"Yes, Agent DiNozzo?"
"May I clarify?"
She inclined her head.
"You want Agent Gibbs to go to Europe undercover as a gun runner, with Officer David as his personal assistant?"
The director frowned. "I was thinking more along the lines of his lover."
DiNozzo frowned. He looked at Ziva. She looked back at him. She raised her brows in question. "I don't know. She'd have to highlight her hair at least and get some fake nails. Sport length with French tips would be fine. I just don't know. I think she's too smart."
Gibbs glared at his subordinate. "You think she's too smart to be my lover?"
"I think most women are these days," Tony shot back. "Word gets around, boss. But that's not what I meant. I meant, I think she's too smart to be passed off as the sort of arm-candy Gibbs would be expected to have. If you send her as his personal assistant, she can get away with being more demure. She'd also be able to go to the meetings with him so he'd have some back up. Everyone would assume they're in a relationship anyway."
Ziva's lips quirked up. "And you wouldn't be calling him every five minutes?"
"I'm not that bad." He glanced at Gibbs. "Lately," he added at the older man's snort. "It's just that you're exotic and most people will expect a blonde bimbo. There's at least three other agents who'd make a good paramour for him."
The director's lips quirked into a smile. "Such as?"
"Well, Paula Cassidy, Marina Soltan, and Linda Coltrane, just off hand, with half a dozen others who could pull it off with a few minutes work."
"Cassidy is on assignment. Soltan isn't a field agent any longer. Coltrane is in research."
"But his lover would be expected to hang around the hotel pool while he's on business and maybe flirt with the pool boy. Nothing more strenuous than being pampered at the spa and getting her hair done. His assistant on the other hand would have to actually do her job, even if she's bopping the boss."
"I wouldn't have a bleached blonde on my arm, DiNozzo, and you know it."
"That's *you*, boss, not the man who's running guns and more from Russia to the hot-spots of the world. Who's cover is a day-trader? Actually, I think you want to change that to a futures trader. Day traders are usually flashier than Gibbs will ever be."
"DiNozzo." The name was a clear warning. Sheppard hid her smile.
"One word. Manicure."
"Not a day trader," DiNozzo replied. Gibbs' eyes narrowed. "So, how exactly were you planning to have his back-up there? It's going to be a little obvious if. . ." the young man's voice trailed off. The room was quiet. He was obviously thinking. "Where exactly will he be going?"
"Nice, Geneva, Casablanca, Dubai, Moscow, Berlin, London, and Paris."
"Interesting grouping. We're going to need two teams to angel them. Unless you're planning to send them in alone?"
Sheppard shook her head. "No. This is all the information we have currently. Gibbs, I'll leave you and your team to plan the rest of the operation."
The team filed out. DiNozzo glanced at the file, then over his shoulder with an appraising look. She winked at him. He gave her a small smirk and shook his head. Hopefully, he'd suggest what she didn't want to when they went through the files. Their target had a weakness for pretty, spoiled playboys. Gibbs was playing terrorist, but DiNozzo could get much closer than that to their target. She swallowed a laugh. Maybe he'd talk Gibbs into playing his lover. That should go over like a lead balloon with the older man, not matter how affectionate they were with each other.
"What was that?" Gibbs demanded.
"What was what?" Tony asked. Gibbs' eyes narrowed. The younger man would answer him. "Read the file first, boss, then we'll talk, okay? I'm going to make some calls and see if I can find a way to get me and McGee close by without arousing suspicion."
"It'll make more sense if you see it in writing first, okay, boss? Trust me."
Gibbs snorted. "If this is a ploy to get yourself a vacation on a French beach, it won't work."
"Boss, would I do that?"
The former Marine shook his head. "Yes, you would. I know you, DiNozzo."
"Not really, boss," Tony murmured, eyes down. "Not yet. You know Tony the cop, but you haven't really ever met Anthony DiNozzo. I have a sinking feeling you're going to have to though."
"Jeez, Tim, relax would you?" Tony griped. "Just let the nice man take your bag. Sorry," he added in French to the bell-boy, "he's new to this." He rolled his eyes. The bellman's lips twitched. McGee finally let go of his bags, even his precious laptop, and set it on the luggage cart. "See, that didn't hurt a bit, did it."
They were just inside the doors of the hotel when the manager came out from behind the desk. "Mr. DiNozzo, you're looking well. It's been so very long."
"Well, I haven't been up to a vacation in a while." Tony grinned at the smaller man. "How is your darling daughter, M. Chartrez?"
"She is quite well. She married not long ago."
"To a good man, I hope?" Tony asked as they moved through the familiar hotel lobby and into the elevator.
"Very good. And who is your guest this year?"
"This is Timothy. He's a distant cousin. Father made it quite clear that if I wanted to stay here, I had to show Tim the world. And hopefully introduce him to a woman of an appropriate nature." The manager laughed lightly. He opened the door to the suite. Tony shook his hand, tipping him as naturally as breathing. "Thank you for looking after us."
"My pleasure as always, M. DiNozzo."
Tony tipped the bellman as Tim looked around the suite. "You get the room on the right."
