Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3079
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo, Timothy McGee
Category(ies): Friendship, General
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: Sequel to "A Little Liquid Courage" and "Tea and Incense." Tony's hand is a bit forced when McGee sees something he misinterprets, so he comes out to McGee.
It had been a terrible day.
In the morning, he'd eaten the muffin on McGee's desk, and when McGee looked at him with an expression of wounded innocence and sincere hurt, he'd felt terribly guilty rather than happy and smug - so guilty that he ended up buying McGee's lunch, and McGee had suddenly developed rather expensive tastes. Then in the afternoon, he was standing near McGee's desk, idly sipping coffee and watching McGee type frantically in an attempt to trace mysterious funds in their latest investigation when McGee suddenly swiveled fast in his chair and knocked into Tony and his coffee spilled all over McGee's keyboard, rendering it unusable. McGee had been less than pleased.
Then that evening, with their suspect waiting in interrogation and a few spare minutes to himself, Tony made his way down to Abby's lab and sat at her desk chair and McGee came in just in time to see Abby straddling his lap, her face so close to his that their noses were almost touching, her hands cupping his face and his arms tight around her waist, and Tony knew what that looked like, and he could still remember McGee's face, eyebrows high on his forehead in surprise, mouth half-open, shock twisting to anger before he spun on his heels and left as quickly as he'd entered.
Abby had wanted to go talk to him right away, but Tony shook his head; he'd known that he had to be the one to handle that particular problem.
But there hadn't been time at work; Tony was interrogating the suspect with Gibbs, and then there was paperwork and Tony had to go find a new keyboard since McGee took his, and McGee was being cold and professional towards him, which made Ziva look at him suspiciously while Gibbs shook his head and gave him that look that said "whatever this is, fix it."
So when McGee made a hasty exit at the end of the day, Tony sighed and printed out his report, dropping it on Gibbs' desk and dismissing Ziva's questions with a shake of his head as he left to follow McGee.
And that brought him to the outside of McGee's apartment building, a pizza in one hand and a six pack in the other, his palms sweaty as he pressed McGee's buzzer.
It took a moment, but McGee finally answered, voice tinny and suspicious-sounding through the speaker. "Who is it?" he asked.
"Who do you think, McGoo?" Tony said, voice light.
"Go away, Tony," McGee said. He sounded tired, and Tony winced. This was worse than he thought.
"McGee," Tony said, suddenly serious. He hoped to God that McGee was still pressing the speaker button. "Buzz me up. I brought pizza."
"I'm not hungry." McGee was grouchy, but Tony was incredibly grateful that he was still listening.
"I have a key," Tony reminded him. "I could just barge-"
Tony's sentence was cut off by a loud buzz, and he let out a shaky breath as he maneuvered the six-pack to pull open the now-unlocked door to McGee's apartment building. Once inside the elevator, he closed his eyes and tried to remember to breathe, his mind spinning in circles and his heartbeat speeding up. He hoped he wasn't going to panic, because he knew where this conversation was going to go - where it had to go for McGee to understand what exactly was going on with Abby.
Coming out to Gibbs and Abby had been hard enough, but coming out to McGee, his male co-worker who was currently pissed as hell at him, made him terrified. But before he could dwell on it any further, the elevator doors opened with a cheery ding, so he swallowed hard, steeling himself and setting off towards McGee's door with as much confidence as he could muster.
But before he could knock, the door swung open and Tony was greeted by a very unwelcoming stormy glare. He did his best to smile and not look guilty as he sidled past McGee and into the apartment. He resisted the urge to joke about how damn geeky McGee's apartment was since he knew that would not exactly help his cause, so he dropped the pizza and beer onto the little counter in McGee's kitchen without saying a word, the bottles clanging loudly in the tense silence. He rummaged through his pocket and pulled out his key ring, ignoring the way McGee was glaring at him with his arms crossed over his chest, and used his bottle opener to open a bottle of beer. He held it out to McGee, alarmed to find that his hand was shaking noticeably.
