Word Count: almost 3,300
Characters/Pairings: Gibbs/DiNozzo (unrequited), DiNozzo/McGee(unrequited)
Summary - We've got a love triangle here. Tim loves Tony who loves Gibbs. Who's gonna end up with who? Only time will tell. (Well and me if you ask - I know where this story is going.)
Disclaimer: I do not in any way shape or form own NCIS or make a profit from this story. It'd be nice if I did but I don't. ::major sad face::
raves or rants are welcome - comments are love!
And a HUGE thanks to
Tim franticly hit the keys of his typewriter. His, known by anything other than 'writer's block,' block finally seemed to be lifted and the words came easily to him. He did not dwell on what made that day different. He knew if he started to stew, to go over everything he'd said and done, not only would his sequel never get finished, but also he'd end up turning in his badge and gun in the morning. And Gibbs' had said if he ever tried a stunt like that again, he wouldn't get them back. So Tim wrote. He wrote and wrote and even when his clock chimed that it was two a.m., he kept going. Sure, he was going to be exhausted when he had to go to work at 7, but overall, it was worth it.
'It was worth it…' he told himself again.
It was well past three when Tim thought he heard a knock on his door. He waited a moment, fingers settled in eager pause over the keys, before he heard the soft tap tap a second time. If he had been in his bedroom, he never would have heard it. Tim slid his chair back away from his desk and got up. Slowly he headed to the door, different scenarios running through his head. It was Gibbs, he was sure, even if some part of his brain niggled that his boss had never knocked that lightly in his life. Gibbs had come to kill him, screw just transferring the younger man off the team or kicking him out of NCIS and blackballing him away from the other federal organizations. No, he had come to kill Tim. And he wouldn't even have to enlist Abby to help hide the body. Gibbs could get away with murder – Tim was pretty sure he had in the past.
Leaning forward, Tim peered through the peephole.
Earlier that evening
Tim pulled up to Gibbs' house but didn't immediately turn off his car or exit it. Instead he left the motor running and listed to the radio for several minutes. It was a little after six-pm, an early night considering how wacky his work schedule could be. Abby had invited Tim to dinner but he had declined, deciding it was now or never to talk to Gibbs. With a sigh, he leaned forward in his seat and rested his forehead on the steering wheel. He could do this; he hadn't been with NCIS all these years without growing a tiny backbone. Tim was surprised that his hands weren't shaking when he shut off the ignition and pulled his keys out. Slowly he got out of the car and shut the door. Even slower he made his way up to Gibb's front porch. Not bothering to knock, as everyone and their mother knew the former, 'there's no such thing as a former,' marine never locked his door, Tim went inside.
When he didn't see Gibbs in the living room, Tim moved through in to the kitchen. There was his boss, sitting at the table, with a steak and potatoes on his plate and a beer in his hand.
"Hi, Boss," Tim said, proud his voice didn't stutter like it had when he first came to work for one Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
"McGee," Gibbs responded with a small nod of his head.
Tim hesitated for a split second before moving forward and sitting across from Gibbs. "I don't mean to interrupt your dinner-"
"Then don't, McGee."
"But I wanted to talk to you about Tony," Tim finished as though he'd not been interrupted.
Gibbs took a long draw of his beer, his gaze darkening. With the pocketknife he always had on hand, he cut a piece of his rib-eye and popped it into his mouth. He chewed slowly and Tim resisted the urge to shift in his seat, eying the blade warily. It wouldn't be hard for his boss to lean across the table and stab him once Tim said everything he'd come to say. After Gibbs finally swallowed, he asked, "What about Tony?"
"Well, um," 'Damn!' Tim internally cursed – he'd planned this. "Tony… Tony deserves to be happy. He's a good man and he deserves so much. He's had enough shit to last several lifetimes but he doesn't let it take him down - he's better than all of us… Tony should have someone to wake up next to; someone who will take care of him. He should have someone who loves him, makes him the center of their world. And he –" Tim swallowed as he scrambled for the words. "He's never going to find that so long as he's wrapped up in you."
