content smile, one that he halfheartedly attempted to hide by pressing a kiss against Jacks sternum. They languished together for a long while, neither in a hurry to separate. Eventually hunger drove them from the bed and into the kitchen.
Tony'd been half expecting him to duck out as soon as he was awake, a small part of him wondering if his 'still moving' excuse had been so that he wouldn't have to try and kick Tony out the morning after. It didn't seem to be the case however, as Jack seemed more than content to sit at kitchen island while Tony whipped them up coffee and breakfast. They discovered something else they had in common then- they both liked to be well into their second cup of coffee (at least), before being overly talkative in the morning.
"So, do you have any plans for the day?" Jack questioned as they dug into their omelets.
Tony shrugged casually from where he sat beside Jack at the island, bare feet propped up on the barstool beneath him. "I usually go to the Y on Sundays for a game of pickup ball if I'm free, but that's sporadic enough that they don't expect me to be there every weekend." He offered freely.
Jack's expression changed to one of interest. It was clear by his fit physique that the older man stayed active. Being new to the city, Tony wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't figured out a place to work out yet. Tony threw the offer out before he really thought about it, but didn't regret it once he had. "It's pretty casual, you could come if you want to."
Jack chewed his food thoughtfully. "You wouldn't mind?" He questioned lightly once he'd swallowed.
"I wouldn't mind."
"Well alright then. Though I have to warn you, I haven't gotten much of a chance to play where I've been stationed."
"I'll take it easy on you." Tony promised tauntingly, sparking a competitive, though still playful, tension to life between them.
Jack and Tony kept in frequent communication after that first weekend together. Jack, it turned out, was a bored texter, and the man was bored a lot in his new role. Tony wasn't always able to text back right away, and vice versa, but both men enjoyed having random little messages waiting for them throughout the day. Tony found himself having to bite off laughter more than once at the droll or sarcastic little remarks Jack would make about the people he had to deal with throughout the day.
At NCIS, the others had quickly realized Tony was seeing someone new, though he refused to give in to their prodding questions, choosing instead to use his talented tongue to talk them into another subject (typically without them realizing). The only one who refused to be appeased was Abby, though he was honestly expecting it from her, considering how close the two were.
He managed to keep her at bay for the first few weeks, but she eventually showed up at his apartment after work on Friday night, an armful of goodies pressed haphazardly clutched to her chest. It was their weekend off rotation, so Tony had invited Jack over for a home cooked dinner and an early night. The two were getting reacquainted on the sofa when the heavy knocking began.
Tony pulled back in confusion, glancing across the apartment and clearly debating on whether or not he wanted to find out who it was. Abby's voice calling across the wood clearly identified the visitor, and Tony was torn between sighing and feeling pleased at her dropping by. They normally got together at least every couple of weeks outside of work. Their nights together usually involved alcohol of some sort, though the activity varied depending on their mood and energy level. When they felt up for it, they'd go dancing. On lazier weekends, they'd spread alcohol and junk food across his coffee table and watch movies late into the night.
"Tony! C'mon, let me in! I saw your car downstairs, I know you're home! Tony!"
The man in question sighed, letting his head drop to rest on Jack's chest where he was stretched out beneath him. "She has a key." He muttered into the still clothed flesh.
"You should probably let her in then." Jack replied with amusement. It was one of the man's more endearing qualities for Tony- the ability to find or create amusement (and thus enjoyment) just about anywhere. It was a rare kind of person who could do so, and Tony was very much enjoying discovering the man's large and diverse sense of humor.
Tony let out a quiet groan of protest in return, but pushed himself up to roll of the couch all the same. Once he was fully back on his feet, he turned and strode across the room, one hand coming up to ruffle in his mussed hair as he unlocked and pulled open the door. He didn't pull it open fully, blocking her view into the apartment with his body as he wedged himself into the small space.
Abby either didn't notice his stance, or simply didn't care, because she ducked under his arm and pushed her way forcefully into his space, already chattering away without a care in the world as she pushed the brown paper bag against his chest. "I told you that I've been wanting to watch all of the Jaws movies, right? So I brought all three, and popcorn, and candy oh! And-" She paused to dump her remaining arm full onto the table and then grabbed the bag back from Tony's limp hold. She pulled out a bottle of red colored vodka 'KINKY RED embossed across the top of the bottle. "look! I thought it kind of looked like blood, so it'd go with the movie theme. I mean, I know it doesn't really look like blood- it's too orangey, and too thin, but, well-"
Tony cut her off, physically placing the palm of his hand across her mouth. "Abby!" He said firmly. He'd said her name a couple of times already, but she'd been so into her explanation that she'd rolled right over the top of his attempt. It wasn't one of her best qualities, but he'd long since accepted it as one of her quirks. "Now's not really a good time for Jaws." He finished, shooting her a pointed look.
