Word Count: ~2400
Warnings and/or Spoilers: No spoilers, so far. Obscure references to past episodes? Probably, but they're tiny. I'll give a cookie to anyone who can point out the one I put in here. If there is a significant spoiler in upcoming chapters, I will label them accordingly. Warnings include violence, language, etc.
Author's Notes: This is the first chapter of the sequel to my other fic, Rocket-Induced Romance. Holy satin bedsheets, what have I gotten myself into? *bangs head against desk* I have no idea how many chapters there will be. I write where my muse takes me; I have a basic plot outlined in my head, but nothing totally concrete. In short, I write like McGee, heh. Please read Rocket-Induced Romance before reading this, or else you'll be all "WTF."
Summary: Tony can't help but think that there was more to the rocket launcher debacle, and it's driving him crazy. It doesn't help that Gibbs is being Gibbs.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything except for the lint in my pockets and a bookcase full of psychology and crime books.
“Do you think it's crooked?”
“No Tony, it's not crooked.”
McGee sighed. “Yes, Tony, I'm sure. Now can you please put the mirror away?”
“I can't.” Tony poked at his nose, squinting intently into the little hand-held mirror. His face twisted into a scowl and he threw the mirror down in disgust. “It's definitely crooked, can you not see it?”
Suddenly, Gibbs was beside him. Before he could even blink, Gibbs threw a wadded up piece of paper at McGee with one hand and smacked Tony on the back of the head with the other. Whoa, Tony thought, he's part cat AND he's ambidextrous.
“The two of you done discussing DiNozzo's crooked nose?”
“HAH!” Tony pointed a triumphant finger at McGee. “I told you it was crooked!”
“It's not crooked, Tony!”
“Are you saying that Gibbs is wrong?” Tony stood up from his desk, still pointing an accusatory finger at McGee. “Do you deny the wisdom of the All Mighty and Powerful Gibbs?”
“He's just trying to-”
McGee jumped up from his desk, eyes wide, and Tony cringed, waiting for another headslap. Gibbs only glared at them, and pointed a finger at them. “If you two don't shut up and get back to work, I'll make sure both your noses end up on the back of your heads.”
Gibbs stormed away. Judging by his empty hands, he was going out for a cup of that industrial sludge he called coffee. It was a wonder that Gibbs hadn't developed a hole in his stomach lining yet. Tony and McGee blinked, and sat down slowly in unison. McGee began typing on his computer furiously, and Tony looked around for something to do. He paused, and debated if he could get away with playing his computer game for a few minutes. Eyes darting around furtively, he moved his cursor over the hidden icon on his desktop. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he froze. He whipped his head around, eyes narrowed suspiciously.
He slowly turned his head back around, and he grinned to himself. He clicked on the icon, and-
“I meant what I said, DiNozzo. Get. Back. To. Work.”
Tony's jumped and turned his head to eye Gibbs incredulously. “What – How did you... You!”
Gibbs only tilted his head forward and glared, and Tony quickly exited out of the game. “Working boss, honest!” He plastered on a grin for good measure. No one could resist the DiNozzo Grin.
Gibbs stared at him for a moment, and Tony's grin slowly fell from his face. If he could, he would crawl inside himself to hide from that stare. Gibbs grunted, and turned away, walking towards the elevator. This time, Tony made sure he watched his boss until he got onto the elevator. When the doors slid closed, Tony let out a whoosh of air.
Tony paused, and thought back to the night when he had bunked out on Gibbs' couch. He remembered the headslap-turned-caress, remembered Gibbs' smiling eyes, remembered that he had called him Tony. He went to sleep with a grin on his face, but woke up with a bad taste in his mouth and Gibbs banging around in the kitchen. Tony couldn't figure out if Gibbs was legitimately making noise, or if he was just trying to wake him up. Tony staggered towards the kitchen, and then Gibbs was standing in front of him, pushing him down into a chair. Disoriented, Tony didn't even protest when a glass of orange juice and an omelet was placed in front of him. He ate almost mechanically, thoughts drifting to last night, wondering what Gibbs would think about it.
“I'll take you back to your place when you're finished, DiNozzo.”
Tony's head jerked up, and it was only years of undercover experience that allowed him to mask his disappointment. Of course he would have to go home today; his clothes were rumpled, he had the makings of an itchy stubble, and he probably didn't smell too hot.
