"Tim! Tim!" Tony yelled as the sound of the gun firing reverberated throughout the room.
His eyesight was slightly obscured by blood but he could make out a lone figure still standing, the other slumped to the floor. Tim's eyes were squeezed tightly, his hands over his ears and Peter's body lay at his feet.
It took Tony three attempts to holster his weapon as his hands were shaking so badly. Once he secured it, he walked the few steps it took to reach McGee's side on unsteady legs.
"Tim." He watched, almost in a haze, as his hands reached forward to touch the other man's shoulders.
Shocked green eyes met his.
He tamped down the almost desperate need to cradle that body against his to offer comfort and reassurance and instead pulled it away from the one lying on the floor.
Gibbs approached the two men and grasped Tim's arm.
"Yeah, boss. Just some ringing in my ears."
"Go outside. Call it in. Make sure you get that looked at," Gibbs said, indicating the bloody welt on Tim's head.
Tim nodded and shakily made his way out the door. Tony watched to make sure he was steady enough, resisting the urge to follow him. Once Tim was outside, he turned to join Gibbs as he surveyed what remained of Peter Taylor.
Tony saw the weariness and a hint of sorrow in the older man's eyes as he stared down at Taylor's lifeless body.
"We couldn't have saved him, boss."
"No, we couldn't have."
Tony debated on whether to say anything else, when Gibbs spoke.
"You did good, DiNozzo."
The praise, so uncharacteristic of the reserved former Gunnery Sergeant, left Tony speechless.
"Secure the scene, take the car and make sure McGee gets home alright. We'll deal with the paperwork tomorrow."
Tony nodded and he set to work, the routine helping to calm his frayed nerves.
Once he finished his job, Tony went outside and found Tim talking to one of the medics.
"How are you feeling?"
Tim looked up, his eyes wary and posture slumped.
"I've been better. I have a mild concussion, but they said I'm free to go."
Tony nodded. "I've got him," he said, waving at the EMT. "I'll take you home, Tim. Gibbs said I should take the car. Do you need a hand?"
Tim shook his head and stared at Tony. His partner's normally expressive face was carefully blank. Not knowing what to say he followed him to the car. The drive to his apartment was made in silence. Tim could sense that something was off with Tony as he noted the clenched set of his jaw and the white-knuckled grip he had on the steering wheel.
They got to his apartment and Tim expected Tony to pull up to the curb, but instead he parked the car in the visitor's lot. Tony was out of the car even before Tim had his seatbelt off.
"You don't have to come in with me. I'm fine. They cleared me."
"Sure you are. The guy held a gun to your head, threatened to kill you and then blew his brains out with you beside him. Why wouldn't you be fine?"
Tim could feel the heat and anger behind Tony's words and didn't understand it. This was not the first time his life has been in danger and it had never brought out this type of reaction before.
Tony was already stalking towards Tim's apartment door and so Tim followed, not sure what was going through the senior agent's head.
He opened the door wordlessly and moved as if to block the entrance to prevent Tony from coming in, but he had already sidestepped him and was standing in his hallway.
"You need to have better reflexes, Probie. Did you even react when he grabbed you?"
"He got me from behind and I wasn't prepared for it. I did fight back."
"How many times has Gibbs told you – always anticipate."
"Why are you so mad?" Tim's nerves were still shaken from the experience and his voice sounded high-pitched and a little tinny to his ears.
"Because we could have lost you." And there, right there, Tim could hear the anguish that Tony had been hiding under a thin veneer of anger.
"You had my six," Tim said softly.
"I…" Tony's throat constricted and he was unable to say anything else.
Frustrated and upset he ran his hands through his hair and only then noticed the dried blood splattered on them, could feel the flecks still in his hair. He stared at his hands as his vision blurred and he said, "I need to wash this off."
He went into Tim's bathroom and started to scrub off the dried blood. He kept scrubbing long after the red drops had been washed clean. He looked at himself in the mirror above the sink and saw the small droplets on his cheeks and he bent over the sink to wash his face.
Tim could hear the water running and after a few minutes, he headed towards the bathroom and knocked on the door.
"Tony? Tony, what are you doing?" He twisted the knob and it opened easily in his hand.
Tony looked up from the sink, his face dripping, cheeks rubbed red and eyes haunted.
"Tony?" Tim asked worriedly.
"I thought we were going to lose you. I heard the gun and saw the blood and all I could think was… not like Kate."
Understanding came swiftly and Tim rushed to reassure him.
