"Oh come on DiNozzo, the kid has no place here, he's a computer nerd, not a field agent."
Tim froze when he heard the words. He vaguely recognized the voice speaking them as one of the other agents, but not one he'd ever worked with.
"Back off Clark. McGee maybe new, but he's learning, and he's doing a damn good job of it."
"He's a geek DiNozzo."
"He's my friend and..."
Tim strained to hear what Tony said next, but the other man was speaking in such a low voice, Tim couldn't pick it up no matter how hard he listened.
Whatever else might have been said, Tim didn't hear it, because he heard Gibbs coming, and trying to act like he hadn’t heard anything, he walked straight to his desk.
Tim didn't know weather to be hurt over Clark's comments, or touched by Tony's defense of him. Or maybe just confused. Tony didn't even like him half the time, he was always calling Tim a geek or putting him down, why would he defend him?
Tim might have thought about it sooner, but Gibbs soon had them all hard at work. There were no active cases, but there was plenty of paper work to get done.
"Come on probie... shifts up, I'll buy you a drink." Tony said after shift had ended.
"Come on... I promise, just alcohol, no added extras this time."
"Kate would you like to join us?" Tony asked.
"Oh no, I've had enough of you for one week." Kate said.
"Not tonight boys. Just remember you are both in here tomorrow bright and early." Gibbs said.
"Like I could forget boss." Tony grinned at the older man.
"Well, come on... probie what you waiting for an engraved invitation?"
Tim wanted to tell Tony to stop calling him that, but he figured Tony would just call him it even more to annoy him.
The bar Tony picked looked suspiciously like a apartment building.
"That’s because it is... come on, I've got beers in the fridge, and a plasma screen... brand new too, a real beauty."
Tim was sure only Tony could get so excited over a TV, but Tony had driven, and short of calling a cab he had no way home just then, so he may as well go in and have a drink.
Tony's apartment was surprisingly tidy. I mean it was obvious a man lived here... a single man, but it was still neat, and Tim hadn't expected that from Tony's place.
"Beer. Ya know Tim the sofa won't bite." Tony said handing over the cold bottle.
Tim cocked his head to the side.
"What?" Tony asked curious
"You called me Tim."
"That's your name..."
"You never call me that, it's always probie, or McGee, or... other things."
"Yeah I guess that’s true. How much did you hear this morning?" Tony asked.
Tim coughed. He thought he'd covered it well, if figured Tony knew he'd been there.
"Not much. Clark called me a geek... said I didn't belong in the field. You... defended me. I wasn't really sure why, except you said I was your friend, but then I couldn't hear you because you were whispering."
"I told him if he didn't lay of I'd leave him in a room with Gibbs and decaf coffee." Tony said with a smirk.
Tim winced, that was low.
"Yeah well... look Tim, I know I razz you okay. But you... you're a good asset to the team. Clark had no business saying what he said."
"I... you..." Tim didn't know what to say. He'd never seen Tony being so... honest... before.
"I thought you... didn't want me around." Tim finally said.
"I didn't. Not at first. But ya know, you kinda grow on a person... like fungus." Tony grinned.
Tim gawked at him.
"Sorry... couldn't resist."
"So you don't mind having me around now?"
"Might even go as far as to say I like having you around. But don't tell Kate, she might get jealous, she thinks I only have eyes for her."
And it was supposed to be a joke, but it fell flat, and Tim was still gawking, but now for an entirely different reason... because now he was wondering if Tony had just confessed to 'liking' him.
Tony made a point of looking away, but Tim's curiosity was in full flow, and he wanted to know now.
"Look, forget I said that okay. Just... Clark won't be bugging you again."
"I'm not bothered by Clark. I don't care what he thinks of me anyway, but I do care what you think."
"I told you, you’re an asset to the team."
"And your friend." Tim added for him.
"Yeah." Tony agreed.
"And you have eyes for me." Tim said.
"Damn it, that came out wrong okay!" Tony snapped.