Gibbs took another gulp of his beer and when he put the bottle down, it was empty. Pushing his chair away from the table, Gibbs got up and strode over to his refrigerator. He opened it and pulled out two beers. He turned to show McGee his choice and the younger man held up a hand.
"No, thanks." Tim's voice weakened at the unexpected offer. But he didn't think drinking would help the situation.
Gibbs put the second beer back in the fridge before jamming his bottle against the counter, popping the top off. Then he moved back to the table and sat back down.
"Tony loves you Boss."
"And you love him." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah, Boss, I do." He took a deep breath. "When I started working for you, I was terrified." Gibbs snorted at that, obviously remembering the scared little Probie McGee had been. Tim found it hard to meet his boss' eyes, just like he had in the beginning. "I wasn't scared of the job – it's what I was trained to do. And I am a smart guy; I knew I'd learn how be the best agent I could be. But I was still terrified of letting you down. You know… you're an important person in our lives Boss… you're more than just the leader of the MCRT. You're… you're Gibbs." Gibbs snorted again, but there really was no better way to express what he meant.
"But," Tim looked up from his hands. "I've come to realize that I've let down someone more important than you… me. By letting things continue as they have, by not fighting for him, I've let myself down. And I can't do that anymore. I love him. I love Tony, and he needs-"
"And what makes you think I can't give him what he needs?"
"Well you haven't yet," Tim grumbled back. Tim straightened under Gibbs' stare. "You haven't yet. You've had years and you've done nothing." He was glad his hands were in his lap so that Gibbs couldn't see how his fists were clenched. "Tony would do anything for you; he's gone to hell and back for you. And you… you just eat it up, your loyal St. Bernard."
Gibbs opened his mouth to say something but Tim continued. "The only time I thought maybe I was wrong, maybe you saw Tony as something more than your lap dog, was when he was sick with the plague. You fought for him then. And I, I thought maybe he meant more to you than just your second in command. You know he told me, how you ordered him to not die. He came by my apartment once after Kate…" McGee trailed off for a second. "He told me what you'd said and how that basically gave him the will to survive; he'd never disobey you... Then over a pack of beer he told me he wished things had been different, because nothing had changed. Kate was gone, and he wished you hadn't given him reason to hope. I'm not sure how much of that conversation he remembers but uh- that was ages ago, Boss. You had your chance and you passed on it. It's time to let him go," Tim urged.
"I've never given Tony a reason to think we could be anything more than friends. Rule 12-"
"Screw Rule 12!" Tim spat out. He didn't want to hear about Gibbs' rules. "Rule 12 is a piss poor excuse and you know it. This all comes down to the fact that you don't want him. So you need to tell him that. You need to let him go."
"So he can be with you." Gibbs said with narrowed eyes.
"No." Tim shook his head. "So he can be with someone who will do a better job than you did at knowing how lucky they are to have him at all."
"But you love him."
"I do. And if he were to come to me, wanted to try, I would say yes in a heartbeat. But he see's me as the Probie and I don't know if that will ever change or be enough. I love him. And seeing him happy, really happy, not this front he puts up all the time, that'll be enough."
"Thought you were gonna fight for him McGee."
"I'm here; I am." Tim forced his hands to relax and rubbed his sweaty palms against his thighs. "I'm fighting for Tony, not for he and I to be together. That's a whole 'nother battle that you're not really involved in." 'And one that may never come to pass if Tony can't give you up, Boss.' Tim didn't voice the last part but he was sure Gibbs' gut heard him anyway.
"I think it may be time for you to go, Tim." Gibbs said, surprising McGee with the use of his first name. Gibbs stood, his plate clean of food, his second beer bottle empty. Then he headed to the sink and put his plate down before rinsing it off. He left his pocketknife open on the table, the blade pointed directly at the Junior Agent.