“Sure boss,” Tony grinned.
Gibbs only grunted in response, sipping on his coffee. Tony sighed inwardly.
The drive to Tony's apartment was silent, and Tony couldn't make out any signs that Gibbs wanted him to bring up the events from last night. He bit his lip and cut back the urge to sigh. It looked like Gibbs wasn't going to acknowledge that anything had happened.
Stop acting like a girl, DiNozzo, Tony thought furiously. It's not like the two of you had sex or anything.
When Gibbs pulled into his parking lot, he cut out the engine and sat there clutching the steering wheel for a moment. He seemed to mentally shake himself, and he pulled out Tony's prescription bottle from a pocket in his jacket. He handed it to Tony.
“I expect you to take those, DiNozzo.”
They both knew he wouldn't, and Tony couldn't help grinning. He thought he could see the makings of a smile at the edges of Gibbs' mouth, but in a flash it was gone. Tony nodded and got out of the car, slamming the door shut behind him. He leaned into the window to say something, but Gibbs beat him to it.
“If I see you at the office today, I'll rip out your intestines.”
Tony's grin got wider at that. “How can I get there, boss? My car's still at NCIS.”
Gibbs knew him too well.
“I'll be in tomorrow then.”
Gibbs stared at him, and then nodded.
“Take care of yourself, DiNozzo.”
Tony nodded, and then bit his lip. He looked up at Gibbs.
Gibbs merely grunted, and drove off without a word.
That had been a month ago, and Tony was slowly going insane. He glared at his Mighty Mouse stapler, silently wishing it to reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Mighty Mouse never let him down.
Grumbling when Mighty Mouse remained stubbornly silent, Tony picked up a pencil and started tapping it on his desk, letting his mind kick into overdrive. McGee paused in his typing and glared at him.
“Could you stop that?”
“Uh, no, McDowner – it's not like your typing isn't any less annoying.” Tony stated matter-of-factly.
“At least I'm accomplishing something.”
“I'm accomplishing plenty!”
“Oh?” McGee raised an eyebrow, clearly not believing him. “Like what?”
“I was thinking about that case.” Which really was true, only he was thinking about Gibbs too, but he didn't think McGee could deal with that nugget of information.
“You were thinking?”
Like I haven't heard that one before. Tony impatiently flapped his hand in McGee's direction. “Ha ha, Probie, you slay me with your originality.” Tony narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. “I was thinking about that case from a couple weeks ago.”
“What case?” McGee blinked.
Jesus, had he forgotten already?
“The case where my nose got broken and then subsequently healed crooked-”
“It's not crooked, Tony-”
“Yes it is, and don't interrupt me Probie!” Tony abruptly stood up from his chair, and started leisurely walking back and forth between his and McGee's desks, tapping the pencil against his palm. “Don't you think it's weird?”
McGee rubbed his face with one hand, and Tony thought that no one should look as flustered as McGee did right now. If he wasn't careful, he'd pop a blood vessel. Which would be kind of funny, in a macabre sort of way. Tony paused and shook himself.
“What are you talking about, Tony?”
Tony was starting to get impatient. “Think about it, McGee! On the very day we got that search warrant for the warehouse, and not long after we arrived, the drug dealers started pouring in.”
“What started pouring in?”
Tony looked up to see Ziva walking towards her desk. She looked rather disgruntled. He should probably find out the reason why. It was for the team, of course; if any one of them was in a bad mood, it was Tony's job as senior field agent to find out why. It wasn't because he was a nosy bastard. Honest.
He raised an eyebrow and grinned.
“Well well well. Where have you been, Zee-vah?”
Ziva scowled and tugged at her orange knit cap. “My car is in the shop again.”
If it was possible, Tony's grin grew wider, and his eyes took on a mischievous glint. “What did you do this time?”
“I do not wish to talk about it.” Ziva glared at him. She glanced between Tony and McGee, and her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What were you two talking about?”
Tony opened his mouth to badger more information out of Ziva, but McGee interrupted.
“Tony won't stop talking about the Merriner case.”
Ziva's brow furrowed. “The one where Tony broke his nose?” She squinted at Tony. “Now that you mention it, it looks crooked to me.”
