NCIS and its characters don't belong to me, they belong to Don Bellsario and CBS.
Spoilers: Anything shown so far is fair game, so spoilers through season six.
"You need more homey touches in your apartment, Tony," Abby declared one night after they finished watching a movie shortly after his one year mark at NCIS.
Tony rolled his eyes, not this again. He couldn't understand Abby's obsession with making his apartment homey. It was a place to sleep and store his stuff, nothing more.
"Come on Tony, don't you want your home to be inviting?"
He doesn't meet her gaze. He isn't sure what to tell her, he hasn't had a home, at least a place he's consider calling home, in years, not since shortly before his tenth birthday when it had become too obvious that his mother had a problem that his father really didn't know how to deal with a kid. He's always had a place to live, sure, but never a home. The closest thing to a home would be his time in college after he joined the fraternity and started sports. His apartment in Peoria had been okay, nothing great, certainly not home material and neither was Peoria, come to think of it. Now his place in Philadelphia has been pretty awesome and Tony actually did try to make his place a home instead of a place to store things and a place to crash when he wasn't at the station but then everything had gone to hell in a handbasket and he was really sorry that he had to leave Philadelphia, he thought he could settle down there. In Baltimore he didn't even try to make the effort and the only thing stopping him from just getting the first apartment he saw was that he didn't want to be shot with his own gun at night by some strung out crack dealer. Gibbs must have noticed because he practically ordered him to stay with him for a couple days right after FLETC graduation so that he could look for a proper place to live and by a proper place Gibbs didn't mean a place where even the drug dealers didn't want to live. Tony still wasn't sure how long he'd be staying in DC but he didn't want to piss off his new boss before he had even officially begun to work for him so he found a place that Gibbs agreed was a suitable home for one of his agents.
"Don't you want to put down roots?"
Again he wasn't sure how to answer her, the last person to ask him that question was fellow NCIS Agent Michael Evans; they had been roommates during their time in FLETC and Tony had attended his wedding just last week. It's not a new question and Abby and Michael aren't the first ones to ask, various frat brothers and former college teammates have all asked over the years as each one as settled down and put down roots by either getting married or something else really big like buying a house.
"Hey look, there's a slasher marathon on, wanna watch it?"
"Of course," she replied getting comfortable on Tony's couch.
He didn't know why but when the real estate agent asked if he wanted to buy a house he told her yes and she told him to pick up some of the most recent listings as well as her business card from the front desk. The secretary had been cute enough and he gladly took the print outs, business card and her personal phone number, two years later he still had the business card and the real estate agency's website in his bookmarks. He had never planned on staying at NCIS for longer than his two year limit but here he was four years later and still working at NCIS and for Gibbs.
"Can I ask you a question?"
It was their weekly movie night again and Abby was sitting on the side of his couch that he had now come to know as 'Abby's corner'.
"What do you think about me moving?"
Abby immediately reached over and paused the movie before turning to Tony, a bewildered expression on her face. "Tony, you can't leave! I don't want you to leave! You nearly died and then Kate died and now we're stuck with Ziva—" at that she frowned "—and Gibbs! What about Gibbs, Tony? Bossman would be so sad if you left, he would, I know! And who would I get to watch slasher marathons with? McGee hates slasher movies; he'd never want to see one with—"
"Abs!" he said grabbing her shoulders, effectively stopping her mid rant. "Breathe," he ordered. Once she had taken a couple of deep breaths he continued. "I'm not leaving Abs," he reassured her. "I'm just thinking of moving, into something more…permanent."
"Like a house?"
"Um, maybe? I was hoping you could help me."
Abby squealed and gave him a slightly less bone crushing hug; Tony thinking about getting a more permanent place to live was good. "I'd be happy to, Tony! Let's see tomorrow is Saturday and we're off, I'll come over first thing in the morning."
True to her word Abby appears at Tony's front door shortly after he returns from his morning run and she makes herself at home in his kitchen while he gets showered and ready for the day. When he appears he finds that Abby has decided to make pancakes and he smiled, leave it to Abby to invade his kitchen and make pancakes. While they eat Abby talks excitedly about the prospective houses, condos and townhouses she's found listed in the paper and from local real estate agencies' websites and all too soon Abby's dragging him into her car as they began their search. They look first at houses and while Tony likes the majority of the small starter homes they see he can't bring himself to buy a house, a house is really permanent and Tony's not sure that he's ready for something like that. Once they've seen every house listing that Abby's circled they move on to the condos and townhouses, there are way more of those than houses and Tony wonders how Abby thinks they'll manage to see them all. By dinnertime Tony thinks that they've seen close to twenty condos or townhouses, not including the eight houses they saw earlier, and he's beginning to rethink his idea of moving into something more permanent. Sensing that Tony might be having second thoughts she decides to call it a day and tell him that they can continue their search tomorrow, he just nods and tells her good night. They strike out the next day as well.
It's nearly two weeks before Tony finds a place he really likes. It's the last place Abby drags him to on another free Saturday. It's a townhouse located near American University, Abby tells him that he'll love it, Tony notes that it's close to Abby's apartment and he suspects that Abby has her own ulterior motives for showing him this particular place. The townhouse is located in a nice residential neighborhood, the kind that families wouldn't mind raising their kids in, with a mixture of young families, young professionals and college students. The realtor was waiting for them at the door and wasted no time in showing them around. The rooms on the first and second floors were roomy and welcoming, and the kitchen was a decent size, while Tony wasn't much of a cook there were a few things that he was good at making and not tripping over himself as he looked for things in his various drawers and cabinets would be greatly appreciated. The master suite was wonderful and Tony really appreciated the en suite bathroom.