"Sure, Boss." Tim slid his chair back and stood. "See you at work." Then, following the path he'd taken inside, Tim headed back out to his car.
Back to Present
Leaning forward, Tim peered through the peephole.
"Let me in, Probie. It's late and I need a couch to crash on. You do have a couch in there, don't you?" Tony asked through the door. Luckily he wasn't too loud, so Tim didn't think any of his neighbors would come out and complain. The guy from upstairs yelled enough when Tim used his paper shredder - who knew what he'd say with a visitor in the middle of the night? "I don't really remember from the last time I was here."
"That's cause you got drunk last time you were here," Tim said as he opened the door and ushered the older man inside. He shut the door as quietly as he could.
"Oh, yeah," Tony moved past Tim to lean against the wall. "You're right. Well, don't worry, Timmy," Tony reached out a hand and awkwardly patted Tim's cheek. "I won't be getting drunk here…" he hiccupped. "Cause I'm already drunk."
"Yeah." Tim wrinkled his nose. "I can smell that." Tony smelled as though he'd bathed in spirits at whatever bar he'd come from. "You walk here, Tony?" DiNozzo never drove drunk.
"Nope," Tony patted McGee again before turning away and heading further into the apartment. "Took a taxi. The bar- the bar was closer to the Boss' but I couldn't really go there…" McGee could see Tony's eyes swimming in their sockets, reminding him of Tony's most recent concussion. So Tim put an arm around the other man's waist to help him navigate around. He didn't need Tony bumping into anything because the last thing DiNozzo needed was more bruises and Tim had some expensive things in his home.
"And I didn't have enough cash to get back to my place." Tony hiccupped again and then frowned. "I think I gave the bartender a really good tip. But he wouldn't let me stay past closing. But he did-"
Tim helped Tony sit down, pausing Tony's explanation for a moment.
"Uh," Tony said after he was comfortable. "He…"
"Called you a cab?"
"Yeah! How'd you guess Probie?"
"I think it was my detective skills."
"Yeah, well you learned from the best." Tony leaned back and rested his head against the back of the couch.
"That I did Tony." Tim smiled down at DiNozzo before going and getting a spare blanket and pillow. He handed Tony the pillow and chuckled softly when it was pounded into submission before being allowed to have Tony's crown rest on it. Tim put the blanket on the armrest before kneeling and helping Tony out of his shoes and socks. He put them off to the side so they could be found easily in the morning. "Come on, put your legs up. You'll be more comfortable." When DiNozzo didn't move, Tim forced the older man's legs up on the couch. Then he opened his blanket and draped it over drunk man. "That ok?" he questioned.
Tony nodded his head. But it may have been a nonverbal answer or his trying to find the perfect spot on the pillow.
Tim stood there for a moment before he went back to his desk. Inside a drawer, he pulled out a bottle of Aleve. Then he went to the kitchen and got a glass of water. He left both things on the side table next to the couch. He was certain Tony would need them in the morning. He glanced over at his clock and groaned. It was 4, meaning Tim's alarm clock was going to go off in an hour and a half, leaving him enough time to run, shower, eat some breakfast and maybe stop for a coffee before getting to work.
It seemed silly to try and get some sleep…
Tony's eyes were closed. But, Tim noticed, his rest did not look peaceful. Tony's mouth was scrunched up in a tight frown and he had purple bags forming under his eyes. With a mind of its own, Tim's hand jetted out and ran through Tony's hair. He thought maybe the touch would help the older man relax and sleep better. Instead Tony's eyes shot open and Tim's hand instantly stilled.
"Uh, sorry," Tim mumbled, pulling his hand back. He gave DiNozzo a small smile before he forced himself to turn awa. Maybe he would try and lie down.