McGee looked at him with skeptical curiosity as he took the beer, but Tony ignored him and opened a second beer, taking a long swig before turning back to McGee.
"I don't know what movie this is like," Tony said, mouth moving of its own accord. "I mean, there must be one, right? Usually I can find a movie for everything, but this time I don't know which one to pick, I mean, maybe-"
"Tony," McGee interrupted with a frown. "Why don't you sit down?"
"What?" Tony asked.
"You look like you're panicking," McGee pointed out, sounding more annoyed and observant than concerned.
"Oh," Tony said weakly, but didn't move until McGee stepped closer and shoved him towards one of the tall stools at his counter. He sat heavily, watching as McGee sat beside him.
"It really wasn't what it looked like," Tony said after a pause. "It's a classic mix-up, you know, like a Three Stooges episode or something - well, maybe not the Three Stooges, I mean, there wasn't any slapstick or anything and there's only one of me, not three - but it's where you come in and see something and it looks like one thing but it's really another, and then all of these bad things happen because you don't know the whole story and I mean, it's my fault you don't know the whole story but only Abby and Gibbs really do but I swear it's really not-"
"Tony," McGee said, "stop talking."
Tony looked at McGee, startled, and then exhaled loudly and drank more beer, ignoring how shaky and nervous he felt, because suddenly he realized that he was about to lay it all on the line to McGee. Even though the two of them had gotten quite close over the years, this was a big deal and he had no idea how it was going to work out. Anxiously, he took another long gulp, setting the bottle down heavily when he was done and turning to McGee, who was beginning to look a bit concerned.<
"There's really nothing going on between me and Abby," Tony said, doing his best to meet McGee's eyes and appear earnest.
McGee sighed, his shoulders drooping as he took a long sip of his own beer. "It's okay if there is," he said, and he sounded so resigned that Tony felt even worse than he already did. "I don't have any claim on her. I was just - I thought you would've talked to me about it. I mean, we did date before, and it's just really surprising. Isn't that kind of a rule? That you don't date your friends' exes? But maybe we're not really-"
"We're not dating," Tony said fervently. "I swear we're not dating."
"What, just fucking?" McGee said, and he sounded pissed now.
"No!" Tony said, shaking his head emphatically. "Jesus, McGee, we're not doing anything. You know how Abby is. She likes to hug."
"That wasn't exactly a hug," McGee said. "And if you hurt her, Tony, I swear to God, I'll-"
"McGee," Tony interrupted, his heart beating fast. You can do this, you can do this, you can do this, he thought, eyes trained on his fingers where they picked at the label on his beer bottle. He swallowed hard, his breath coming fast and shallow.
"McGee," he began again, "I'm not dating Abby. I'm dating...someone else."
"I'm supposed to believe that? You don't exactly have a good track record when it comes to women," McGee pointed out.
"I know," Tony said. "I know that. I just - it's really not what you think."
"Then what is it?" McGee asked, beginning to sound impatient.
Tony turned away for a moment, frowning, wondering why it never got any easier to say this out loud. His heart was hammering in his chest and his breath was beginning to get much faster and his hands were shaking even more, and when he finally looked back at McGee, McGee looked concerned and slightly nervous.
"Oh God," Tony said, laughing despite himself, his nerves making him feel almost giddy. "I'm such an ass," he said. "I come over to apologize for being a jerk all day and you look like you think I'm dying."
"You're going to apologize?" McGee said, shock evident on his face. "It's a sign of weakness," he added automatically.
Tony shook his head. "Not when it needs to be said. And I'm not Gibbs. I just, I want you to know that there really isn't anything going on between me and Abby. You know I'm not into Goths, and coffins kind of freak me out," he said, shooting McGee a hesitant smile. "I wouldn't date your ex," he added. "That's fucked up. And I would never, ever date Abby - she's like my sister."
