Couldn't Dare to Keep (Me)

By Finding Hero

Summary: Sequel to A Friend In(Dirty)Deeds. Tony's off balance in the first couple days after the night he shared with Tim (and Abby), but that's nothing compared to the way he feels when confronted by Tim. Tim/Tony Slash.

With thanks to Precious Pup whose fabulousness knows no bounds ;-)!

When he gets back to his apartment Saturday morning, Tony leans back against the door. He shuts his eyes and brings his fingers to his lips, stretching his mind and trying to replace the feel of his fingertips with the memory of Tim's mouth on his own. It's not like him to try to keep a moment going in this way, but then this thing he has (always had) for Tim isn't like him either. Not in any way.

He pushes away from the door after a long moment, even though he's sure it's the only thing solid enough in his entire apartment to simulate the feel of Tim's body as it laid against his own last night in the sofa bed.

He'd fallen asleep to the feel of Tim curled up behind him, of Tim's arm strewn casually but tightly across his chest—God, hasn't he always known Tim would be a cuddler? He can still feel the echo of that touch tingling across his skin.

He drops his hand and purses his lips together. If Abby hadn't woken Tim up on her way back from the bathroom way too early in the morning to really start even a regular Saturday, let alone the morning after something like last night, then Tony might still be there, dozing in the circle of Tim's arms.

He wishes he were still there, but one look into Tim's eyes this morning, into his clear and sober and achingly aware green eyes, and Tony knew any plausible deniability that he might get away with for the night before wouldn't apply to the new day.

He'd left as a joke he can no longer remember crossed his lips, as Abby raised her brow and Tim furrowed his. He'd left, and he'd regretted it before he'd even made it to the threshold of the front door, but there was nothing else he could do.

He wonders now what Tim and Abby are doing. She'd slept in her coffin last night, not on the sofa bed with him and Tim. Did she invite Tim into her bedroom as soon as Tony shut the front door? Did Tim call in his marker for whatever he'd been so desperate for the night before that had made him give in and let Tony get away with so much?

Tony locks his jaw and tries not to think about it, but in his head, Tim's desperate hands cover Abby's body. Tony's mind blanks out with concentrated and deliberate ignorance before his imaginary Tim makes it inside her, but he doesn't try to fool himself by pretending that it wasn't, at the very least, what Tim wanted last night.

Tony holds onto that blankness pretty hard for the rest of the day. He keeps it close to the forefront of his mind as he hustles to the Y and plays basketball way too hard with guys half his age until his body all but gives out in protest. He clothes himself with that distance from reality as best he can while he cajoles a pretty lady he meets at the closest strip mall into going out with him that evening. He grips it as tightly as possible as he laughs too loudly through the movie, as he smiles too widely, flirts too hard through dinner. When he kisses that girl goodnight, his mind immediately compares her mouth to Tim's, and Tony finds her flavor insincere, her lips almost sickeningly saccharine. (Will anyone else every taste like they're worth kissing again?) She tilts her head curiously at him when he walks away. As he promises to call her, he realizes that they both know he's lying.

He strips his casual date clothes from his body and goes for a jog as soon as he makes it back home that night. He runs and runs as hard and as fast as he can until he's forced to slow down and finally just to walk back to his place. By then he's focusing as concentratedly as he can on staying upright. Tim almost isn't even on his mind at all. Tony passes out on the sofa, the sweat still drying on his body because he's too tired to make it all the way to the bathroom to wash it off.

It's early Sunday afternoon by the time he wakes again, this time to the buzzing of his phone. In his still mostly asleep state, he barely remembers to check the caller ID in time. His mind stutters when he sees the stark lettering of the word 'Probie' in the display just below that picture he'd taken of Tim at the Thomas crime scene when his pants had ripped all up the side trying to jump down from the tree house after the ladder had broken. Anyone looking at the snapshot could see how powerful Tim's thigh was even through the layer of dirt speckled across his skin.

Tony swallows hard and sets the cell back down onto the coffee table. His mind flickers over the possibility that the call might be work related, but even as Tony dreads the thought of Tim dialing him for personal reasons related to Friday night, his mind rebels even more at the thought that Tim wouldn't try calling regarding their friendship at all.