"This is bigger than my apartment," Tim said opening the door to his bedroom.
"Yeah? And your point? Get used to it, Cuz. We're traveling in style this trip. Go ahead and get unpacked. Father had the place upgraded with all sort of computery things that you'll like. Angela said the password is Antietam."
Tim looked at him for a long moment. "You don't have to act like a ditz around me."
Tony blinked. "Get used to it. I'm just a jock, remember?" Tony felt his grin twist into a bitter smile. "That's all anyone here will expect. For a good time, call." Tony grabbed his bags and headed for the master bedroom. This was all too familiar. He closed the door against McGee's sympathetic frown and the sharp grief of bittersweet loss that assailed him from every perfectly placed vase. His father had never come to Nice again after his first wife had died. Tony had never actually known her, but this carefully stilted decor was her choice. He hated it. He wondered, not for the first time what that said about the woman who had birthed him. He threw his bag on the bed and started unpacking. He picked up the phone.
"Send up two steaks, medium rare, with trimmings. Two colas to the DiNozzo suite," he told room service. He'd never had an argument with the food here. "Ciao." He looked around the room, resisting the urge to throw the phone across the room. He hung up and closed his eyes. Why did I ever suggest this?
McGee looked around the suite. It was nicer than any hotel he'd ever been in. He unpacked carefully. There wasn't much in his wardrobe that Tony had approved of, but there was enough to fill two suitcases. His laptop was his only carryon. He didn't need anything else to entertain him on a trip. Tony had slept most of the trip after two overly expensive cocktails from the stewardess.
Tony poked his head in, "Room service is on the way, Cuz."
"You could just call me Tim."
"Nah, then you'd get used to it." Tony winked at him, the earlier flash of bitterness gone as if it hadn't ever been there. "Hey, wow, that's still here." The older man moved quickly across the room and picked up a small red car. "A Ferrari 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole." He grinned. "Magnum's car. I remember making this thing. I thought Isabella threw it out."
"My step-mother, well, my father's third wife. She liked Nice. Our paths didn't cross much though. She came in the winter. I came in the summers."
"How many wives has your father had?"
"He's on his sixth. This one's actually ten years younger than me."
"Your step-mother is younger than you are?"
"Oh yeah. Of course, she was trying to marry for the money. Who knows, maybe Papa DiNozzo makes her feel good." Tony grinned suddenly. "Heck, I'd date her. She's pretty and not a complete idiot. Not marry her though."
"Would you marry anyone?" Tim asked, emboldened by the openness.
Tony looked at him for a long moment, eyes assess him. Tim shivered. It was almost like having Gibbs dissect you with his eyes, except not, because it was Tony and he wasn't supposed to do things like that. Eventually, the green eyes softened. "Sorry, Cuz, can't tell you that." The smile wasn't sharp and Tim breathed a sigh of relief. Sharing a suite with a pissed-off DiNozzo was not his idea of fun. There was a knock at the door.
Tim's mouth watered at the alluring smell of a perfectly cooked steak. Tony charmed the waiter for a moment, giving him a tip and a sly wink. The young man laughed at something Tony said, giving McGee a quick look. He nodded, then left.
"What was that all about?"
"I asked him to make sure the staff keeps and eye on you if I'm not around."
"I'm not a child!"
"You don't speak French, Cuz. The staff'll make sure you don't wander into the wrong areas or forget to eat. If you need anything, just ask them, okay?"
"Gibbs won't like you being out of visual."
"Too bad. I'm not babysitting you in a club or at the hotel. I'm going to flirt and dance and play. I'm going to be the Anthony everyone here knows. And you can tag along. Eat your steak. Relax. Have some fun."
Sergei Petrovich settled next to the hardwood bar with a scotch. It wasn't a nightclub filled with bright young things. He sighed. Maybe he was getting old, but the young ones weren't what he was looking for. After the last disastrous fight he'd had with his last boy, he was swearing off of boys. He wanted a man this time. Maybe one he'd have a chance with.
His eyes roamed the crowd. His eyes were drawn to a tantalizingly familiar face. Dark hair and loose-limbed grace, the young man was dancing with a group of young women. He glanced over at the wall. Sergei followed his gaze to a baby-faced young man who was obviously uncomfortable. The dark-haired boy whispered into one of his companion's ears. He sauntered out of the crowd and pulled the wall-flower onto the floor, coaxing him into the rhythm of the back-beat and then finally turning him over to the attentions of a petite blonde with curls and a bright red dress.
Sergei smiled at the sight. Perhaps the boy wouldn't be adverse to a dance or a drink. Nothing more than that, not yet. But he could indulge himself. His business meeting wasn't for another two days. He lingered over his scotch until the young man separated from the crowd and made his way to the bar slowly, talking to almost everyone he met. The only clear part of the bar was two stools down. The boy rested there, ordering a ginger ale and a club soda with lime. The Russian raised his brows. Not drinking tonight or ever? he wondered.
He waved the bartender over. He pointed out his new obsession. "Whatever he drinks tonight is on my tab," he said. The bartender raised a brow, but nodded.
"Do you want me to tell him?" she asked.
"Not until the end of the night."
