Notes: Set after "Bury Your Dead." Song title comes from the lyrics for "Love Hurts" by Incubus. Written for NFA "It Takes Two" Challenge.
Hidden in a corner booth, Tony put his back to the wall and pulled his knees to his chest. A glass of scotch sat on the table in front of him, nearly empty. He'd been people watching. Everyone was laughing and having a good time.
Why does everyone have to be so damned happy? He thought to himself. He felt as if the world should be miserable with him. He snatched up his scotch and downed the remainder of it in one gulp. As he slid out of the booth to go order another drink, the outside door opened, and Tim stepped in. Tony tried to slide himself backward in the booth, but it was too late. Tim had spotted him. He watched his friend go up to the bar and order. After a few minutes Tim turned around, holding two glasses, and made a beeline for Tony's table.
"I thought I'd find you here," Tim said, setting a new glass of scotch in front of his friend. He slid into the booth across from Tony. "How are you?"
"How'd you find me?"
"You forget what I'm capable of."
"Right. Cell GPS. What do you want?"
"Can't I have a drink with a friend?" Tim asked, taking a sip of the beer he'd ordered.
"I want to be alone."
"Tough. You're stuck with me."
"I appreciate the drink, Probie, but I really would like to be left alone tonight."
"To think about her?" Tim asked.
"No, to think about Gibbs. What the hell kind of question is that, McGee? Of course I'm thinking about Jeanne."
Tony closed his eyes for a moment and let out a sigh. He turned in the booth to face Tim.
"Don't apologize. I'm being an ass. You're just trying to help."
"You want to talk about it?"
"What's to talk about?" Tony said, taking a big gulp of his drink. "I had to tell the woman I fell in love with that I'm not who she thought I was. Now she's gone. End of story."
"That must have been awful," Tim said, with understanding in his voice.
"You have no idea, Probie. You didn't have to watch the expression on her face change when I told her I was a Federal Agent. The mild-mannered professor had a secret identity," Tony said, chuckling.
"You didn't have much of a choice."
"I wish I could go back and tell Jenny to stick it when she assigned me that Op."
"You would really tell Director Shepard to stick it?" Tim asked incredulously.
"Probably not," Tony said, cracking a smile. "She'd throw my ass out of NCIS for trying that. I'm not Gibbs."
"Stop acting like him, then."
"What the hell do you mean?"
Tim set down his beer and leaned across the table.
"Gibbs hides from everyone but his bottle of bourbon when he's upset about something. You don't have to be like that."
"I'm in a bar, not a basement, Tim."
"That doesn't matter. You're still itching to be alone. I can tell."
"I'm not leaving, so stop asking."
The friends fell silent for a while. They drank in companionable silence. A waitress stopped over twice to bring them new drinks. After a while, Tony fell back into people watching. As he scanned the bar, he noticed a leggy brunette, sitting by herself. He leaned across the table, nearly spilling his scotch.
"You should go for that brunette over there, Probie. She's all alone." Tony wiggled his eyebrows.
"I'm good Tony, thanks," Tim said after glancing at her. "She's way out of my league."
"You could totally get her. What's the harm in trying?"
"She's all yours."
Tony sat back in his seat, and fell silent. Tim realized what he'd said, and could have slapped himself.
"I'm sorry, Tony. It was too soon."
Tony didn't say anything at first. Tim could tell he was building up his anger. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Tony picked up his glass and hurtled it at Tim. Tim dodged his head to the side, and the glass smashed on the wooden bench behind Tim's head.
"I think it's time we get you home, Tony." Tim climbed out of his side of the booth as a waitress hurried over with a few towels, to clean the mess.
"I'm not ready to leave yet!' Tony shouted angrily.
"Yes, you are." Tim grabbed him and yanked him out of the booth onto wobbling feet. "Come on." He pulled Tony along to get him out of the bar, before he got them thrown out. When they got outside, Tony managed to wrench his arm away, and shoved Tim, who lost his balance and fell backward onto the sidewalk.
"What the hell was that for!" Tim yelled as he got up. "What the hell is your problem!"
"I wanted to be alone tonight. You couldn't respect that!"
"I may not know what it's like to lose someone like you have, Tony, but I sure as hell won't sit back and watch you drink yourself into oblivion."
A tear escaped Tony's eye, and he moved quickly to wipe it away, hoping Tim hadn't seen it.
"I miss her so much," Tony said softly. He began to waver on his feet, and Tim was at his side, to stabilize him.
"I know Tony. She was special. Come on, I'll take you home. We can watch a movie."
"You would watch a movie with me?" Tony asked. "You always end up leaving early."
"That's because you annoy me halfway through," Tim said. "I'll stay through the entire movie this time, Scout's honor."
"Sounds good, Probie. Let's go."
Tim drove them to Tony's apartment. Tony could barely walk, so Tim helped him up the stairs. He forced Tony's keys from his hand when he kept dropping them, and managed to hold onto his friend and unlock the door to the apartment. He got them inside and deposited Tony onto the couch. As Tony took off his jacket and tie, Tim went to the movie shelf to search for an appropriate movie. He settled on The Godfather, one of Tony's all-time favorite movies, and put it in the DVD player.
Halfway through the movie, Tony was asleep, sprawled on the couch. Tim got up and pulled the blanket from the back of the couch over his sleeping friend. He turned off the DVD player and sank back into the recliner. He was asleep in seconds.
A shriek snapped Tim out of a sound sleep the next morning. Tony was sitting up on the couch, looking at Tim with wide eyes.
"What the hell happened last night?"
"You fell asleep watching The Godfather."
"How did I get home?"
"I drove you."
"You drove? You had a few drinks in you last night, if I recall, Probie."
"Not nearly as much as you. I was perfectly fine."
"I was pretty wasted, huh?"
"Understatement of the century."
Tim got up and started to put his shoes on.
"I have to go. I promised Abby I'd help her with a Habitat for Humanity project today." He got up and reached for his coat. "Are you going to be all right, Tony?"
"Yeah, I think I will. Thanks for being there last night."