want me to what?” Tony DiNozzo angled a glance up at Tim McGee
and shook his head firmly. “Sorry, Probie, I don’t do the
camping thing anymore. Got enough of that when my dad decided he
wanted to be like all the other dads in our neighborhood and spend
time with his kid. Trouble was, dear old dad never realized that
going camping actually meant spending time together not just dumping
your kid in the woods with all the best camping equipment money could
buy and then going to spend the weekend at the nearest luxury hotel
with my next prospective stepmom.”
really did that?” Tim looked like he wasn’t sure if Tony
was joking or not and Tony couldn’t really blame him for that.
He had yanked the kid’s chain once or twice a time too many
maybe. This time, however… He just nodded and gave a shrug the
way he always did when talking about his past. It was over after all.
No point still being upset about it. At the time though he’d
been a scared twelve year old on his own and he’d spent the
entire weekend awake, too frightened to even move away from his tent
to go exploring, so no camping, no way no how.
not your probie anymore and it’s not really camping, Tony,”
Tim said, perching on the corner of his desk. “There’s a
cabin and a lake. It’ll be frozen this time of year. We could
go skating and tobogganing…” Tim’s eyes took on a
faraway dreamy look and Tony guessed that Tim’s childhood
memories were maybe at least a little happier than his own.
“Besides,” Tim said, standing up, “we had a bet and
you lost. You said I got to choose the penalty and this is what I’ve
chosen. Come on,” his tone turned wheedling, “”it’s
three days. It’ll be fun.”
groaned. “It was a sucker bet—”
you shouldn’t have taken it, DiNozzo,” said a voice from
behind him and Tony turned and frowned at his boss.
on,” Gibbs said, giving a hint of smile. “Go with Tim.
You might actually enjoy yourself.” Gibbs gave him an assessing
look. “You could use the break. It’s been a tough year
for all of us. Christmas is only a week away and I can't remember the
last time we actually didn't have to work a case over Christmas. You
need to learn to take a break whenever the opportunity presents
itself.” Gibbs stared him down. “Do I need to make it an
don’t think you can order me to go on vacation, Boss,”
Tony said but he sighed and nodded. “Okay, I’ll go.”
McGee pumped one arm in the air and grinned like a loon.
down, McWhoopee, people will think you’re just trying to get me
alone so you can have your wicked way with me,” Tony said
dryly, grinning as Tim’s cheeks flushed a satisfying red.
on, get out of here,” Gibbs ordered as he got ready to leave as
well. “Time’s a-wasting. You want to get on the road
early tomorrow in case that storm front comes through.”
that’s another thing,” Tony groused as he and Tim entered
the elevator and he leaned forward to hit the button for the ground
floor. “Who the hell goes camping in winter?”
sighed. “We do, Tony, and I told you where not actually camping
out. We’ll be in a cabin and there’s a lake and-“
can go skating and stuff. Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first time,
Pollyanna,” Tony said. “I’ll pick you up at six,”
he said as they exited the elevator.
shook his head. “Better if I pick you up. My 4 wheel drive’s
been fitted with snow tires and I know where to go. We’ll make
okay.” Tony shrugged. “At least I can catch up on some
sleep on the way there.”
kidding me? This is the wonderful cabin you were raving about? You
did notice there’s no lakeside resort and that this is
apparently the only cabin within miles, didn’t you?” Tony
didn’t bother to hide his impatience as he looked around what
would be his home for the next few days. The carpet was threadbare at
best, the walls painted a nauseating pale green. The windows looked
as if they’d rarely seen a bottle of glass cleaner and the
living room contained the sum total of a well-worn sofa, a coffee
table and a small portable TV. There was at least a DVD player
attached to the TV, Tony noted with some small sense of a ‘thank
goodness for small mercies’ kind of feeling. He stuck his head
into the miniscule kitchen, noted the somewhat grimy oven and cooktop
and the patchy linoleum floor then turned back to McGee. “You’d
never actually seen this place before you booked it, had you?”
he said accusingly.
no, not really,” Tim replied. He walked over to where Tony was
standing, peered into the kitchen as well then accepted the headslap
Tony gave him with seeming equanimity. “I’m sorry. The
guy I rented it from is my cousin, Jeff. He told me it was a great
course he did.” Tony snorted then shook his head. “Well,
I hope you didn’t pay him too much, McGullible.”
he wouldn’t let me pay anything,” Tim said. “He
said seeing we were family…”
at least that’s something.” Tony sighed then walked over
to the front door and peered out at the lowering clouds. “Too
late to head back now. Guess we’ll just have to make the best
of it till the morning. You go get some wood for the fireplace. I’ll
grab the rest of my stuff from the car. And McGee, please tell me you
brought comfort food because I think I’m gonna need a lot of
comfort to get through tonight.”