She nodded. "Yes, sir." She hesitated. "His name is Anthony," she told him with a dreamy smile. Then, she shook off the momentary pause and got to work.
Anthony, he savored the name in his mind. Worthy of praise, he translated with a small smile. Now, who is the young man you're coaching today, Anthony? A friend, perhaps, or a brother? Something more? He watched Anthony dance and flirt with any number of woman. The occasional man as well. Threesomes seemed to be his favorite dance combination. He likes to be touched. He wears expensive clothes as if they're nothing, yet he is attentive to his friend who wears nothing designer.
Sergei smiled to himself again. He'd found a mystery. He always did like his men complex. He was startled about an hour later to find his vision filled with laughing green eyes. "You going to ask me to dance or not?" the young man demanded in perfect French. Sergei's mouth dropped open. Anthony cocked his head to the side. He closed the older man's jaw with a lingering finger. "You've been buying my drinks, the least I can do is offer a dance." So saying, he tugged gently on Sergei's wrist. "Don't worry. I'll do the hard part." A wicked grin emphasized that comment.
The Russian let himself be led to the floor. Anthony wasn't as young as he first appeared. He wasn't twenty like the little things that surrounded him. The high end of his twenties, early thirties even, but he looked good for his age. There were calluses on his fingers where they looped around Sergei's wrist. He paused, surprised. Gun-calluses, if he wasn't mistaken. Anthony looked at him with a pout and tugged. Sergei smirked at him. Oh, no, you don't always get your way, the older man thought. And you definitely don't get to lead.
Tony was surprised when the older man tugged him into a soft rhythm. He let the man's wrist go and the arm automatically wrapped around his waist, hand warm and broad in the middle of his back. He settled his arm on the older man's shoulder. That settled them into position and Tony followed without thinking. He enjoyed dancing with anything that would move with him or that he could move with. He wasn't sure why, but he wondered if Gibbs danced like this man - gentle, assured, but teasingly close and warm.
"I'm Tony," he said into the man's ear. He had an inch or so on him, but it didn't feel at all wrong.
"Sergei," his dance partner replied with a smile. "And how did you find out I was paying for drinks, Anthony?"
"I noticed she wasn't marking my tab when I ordered and called her on it. She told me I had an admirer who was paying my way. You're the only one who's been watching me for two hours."
"Clever boy, aren't you." Sergei dropped his drink onto a tray. "And what do you do, Anthony? Spend your life dancing?"
"Personal trainer for awhile, but I'm between jobs at the moment. Papa said I could use the condo for a little vacation."
Tony blinked at the question. "My father," he said after a moment, realizing what the hardening in Sergei's tone meant.
"Your father has a condo in Nice, yet you work? Is it to watch the pretty young things show off?"
Tony blushed. "Papa and I don't get along."
"I didn't go into the family business." He shrugged. "My name's on the deed though, so he can't force me to stay away."
"And you think he won't hold it over your head that he allowed you to stay?"
Tony frowned. He felt sulky, but this man was treating him like a child. "It was my decision. The only string is that I've got to try to marry off my cousin there." He waved towards McGee, who was doing very nicely with a couple of American women near the bar. "Not that buying me a drink gives you any right to ask."
Sergei's grip tightened. "A man should not treat his children as underlings."
Anger sharp and hot burned through Tony's body. "That is none of your business, Sergei. How I relate to my father is immaterial to a dance."
"Perhaps I am hoping for more."
"Then perhaps you should consider inviting me out before interrogating me," Tony snapped. Sergei's grip tightened again. Tony gasped as their bodies met tightly.
"Would you join me for dinner tomorrow?" There was something so much like a pout in his voice that Tony was shocked.
He laughed. "Where?"
"I don't know if I like the idea of you surprising me."
Sergei brushed a finger along Tony's cheek, letting him feel the familiar calluses. "I think you have surprises for me as well, Anthony."
"Oh, more than you'd think," Tony promised. "Seven?"
"I'll pick you up at six-thirty. Where?"
"Here." He didn't want Sergei knowing where he lived just yet.
"Bien. French isn't your first language, Anthony."
"It's not yours either. But we're in France, why not play a little?"
"I'll draw your secrets from you, Anthony." The older man didn't seem ready to let go and Tony was beginning to wonder if he'd gotten in over his head already. "We'll start slowly. An answer for an answer."
"Ah. I have met your father. Vincent, yes?"
"Yes." Tony bit at his lip.
"He never mentioned that he had a son."
"We don't get along."
"He is a fool." Sergei's thumb was circling in comforting motions along Tony's back. Tony realized a moment later that he'd been maneuvered towards the booths. A lapse like that could get him killed. Thank God he was still sober. "Sit with me for a moment, Anthony. I'm an old man."
"No, you aren't. You're in your prime," Tony countered. Sergei Petrovich was no more and old man than Gibbs. Sergei chuckled. He patted Tony's ass more affectionately than a few minutes dance and drink should allow for, but this was a party club and that was to be expected. They settled into a booth. Tony laughed when Sergei pulled him tight against his side. He put his feet up on the bench and leaned against the older man, not bothering to move the arm that was settled around his waist.