"Oh, well, I mean, okay, we can watch something else if you want, I was just-"
"No, Abby, tonight's not really a good night for movies, at all." He corrected himself.
She pulled back and glanced around, finally realizing they weren't alone. Jack had pulled himself up so that he was lounging lazily back into the corner of the couch rather than sprawled across it. He made quite the picture, short grey hair pulled up into little spikes from Tony's hands running through it, and Tony wished it wouldn't have been so weird for him to pull out his phone and snap a picture of the man who was, at that moment, reminiscent of a satisfied jungle cat, stretching out in the sunshine after a good meal.
"Oh!" Abby exclaimed. "I'm sorry! Tony! You should have told me you had company!"
"When was I supposed to do that?" He mumbled, resigned, as she moved further into the apartment. It wasn't like she called after all. He closed the door with a sigh and moved back over to the pair.
"Hi, I'm Abby!" She introduced herself brightly, almost bouncing on the tips of her platform boots in her excited rambling. "Well, Abigail Sciuto, technically, but everyone calls me Abby. I work with Tony, but like, not as an agent, I'm a forensic scientist! And I'm Tony's best friend! He really should have told me he had plans tonight, but I guess it's a good thing that he hasn't been talking about you- he never talks about the ones he really likes, so that's a good thing! Do you like Jaws?" She finished expectantly. While she waited for his eyebrow to relax enough for him to answer, she sent a miniature flurry of hand signs to Tony, unable to stand still.
Tony shook his head exasperatedly at her essentially telling him 'He's hot!,' and refused to respond. Jack let amusement curl across his features and signed 'thank you' back to her when she turned to look at him again. "General Jonathan Jack O'Neill, technically. Call me Jack. And I do like Jaws, as a matter of fact." The surprise that flashed across her own face didn't last very long before she was smiling at him even brighter than before.
Abby looked back at Tony, the beseeching look on her face clearly begging to be allowed to stay. Tony glanced down at Jack and, though they really hadn't known each other for long, Tony found his expressions fairly easy to read. The older man raised a brow at him, head just slightly tilted, with a tiny smile curling one side of his mouth lazily, and Tony knew he didn't mind if she stayed.
Tony himself was a little perturbed at essentially being cock-blocked on a Friday night in his own apartment, but he couldn't bring himself to be too annoyed with her. It'd been a long week at work, and it was normal for them to have a movie night after such a week. "I guess it would be rude to kick you out after your brought vodka and.. gummy bats? Where did you even get these- It's January!?"
"I have a site."
"Of course you do." Tony mumbled, moving to take the small stack of DVDs over to his hidden entertainment system. They'd had an old western playing on the TV, but the volume was low and neither man had been paying attention to it in the slightest.
Abby was very much at home in his apartment, and made her way to the kitchen to get three glasses. "You don't have to drink that." Tony reassured him from his crouch on the other side of the room. "I have plenty to choose from in the kitchen."
"What? No," He lifted the bottled and peered down at the label. "Ahh, 'Watermelon and Strawberry flavored vodka' sounds delicious. I'm game."
Tony was glad he was facing away, because the grin that spread across his face was far too smitten to be seen by others. Abby returned then, moving over to plop herself on the other end of the couch and begin pouring them all a generous drink of the brightly colored liquid. The sound of popcorn popping could be heard coming from the kitchen and the scent of extra butter soon wafted out into the living room.
A few minutes later and the three were settled on the couch, Jack sitting more fully up against one arm, Tony tucked close to his side, while Abby sat cross legged and completely focused on the large TV across from them, huge bowl of popcorn sitting in her lap. The night ended up being more enjoyable than any of them could have pictured, as odd as the group may have been. And the next morning, when Jack included Abby in their breakfast plans, Tony felt just a little more enamored.
~*~ TBC ~*~
This is a WIP. I'm thinking probably three to five chapters total. Please let me know what you think! The more feedback I get, the faster it makes me want to write! Thank you for reading!