Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3726
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Other Male Character
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Character Study, Friendship, Humor
Summary: This is in the same universe as "A Little Liquid Courage," in which Tony comes out to Gibbs. Here, Tony comes out to Abby. So, this is a sequel of sorts, but I really think of them as separate stories.
Tony called out her name curiously as he entered her open apartment, sounds of some sort of Indian raga filtering out of her bedroom.
"In here!" Abby called, her voice strained.
Tony paused, closing her apartment door behind him. She'd buzzed him up and then left the door open, something he'd have to take up with her later, because it really wasn't a good idea.
"Do I want to see what you're doing in there?" Tony asked from just outside her bedroom.
Abby giggled, but didn't reply, and Tony pushed open her door hesitantly. When he saw her, he laughed rather than feeling surprised - this was Abby, after all, and nothing was really shocking when it came to her. He twisted his body until his head was upside down, and he gave her a lopsided grin.
Abby was doing yoga, balancing her body on her head with her feet against the wall, peering at Tony with an upside-down smile.
"I'm glad you called," she said, still upside down. "I was getting this really hinky vibe from you at work on Friday."
"Really?" Tony asked, taking a seat on the edge of her closed coffin, wondering if it would be easier this time around than it had been with Gibbs, because this was Abby, and really, nothing ever seemed to faze her.
Abby suddenly kicked her legs down, grabbed her remote, and turned off her music. Tony looked up in surprise at the abrupt silence, and then Abby leaned forward and gave him a hug.
"Come on," she said, "I got this brand new tea I think you'll really like," she added as she pulled away from him, and Tony marveled for a moment at the fact that Abby was upside down and right side up in just a few moments, and didn't seem at all effected by the fact that her blood had to have rushed either to her head or away from it rather quickly at some point.
"I'm not that into tea," Tony said, pushing those puzzling thoughts aside as he followed her over to the little kitchen table in the corner of the main room of her apartment, set up to be half-living room and half-kitchen, and sat down.
"You'll like this," Abby said. "Trust me."
Tony shrugged and watched as she pulled a canister of tea out of an upper level cabinet and set about filling up a tea kettle with water, putting some tea leaves into a little plastic ball.
"How do you make tea without tea bags?" Tony asked curiously, resting his chin on his palm.
Abby turned her head, pigtails swinging, and grinned. "Tony," she said, "you have so much to learn."
"Hmph," Tony said, and Abby winked at him before going back to preparing the tea.
"So what's up?" Abby asked.
Tony shrugged. "Nothing," he said, and then wondered if he was really going to do this again, sit here in Abby's apartment with sweaty palms and a pounding heart, just like he'd done in Gibbs' basement, and avoid the issue until he finally talked around it so much that she figured it out herself.
Abby didn't say anything, just turned her back to him to turn on the back burner of her stove and put the tea kettle on.
"Tony," Abby finally said, "you can't fool me."
"Huh?" Tony said, watching with apprehension as she came closer to him and squeezed his shoulder.
"Nothing," Abby said, giving him a little smile. "Wait here," she said, "I'll be right back."
Tony watched as she scurried back to her bedroom, and he winced when he heard a bang and a crash and a "don't worry I'm fine!" As he sat at her little table, eyes flittering over the macabre paintings on her walls, and the photos of their team and the nuns and her parents on her fridge, and the strange assortment of magazines on her counter, he swallowed nervously, wondering if he'd be able to do this.
With Gibbs, he'd been worried. He really wasn't sure how he would react. He knew Gibbs wasn't the type to be judgmental, but Gibbs was the closest thing to a father he had, and it was terrifying, wondering if he would damage their relationship irreparably - because as open-minded as Gibbs sometimes appeared, the man was old school when it came down to the wire. But Gibbs, as usual, had pulled through for him and been his rock, a steady, firm presence that supported him no matter what, and while that did give him a little bit of courage in the face of opening himself up to Abby, he was still nervous.
Because he knew that Abby wouldn't care. But for as long as he'd known Abby, he had always been thoroughly impressed by her ability to be no one but herself. She wasn't afraid to show her true colors; everyone knew she had a few...unorthodox interests, and yet, no one held it against her because she was Abby, and that was just another part of her to love. And telling someone like Abby, someone who had never hidden herself, who'd always been strong and unafraid and a fucking fabulous woman - well, that was scary, because Tony had wasted so many years hiding that he almost felt embarrassed to tell someone like her, who hadn't hidden a day in her life.
Abby came back into the kitchen, and Tony sighed when he saw the box in her arms - a shoebox full of candles and incense.