"I'm fine. I'm standing right here."
"You could just as easily not be."
Tim could see the despair in the older agent's eyes before Tony shifted his gaze to stare at something only he could see.
"We used to tease each other all of the time, Kate and I. It was our thing. But I never told her…" Tony swallowed convulsively. "I never told her how I felt. She was my friend and I cared about her, but I never told her."
"She knew." Tim reached out and placed his hand on Tony's neck and let his thumb caress his cheek gently.
Tony looked up and saw the understanding in Tim's eyes. "She knew, Tony," he repeated. "You didn't have to tell her."
They continued to look at one another, Tony's breath heaving as he tried to control his emotions.
Tim released him and turned to get a towel. When he handed it to Tony, the senior agent took it and dried his face.
When he was done, he looked up again, a determined expression on his face.
"She did know. But words are important, too. I should have said them to her and I'm never going to have the chance to anymore. I almost lost that chance today with you.
Tim smiled gently. "I know you care about me, Tony. We're friends and…"
It was Tony's turn to reach out and touch the younger man's face, caress his cheek. He leaned forward, so that their foreheads touched and closed his eyes.
"Let me say the words before I convince myself not to. I care about you. You put up with my crap, you call me on my shit and even though you insult all of my pop culture references, you secretly find them amusing as hell."
Tim laughed softly and nodded.
"You probably know all of this already. But you might not know that I admire you: your brains, your innate kindness, your four out of five ass." Tony paused to take a deep breath.
"And what you definitely don't know is that when you smile at me, really smile at me, it makes my day."
Tony could hear the way Tim's breath caught at the last sentence and he worked up the nerve to pull away slightly so that he could look at Tim's face and into his eyes.
And there it was, that smile, so bright and full. There was no uncertainty in Tim's eye's, only joy and maybe just a bit of wonder.
Tony moved the few inches forward so that their bodies touched, turned his head slightly and gently pressed his lips to Tim's. It wasn't the aggressive, lust-filled kiss he had envisioned that their first kiss would be - it was better.
Tim was the first to pull away and Tony looked at him questioningly.
"Words are important," Tim said. "I never thought I would get the chance to say the ones I'm about to without fear of rejection. You're a good agent. You pretend to be a self-indulgent frat boy that never grew up, although sometimes you don't have to pretend too hard."
"But you care about people, genuinely care about them. You put everyone's safety above your own and I know that if you could have traded places with me today you would have done it in a heartbeat."
He moved his head back a little further so that he could look into Tony's green/brown eyes with their hint of gold and said, "Almost every good memory that I have in the last five years involves you. Some of my best ones are because of you."
Tony's whole expression softened as he heard the words and he again bridged the distance between them so that their lips touched. He ran his tongue along Tim's lower lip, silently asking for access and the younger man opened his mouth willingly.
It was a gentle exploration at first. Tony, who had always been a tactile person, used the hand holding Tim's face to angle it further, deepening the kiss. The other pulled them closer and drew small circles on the exposed skin along his lower back.
Tim could feel Tony's growing arousal beside his own and he shifted slightly so that their bodies were aligned. He heard the quiet moan from Tony and marveled that he was the cause of it.
Tony lowered his hand and cupped Tim's ass, kneading it through the worn denim. He rubbed his hardened cock against Tim's growing length and elicited a groan from the younger man, who thrust against him in response.
The kiss seemed to go on forever. Tongues met and danced, hands roamed freely, caressing and touching. Tony bit Tim's lower lip and then sucked gently before he finally pulled away.
Tony stared at Tim's flushed face, kiss-swollen lips and limp eyes, committing it to memory.
Reluctantly and with great regret, he said, "We have to stop."
Tim made a sound of protest and opened his eyes, disappointment evident in them.
Tony reached up and gingerly touched the bandaged knot on Tim's head. "Did you forget about this? No rough play for you tonight."
Tim's already flushed face reddened further as he blushed.
"Come on, you should get changed. Do you want me to order some food?"
Tim glanced at his watch, noted the late hour. He nodded and said, "There are some take out menus by the fridge. I've highlighted the ones I normally order."
"Of course you did, McBoyScout," Tony said as he laughed.
Tim had begun to make his way towards his bedroom when he turned around again. "Are you going to stay?"
"That was the plan," Tony said.
Tony stared at Tim, wondering if they'd just had the shortest commitment talk ever, when Tim turned and disappeared into his room.