“Yep.” Tim gave
a grin that suggested Tony would be happy with him for a change.
“Soup, crackers, bread, cheese, you name it. Even picked up
some beer, you know, just in case the bar in the resort wasn’t
open…” His voice trailed off dejectedly and Tony had a
moment of sympathy for him.
good, Tim. How about you get the fire going and start cooking dinner
while I get the entertainment set up? You’ll be glad to know
that for your movie edification I have brought with me not only ‘Six
days of the Condor’ but also ‘The Great Escape’.
Ah, McQueen and Garner together.” Tony smiled beatifically to
himself as he headed back out to the car. “This might not be
such a bad way to spend a night after all, McGee.”
actually hadn’t been too bad at all, Tony decided the next
morning, rolling over on the lumpy mattress in the so-called guest
bedroom and looking out at what he could see of the snow-topped
scenery outside the grimy window. Tim had proven to be a surprisingly
good cook given what he had to work with and they’d had a great
meal of soup and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches then settled in with
beers, popcorn, and movies.
talked a lot too and Tony had been surprised to discover that Tim’s
childhood memories weren’t much happier than Tony’s own.
In fact, Tim’s dad sounded just as distant and wound up in his
career as Anthony DiNozzo Senior was. The only thing that had made it
bearable Tim had confided was that he at least had a sister to keep
him company. He’d given Tony an endearingly sympathetic look as
he said it and Tony found himself wanting to pull him in for a hug.
He hadn’t, of course. Just agreed that it probably helped
having someone to share the misery with then turned back to watch the
movie and pretended not to notice when Tim moved fractionally closer
to him on the sofa so their shoulders were touching. Tony almost
grinned when they reached into the popcorn bowl at the same time and
he found himself holding Tim’s hand instead of the expected
popcorn but a quick sideways glance at Tim’s furiously blushing
face made him change his mind and instead he just pulled his hand
out, dumped a heap of popcorn onto Tim’s lap then turned back
to the movie as Tim spluttered indignantly about the butter all over
sat up on the edge of the bed and pulled on his jeans and tshirt. He
was a little lost about it all himself. He’d known for most of
his life that he was bisexual and he’d had as many male lovers
as female. He’d wondered ever since he started working at NCIS
if maybe he and Gibbs might end up together. But over time he
realized that Gibbs was straight as they come (and had the marriages
and girlfriends to prove it) and over the past year or so, he and
Tony had settled into a relationship that was more mentorship than
relationship and Tony had let that boat sail without too many
though was a different kettle of fish entirely. He and Tony had
started out with a somewhat antagonistic sibling rivalry type
relationship that had morphed quite suddenly into one of real
friendship in private and partnership at work, especially during the
time Ziva had been away in Africa. Tony found he actually liked Tim’s
company, sought it out in fact out of work hours and had been known
to get into an actual sulk over on the occasions Tim had stood him up
or been too busy to spend time with him. That had made Tony take a
long hard look at what their relationship had become and so now here
they were – Tony finally wanting nothing more than to take
things a step or three further and Tim as oblivious apparently to
Tony’s feelings as ever.
smell of coffee tantalized him into throwing on the rest of his
clothes and then he hurried out to the small kitchen and gratefully
snatched up the cup of coffee Tim held out to him. “I could
kiss you, McGee,” he said, noting with more than a little
satisfaction the sudden twinge of pink that colored Tim’s
cheeks at his words. So maybe Tim wasn’t as oblivious as Tony
thought. He sat down at the table and warmed his hands around the
cup, taking small cautious sips of the hot brew. “So what time
should we head back?” he asked, surprised to feel a twinge of
disappointment at the thought.
about that.” Tim grimaced. “Um, we’re kind of stuck
at the moment. Snow’s really deep and someone left the interior
light in the car on overnight,” he cast an accusing glare at
Tony, “and now the battery’s flat and the car won’t
start. I called roadside service but they won’t come out till
the snow eases up unless we’re actually like stranded in the
wilderness.” He looked around at their meager accommodations
and shrugged. “Which we’re technically not.”
knew he should act disappointed at the prospect of being stuck even
longer with Tim and he did his best impression of a grimace.