Tony clenches his fists against the knot in his stomach and tries to tell himself it's okay to ignore the call. After all, Tim'll leave a message if they've got a crime scene, and if it's personal… Well… Tim might try to call back or he might not, but Tony can always say he was in the shower. He listens as the buzzing stops, waits a minute afterward, but there's no chime—no voicemail, which means no crime scene. Just Tim phoning to check on him, Tony reassures himself.

Tony sits up and sniffs, just realizing how rank he is. In fact, he should have been in the shower when Tim called. He strips his clothes off with sore arms, sore shoulders—sore everything—tossing the garments into the hamper as he goes, deciding that verisimilitude is good enough to make the lie real if his timing's close enough.

He thinks about what he'll say to Tim tomorrow as the water's raining down on him. Oh, you called? He'll lift his brows at Tim in innocence. Must have been while I was in the shower, he can rightly say. Practically right, anyway. Tony considers the wording he'll use, ponders what phrasing sounds the most innocuous. He manages to distract himself for the full fifteen minutes he lingers under the hot spray. His considerations occupy his mind as he towels off and gets dressed. He's thinking about going out for another run and undoing all the good of the hot shower when there's a knock at the door.

Tony literally startles at the sound like he's never heard it before in his life. His eyes go for the door, and he imagines Tim behind it, though it's just wishful thinking, of course. It's probably the guy downstairs coming up to complain that Tony's water is leaking down into his apartment again. Tony tells himself this and yet, he still pictures Tim behind the door, even imagines he can hear the subtle pitch of Tim's breath as he waits for Tony in the hallway.

Tony walks for the door as quietly as he can, hoping the person on the other side can't hear him as he does. He just wants to know who it is, he decides. He doesn't actually want to see anybody. When he peeks out through the spyhole he spots Tim biting his lip as he waits in Tony's hallway.

Tony catches his breath and then, all of a sudden, he can't breathe at all. As he's wondering if he's imagining things, he watches Tim's head quirk to the side.

"Tony?" Tim questions, his hand reaching for the door with palm open and fingers spread. "Is that you?" he asks, voice rising higher than it normally does when he poses a question.

Tony finds himself stepping back and opening the door before he has a chance to think about it. "I was in the shower!" he blurts at Tim's high brows that greet him on the other side of the door.

Tim opens his mouth and blinks, his eyes dropping down Tony's body just long enough to send a wave of heat low through Tony's gut in response before Tim brings his eyes back up to Tony's face.

"Oh," Tim nods, quietly declarative like he so often is. And then Probie squints and tilts his head a little more to the right. "Can I come in?" he ducks his chin.

Tony grips the door handle a little more tightly in reflex. "Yeah," he nods back. "Of course." Tony opens the door more widely and steps out of the way as Tim enters.

Tim glances around Tony's trashed apartment like he's never seen it before. Tony has just enough time to feel a joke crawl up his throat before Tim turns back around to face him, and it's obvious he wasn't really looking at the stashes of takeout containers scattered here and there or at the piles of clothes on the floor because it's only after his eyes land on Tony's that Tim's gaze seems to focus.

"You left in a hurry yesterday morning," Tim says after a long, quiet moment.

Tony shrugs and gives Tim his best devil-may-care grin. "Didn't want to get in the way of the fireworks." Tony winks and turns away from Tim, moving towards the kitchen. After he makes it there, his hands decide to make coffee. Tim's footfall hits the linoleum after a few seconds.

"Here I thought you brought the fireworks," Tim's teasing tone comes from closer than Tony expects, nearly causing him to jump.

Tony hurriedly finishes dishing the coffee grounds into the filter. He hesitates, feels his fists clench and unclench a couple times, but there's something about the quality of Tim's voice that has the butterflies in his stomach fluttering about, and he can't keep himself from turning around to try to figure it out.