The Russian ordered another scotch and Tony got a club soda with lime. "You don't drink, precious one?"
"I want to be able to dance all night," the younger man replied. He leaned his head back onto Sergei's shoulder and watched the crowd.
"What would you say if I told you that I want to take you home with me and never let you leave?"
"That you're an idiot. I'm not a good pet. Too independent."
Sergei chuckled. "Good. My last boy followed him home fifteen minutes after I met him."
"He must have been desperate for a place to sleep."
"I don't think that's all he was desperate for." Sergei shook his head. "But you came to dance the night away." He gave Tony's waist a squeeze. "Perhaps I'll find you on the dance-floor later. For now, I'll continue to watch you take pleasure in the children who flock to you out there."
"When I finish my drink," Tony replied easily. "Tell me about yourself, Sergei. What do you do? Play with toys?" He caressed the calloused fingertip. Right-handed shooter, his mind cataloged.
"The same toys you seem to enjoy, yes," Sergei answered. "But I am a businessman, my dear. Still, perhaps we can play together. I have toys you will like."
McGee tried to be inconspicuous as he watched his partner cuddling with their target. The young woman he was with, Sarah, was nice enough. They'd settled at a small table to watch the crowd. She was pointing out people to him as if he should know them. Automatically, he cataloged the names and faces. "Um, Sarah, do you know the guy Tony's sitting with?"
She frowned. "No, I've never seen him before. Maybe Tony has, they seem awfully close."
"It's just that he doesn't look like anyone Tony's ever described to me."
She shivered, taking Tim's hand. "I think we should dance some more."
"I really. . ." she cut him off.
"No, you're right, we need to keep an eye on this. I don't know why, but the guy's wigging me out. If we dance, we can get closer."
"Don't worry. I like Tony." She smiled. "Hope you aren't the jealous type, Tim. Tony's sort of got a reputation. He's not in society much, but he really is a player."
Tim shook his head. "Why would I be jealous?"
"Because most of the women here have either had him or want him."
McGee laughed. "Don't worry, Sarah, I've known him for years. He doesn't turn it off just because he's not in Nice."
She laughed brightly and pulled Tim onto the dance-floor. They didn't talk much after that, simply made their way through the press of people as they danced. Sarah made sure that Tim had a good vantage point about half-way there and that's where they remained. "Oh, and Tim," she leaned in to whisper in his ear. "I met Tony in Baltimore."
He grinned at that. "That makes a lot of sense. How did you end up here?"
"Trust fund baby," she told him. "I'm going to law school in the fall. This is my last big blow-out. You have plans for tonight?"
"Good, I do," she told him. Her smile made his stomach flutter. No way in Hell was he going to turn her down though. It seemed like a moment later when Tony wrapped himself around Sarah from behind.
"Hey, should I make myself scarce tonight?" he asked her, laying a kiss on her curls.
"Yes. Go play with your sugar daddy."
"Not tonight. Have fun. Tim has the key." With that Tony moved on to another set of partners.
Sarah's smile was wicked. "Come on, Tim, let's cut out early." McGee looked at Tony. The older man made a shooing motion with his hands before turning back to the couple he was flirting with. Sarah grabbed Tim's hand. "You have a cellphone right?"
"He'll call if he gets into trouble."
Gibbs is going to kill me, Tim thought fleetingly as they left. Then, his mind was occupied with other things.
Gibbs paced restlessly through the suite. Ziva bit her tongue. Right now, she was considering shooting him in the leg a viable option for stopping his stalking back and forth. "I'm going for a walk," he said. He grabbed his keys and left her alone in the suite. Ziva looked to the heavens.
"I'm going to kill him," she muttered.
"Hey, Tim," Tony said coming through the door. He was whistling. He'd had a wonderful night with an old friend. Hopefully, McGee had gotten laid.
McGee looked up from his computer. He checked the clock. "I was about to email Abs and have her do a GPS location on you," he said flatly.
"Cuz, it's only ten in the morning. I didn't get to sleep until late. Hopefully, neither did you." Tony winked. McGee flushed. "Well, I've got a date with Petrovich tonight. 6:30. He wouldn't tell me where."
"I'll dial up the GPS to keep track of you." McGee frowned. "I wish there was some way I could be there."
"If he'd told me where, I'd have you there with Sarah. Um, she told you she's my old partner right?" The younger agent stared at him. "Captain thought we'd have a lot in common."
"And you followed Gibbs?"
"Have you ever tried saying no to him?" Tony responded, shocked. "Besides, everyone knew that Sarah was going to go back to school sometime."
Tony blinked. "It's been three years. Wonder why she waited so long. Not my problem."
"You were her partner?"
"You have a problem with that?" Tony's voice was sharper than he meant it to be. "Sorry. Just, we got a lot of Hell for it back then."
McGee looked at him with a little frown. "Why?"
"McGee, think about it. If you were a captain, would you seriously pair me with a female partner? Especially a good looking one? The guys thought it was punishment and the women thought Sarah should request a transfer since I'm a player."
"I still don't get it. You didn't have any problem working with Kate. And even though you don't really like her, Ziva's no issue. And you adore Abby."