Obviously he wasn't as good an actor as he'd always thought he was
because Tim frowned suspiciously at him and said, “You don't
seem as disappointed as I thought you'd be.”
I don't?” Tony shrugged nonchalantly and sipped at his coffee
while he tried to think of a believable reply. “Look,” he
said finally as he finished his drink and stood up to take the mug
over to the sink, “I just figure if we're stuck here, we're
stuck here. Nothing we can do about it. I've always been kind of a
glass half full kind of guy. You know, make the best of a situation
and all that.”
have?” Tim asked. He stepped closer and reached out a hand to
Tony's forehead. “You sure you're not coming down with
that's when Tony decided to hell with it and threw caution to the
wind and then watched as his world went to hell in a handbasket.
“Yeah,” he said, “I am if it means I get to stay
here longer with you.” He grabbed Tim's outstretched hand and
pulled him closer then before Tim could move away Tony leaned in and
gave him a gentle kiss on the lips then stepped back and waited for
response wasn't what Tony had expected or wanted. Tim's hand went up
to brush across his lips and his cheeks flushed bright red then he
turned on his heel and took off out of the cabin at a run, leaving
Tony standing flat-footed with shock behind him. “Hey,”
Tony yelled after him as the screen door banged shut behind Tim's
running figure, “I'm not that bad a kisser, am I?”
slumped down into the chair at the table and buried his head in his
hands. “What the fuck did I do that for?” he mumbled.
waited for 30 minutes before he started to get worried. Well, okay,
he admitted as he put on his jacket and gloves and boots, he'd
started to worry after ten minutes but he'd figured he'd let Tim walk
off his anger. He'd really thought that's all it would take. Tim
would go for a walk and cool off in the way too chilly air, come
back, and Tony would either a) apologize for kissing him or b)
pretend nothing had happened and hope Tim would too. He hadn't yet
decided which path to take but b) was looking best simply because
Tony wasn't really the slightest bit sorry for kissing him, even
though Tim apparently was sorry he had.
stuff does my head in, McGeek,” he muttered under his breath as
he set off in search of his absent friend. “I mean, you told me
you'd broken up with Delilah for good because she found someone over
there. I know you're bi because Dorney told me you told him you are—–
sound off to his left had him biting off his words and stopping to
listen. He turned slowly in that direction, focusing past the wailing
wind. He squinted against the falling snow and then broke into a run
as his eyes finally made sense of what they were seeing –
McGee, chest deep in the middle of the lake, waving his arms and
for crying out loud, McGoo!” Tony yelled as he reached the edge
of the lake. “How the hell did you end up in there?” He
stepped forward onto the ice but a shout from Tim made him stop.
Tim yelled, his voice shaking. “Thin ice. You need to go back
to the cabin and get the ladder from the shed. Lay it down and then I
can use that to haul myself out. My legs are numb from the cold
okay. Just stay on your feet,” Tony called back, turning to go.
no, w-wait! Take the puppy with you. Put it in the cabin before it
freezes to death.”
looked to his right where Tim was pointing and made out a small
bedraggled bundle at the very edge of the ice. He ran to it and
picked it up. It was a puppy, all right. A small, skinny, wet, very
cold and miserable puppy.
managed to scoot it across the ice after I fell in,” Tim called
fell in rescuing a puppy?” Tony asked.
falling in wasn't part of the plan. Just get it somewhere warm
please. I'd hate to think I went through all this and it died
Wait here.” Tony managed a small grin at that. “Yeah, I
know. Not like you're going anywhere. I'll be back.” He turned
and ran back to the cabin, the puppy whimpering in time with the
jolting of his steps.