"He doesn't want me." Tony's words were muffled by his pillow but Tim heard them anyway and turned back. He didn't need to ask who Tony was talking about. "He called me and I was stupid and went over. Why'd I go over, McGee?" Tim found his feet stuck to the floor. He couldn't move away from the pain he'd caused. But he'd gone to Gibbs because Tony was already in pain, even if he seemed numb to it. "He told me he saw me as a son… a son." Tony spat the words with more venom than Tim thought possible. "I already have a father… He may leave things to be desired but I don't need another one. A son." Tony sighed. "I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, I knew something was off the second he called. You know, since it wasn't work related… But I- I was hoping for something else. I don't mean to dump this all on you Tim but I, uh-" Tony broke off, looking unsure.
"Yeah, I know." Tim grabbed his desk chair so that he could sit down. He suddenly felt exhausted, his legs wobbly, unable to hold him up. But he knew he couldn't feel as bad as DiNozzo.
"You do?" Tony's eyebrows shot up into his hairline.
"Yeah." Tim reached a hand out and laid it on Tony's calf. "I don't think anyone else does…" It was hard for him to be the friend Tony needed when all Tim wanted to do was lean over and kiss the older man until Gibbs was 'Gibbs who?'
"Well obviously bossman knew. A son," Tony muttered again. "He and I don't look anything alike…" he tried to joke but his laugh was hollow. "Why couldn't he see me? Why couldn't he see me as something more, Tim?"
For the second time DiNozzo used McGee's first name without a hint of teasing and Tim found he hated it. He'd ached for so long to hear his name and now that he did, with such grief attached to it, it made his stomach roll. If this was a part of his novel, Tim thought, it would be the perfect time to make a move. He could tell Tony how he saw him and ask him to give him a chance. But it wasn't a story so Tim said, "He's blind. He'll always be caught up with Shannon and Kelly and there's nothing you could do or be that would change that."
"I love him, McGee." Tony reached up and rubbed his eyes. The bags underneath were getting more pronounced as time went on.
"And he loves you. I'm sorry it's not the same way." And Tim really was sorry. Because if Gibbs had gotten his head out of his ass and loved Tony the way he deserved, well then Tim would have stood back and given his blessing. "But you're going to find someone." He patted Tony leg once before pulling his hand back to his lap. It didn't seem right to keep touching the older man.
"Rrhhh-" Tony groaned. He closed his eyes again and Tim felt he could breathe easier without DiNozzo's gaze on him. "My leg's cold."
"No it's not, you big baby. You have a blanket."
"Hey, don't be mean to me," Tony whined. "I just got my heart trampled on."
"Yeah." Tim's voice softened. "You did… You're gonna be ok, Tony. You will. It doesn't seem that way right now, but you will get past this."
"How am I supposed to face him at work?"
"That I can't tell you. But I do recommend taking today off. If you ever get to sleep, you're gonna wake with a killer hangover."
"Tomorrow… tomorrow you go undercover. It's going to be a long-term assignment. Your cover is," Tim paused as he tried to find the right words. "Just Tony. You're a single guy and you're ok with that. You're comfortable with waiting around until the right person comes along. And sometimes when you're not so comfortable you eat candy bars and take out your frustration on a punching bag at the gym. I trust you can handle this assignment. We both know you're the best with undercover work."
"Emphasis on the under covers," Tony teased as he pulled Tim's blanket up to his shoulder.
"See, you sound like you're getting into character already." Tim stood up and stretched. He moved his chair back to his desk.
"How long is this assignment, did you say?" Tony's teasing tone was replaced with something else, something much more vulnerable.
"As long as you need." Tim walked back to the couch. He felt like a mother hen as he fiddled with the blanket, so it lay just so. "As long as you need, Tony."
"Anytime." Tony didn't respond, his face finally more relaxed in sleep. "Really, anytime; I'm here for you." Tim touched the blanket again, more for the excuse to touch the older man, than to fix it's arrangement. He leaned over and whispered, "Sweet dreams," into Tony's ear. Then Tim headed into his bedroom. He had less than an hour until his alarm was set to go off but at least his bed would welcome him, unlike the man in the other room. Collapsing onto his bed, Tim closed his eyes and fell into a dreamless sleep.