Tony - Tim friendship, Tony/Gibbs.

Warning: This story contains explicit male/male sex. If this kind of thing isn't to your liking, if you're underage, or if m/m sex is illegal where you are, please don't read this story. Life is far too short to be upset by things you read on the internet.

Disclaimer: Not my sandbox, I'm just playing in it. Thanks to all involved in making NCIS such a fantastic show.


Everyone knows Tony's a little insecure around McGee. All those mad computer McSkills, that sharp brain in need of a little experience in the real world, and he'll be a damn good agent, good enough to take the senior spot some day. Vance likes him, likes his style. Gibbs thinks he's worth keeping around and training up. Everyone knows Tony feels just a little threatened and that's one of the reasons why he pulls McGee's pigtails, pranks him, calls him names.

What everyone doesn't know is that Tony has a few computer skills of his own. He may not be able to hack into another federal agency's databases, or track a bank trail through five different countries without tripping flags every step of the way, but he knows enough that the team got by the two years it was mostly just him and Gibbs. And everyone doesn't know that, on occasion, Tony and McGee are friends.

They don't hang out together outside of work that often: the job doesn't give them that much free time and laundry still needs doing every once in a while and yes, even the Elf Lord goes out on dates. But sometimes, once every few weeks, they end up grabbing pizza, or sushi, or takeout, catching a movie, going to stand-up, knocking back a couple of beers at a quiet bar and eventually they end up talking.

Tony picks up on McGee's insecurities about his writing, the job, other people. He doesn't use the things he's learned against the younger man. His teasing never crosses into vindictive, even when the job takes its toll on sleep-deprived caffeine-fuelled nerves. In return, McGee learns how to stand up for himself, how to tease back, although there are times he comes close to crossing lines that will damage their friendship beyond repair.

There are plenty of subjects they talk about: work, food, books, TV, women in all their glorious mystery. There are subjects they only skirt around: Tony's parents, Tim's sister, then Kate and eventually Jeanne, Jenny.

And then there's the subject they don't talk about.

Tim figured it out pretty quickly. Where most people see Tony's need for Gibbs as a father-son mentor deal, Tim - the only one of the team who had anything approaching a normal childhood, it sometimes seems - just doesn't see that familial connection. It takes a few months of watching them interact before it clicks into place. They're at Tim's place, watching a college football game and Tony leaps to his feet, cheering on a play without spilling a drop of the beer in his hand. He holds out the bottle as he settles back onto the couch and it takes a second too long for Tim to react, to clink bottles.

Tim's writer-brain, the part of his subconscious that feeds expressions and motivations directly into his characters, catalogs the split second in which Tony registers his surroundings: Tim's living room, with Tim's couch, and Tim sitting on it beside him. And in that split second, Tim sees just how much Tony wants him to be Gibbs.

Were Tim the cool, laid-back guy he likes to kid himself he's become, he'd have held his tongue, but he isn't entirely, so he blurts out, 'Holy crap! You're in love with Gibbs!'

There's a moment of frozen silence, then Tony's back on his feet, grabbing his jacket and before Tim can stammer out an apology, the agent is out of the apartment, door slamming shut behind him.

'Nice going, dumb-ass,' Tim mutters, slumping back on the couch. He fumbles for the remote, turns the TV off, spends the rest of the weekend wondering how he's going to salvage something from this mess. But he's called out at three thirty Monday morning, summoned to a murder scene in Maryland. The team hits the ground running and there's no time to feel awkward, just a murderer to catch before he strikes again. Three days later, with the guy banging on the one-way mirror in interrogation, there's finally room to breathe, but one glare from Tony has Tim miming zipping his lips shut. A nod. He won't talk about it to Tony and Tony won't cut him out of their some-time, occasional get-togethers.

It's all good until Gibbs gets blown up and runs off to Mexico. Tim can see just how much that hurts Tony, but he's feeling pretty damn abandoned himself and he hates feeling off-kilter like that. Tim knows he's behaving more like an obnoxious teenager than a federal agent, but he can't seem to help himself. And Tony takes it, putting up with far more than he should, but then again, he's always busy. No more watching football games, no more grabbing a beer after work, no more friendship, which only makes Tim feel even more adrift, which he takes out on Tony.