Tony laughed. "You know what my captain actually said? He said, 'DiNozzo's gay. It's not an issue.' And that was that. I couldn't get a date at work to save my life. And if I did, none of them got past a handshake. The word bisexual was not in the captain's vocabulary."
"Ah, so telling all the women at work that I'm gay was what?"
"And attempt to keep Abby from killing you," Tony answered. He stretched. "I'm going to catch a shower. What do you want for lunch?"
"I'm not really hungry."
"Tim, we've got to be available."
"You've already got a date," McGee pointed out. Tony rolled his eyes and went to shower. The man would never understand that he had to be seen to be accepted back into society.
Sergei nearly purred in pleasure. Anthony had chosen to take his lunch where he could watch the people on the beach. That meant he could be watched before being approached. The young man was flirting with anyone who slowed to say hello to him, and there were many who stopped to chat with him. He stayed where he was, a prince receiving his due attention from an adoring populous.
Sergei approached carefully, trying to stay out of Anthony's line of sight. The young man looked around as if disturbed by something. He rubbed at the back of his neck, then seemed to take a breath to calm himself. The Russian smiled. He slid into the chair just behind his new boy and glared at any man who dared to approach. Anthony tipped his head to the side when one beach tanned young man stepped back with his hand up.
"I don't bite, Miguel," Anthony purred. "And I'm not mad."
Miguel nodded in Sergei's direction. "Tell your daddy to back off. I'll call you later. Same number?"
"Always." Anthony turned in his seat. "What do you think you're doing?" he demanded.
"I'm staking my claim to you early, Anthony. Before these pretty boys see you eyeing them and think you're available."
"I am available," the young man snapped back. "Dinner doesn't mean you own me."
"Which is, of course, why I have to claim you." It was a statement of fact, but he saw the anger in the young man.
"I'm not a stray dog you picked up in the street."
"I'm very much aware of that. You are, however, going to be mine. You just haven't conceded yet. But stay, enjoy the beauties here. I'll pick you up at six-thirty. And do wear something a little more formal."
Anthony straightened his spine, anger making his eyes sparkle. There was no laughter today. "What if I told you I'm not coming."
"Then I'll stay here and watch over you until you change your mind. My plans are flexible." He risked a gentle caress along one cheek. "Will I see you at six-thirty, my dear?"
"And not a moment before." Anthony's tone was cold, commanding. Sergei's lips curled into a smile. Let the boy snap all he liked right now. He wouldn't win this game so easily.
"Of course, my dear." He took the risk of catching up one hand and placing a kiss on the inside of the wrist. The green eyes widened. "Until tonight." When he looked back, Anthony was staring after him, rubbing his wrist.
McGee looked up in shock when Tony slammed back into the room and directly to the bathroom. He heard the water running. Almost thirty minutes later, Tony emerged wearing a terrycloth robe. He huddled on the couch. "I don't like him," Tony said flatly.
"Petrovich?" McGee settled in the armchair. "He was there?"
"Apparently I'm better bait than we thought. I haven't even been playing a ditz. Seems he's graduated a bit. He was glaring away the competition." Tony shivered. "I really think I need back-up tonight, McGee."
"I was on the beach. He crept up and took the seat behind me and glared at any man who got within ten feet of me. Then, he practically declared that I was his. He's already decided on it and I don't know why!"
McGee was at a loss. "Do you want to abort?"
Tony bit his lip. "No," he said quietly. "No, I think he'll give me everything as long as I don't give in easily. He'll try to set the hook tonight then ease off and give me a little slack to play with. He shoots with his right hand. He promised to take me shooting with him."
The older agent seemed more relaxed now. McGee sighed. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yeah. I just need to get my head in place. It's just weird to be here. Last time I came to Nice, well, it's been awhile." Tony closed his eyes. "I'm going to be fine, McGee. Must be jetlag catching up with me. He didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Hell, he's actually a lot less domineering than I thought he'd be. Did you get lunch?"
"I had lunch," Tim assured. Tony was asleep a moment later. The younger man put the reaction down to being tired. He collected his thoughts and called up the GPS signal from the transmitter that Tony was wearing in a small silver stud in his ear.
Gibbs settled back at the table across from Ziva. They fell back into the light chatter that would distract anyone who wanted to listen in on them. It was meaningless drivel about when they needed to do laundry and what time the meeting tomorrow was and what color shirt Gibbs should wear. Ziva carried on the conversation as if it were the way they always talked.
Gibbs' attention was caught by something behind her head. "Damn," Gibbs said softly, admiration in his tone.
"What?" She frowned. "Don't tell me, there's a beautiful red-head behind me."
"Brunette and he'd shoot you if you used beautiful to describe him."
Ziva's eyes widened. She took the excuse of checking her teeth to pull out a compact to look behind her. Gibbs' eyes were on her and his mouth quirked up into an indulgent smile.
"I told you, you look fine."