"I love how there's a spare bedroom," Abby whispers to Tony as the realtor goes on to explain more of the townhouse's best features. "No offense, Tony, but you hog the sheets too much." When Abby had first started crashing at his place after a particularly late movie night or a crazy night out he'd take the couch insisting that she could have the bed but she had insisted that as two grown adults they could share a king sized bed without anything happening. It had taken close to two months before Abby was able to convince him that the couch, while very comfortable, wasn't a suitable substitute for his bed.
"So what do you think?" asks the realtor.
Tony really did like the townhouse and it wasn't as if he couldn't afford it. He may have majored in physical education but he had minored in business in an effort to appease his father and that minor had later turned into an undergraduate degree in business that he earned while working towards a graduate degree as he recovered from the injury that ended all hopes of a pro career. While Tony hadn't decided to go into business, much to his father's disappointment, he did learn that a thing or two about business and found out that he did have some business savvy in him after all.
"I really like this place."
"Do you want to make an offer?" asked Abby looking at him expectantly.
Tony bit his lower lip, he really liked the townhouse but he still wasn't sure if he was ready to buy a place to live, in truth he liked having an out in case things didn't go well and renting a place made cutting ties so much easier.
"First time buyer?" asked the realtor seeing the reluctance in Tony's face. Tony nods. "Well, the owners have also specified that they are open to a rent with an option to buy agreement if that interests you."
It did and soon Tony and the realtor were discussing the specifics of such a contract and after half an hour Tony and Abby left with a promise from the realtor to call him next week and tell him what the owners said. Tony got the call on Thursday and the realtor asked if he could come to the office tomorrow so that they could finish up the last few pieces of paperwork. That Friday was their weekly movie night.
"Wanna help me move?"
The movie was immediately forgotten as Abby engulfed Tony into one of her signature hugs.
His lease is up in three weeks and every waking moment not spent at work is spent organizing and packing up his stuff in preparation for his move. He's so focused on packing that he nearly forgets to update his personnel file with human resources. After he finishes with human resources he remembers that he hasn't told Gibbs yet. Crap.
"Hey, Boss." It's late and they're the only two left in their section.
"I thought I told you to go home, DiNozzo," Gibbs replies not looking up from the file on his desk.
Gibbs looks up at his senior field agent to see him nervous and his eyes narrow, Tony is rarely nervous, something is definitely going on. "Don't tell me the boiler in your apartment is broken again, DiNozzo, didn't they just replace that thing?"
"No, it's not that. I'm actually moving to this townhouse near American University, sorry I didn't tell you sooner," he replied sheepishly.
"What have I told you about apologizing, DiNozzo?"
"That's it a sign of weakness."
"Exactly and it's about damn time you put down some roots," the older man tells him in his usual gruff manner. He broke DiNozzo's two-year streak and he's pleased to find that the younger man is now taking a step towards putting down roots. He didn't spend the last four years shaping him into his senior field agent only to have him leave, moving out of his apartment symbolizes that Tony was starting to think that he wouldn't need an out anytime soon.
Moving day finally arrives and when Tony opens his front door he finds the entire team standing there.
"Are you going to let us in, DiNozzo, or just stand there?" demands Gibbs and Tony recovers enough to move aside, letting the team in.
"It'll go faster with more people to help," Abby replies brightly as McGee, Gibbs and Jimmy each grab hold of a box and head towards the elevator in his building down to the waiting Uhaul truck.
Abby was right and soon enough his apartment is empty and Tony is driving to his new home with the others not far behind him. Abby is the only who's seen his new home so she and Tony stand in his living room while the others go and explore his new home.
"Because, we're a team and you're part of it, Tony," she replies giving him a hug.
"My two years in my rent agreement will be up," he says as they eat their Chinese.
"Oh," replies Abby, trying to not sound too interested. In truth she is very interested, it has only been a few months since the whole mess with Jeanne and while Tony had never come and said it outright Abby suspects that she might have given him an ultimatum. Tony may have chosen not to follow her but that doesn't mean he'd stay so Abby has been over nearly every night in an effort to remind him that there are people here who would miss him, she would miss him, if he left.
"Why don't you just ask, Abby? I know you want to."
"Are you going take the option to buy this place?"
He doesn't immediately answer her, he's been giving the next step some serious thought ever since the La Grenouille op had blown up, literally, and Jeanne had left. He loved her, he honestly did and sometimes he really, really wanted to be Professor DiNardo. When she told him to choose he had given serious thought of following her and trying to explain everything but in the end he didn't.
"Yeah, Abs, I am," he replied.
Abby squealed and gave him a hug. "I'm so happy you're staying, Tony."
"Me too, Abs, me too."
Tony sits down on his couch and lets out one satisfied sigh. After a summer spent as an Agent Afloat it was really, really good to be home. He wasn't sure how or when it happened but somewhere along the line his house had actually become a home.
Home, he liked the sound of that.