Vicious circle.

He's happy when Gibbs comes back to stay; maybe things can finally go back to the way they're supposed to be. But they don't. Tony's still busy, tired, making flimsy excuses to go running off in the middle of the day. Tim's still shut out and he hates it. So when it comes out that Tony's been working undercover all this time and he didn't bother telling anyone, Tim ignores the niggle in his gut that says maybe he couldn't tell, wasn't allowed to, that maybe Tony's suffered enough, and does his best to punish him in righteous indignation. Until one evening, heading down in the elevator with Tony standing silently in the corner, Tim says, 'At least Jeanne got you over your crush on Gibbs.' and glances over his shoulder as the doors open. For a split second, Tony looks as though Tim's just pulled out his gun and shot him in the stomach. Then a mask comes down over Tony's face and Tim has a flash of insight into just how good Tony is at undercover work.

It's the better part of a year before they get their friendship back on track.

In the meantime, Tim does a little surveillance of his own, watches Tony and in the end he thinks he understands the man a bit better. Tony doesn't date nearly as much as he makes out. He's estranged from his father, does a bit of basketball coaching down at the Y when he gets chance, but mostly Tony works. Tim checks the security records. Tony routinely works an extra twenty hours a week, and that's in addition to all the hours Gibbs expects them to be there when they have a hot case. His life revolves around the job and the job revolves around Gibbs.

Maybe it isn't so odd that Tony's in love with their boss. Tim tries to appreciate their boss objectively, tries putting himself into the mindset of one of his female characters, but he only has time to agree with Abby's assessment of Gibbs as a silver fox before the fox turns and glares at him, then dumps a pile of paperwork on his desk as he obviously has too little to do.

Tim doesn't dare do surveillance on Gibbs, so he makes discreet enquiries of Abby, who laughs at him and tells him to man up. And also? The bossman's private life is best left private.

'But don't you think he should be with someone?' Tim asks in frustration.

'The man's been married four times,' Abby points out. 'Maybe he's happier on his own. And are you volunteering?'

'What? No!' Tim flushes a dull red, hating his complexion that shows every time he's embarrassed. 'Why, would Gibbs be interested?'

'In you? No way,' Abby says, patting him on the arm consolingly. 'But in men in general? I don't think he's prejudiced, but I don't think he's gay. Why? You aren't interested in him, are you?'

She looks at him with such concern that Tim stammers out a no, makes a feeble joke about needing to get out and date more, then takes his life in his hands and says if he knew for sure Gibbs wouldn't turn a guy down flat, he could set him up. With a guy. Who's perfect for Gibbs. Wouldn't mind the long hours, could put up with all the bad moods, the lack of verbal communication. Someone who'd be happy just spending a little time with Gibbs.

'And you're sure it's not you?' Abby asks skeptically.

'God, no. I mean, I respect the man, but he scares me. And oddly, that isn't a turn-on.'

Abby narrows her eyes. It means she's hatching a plan. Hopefully, it'll be a cunning plan, a plan that actually stands a chance of working.

'Spill, Abs,' Tim says as menacingly as he can.

She grins. 'Leave it to me, grasshopper. There's someone I need to have a word with.'

But then it turns out Gibbs is in a relationship. With a woman. It lasts a while; she looks like becoming the fifth Mrs Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but then she quits and moves to Hawaii, leaving Gibbs looking oddly uncertain, unsure of himself, and Abby gets around to that word.

'So, I spoke to Ducky,' she says as Tim hands her a Caf-Pow! one afternoon.

'About anything in particular?'

'About that question you had. Would your friend still be interested? Or has he moved on, found someone to do the horizontal tango with?'

Tim considers the question. 'I don't think it'd matter,' he says slowly. 'I'm pretty sure that he'd drop anyone else for the chance to be with Gibbs.'