"I have never met a man who would not lie in such a situation," she replied. She studied the scene, trying not to react in surprise. Tony DiNozzo, the most irritatingly chauvinistic man she'd ever met was being openly courted by their target. He'd held out the chair and poured the wine, even going to far as to take the menu from Tony's fingers to order for him. Ziva put away the compact. There would be an interesting conversation when they returned to the apartment.
Tony knew Gibbs and Ziva were in the room. He'd caught a glimpse of them, but didn't spare a second thought for it. It was only the best restaurant in the area, why wouldn't they be there? Sergei ordered for both of them. Tony smiled at the waitress and she returned it warmly. The man who was trying to court him put a possessive hand over his wrist. The waitress giggled, then moved off.
"Already you're trying to make me jealous, Anthony," Sergei chided.
"It doesn't seem to take much effort," Tony retorted. "You knew what I was like before you bought my first drink."
The Russian chuckled. It was a dark sound that made Tony think of molasses. It rasped along his ears. And his ears were sensitive. Not as good as Gibbs', but more than good enough. The man was wearing a heavy musk that tickled and burned the nose when he got too close. "That I did, precious one, that I did." His lips curled up into a smile that didn't show any teeth. "And I will tame you, Anthony, well enough for my piece of mind. What else do you speak besides French?"
"Spanish, English, Italian."
"And?" he prompted.
"Don't lie to me, Anthony."
Tony's cheeks burned at the rebuff. "Turkish," he answered finally. "But not fluently. Just what I picked up from visiting for a few months as a child. I haven't used it in years."
"I shall teach you Russian then."
"Who says I'll let you teach me anything? You're not the first person to take me to dinner. You won't be the last."
"Yes, I will." Their eyes met for a very long time, testing, challenging one another. This was a delicate dance that Tony'd practiced for years. He knew he had to push, but he dropped his eyes to study the tablecloth. It was silk Damask under the heavy glass. A single finger under his chin lifted his eyes to his companion once more. "Don't worry, pretty, you'll still see the clubs and dance across the world. But dinner, dinner is special. It's intimate. It is the one meal that I wish to be ours alone."
"You've known me for less than two hours, Sergei."
"Ah but love happens like that." He snapped his fingers. A cold knot in Tony's stomach reminded him of his own words to Kate about Ari. He managed to smirk instead of grimace.
"So you lust after me. That's not a first either, Sergei."
"Were it simply lust, Anthony, I would have taken you home last night." Their eyes met again, and this time, the game of dominance was gone. There was simply honesty. "I have dallied with boys so long, that I forgot that you were a man. Forgive me. Give me a chance to seduce you properly. Tomorrow, I have a meeting, but after, perhaps we shall go to the range? I know of a place off the beaten track. And if you are armed there, perhaps you will not fear my touch so."
Tony's stomach flipped. The man was good, very good. He'd have to keep a close watch on him. "Sounds like fun. Let me give you my cell number so that you can call me after your meeting."
Dinner arrived soon after. The wine was sweet and delicious, but Tony stopped at half a glass. Sergei seemed to find his temperance charming. Now that the Russian had turned on the charm and turned off the over-bearing attitude, he found the company a lot more interesting. They talked about movies and art and favorite places in Europe. The time spun away. Tony checked his watch. "I'd better get home. Walk me out?"
"I will not let you get a cab tonight. Let me drop you off."
"Sure," Tony answered easily.
"McGee?" Tony called quietly.
"I'm still awake," Tim replied. "How did it go?"
"We're going shooting tomorrow after his meeting. He's still firmly convinced that I'll fall for him, but he's getting less intense about it. Nothing of interest to report except that he has a morning meeting. I think it's with Gibbs and Ziva. I mean Garrison and Miss Goldblum." Tony flopped onto the couch. "So what's the plan for tomorrow, Cuz?"
"Uh, I don't know?"
"Beach it is. We can watch all the pretty girls showing off." Tony grinned. "There's a great café for lunch and we can get you some clothes that suit you better than the stuff you're wearing downtown."
"I don't need any clothes."
"I have to go shopping. It's a new season and I won't be completely caught out." Tony pointed a finger at McGee. "You can be a geek. I will never be one."
McGee snorted. "You are a geek. That's why Abby likes you."
"That's just my innate charm," Tony shot back.
"And the fact that you can recite the stats on any car or movie that you choose," Tim shot back. The other man stared at him for a moment.
"That does not make me a geek. That's what makes me cool. I'm going to bed. If there's any justice in the world, Sergei will try something tomorrow while I have a gun in my hand that justifies shooting him in the crotch." Tony closed the door behind himself. McGee had to chuckle at the thought of Tony shooting their suspect for putting the moves on him or something more interesting like trying to sing opera. That would be a shooting offense.
"It has been a pleasure, Mr. Garrison, Ms. Goldblum. We will have to meet to make further arrangements."
Garrison nodded once, sharply. Sergei always enjoyed working with ex-military men. They were straight-forward, despising the secrecy and games that had to be played. "Where and when?"
"Geneva. Next Thursday. I'll call your secretary with a location."
Garrison didn't offer his hand as he stood. "Fine. We'll see you then, Mr. Petrovich. Come on Linda."
The woman shot Sergei as penetrating look. "You should get an assistant," she said, a trace of an accent in her voice. "This is too much for a man to handle on his own."