opened the door just wide enough to allow him to put the puppy inside
then closed the door behind him and headed for the little lean to
shed next to the cabin. Tim probably would have wanted him to make
sure the puppy was warm enough but Tony's mind was engaged with
getting back to Tim as quickly as possible. Once he had Tim out of
the icy lake and safely in his arms then they could worry about the
puppy. “The things I do for love,” he muttered to himself
as he hauled the ladder out of the shed and then headed back to the
lake with it as fast as he could.
you doing?” he called to Tim, who seemed to shivering less than
he had been before. That worried Tony more than if he'd been shaking
the ice with his trembling from the cold. He knew it meant that Tim
was quickly heading into hypothermia and that he'd exhausted enough
of his energy reserves that his body could no longer even shiver in
an attempt to keep his body temperature up.
said, his voice a barely audible husky whisper now. He sounded
exhausted and Tony wasted no time putting the ladder down and then
sliding it gently across the ice to where Tim was. “Is the
puppy okay?” Tim asked as he reached out to grasp the ladder.
dog's fine,” Tony said shortly. “Probably peeing to its
heart's content all over my clothes by now. Can you please forget
about the dog for now and get yourself onto the ladder?”
k-keep your shirt on,” Tim said but Tony was pleased to see
he'd managed to inch his way almost half out of the water already. He
watched with bated breath as Tim got himself completely out and
settled on the ladder, praying the ice wouldn't crack under the extra
be f-fine,” Tim said shakily, as if reading his mind. “When
I'm laying down along the ladder like this it means there's more
total surface area and therefore less stress on the ice at any
the lecture, McEinstein,” Tony snapped back but he was relieved
to observe that Tim was right and no cracks appeared in the ice under
the ladder. Making sure Tim was settled he grasped the bottom railing
and slowly and carefully inched Tim close enough to reach out and
grab him. They ended up with Tony flat on his back, with an obviously
exhausted, very wet and very cold Tim on top of him.
Tony said, rolling Tim off to one side so he could sit up and then
stand up and haul Tim to his feet. “You're wet.”
Tim said as he wrapped a trembling arm around Tony's waist for
support. He turned his head and planted a cold and wet kiss on Tony's
surprised but not unwelcoming mouth. “Thanks,” he said.
welcome,” Tony said, turning them both around and making for
the warmth of the cabin as fast as possible.
minutes later they were in dry clothes and much warmer, thanks to the
fire Tony had managed to start in the antiquated fireplace.
it was going to his satisfaction, Tony made a nest of blankets on the
floor in front of it, pushed Tim down onto them and put the puppy in
his arms so they could both thaw out completely. Then he brought over
some cereal soaked in warm milk for the dog and cups of coffee for
himself and Tim and sat down next to them.
he asked, “why did you run out when I kissed you? I'm guessing
you didn't mind too much seeing you kissed me after I got you out of
the ice...” He let the question tail off and found himself
holding his breath as he waited for Tim's reply. Had Tim simply been
overcome with gratitude for Tony rescuing him? Or had he been simply
playing tit for tat, messing with Tony's feelings and thinking if
Tony wanted to kiss him then he'd pay him back with a prank kiss of
thought you were just messing with me,” Tim said, as he put the
puppy down and watched it lap at the bowl of milk and cereal. "Dornie
told me he'd asked you on a date and you'd said no and he thought it
was because you were straight so I figured you wouldn't have any
interest in me...”
kissed you because Dornie told me you looked jealous when he told you
he was going to ask me out,” Tony said with a smile. “I
said no to Dornie because the only guy I'm interested in dating is
Tim turned to look into Tony's eyes.
leaned and kissed him hard then pulled back and smiled. “What
do you think? You're the genius here. Did that feel like I was
messing with you?”
Well, I don't think so.” Tim grinned broadly then lay down on
the floor, grabbing Tony's arms and taking him down with him. “I'm
not totally convinced yet. Maybe you should do it again to make
probably right,” Tony said as he bent forward to capture Tim's
lips again. “We should definitely make sure.”
held him back. “What about Gibbs' rule about not dating a
shrugged and leaned forward, hovering an inch above Tim's lips.
“We'll burn that bridge when we get to it,” he said,
swooping down and silencing Tim's mouth with his own.