'Ooh, kinky!' Abby says happily and takes a slurp of her drink. 'Well, Ducky doesn't know. But he says Gibbs definitely isn't prejudiced and might be persuaded to go on a date. Possibly. But it'll take some setting up.'

Tim thinks a moment, then nods. 'Okay. Well, good.'

'Ducky's going to see if he can get Gibbs to agree to meet him for dinner. He'll let me know where and when, hopefully some place close to your apartment. I'll tell you, you tell your friend. Ducky will call Gibbs and tell him he couldn't make it, but maybe he could have dinner with you instead since you're just around the corner. Then you call and say you're really sorry, but you were meant to be meeting your friend there for dinner, but you've been held up - your editor wants to talk, or something - and would he mind hanging out with your friend instead and you'll be there later.' She stands back and grins. 'Cunning, huh?'

Tim blinks as he processes Abby's plan, rattled off at top speed. 'Uh, yeah, I suppose that could work.'

'All right!' Abby crows. 'The plan is on.'

It's another couple of weeks before Tim gets the heads-up. There's a steakhouse about two blocks from Tim's apartment. It's pretty decent and Tim's eaten there more than once. Ducky's arranged to meet Gibbs there at eight on Friday night.

'One down, one to go,' Tim mutters. He catches Tony in the parking garage. 'Hey, it's been a while since we hung out,' he says. 'Fancy doing something this Friday, if we don't catch a case?'

Tony raises an eyebrow. 'How do you know I don't have a hot date?'

'Do you?'

'Well, no, but that isn't the point. I could have,' Tony says, a little defensive.

'In which case, surely you'd say so and we'd hang out some other time,' Tim says slowly.

'Right, of course.' Tony shrugs. 'What do you have in mind?'

'There's that steakhouse close to mine. We could grab a bite, maybe go to a bar and have a beer after?'

'Sounds like a plan. All right, you're on. Seven thirty?' Tony smiles.

Tim doesn't feel at all guilty as he says, 'Better make it eight, just to be on the safe side.'

###

The door swings shut behind Tony and he looks around him for the familiar silhouette of his colleague. It takes a couple of seconds, but he finds it, only it isn't the silhouette he expects.

'Gibbs?'

'DiNozzo. Fancy meeting you here.' His boss takes a sip of the beer in front of him.

'So, you meeting anyone in particular?' Tony sits down opposite him, takes the opportunity to check him out in an informal setting. Dark blue shirt, no tie, charcoal gray sports jacket. 'Looking good.'

'Just Ducky,' Gibbs says, frowning as his cell phone rings. He fishes the phone out of his pocket, takes the call. 'Gibbs… No, that's okay, DiNozzo showed up. Later.' He snaps the phone shut. 'Looks as though Ducky can't make it after all.' He regards Tony with his customary gaze, heavy on the skepticism. 'So what are you doing here?'

'Meeting McGee. He lives a couple of blocks from here, asked if I wanted to grab dinner here.' He frowns too, then winces. 'What're we betting Tim isn't going to show either?'

Gibbs meets his eyes. 'No such thing as a coincidence.'

Tony's phone rings. 'Don't tell me, something came up… Right. Well, oddly enough, Gibbs is here, so if he doesn't shoot me on the spot, I'll kill you tomorrow.' He pushes the button to end the call with unnecessary ferocity, stuffs the phone in his pocket, looks at Gibbs.

'Looks like we've been set up.'

Gibbs nods. 'So, there something you want to tell me?'

'Apart from being desperately in love with you since the day we met? Not so much,' Tony grins. 'You?'

###

Behind the scenes, Tim gets a call from Ducky. 'There might be a bit of a problem with the plan,' Ducky says worriedly. 'Apparently Anthony is there. I could always ask Abigail to call him, manufacture some excuse to get him out before your friend shows up.'

'No, that's okay,' Tim says, feeling unaccountably anxious. 'It's not a problem.'

'But unless Tony's there to meet someone himself, I can't see him leaving Gibbs to eat on his own,' Ducky frets.