Petrovich smiled. He chuckled. "I am working on that, Ms. Goldblum. I have yet to find someone I can trust with the information."
"Then the young man we saw you with last night, is not you lover?" Her brows rose. "I thought you had a partner."
"No, Ms. Goldblum. My last partner and I had a rather spectacular ending to our relationship. I threw him out and he fell over a cliff."
Garrison smirked. "That is a rather permanent way to get rid of an unwanted lover, but I think I approve. One of my exes tried to kill me with a seven iron. She didn't have enough follow-through."
Petrovich laughed out loud at that. "I will see you next week. Enjoy your stay in Nice." He walked the two out to their car. It was just another business meeting after all. He strolled to his own vehicle, pleased that his Anthony had agreed to see him again. Perhaps he would even be able to bring the young man into his business. Not too quickly though, he didn't want to have to kill him.
Anthony was chatting with his cousin at the corner coffee shop when Petrovich found him. "You didn't call," Anthony said quietly, then turned back to his conversation. A smile curled up Sergei's lips. He leaned over the back of the young man's chair to whisper in his ear.
"Ah, but I came to find you instead and we already had an agreement, didn't we?" he purred. He settled his hands lightly on the firm shoulders. "If you'll excuse us, we have an appointment," he said to the baby-faced young man. Anthony's cousin's eyes narrowed. They flicked to Tony's face, asking him silently what was going on.
"I'll see you later, Cuz," Anthony said easily.
"Naughty, naughty, you haven't introduced us."
"Tim, this is Sergei. Sergei, Tim." Anthony started to stand, but Sergei pressed down, holding him in place. "Tim's my cousin."
"Is that all?"
Anthony leaned his head back to look up at him. "I swear to you, if you think that Tim is my type, I'm going to have to cause you greivous bodily harm." The Russian kissed the young man's forehead.
"Of course, my dear. Shall we go?"
Anthony seemed torn. He looked at Tim with a small frown. "Go ahead. I can find my way back to the hotel."
"Positive. I have the address in my PDA."
"Okay. I'll see you later then. There's a party downtown tonight." Anthony dropped some cash onto the table and stood up. He was graceful. Sergei wrapped an arm around his waist and guided him to the car. "You don't have to open the door for me or hold the chair."
"Indulge me." Anthony rolled his eyes. He settled in the seat without complaint. He pulled on his seatbelt. Sergei smiled gently at him. He kept forgetting that Anthony wasn't one of the boys he usually went after. There was just something so appealing about him, that he couldn't be allowed to run free. He settled his hand absently on the young man's knee.
"I thought you said you weren't in lust with me?"
"Ah, lust and love go hand and hand, Anthony. I want all of you. I have since the moment I laid eyes on you. I want to lay you down on silken sheets and smother you with kisses." He stroked the muscled thigh once, then switched gears. They moved easily through the city streets. Anthony stared out the window, a faint blush staining his cheeks. "You aren't often the one pursued are you?"
"Never. I go after what I want."
"As do I. And I want you. I cannot believe that no one else has. Even those vain pretty boys who dance in attendence."
"All they want is a good movie critic." Anthony waved the comment away. "I don't know why you're this interested in me. If all you want is a good time, you just have to take me to dinner. Anyone will tell you I'm easy. But I never do re-runs. They bore me."
"I want to be your all, Anthony."
The young man shook his head. "You'll get bored or I will."
"Boredom is more potent when you only have sex to base your relationship on. I can give you more than that. I can give you everything, if you let me try."
He felt the young man stiffen. He pulled over to park. He turned in his seat. He stroked the young man's hair. "You have no idea what sort of trouble I am," Anthony said, voice soft. "I'm not what you're looking for. I'm not some boy for you to take care of and smother with attention."
"You cannot drive me away so easily," Sergei chided. He cupped Anthony's cheek, turning his face until their eyes met. "I know someone has hurt you badly. For some reason, you feel you must settle for less than a real relationship. Who was it, my sweet?"
"Someone who doesn't even care that I'm alive." The agony in those green eyes was real. This wasn't some test to see if Sergei would stick around. He answered the pain with a soft kiss. Anthony relaxed into the kiss. The young man pulled away. "Don't. Just, don't." He gasped in a small breath. The tears that wanted to spill over were trapped in his eyes. "Don't pretend you care. I'm not the only one with a reputation, Sergei." The young man's voice was sharp, angry. He reached for the door handle, but the Russian caught his hand.
"I will not let you throw this away because of fear, Anthony!"
"You don't get to choose!"
Sergei kissed the hand he'd trapped. "Hush. I know you have been hurt. I will not do that. I am not afraid or ashamed of tears, my sweet."
"It never does any good to cry."
"Yes, it does." He pulled his soon-to-be-lover into a tight embrace. "Let it go."
"Let go of me." The protest was soft, pleading, but Sergei didn't give in. Anthony was his and would be his for the foreseeable future. A soft shiver ran through the body he held. Soon enough though, his shoulder was damp. He stroked the dark hair.
"Can you tell me?"