Tim's leaning against the fridge with a single brow raised when Tony puts his back to the counter. His partner's unintentionally sexy pose puts Tony off balance, and he smiles hugely to try to counteract the feeling. "Damn straight I do," he winks again and goes for the hard sell, but a second later, Tony can't help but to shrug and drop his head. "I just thought maybe you'd appreciate some time alone with Abby. Thought you might want to cash in on her very special IOU," he adds with particular emphasis, then immediately regrets bringing it up.

Tim shrugs and pushes off the fridge, "Actually," Tim states matter-of-factly while his eyes squint with a brand new, almost flirty smile and his body seems to lean a little bit in Tony's direction, "what I was thinking yesterday morning was that I'd rather have breakfast with you."

And the words and the grin and the fucking leaning make Tony's breath catch like any punch to the gut, so Tony strikes back. "See this would be why you don't get laid very often, Probie," Tony speaks as condescendingly as possible. "Gotta prioritize."

"Hmm," Tim hums and nods and the grin stays slathered to his face like Tony's insult can't even touch him. "Good thinking, Tony. Only, the thing is," Tim ducks his chin, angles his head a little more and closes the distance between them until he's close enough for Tony to touch, "I've had some time to think it over, and the more I consider the situation, the more I realize," Tim licks his lips and looks up at Tony from beneath his lashes, "I would really like it if you let me take you to lunch today."

Tony's dick twitches hard inside his sweatpants at both the impossible words and the almost sultry tone of Tim's voice, and it's so fucking impossible and so fucking unfair that Tim would do this to him—use this private thing (feelings) of Tony's against him.

Tony forces out a laugh, knows his anger bleeds through it and is glad because he's pretty sure it's big enough and strong enough that Tim won't be able to hear the hurt underneath it. "You've got to be kidding me!" he exclaims incredulously and feels a trickle of strength flow through his veins at the slight twitch in the smile on Tim's face.

Tim nervously licks his lips and reasserts his smile. "No, I," Probie blinks, "I, I just thought, I mean Friday night—"

"You, you, you," Tony mocks, "you thought what about Friday night?" Tony squints and juts out his chin. "That it was somehow special to me?" Tony feels his guts twist even though he's the one sticking the knife into Tim with his words. "Look, I know you're desperate for somebody to throw a little affection your way, but this is ridiculous!" he exclaims. "I'm not gay!" Tony's really not. Honestly. "You're not gay!" And that fact's even more achingly on point. "You can't just randomly latch onto people because they throw you a bone every once in a while!" At least that's the truth, and even if it's a tough one, it's one Tim should have learned by now. "Fucking man up already," he pokes Tim in the chest, feeling so angry that he has to say this out loud that he might almost punch right through him with his finger, "and move on!"

And finally Tim's head drops to his chest. He blinks, and fuck it, Tim actually looks as though his eyes might be watering.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Tony ducks his head to get right into Tim's face, going for the hard sell for maybe the last time in their entire friendship. "Did I hurt your feelings, Pro-bie?" he emphasizes Tim's formerly junior status. "Truth always gets to you in the e—"

The rest of Tony's words are snatched from his mouth by Tim's lips on his. And Tony doesn't mean to, but he grabs Tim back right away, clutches at his shoulders like he'd die if he'd didn't keep holding onto him. And Tim doesn't mess around at all. He shoves his tongue into Tony's mouth like he owns it. He grasps (steadies) the back of Tony's head with both hands like each finger has a charter from God to be there. He leans into Tony with his entire body, makes Tony's whole body bow right back into him.

And it's nothing like Friday night's merry go round of sweet kisses and tentative touches at all. This is Tim laying claim to him. Or it feels like Tim's laying claim to him. He couldn't possibly, honestly, truly be making any avowals on Tony, but, oh it feels so much like it that Tony doesn't know what else to call it.

Tony gasps because in this moment the possibilities seem so endless though Tony knows they're not really. There can't really be any possibilities here at all. And as Tony's desperately struggling to get some air a little deeper into his lungs, Tim slowly kisses his way across both his cheeks. It's only as Tim's light breath kisses across Tony's face with his mouth that Tony realizes his cheeks are wet. Tony swallows hard.

"Tim," he exhales his partner's name on a jagged breath. Then he just shakes his head because he doesn't know what the fuck he could possibly say.