'It'll be fine,' Tim says. 'Really.'

There's a long pause, then Ducky speaks, his voice filled with understanding. 'Oh! You're certain about this?' He isn't talking about Tony ruining the set-up any more.

Tim takes a deep breath. 'Very.' Part of him knows with a gut-sinking surety that he's betrayed that unspoken confidence after all these years and there's a very good chance that Tony will never trust him with anything outside work again. But there's a part of him singing in relief that he doesn't have to guard Tony's secret any more, the part that thinks these two dedicated, driven, lonely men deserve a shot at something more than the loyalty and respect they give to each other without reservation.

'Well, then.' Ducky sighs. 'Does Abigail know the identity of your mysterious friend?'

'Ah, no.'

'That's probably for the best. I do hope she isn't going to attempt to spy on their date to ascertain it.'

'No, she promised she wouldn't. I think she's dragged Jimmy out to one of her clubs, told him it's the best place in DC to see a wide variety of piercings. I think she thought it'd appeal to his medical curiosity.' Tim grins.

Ducky chuckles. 'In that case, I shall eagerly await his account on Monday morning.'

'Do you think we're doing the right thing?' Tim blurts out. 'I mean…'

'Only time will tell, Timothy. Only time will tell.'

With that, Ducky makes his excuses and ends the call, leaving Tim alone in his apartment to wonder how the date is going, until it occurs to him firstly that this is Friday night and while he's set his friend up with his boss, he doesn't have a date himself, and secondly that both Tony and Gibbs know exactly where he lives. He grabs his jacket, his wallet and his keys and heads out to his favorite bookstore. It's open late, has a great coffee shop at the back, and there's always someone to talk to. It isn't a date, but it will most certainly do.

###

'Might as well eat.' Gibbs accepts the beers the waitress gives him, slides one to Tony.

'Cheers.'

They clink bottles, order steaks, sit in silence for a while, until Gibbs says, 'I knew. How you felt.'

'I was joking,' Tony says, rolling his eyes and slumping back in his seat, long fingers picking at the label on the bottle.

'No you weren't,' Gibbs disagrees, but his tone is surprisingly gentle.

'So this is a blind date, huh?' Tony stares at the table, face unreadable. 'I doubt McGee had the guts to set us up on his own.'

'Yeah. Ducky's in on it, probably Abby as well.' Gibbs watches Tony carefully. 'You okay with that?'

'With what? The whole team thinking my private life is so pathetic they need to set me up with the boss? No offense, boss.'

'None taken. If that's the case, they obviously think the same about mine.' Gibbs examines the idea for a minute. 'And I don't care.'

'Good for you, Gibbs. That's the spirit.' Tony shoves the bottle away from him and it skates over the scratched veneer of the table top. 'What did I ever do to Tim that was so awful?'

'You think this is some kind of payback?' Gibbs frowns.

'You think this isn't?' Tony asks blackly. 'I mean, since when is it a good idea to set a guy up on a blind date with his boss? I mean, I've never said I was interested in guys. You've never said you were interested in guys. We work for a federal agency dealing with marines and the navy. Being interested in guys isn't a smart move.'

'But you are interested in guys, Tony,' Gibbs says, stretching out one long leg and pressing the side of his calf against Tony's. Tony doesn't jump, doesn't move his leg away. He does look up at Gibbs, finally, so Gibbs counts it as a win.

'No, I'm not. I'm interested in you.'

Gibbs sucks in a breath, the confirmation warming him as much as the physical contact. 'You told Tim?'

'He guessed. We never talked about it.'

Their meals arrive and they tuck in, not ones to let the mood spoil their dinner. Tony wrinkles his nose.

'Something wrong?'

'Nah, the steak's okay. I was just thinking that yours are better.' Tony smiles, the atmosphere lightening. 'You know, if McGee had actually said anything, I'd have pointed out we do have dinner together sometimes.'