"Abby," he said, rubbing a hand over his brow. "You-"
"Not another word, Mister!" Abby said, setting the box down and wagging one finger at him.
Tony looked at the box, unimpressed, and watched as Abby pulled out a stick of incense and placed it in an incense holder with a little smiling skull on it.
"Where do you even buy things like that?" Tony asked, genuinely curious despite his anxiety.
"Don't worry, Tony, my birthday isn't for a few months," she said. "I'll tell you when it gets closer."
Tony rolled his eyes and quirked a grin, watching as she pulled out numerous candles and set them up on the table around the incense in the center.
"Perfect!" she said.
"What's that?" Tony asked, gesturing towards a small, unopened carton adorned with the odd combination of skulls and cupids in the bottom of the box.
Abby giggled. "Nothing for you to worry about!" she said.
"Uhh...right," Tony said, thinking maybe he was better off not knowing. Abby grabbed the box and shoved it away on her kitchen counter, reaching in the cabinets above her stove for a long grill lighter.
Tony tried not to look nervous as she came towards him and lit the lighter, a long flame protruding out the end.
"You need to calm down," Abby said. "I can tell something hinky is going on, and this is my Abby Sciuto Special Home Remedy," she continued.
"Home Remedy for what," Tony asked, "burning the house down?"
"Tony!" Abby said, holding the flame out in front of her and waving it just a little too close to his face for Tony to feel even remotely comfortable. "Have faith."
Tony had to admit that even if he did still feel nervous and unsure, Abby's behavior was so strange and, well, unsurprising that it brought him a certain degree of comfort that had nothing to do with the earthy scents that were beginning to fill her small apartment.
Just as she lit the last candle and put the lighter away (thank God, Tony thought), the teakettle began to whistle, and she quickly turned the burner off.
"Can I help?" Tony asked.
"No," Abby said. "You stay right where you are."
Tony shrugged and watched her move about her kitchen, wondering if maybe she would open a window soon or something, because that incense was strong. Abby opened a cabinet and looked inside with her hands on her hips, her brow furrowed in thought, looking back at Tony, then back in the cabinet, then at Tony, who managed to strike a debonair pose for her despite his anxiety, then back at the cabinet.
"Hmm," she said, tapping her index finger against her lips before nodding and taking out two mugs.
"I wasn't sure which mug would be best for you," Abby explained, bringing two mugs over to her table. Tony's was black with the design of a red electric guitar on the outside, the handle of the mug made to look like a curved guitar neck. Naturally, there were skulls dispersed liberally along the design of the mug. Abby's was also black, only hers had a shimmering silver spider web wrapping itself around the mug, little purple spiders painted on the glittery strands.
"Thanks," Tony said, "this one's my favorite." He'd seen it before, having visited her many times in the past.
"I know," Abby said, giving him a smug grin, "but I got a few new mugs recently, and I didn't know if maybe I had a new one that said 'Tony!' even more than this one does."
She poured tea into his mug, and he watched the steam as it rose quickly from the liquid, wondering if he'd ever get around to saying what he wanted to say. Abby poured her own tea and then brought the teakettle back over to the stove, setting it down on an unused burner.
"Honey?" she asked.
"You know it," Tony said with an easy grin, watching as she put just the right amount in his mug and swirled it in with a spoon before adding just a tiny bit to her own.
"What am I thinking?" Abby said suddenly, jumping out of her seat as suddenly as she'd sat down.
"What?" Tony asked, watching her warily.
"Music!" Abby said. "It's the most essential part of the Abby Sciuto Home Remedy System!"
She hurriedly went over to her microwave, her red plaid sock-clad feet padding gently on the floor, and she grabbed a remote control off the counter beside it, and pressed a few buttons, quickly changing the track when a loud electronic song came on, then passing over a distorted techno guitar track, and finally settling on an ethereal sitar melody.
"Into India lately?" Tony asked.
"Oh my God, yes!" Abby said, hurriedly coming back to the table. "Have you tried your tea?" she continued, gesturing towards his cup.
Tony's hand was wrapped around the mug, enjoying the soothing warmth, but he shook his head. "Don't wanna burn my tongue," he said.
"Oh no," Abby said, "you wouldn't want to do that." She wiggled her eyebrows up and down suggestively. "You don't want to risk the DiNozzo secret weapon," she added with a grin.
Tony grinned and looked down. There's your segue, DiNozzo, take it!
Only instead of saying something about exactly what he liked to do with his tongue, he changed the subject. "What kind of tea is this?"
Abby frowned. "I'm not telling you that!" she said. "Just drink it."