"My sister doesn't straddle me," McGee pointed out dryly. He sounded like he still didn't quite believe Tony's story.
Tony sighed. "McGee, I-I'm..." He paused, gulping for air and wishing he would calm the fuck down. "Jesus Christ," he finally said, pinching the bridge of his nose and hoping he wouldn't start crying.
"Tony?" McGee said quietly, leaning towards him with a furrowed brow. "Tony, whatever it is, you can tell me. Are you...are you under cover again?"
Tony turned towards McGee, seeing nothing but sympathy and curiosity on his face, all traces of anger gone. They were partners after all, and McGee knew him well enough to tell that something serious was going on. Tony thought of all the times they'd saved each other's lives, and seen horrible things together, and worked side by side into the early morning trying to hunt down dirtbags, and he knew that he could do this. He owed it to McGee to tell him the truth.
"McGee," he said quietly, eyes averted. He steeled his courage and turned to look McGee in the eye. "I...I'm gay," he blurted, and the moment the words left his mouth, he felt his heart speed up and he couldn't look at McGee anymore, so he abruptly turned away, clenching his shaky hands and biting his bottom lip and feeling his heart twist.
It was strangely silent in McGee's kitchen, and that really wasn't helping Tony's anxiety so he slowly turned towards McGee again, disregarding how vulnerable and terrified he felt. "Um, that's when you say something, Probie, I mean, I know this is probably kind of shocking, right?" He ignored how high his voice was and how fast his words suddenly were. "I mean, I would've told you but only Gibbs and Abby know, and they only found out recently anyway, and it's kind of a big deal, I mean, there aren't exactly a lot of openly gay people at NCIS, you know? Gibbs says I overcompensate, and I guess he's right, but um-are you gonna say anything, Probie? Tim?" Tony looked at him desperately, needing him to say something.
"Tony," McGee finally said. "I-are you serious?"
"Yeah," Tony said, voice hoarse.
"Oh," McGee replied. His brow was furrowed and his eyes were unfocused; he looked like he did when he was close to breaking a case. He was silent for a moment, and then his eyes flickereed back to Tony's face. "Jesus, Tony, you look like you're gonna have a heart attack," he said, suddenly very concerned, taking in Tony's wide eyes and pale face and fast breathing.
"Um," Tony said thoughtfully, his hands shaking as he gulped for air. "Yeah, maybe."
McGee was quiet for a moment, just looking at him.
"You could say something," Tony prompted with a bit of desperation, voice strained.
"If this is a joke, it's not funny," McGee said cautiously.
"Not a joke," Tony said vehemently.
"You're really serious about this," McGee replied thoughtfully.
Tony nodded, not really trusting himself to speak.
"I guess it makes sense," McGee said carefully, watching Tony to be sure he wasn't going to suddenly jump up and declare it all to be a big prank. "I mean, you always know a lot about fashion and you talk about women way too much. I always knew your stories were lies."
"They weren't all lies," Tony said defensively.
McGee shrugged, ignoring him. "And you call me gay all the time," he added. "Deflection."
"I wasn't deflecting!" Tony said. "I was just...pointing out your delicate sensibilities."
McGee shot him a skeptical look. "You were deflecting," he said.
"Maybe," Tony muttered. "Stupid Probie." He felt something untwisting in his gut, and he thought maybe this would turn out okay after all.
"Did you say you were dating someone?" McGee asked, mind still whirling as he tried to process what Tony was saying.
Tony nodded. "Yeah," he said. "I am. He's a piano player. We're moving in together."
"Sounds pretty serious," McGee said.
"It is. We've been together almost a year," Tony confirmed, fingers absently rubbing the condensation on his beer bottle.
"Tony, I - I don't really know what to say," McGee admitted. "I can't believe you didn't say something sooner."
Tony sighed. "It's not because I didn't trust you or anything," he said, looking cautiously at McGee. "It's just-I've had a lot of bad experiences."