'Ah, but those aren't dates,' Gibbs says with a little grin of his own. 'Usually we grill steaks, watch a game, and that's about it.'

'Good times,' Tony agrees, nodding. 'So since this is apparently a blind date, shouldn't we, I don't know, be trying to get to know each other a little bit?'

'Sure,' Gibbs says, enjoying the mischief dancing in Tony's eyes. 'Tell me about yourself.'

'Oh, well, I work in law enforcement,' Tony says with a quick smile. 'Got a shiny badge and a gun. If you like, I could show it to you later.'

Gibbs feels the corners of his mouth twitching. 'Is that so? Does that mean you're a cop?'

'Kind of. A navy cop,' Tony goes along with the teasing. 'Why, you going to ask me to show you my nightstick?'

'Not on a first date,' Gibbs says, fighting to keep a straight face. 'Maybe next time.'

'Good to know,' Tony nods. 'Gives me something to aim for.'

'Your aim that good?'

'Well, I haven't had any complaints so far,' Tony says, his eyes darkening. He licks his lips and the air thickens between them.

Gibbs takes a deep breath, feeling warm. 'Good to know.'

'What about you?' Tony tries to return to levity, but Gibbs can't quite get there.

'I was a sniper. I hit the target every time.' The words hang there like a promise. They can't be unsaid and Gibbs finds he doesn't want to take them back.

'You know, I think I've had enough,' Tony says, setting down his steak knife, his fork. He leaves his hand lying on the table and his tongue flicks over his lips, drawing Gibbs' attention.

'Not hungry?' he asks, setting down his own cutlery.

'Not for food,' Tony says as Gibbs covers his hand with his own. He turns his hand palm up and clasps Gibbs' callused hand and heat shoots through the older man, going straight to his groin.

'About that nightstick,' Gibbs rasps.

'What happened to not on a first date?' Tony asks, his voice low and intimate.

'I'm counting all the times we had cowboy-style steaks at my place,' Gibbs confesses. 'Which makes this very much not a first date.'

'Oh, well, in that case…' Tony licks his lips again, then drags his gaze away from the older man. 'Can we get the check here?' he calls to a passing waitress. She nods, and five minutes later they're stepping out into the balmy night air.

'See you back at my place?' Gibbs asks with just a hint of uncertainty.

'Hell, yes,' Tony grins. 'I'll be right behind you.'

As it turns out, he's a few minutes longer than right behind Gibbs, stopping off on the way to pick up supplies, but when he gets there, the door's unlocked and the only light on downstairs is the one lighting the way up to the bedroom.

Tony closes the door behind him, throws the bolt that's almost never locked, and goes upstairs.

Gibbs is in the bathroom, but comes out as Tony enters the room. He's lost the jacket, but that simply shows off his shoulders better. Tony's mouth goes dry and he starts to cover up his flush of attraction with a joke. Then he stops, laughs a little self-consciously and drops a paper bag on the nightstand.

'You need anything?' Gibbs asks, watching him with heat warming those ice-blue eyes.

'Just you,' Tony admits. He takes off his own jacket, tosses it across the room to lay across a chair, flicks open the top button of his shirt. 'You?'

Gibbs steps forward into his space. 'Got everything I need right here,' he says roughly, lifting a hand to cup the back of Tony's neck.

Tony shivers and takes the half step that closes the distance between them. Bending his head, he brushes a kiss across dry lips, licks his own, tasting mint. 'You brushed your teeth,' he murmurs. Leaning forwards, he breathes into Gibbs' ear, 'Hoping to get lucky?'

It's Gibbs' turn to shiver. 'Hell, yes,' he growls, sliding his other hand round Tony's waist. Then they're kissing again, lips sliding across lips, meshing perfectly, as though they've been doing this for years. Kissing leads to stripping, leads to lying naked on the bed, side by side, long legs tangled together, hands stroking, petting, exploring new territory. It leads to more kissing, as hands fumble with a plastic cap, spread lube, slick and cool, onto hot flesh, sliding slowly, faster, harder, until gasping into each other's mouths, they come, one after the other, into the hot, sweaty space between them.