Tony rolled his eyes and blew across the surface of his tea, watching as the liquid rippled. He took a small, hesitant sip, pleasantly surprised when his tongue didn't get scalded, probably because of the honey in his tea - just enough to cool it down to a manageable temperature.
"How is it?" Abby asked, watching him excitedly for his reaction.
Tony thought for a moment, a moment longer than strictly necessary just to get a rise out of her.
"Oh come on!" Abby said.
"It's good, Abs," Tony finally said, smiling at her and then looking back down at his tea, swallowing thickly. This small talk was fine, but it wasn't helping him. He just wanted to tell her, and like with Gibbs, the words just weren't coming. It seemed so strange to him that he could be in a relationship with another man for almost an entire year, and he could have the support and approval of Gibbs, for God's sake, and yet it was still hard for him to just say the words "I'm gay," and even worse, it was still hard for him to even think about saying the words "I'm gay." It didn't make sense to him - shouldn't these things get easier?
"Tony," Abby said, and her voice was gentle.
Tony looked up, quite aware that there was a bitter, unsure smile lurking on his face, but knowing Abby could tell something was up, anyway, so not bothering to hide it.
"Tony, what's going on?" Abby asked, biting her lip and watching him cautiously. "You're not sick again, are you? Like, the plague? Or-you're not getting sent away again, right?"
"No, no, nothing like that," Tony said. "Don't worry," he added.
"Don't worry?" Abby said, her voice rising. "How can I not worry? You're being all-all un-Tony!"
Tony rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, sighing, trying not to cough as the smoke from the incense seemed to double in intensity.
"But I'm not helping, am I?" Abby asked. "I can tell something's up. I should be a calming presence in your time of trouble," she continued, and then set her mouth in a determined line and nodded. "So now, I'm going to be a calm presence," she said as she squared her shoulders and stared at Tony intensely.
"I think you're more Drill Sargeant than Zen Master right now," he pointed out, taking another sip of the tea - it was surprisingly good, after all.
Abby sighed, her expression and posture relaxing, and drank some of her own tea. "Tony, whatever it is, you can tell me," she said.
"I know," Tony said, and he traced his fingers in indefinable patterns on the top of her table, and swallowed. "I don't know where to start," he said.
"The beginning?" Abby suggested.
Tony nodded, still not looking up, knowing he was freaking her out but unable to stop himself from being, well, nervous.
"Think we can maybe open a window first?" Tony asked, gesturing towards the hazy smoke from the incense and candles, feeling his eyes burn from the strong scent.
Abby rolled her eyes and stood, crossing her small apartment to open the window above her kitchen sink. "It really works better when the windows are closed," she said, even as she grunted and pushed open the window.
"I slept at Gibbs' house last night," Tony blurted out.
Abby paused, brow furrowed. "You did?" she asked, then a moment, later, grinned. "Oh my God! Did you find out what's in that room on the second-"
"No," Tony said, disappointment lacing his voice. "I didn't stay too long this morning, and last night I was kind of drunk."
"Tony! That was the perfect opportunity! You could've blamed it on the alcohol!" Abby protested, sitting back at her table and leaning forward towards Tony.
"I know," Tony said, "but...I wasn't really thinking of that." He rubbed his hand back and forth along the side of his mug, frowning in thought. How could he say this?
"What were you thinking about?" Abby asked, taking a sip of tea and watching him curiously.
Tony sighed. "Abs," he said, "I don't...this is really hard, and it shouldn't be."
Abby watched him carefully, and resisted the urge to stand up and squeeze the living daylights out of him with a giant hug, because she wanted to let him say whatever this was on his own time - even if she was scared for him.
Tony sighed. "Um," he said, rather eloquently. He paused. "I'm-"
He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, eyes everywhere but Abby, half of him hoping she'd interrupt so he could lose his nerve and maybe run away with his tail between his legs, half of him hoping she'd just stay quiet and let him talk.
With a sigh, he realized she was going with the second option, and suddenly he remembered Gibbs telling him how he was his son in everything but blood, telling him it was okay, and his heart gave a little lurch and he squared his shoulders in determination.
"I'm-I'm inarelationship!" Tony blurted, then winced, because that had not been his plan, and he put his hand out to stop any comments Abby might have, and ran his other hand through his hair, studiously not looking at her because he knew she would be confused.
"I'm in a relationship," Tony said again, slowly, looking away from her. "With a man," he added, his fingers tracing more patterns over the table. "He's gay." After another moment of silence, he was still afraid to look up at her. "Um," he added, "I am too. Gay, that is."
He closed his eyes, feeling his heart speed up, because - why the fuck wasn't she saying anything? - and he swallowed thickly, and just when he was about to stand up, to leave, to say it had all been a big joke and he was just going to go home now and hope he didn't cry, Abby squealed.