Tony made his way into the small kitchen and retrieved the menus, flipping through them. He found a place that looked promising and placed their order, modifying Tim's choices slightly to add a couple that he liked.
When he was finished, Tim still hadn't come out of the bedroom so he went to see what was keeping him.
He entered and sucked in a breath. Tim was standing in front of a full-length mirror, shirt off as he examined the bruises on his torso.
At the sound behind him, he looked beyond his reflection to see Tony.
"It's not that bad. The paramedics said I didn't have any broken ribs or anything."
Tony remained silent as he approached Tim.
"You really did fight back."
"I did. He was just…"
"Bigger. Those marines are usually pretty tough."
Tony could not keep his eyes off of the bruises, another quick shock to the system, reminding him how quickly he could have lost Tim. He reached out and ran his hand over the purplish marks, wanting to touch, to feel, to reassure himself that Tim was alive.
Tim shivered at the contact, his body reacting instantly to Tony.
He reached out a hand to halt the movement, when Tony whispered, "Please."
He looked up at Tony's face and saw the need naked in his eyes.
"I want…" Tony couldn't finish his sentence. Instead, he lowered to his knees and placed feather light kisses on Tim's chest, flicking playfully at a nipple until it hardened under his tongue. He laved at it, while his hands undid the button on Tim's pants and slowly lowered the zipper.
Tim watched the progression of Tony's head, his breathing quickening. He turned to the mirror and watched as Tony's head moved down his body, a look of concentration on it as he continued to kiss and nip at the exposed flesh.
Tim let his head fall back as Tony pushed down his jeans and boxer shorts and he stepped out of them. His cock stood erect, its tip glistening with precum. He could feel the warmth of Tony's breath as he hovered above it, his lips inches away.
Tim opened his eyes and watched as Tony's tongue licked his lips slowly, his eyes drifted as they took in his hard length. Tim whimpered at the sight, and Tony looked up to see that Tim was watching him, his eyes dark and full of desire.
He continued to stare up at Tim as he moved his mouth closer, his tongue licking the tip of his cock. He gave a low moan as he tasted Tim for the first time. Unable to look up at Tim any longer, he focused on teasing the head, enjoying the silky texture until finally enclosing it in the tight heat of his mouth.
Tim gave a soft groan of pleasure as he felt Tony swallow the head of his dick and turned again to the mirror. He watched, mesmerized, as Tony slowly took the whole length into his mouth and raised one hand to cup his balls and play gently, while the other rested on his hip.
He saw for a moment Tony's cheeks hollow as he began to suck, when his eyes closed involuntarily. He became lost in the sensation of Tony's mouth moving along his shaft, alternating between pressing his tongue against the thick vein as he moved up and down, and poking his tongue teasingly at the slit as he got to the tip.
He started to thrust unable to reign in the need to push. Tony's hand on his hip guided him, putting pressure when he was going too fast, and urging him on when he slowed down too much.
It wasn't long before he felt the familiar tightening in his belly and he tried to push on Tony's shoulders to let him know to pull off. Instead, Tony continued to suck, using his hand to stroke the base of his cock in time with his mouth.
He came, shouting Tony's name.
Tony slowly raised himself from his position, his knees creaking slightly.
He laughed softly. "Not as young as I used to be, I guess," he said before he ran his hands up the side of Tim's body to rest along his jaw. He leaned in for a kiss, his tongue entering Tim's mouth.
Tim could taste himself on Tony and it made him moan, wanting to know what Tony tasted like. He reached forward to grab at Tony's shirt and pants, desperate to touch.
Tony's stopped him, pulling away.
"Food's going to be here, soon."
Tim made a sound of protest, causing Tony to chuckle.
"I'm right there with you. I am not a fan of delayed gratification. So very much not a fan. But you're supposed to take it easy."
Tony leaned forward and gave Tim a kiss, full of heat and promise. They were both breathless when they heard the knock on the door.
"I'll get the food. You should put some clothes on before I forget all about my good intentions." His gaze swept over Tim's naked form, eyes filled with longing, before he met Tim's eyes again.
"We have time," Tony said tenderly.
Tim saw the look in Tony's eyes, and nodded. He watched Tony leave the room and heard him call a greeting to the delivery person.
He turned back towards his closet and caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror. It was flushed, his pupils still wide and dark with lust and his mouth... his mouth was stretched in a full-out smile, happiness beaming out at him from the mirror.
As he opened a drawer to retrieve something to wear he thought, Tony's right, we have lots of time. This is just the beginning.
- end -