When they've caught their breath and done a reasonable job of mopping up the mess, Gibbs raises an eyebrow. 'Worth waiting for?'

Tony sends an appraising gaze over the long, lean body stretched out next to him, then he fits the palm of his hand to the jut of Gibbs' hip bone and grins that shit-eating grin that normally makes Gibbs itch to slap him round the head. Tonight, though, it makes Gibbs want to kiss him, so he does, and when he pulls back, the grin's gentled into a smile that thaws the last of the ice in Gibbs' heart.

'For you, I'd have waited a lifetime,' Tony says and it's such a corny line, but Gibbs knows exactly how he feels.

'I'm glad you didn't have to,' Gibbs says softly. 'Very glad.'

###

Tim's called out to a crime scene at three thirty on Monday morning. It's on his side of town, so he's there in time to see Tony and Gibbs pull up, climbing out of the same car. Tony hands the older man a travel mug with steam curling up from the hole in the lid. They're all business, moving in their well-practiced dance around the scene, dealing with the body, witnesses, the LEOs at the perimeter.

There's nothing inappropriate, nothing that smacks of intimacy, but when they're packing up, evidence gathered, witnesses interviewed, body bagged and on its way, Tony takes the mug from Gibbs and sips, his mouth covering the place where Gibbs has been drinking, and even with the twist of lips that says the coffee is Gibbs' usual stomach-stripping tar, Tim finds himself blushing and feeling as though he's witnessed something private, become an inadvertent voyeur.

Later that morning, after he's put in a full eight hours and it's still not quite lunchtime, Tim takes a break in Abby's lab, letting the pounding music wash over him in a way that's almost soothing.

'So? Did the plan work?' she asks, eyes sparkling with benign curiosity and the effects of too many Caf-Pows. 'Did you hear from your friend? Did Gibbs walk out? Or did they get together for a weekend of passion? Tell me everything!'

Unbidden, that stolen moment rises in front of him and for just a second Tim envies them that connection. Then he blinks and smiles up at the irrepressible goth. 'No, I didn't hear. But I'm pretty sure it went well.'

'Oh? Does that mean the bossman's actually chipper today?' Her leer transforms into a beaming smile as Tim's head rocks forward under the impact of a headslap. 'Gibbs!'

Gibbs glares at both of them until their smiles fade, then his face softens almost imperceptibly, letting them know they aren't really in the dog house. 'You took a hell of a chance,' he says, letting them know just how serious this is.

Tim makes full use of his Tony-sponsored backbone and draws himself up straight on the lab stool, looks Gibbs in the eye. 'Yes,' he concedes, then adds, 'It was worth the risk.'

Gibbs regards him steadily, then nods once. 'It was. Abby, whadda ya got for me?' He's brisk, business-like as Abby shows him what she's found in the scraps of evidence they've brought her, then strides out of the lab, his step not faltering as she lets out the high-pitched squeal she's been holding in.

She's just working herself up into a frenzy of questions about Tim's friend, Gibbs' date, when Ducky pops his head round the door. 'Well?'

Tim opens his mouth as Abby bounces on the spot beside him, then closes it again as Tony walks in.

'Popping out for lunch,' Tony says. 'Anyone want anything?' He takes their sandwich order, then raises his eyebrow at the conspirators. 'Something you want to share with the class?'

Tim puts on his best Tony-esque smirk and says, 'You're welcome.'

Tony narrows his eyes for a long moment, then a smile breaks across his face like sunshine after a storm. 'You owe me dinner.'

'Yes, I do,' Tim agrees. 'But I'd have thought dessert more than made up for it.'

Tony sputters, then laughs and leaves the lab with a wave of his hand.

'Oh my god!' Abby says. 'Oh my god! Tony's your friend? Tony? Oh my god!'

'Breathe, Abigail,' Ducky advises, putting a fatherly hand on her shoulder.

Tim lets his grin escape. 'Yeah,' he says happily. 'Tony's my friend.'