"Like what?" McGee asked, voice gentle.
Tony shrugged, picking at the label on his beer bottle again but feeling his heartbeat begin to slow when it seemed like McGee wasn't going to throw him out of the apartment or demand he quit his job. "My dad was kind of an asshole about it," he said. "And there were a lot of...issues when I was a cop."
"Is that why you switched jobs so much?" McGee asked, and he sounded so earnestly sympathetic that Tony took another long swig of his beer to compose himself before nodding.
"That's why you were so nervous to tell me," McGee said, wheels in his mind turning. "Jeez, Tony, I don't know what those cops did to you when they found out, but whatever it was, you didn't deserve it. You being gay doesn't change anything, except now I know that at least sixty percent of the stories you tell are lies."
Tony smiled a bit, flipping open the pizza box and pulling a now-cool slice out. He took a big bite, chewing eagerly and feeling a weight lift off his shoulders even if his hands still felt a little unsteady and he couldn't wrap his mind around McGee actually knowing.
"But I'm still pissed about my keyboard," McGee suddenly grumbled, reaching for a slice of his own.
"It was an accident, Probie. It happens," Tony said with a grin, words mushed together because his mouth was full of pizza.
"How does your-your boyfriend or whatever put up with you?" McGee asked, a slight grimace on his face as he watched Tony chew obnoxiously loud.
Tony swallowed and grinned at McGee. "Partner," he corrected. "And he puts up with me because he's a better man than you or I will ever be, Probie."
McGee smiled. "You know, Tony, I don't think I've ever heard you talk about someone like this," he said. "He must be pretty special."
Tony shrugged, hiding a smile around a mouthful of pizza.
"I guess there really isn't anything between you and Abby," McGee finally admitted.
"Of course not," Tony said automatically, swallowing his pizza and looking at McGee with a grin and a wiggle of his eyebrows. "Actually, maybe we should talk about how jealous you were. Something you want to share, McCrush?"
McGee rolled his eyes. "I don't have a thing for Abby," he said. "I told you, it was just because you're my friend and I thought-"
"You keep telling yourself that," Tony interrupted with a smug smile.
"Hey Tony?" McGee asked, looking at him seriously.
"Thanks for telling me," McGee said. "You can trust me with this."
"I know," Tony said. "That's why I told you."
"You have to introduce me to your...your partner," he added. "Have Gibbs and Abby met him?"
Tony shook his head. "Gibbs is going to interrogate him," he said miserably.
McGee grinned. "Make sure I'm there when it happens," he said.
"Oh God," Tony said. "It's going to be terrible."
"When are you going to tell Ziva?" McGee asked after a moment. "She's going to be upset she's the last to know."
Tony sighed. "I don't know," he said, rubbing a hand over his brow. He was afraid Ziva would see it as a sign of weakness, or tease him too much, or judge him.
"Hey," McGee reassured, "she won't have a problem with it."
"Yeah," Tony said, unconvinced.
When it appeared that a change of subject would be welcome, McGee spoke. "By the way, you owe me breakfast tomorrow," he said lightly. Despite being grateful for the new topic, Tony made a face of displeasure even though they both knew he'd be bringing food in the morning.
McGee looked at him and lifted his beer. "Cheers," he said with a smile, holding out his bottle.
Distracted from thoughts of Ziva, Tony smiled genuinely and clinked the neck of his bottle against McGee's. "Cheers, Probie," he responded, and as he took a long sip, the final sip of his bottle, he couldn't help but marvel at how quickly his two worlds were colliding - and for the first time, he thought he'd finally see the day when he had no secrets.
He grinned and set his empty beer down triumphantly. "We good, McGee?" he asked.
"Yeah, Tony. We're good," McGee confirmed. "Just don't ever come near my computer again."
Tony gave him a mock salute as he mentally contemplated exactly what he could do to McGee's computer the next day, and just like that, things were back to normal - and Tony was one step closer to where he wanted to be.