McGee looked like he was thinking about taking his stapler to his head, and Tony smirked. “Told you Probie.”
“Shut up Tony.”
“What about the Merriner case, Tony?” Ziva leaned against her desk and crossed her arms.
“It's too weird – too many loose ends, too many what-ifs, too many coincidences.” Tony tapped the pencil against the filing cabinet.
Ziva was quiet for a moment, then she nodded. “I agree with you.”
He almost dropped his pencil in shock. Ziva didn't try and discredit him? Make fun of him? He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “You do?”
“Yes. There is definitely something strange about it. As Abby would say, there's something 'hinky' going on.”
Hmm. Maybe Ziva wasn't so bad.
“It's probably just bad luck.” McGee pointed out, though he looked unconvinced.
“Probie,” Tony said. “It wasn't bad luck, and you know it.”
McGee's brow furrowed. “What are you suggesting?”
“Someone from inside tipped them off.” Tony began twirling the pencil in his fingers, eyes staring off into space.
McGee's eyes widened. “A mole?”
“Maybe.” Tony shrugged. “Where did they get that encryption, too? That stymied you pretty quickly, McGeek.”
“It did not stymie me... it caught me off guard.” McGee flushed.
“Yeah, and you were 'caught off guard' long enough for us to have to hide when the drug dealers decided to revisit their lovely abode.” Tony pulled a face. The smell from the warehouse had stayed with him for a couple of days, and he had resorted to carrying around a small bottle of Febreze; he had sprayed it whenever he got the opportunity, and it had annoyed the piss out of Ziva and McGee. Which was always a plus.
McGee shot him an exasperated glare. “It wasn't-”
“Yeah yeah, whatever Probie.” Tony tapped the pencil against his lip, distracted. He whirled around and threw out his arms. “And that rocket launcher! Why would they have a freaking rocket launcher?”
The investigation into that particular development had turned up nothing, much to Gibbs' frustration. Tony was confused; how could anyone using a rocket launcher leave no evidence behind? It was downright spooky.
“Exactly Probie. They wouldn't. So there's something deeper going on here.”
McGee looked grim. “If that's true, then they're good.” He looked up at Tony quizzically. “What makes you so sure about this?”
“My gut, McGee.”
McGee leveled a stare at him. “You're not Gibbs, Tony.”
And thank God for that. Though he wouldn't mind getting to know him better, and-
Christ, he needed to get a better grip on his sanity. If he kept thinking thoughts like that, something was bound to slip out, and the whole fucking thing would blow up in his face.
Unfortunately, that led to Tony thinking about Gibbs and blowing in the same train of thought, and his eye twitched.
“Tony? You okay?”
Tony jumped a little, and looked down to find that he had broken the pencil between his fingers. Huh.
“Yeah, Probie,” Tony grinned. “I'm dandy.”
Ziva stared at Tony, eyes dark and assessing. For one paranoid moment, Tony thought that maybe she knew. Maybe there was a notation in her dossier for him that said, “Agent DiNozzo seems to have a major hard-on for his superior. Weakness should be exploited.”
McGee started staring at him too, and now this was getting way too uncomfortable for him. He hated feeling uncomfortable. There was only one logical thing to do. He chucked the broken pencil at McGee (he didn't dare throw half of the pencil at Ziva; she would probably rip his balls off). McGee glared at him, grabbed a piece of paper, balled it up, and-
Tony was at his desk in an instant, strapping his gun to his belt. McGee was still holding the wadded up piece of paper, mouth open and eyes wide, looking confused. Tony threw a grin at him, and that seemed to catch his attention. McGee tossed the paper ball in the trash and scowled, grabbing his gun.
Gibbs pointedly stared at Ziva, and she looked disconcerted as she strapped on her gun. She threw a pleading glance at Tony, and he merely shrugged. He flashed her a grin that said, “you are in such shit right now.” Ziva pursed her lips and followed Gibbs.
“What have we got boss?” Tony trotted up next to his boss, backpack slung over one shoulder.
“Dead Marine on 16th.” Gibbs jabbed at the call button with one finger.
The four of them crammed into the elevator, and Tony let his mind drift. Maybe this new case would take his mind off of the Merriner puzzle.
His gut continued to squirm.