"Did it?" Tim asked.
"What have you been taking lessons from Gibbs; you're like a dog with a bone."
"He keeps telling me I have to be more unyielding."
"Well he's lying, so stop it." Tony said.
"I don't think he is, I think you are. Do you like me Tony?" Tim asked.
"I thought I just said I did."
"That’s not what I meant."
"I know. I said that too." Tony said.
"So you... I mean... 'like' me." Tim said, like he was trying to confirm it for sure.
"Geez what is this high school. I like you. I'm attracted to you. If you weren't straight, I'd have to on my bed right now doing unspeakably pleasurable things... and would you please stop looking at me like that!" Tony said.
"Who told you I was straight..."
"Well you've been seeing Abby, which was my first clue."
"I was seeing Abby, sort of, for a while. But haven't you ever heard of being bi-sexual, I'm assuming you must have, since you must be."
"I... you... how... you're so... damn. So... you... like men, and would this... these men include... me?" Tony asked.
"No Tony, I'm having this whole argument just for fun."
Tim wasn't sure why they were discussing this, or what they'd do once they stopped discussing it, but they'd opened a can of worms, and it didn't look to be easily closed.
"Oh... so if say I was to... drag you off to bed and... you wouldn't be... apposed to the idea?"
"Yes. No. Maybe. I'm not straight Tony, but I'm also not the kind of man who goes looking for meaningless sex. I don't do one night stands." Tim said.
"Oh... but if I was to maybe... drag you off to bed, you know, tonight, and then maybe you could stay, and we could have breakfast tomorrow, and maybe dinner tomorrow night, like a... relationship." Tony said.
"I'm surprised you know what one is." Tim said. And he immediately felt bad, because he really hadn't meant to say it, but this was crazy. Tony barely liked him. Tony was just looking to get laid, that had to be it... except Tony looked really hurt by Tim's words.
"Tony I'm sorry I didn't mean..."
"Sure ya did Tim. S'ok, you're right." Tony said softly.
"No, Tony, it wasn't fair, I didn't mean to say it..."
"But you still meant what you said. I think you should go." Tony said, turning away from Tim.
"No, Tony, please, I really didn't mean..."
Tim paused, because he realized Tony was shaking, his face was turned away, looking out the window, but Tim could see the slight shuddering, and when he moved closer, the reflection in the window showed Tony's tears.
"Tony... please... don't... I... I never meant to hurt you." Tim said.
"Doesn't matter, McGee, scram." Tony said, and he tried to sound angry, but Tim could hear the pain in his voice.
"I really do like you Tony. I just don't want to get hurt when someone better comes along... and they will, because Clark was right, I am a geek, and you could have anyone... hell you could probably have Gibbs if you really wanted, but you could do so much better than me."
"Maybe I don't want to do better Tim. Maybe I happen to think you're as good as it gets. Maybe I'm damn fool enough to think I might even... love you." And Tony was half yelling, as he turned back to face Tim, tears still in his eyes, and running slowly down his cheeks.
"I'm nothing special Tony."
"Maybe you are to me." Tony said, and his voice was so soft, and his eyes were so full of truth, that Tim was sure his heart was going to burst from the feelings running through it.
"I'm sorry I said what I said Tony, I really didn't mean it how I sounded." Tim said.
"Doesn't matter. Hey... come on, we can order pizza, and you can pick a movie, there all on the shelves over there."
"Don't get pepperoni okay. I don't like it."
"No problem probie... one pepperoni pizza coming up." Tony grinned, and when he took a step forward towards the phone, he stopped in front of Tim, and kissed him.
And it was just a light brush of the lips, but it was okay. Somehow between when Tim had gotten up this morning, and now, his whole world had shifted on it's axis, but it didn't feel all that different really... he was still the 'probie' and Tony was still Tony, but Tim could smile, because Tony had kissed him, and Tony didn't order the pepperoni, and Tony liked him.