Cautiously, he opened his eyes and looked up at her, well aware that he looked vulnerable and scared, and he bit his lip, unsure, even as she grinned and stood up, and came around the table and straddled his lap, her back up against the kitchen table, and squeezed him in one of the tightest hugs he'd ever received - and that was saying something, since he'd known her for a long time.
"Tony! You idiot! I can't believe you didn't tell me sooner!" she said, and he could feel her laughing into his ear, and suddenly a relieved smile broke out on his face and he wrapped his arms around her, and pressed his face into the hollow of her neck and laughed, feeling the tension leave his body, glad her collar wasn't spiked that day.
"I'm so proud of you for telling me!" Abby continued, pulling away just enough to force him to pick up his head and look at her. He flushed, smiling sheepishly. "I'm serious!" Abby said indignantly. "You are so brave, Tony DiNozzo!"
"Abs," Tony said, "c'mon, I was, like, pissing my pants," he admitted, feeling a strange giddiness take hold of him, a lightheadedness that came with an adrenaline rush, thinking how strange it was that now she knew, and he didn't have to hide, and it was okay, and he wondered what the hell he was so nervous about to begin with, because this was Abby, after all.
"Tell me about your boyfriend!" Abby said. "I bet he's totally sexy, right? Oh my God! Is he a big hairy bear? Because you wouldn't want some boring little twink, right? I mean, maybe just for fun, but this is your man, not just your side dish," she continued. "I bet he's-"
"Abby," Tony interrupted, closing his eyes and laughing hard, feeling tears escaping the corners of his eyes. He pressed his face into her neck again, giggling. A bear? God, Abby knew more about gay life than he did.
"What?" Abby said defensively, and when Tony just continued to laugh, she couldn't help but laugh herself, hugging him tight again.
"Tony," she said, as his giggles calmed down. She pulled away and looked him in the eye. "I really am proud of you," she said. "And I'm so honored that you told me."
Tony smiled at her, still feeling a little embarrassed.
"Oh my God!" she suddenly said. "You told Gibbs yesterday, didn't you?"
Tony nodded. "Yeah, and he was fine with it," he said, and his smile grew, and he bit his lip.
"Oh my God, of course he was!" Abby said again, laughing. "You are so cute! You are the cutest little gay boy I've ever known!"
"Abby!" Tony protested in annoyance. "I'm the same Tony I was a week ago. I didn't transform into a gay boy. I'm a man," he said.
"I know," she said, still laughing, and she reached out and ruffled his hair as he ducked his head away from her hand, scowling. "But now that I know you're gay, it just makes you so much sexier."
"That doesn't make sense," Tony said.
"Yes it does," Abby said. "Now, come on, tell me about your hot sexy lover."
Tony flushed, and smiled. "He's a pianist," he said.
"Ooh," Abby said, "he must have magic fingers." She wiggled her eyebrows and he felt himself inexplicably laughing again. Why had he been nervous about telling Abby?
"Yeah," Tony said, "he does. And he's really smart. He's away this weekend, teaching in Korea. But we're moving in together soon."
"Korea!" Abby exclaimed. "He must be really good!"
Tony nodded. "He is," he said proudly.
"Oooh, I can't wait to meet him!" Abby said, wiggling in Tony's lap before stilling and reaching out to hug him again.
"Don't ever keep secrets like this from me again," Abby said into his ear, her pigtails scratching against his cheek. "Promise?"
Tony smiled. "Promise," he said.
"Oh!" Abby said suddenly, leaning back again and looking at him excitedly. "Come with me to the PFLAG demonstration next weekend in front of the courthouse downtown! It's for gay marriage rights!"
"Abs," Tony said weakly. "Um…"
"And you have to meet my friends Charles and David; they're in their fifties and they've been together thirty years! Isn't that great? You'll love them! And did you know-"
Tony sighed and tuned her out, choosing instead to rest his head against her neck again, smiling, thinking that even if it meant being her newest political cause and maybe never having personal space again, he was glad to have one more person on his side. His heart felt like it was going to leap out of his chest, and he felt fuzzy, and warm, and happy, and all kinds of emotions he would maybe deny ever happened later on.
But for the moment, he smiled, and laughed, and held her close.
It suddenly occurred to him that she wasn't talking anymore, and she sighed, her breath rustling against his ear. "Love you, Tony," she said, "and I'm so proud of you I can't even begin to tell you."
Tony smiled, hoping those weren't tears he could feel building behind his eyes. "Love you, too, Abs."