"Let me take you to lunch," Tim insists once more, quietly but assertively and just so very certain, and this time it's not Tony's gut twisting, but his heart.

Tony blinks, though he hasn't truly opened his eyes back up since Tim's mouth touched his. He squinches his eyelids shut as tightly as he can and shakes his head, still reaching for something to say. Tony feels Tim lay his forehead against his, offering balance.

"When you kissed me the other night," Tim leads quietly, "it felt like," Tim pauses but doesn't quite stutter, "I mean I'd never," Tim swallows hard enough for Tony to hear it, "but then it was just so perfect, and I didn't want it to stop. Not ever," he finishes on a whisper.

"Okay," Tony says back just as softly a minute or so later. "Lunch," he confirms, wanting his voice to come out sure and strong—careless—but knowing there's no possible way it could ever come across like that, not when it came to making promises to Tim. He clears his throat and continues a little thickly, "but I'm not a cheap date."

Tim grins at that. Tony can't see it through his eyelids obviously, but he can feel it and hear it. "Kind of figured that part out on my own, Tony." Tim's hand pulls around to cup Tony's face. "My mother always said anything worth doing is worth doing well, though."

"And I'm worth doing?" Tony finally opens his eyes, and it's just in time to see that cute blush stretch along Tim's nose and splash across his cheeks.

"Tony, I didn't, I-I mean that's not why I—"

Tony interrupts Tim's stuttering with a chuckle, feeling his affection for Tim spread, wide and thick, across his heart, his chest, his whole life. "You are still way too easy, sometimes," he presses a quick peck to Tim's lips—just to see if he can get away with it.

Tim smiles at the invasion and kisses him right back. "Only for you."

Tony's breath catches at the promise he can't help but to read in Tim's words. He ducks his head and waits to hear Tim qualify his words, to let Tony know he just means he knows he's an easy target for Tony's teasing. Tim doesn't tack on any disclaimers, though, and so it suddenly becomes Tony's job:

"Yeah, I guess when it comes to other people you have become slightly less gullible with time," Tony bites his lip directly after speaking, knowing he needs to tamp back on the harassment but feeling too off balance to really be able to let go of the habit.

"Well, I'm a very special agent now," Tim speaks in that same tone of voice that Tony had never really heard from him until Friday night. "I've had years of training from the best." His thumb slowly swipes across Tony's bottom lip.

"So what, you think you're ready for prime time now or something?" Tony asks, still trying to clear out the feeling of unbalance in his chest.

Tim rolls his eyes, but gamely tries to catch their rhythm anyway, "I don't mind working under you, Tony."

Tony's gaze immediately zooms to Tim's and latches on.

Tim blinks, and then blushes as hard as Tony's ever seen him do. "I didn't—I mean I don't—not that I wouldn't—or well, not that I really know if I—"

The laughter bubbles up inside of Tony, happiness stretching throughout his entire body at the stumbling and beautiful honesty. "God, Probie!" he holds onto Tim's shoulders a little less desperately, a little more surely. "Way too easy!"

And Tim ducks his head, but he's always been a good sport, so he smiles, even through his blush. Then he loosens his own grip of Tony, but only the overall strength of it. He maintains every ounce of its possessiveness at every place where his hands and body line Tony's. Tony leans into every point of the touch. A moment later, he feels Tim relax just as much right back into him.

"Come on," Tim taps Tony's jawline and bends into him for a quick kiss. Tony's right there to greet him. "Go get dressed," Tim orders with that sureness in his tone that keeps going right for Tony's cock, "and we'll go out."

Tony nods. "Okay, but only if I get to choose where," he demands even though he doesn't mean it at all.

"Anywhere you want," Tim confirms, though he has to know Tony's posing at this point. "First dates should be special," he finishes a little more softly.

Tony bites his lip to try to hide his pleasure this time. It's no good though. He can tell he hasn't hidden his reaction because he can see Tim smiling at least as widely in response.

"I just need a minute," Tony nods his head towards the bedroom but doesn't move in that direction quite yet.

"Take your time," Tim says with warm eyes. "I'm not going anywhere."