"My last boss, the ex-military man. He let me down as gently as he could, but, I couldn't stand it anymore. I couldn't stand knowing that I'd broken my heart over someone who was just looking for a fuck-buddy. I went crawling to Papa who ignored me like usual except to have his assistant tell me to take Tim with me."
"Ah, my sweet Anthony." Sergei stroked away the lingering tears with gentle fingers. "My affection is freely given. And I want so much more than a casual fling. I've already spent more time wooing you than my last three boys combined."
"Well, you go out of your way to look for whores that's what you get." The young man pulled away, rubbing at his cheeks. "Sorry. I don't normally cry on men I hardly know." He found a handkerchief in his pocket to take care of the last remnents of tears. "So, show me your toys." The smile wasn't as broad as usual, but it seemed genuine.
The arms dealer led his new lover into the underground range. The green eyes lit up at the sight of the weapons. "Impressive, yes?"
"Oh yes. I've never seen so many guns in one place."
"The range you shoot at?"
"Pistol mostly. Some people bring rifles. Nothing like this."
As they talked, Sergei found himself more than willing to teach Anthony almost anything. He had a quick wit and an attention to detail that was startling in one so intent on pursuing a life of pleasure.
"What was that all about?" Gibbs snapped at Ziva.
"The assistant crack?"
"I refuse to be a piece of the furniture when we are in meetings. He needed to see me as a woman."
"And if DiNozzo hadn't talked his way in?"
She looked down her nose at him. "If they have not done anything, it is merely that Tony has chosen not to let him. Petrovich is in love."
Gibbs grunted. He refused to think about why that idea disturbed him. "It was just dinner."
"He held the chair and ordered dinner. He was unaware of any other people." She paused, frowning. "Was Tony trained for this sort of operation?"
"He's the best undercover agent I've ever worked with. He'll be fine."
"I meant, he is so good at reading what people want to hear. It speaks to training."
Gibbs shook his head. "Natural talent."
She looked at him shrewdly. "And this is why you have never taken him up on his flirting?" He glared at her. She winced. "Did I get the word wrong?"
"DiNozzo does not flirt with me."
She blinked at him. She raised a brow. She let the statement drop. Gibbs glared at her again. "I am going to the salon," she stated. She left the room without another word.
Gibbs took a deep breath and pulled in the reins on his temper. Why the Hell couldn't he have gotten this assignment with DiNozzo? Tony knew when to keep his mouth shut. And he knew the younger man wouldn't let him down in a dangerous situation. Ziva could only be trusted to a point. Even McGee would be preferable to Ziva right now. And everyone would accept that the timid young man was his assistant. McGee could blend into the background easily enough, despite his inexperience. Gibbs closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"You are a good shot," Sergei said, surprised. Tony grinned at him.
"I am. I'm into sports. All sorts of physical activity, shooting, swimming, basketball, volleyball, football. You name it, I've played it. Maybe it's been awhile, but I've done it. Even cricket once."
"And what is your favorite activity?" The silky tone made Tony smirk.
"I think you can guess. I had to get a PDA. My black book was too small."
Sergei laughed lightly. He stroked Tony's hair from his eyes with fingers still chilled by the range's cold water. The gunpowder and lead had been cleaned away. The smell made Tony miss Abby. She'd have Sergei tied in knots. The older man was sliding his hand into Tony's hair, cupping the back of his neck and pulling him into a gentle kiss. There was nothing left but that kiss a moment later. Tony panted softly as they separated, feeling dazed.
"Come, precious, let's get dinner."
"Precious?" Tony asked as he settled into the soft leather seat of Sergei's sweet Ferrari. It was a rental, but that was to be expected. It didn't mean it wasn't gorgeous. He ran his hand along the door wistfully.
"It is your name."
"My name is Anthony."
"Yes, Anthony means precious one. So, my precious."
Tony couldn't help but laugh. Sergei raised a brow. "Lord of the Rings. Tell me you aren't completely cut off from the movies."
That elicited a low, rough, chuckle. "Hm. I could get addicted to you so easily, Anthony. And I would go to the ends of the earth to keep you. I don't let go."
The hard warning edge of his voice twisted Tony's stomach. "Sergei, I am not a possession."
"Of course you aren't, my precious one." They didn't speak until they stopped at a small restaraunt. "The owner makes the most spectacular soups." Tony let himself be seated, stroked, teased throughout dinner. He didn't know what his eyes looked like, but he was pretty sure they were more black than green by the end of the night. It was strange to be pursued by someone, but it felt nice too. The wine was sweet and full-bodied. Dinner took more than three hours. "I should return you to your cousin," Sergei said quietly, disappointment in his voice.
"You could come to the party." He cursed himself even as he said it.
The older man looked surprised. "I would like that, I think. I don't dance though I will watch."
"You danced the other night," just a little pout accompanied that comment to make it a joke.
"Are you sure, Anthony?" Sergei said suddenly. He touched Tony's cheek gently.
"It's an open party. Besides, you're easy to talk to and look at."
His dinner partner's eyes practically lit up at that. I wish it were that easy with Gibbs, Tony thought. I wish I could make him laugh more often. "Then, yes, I will come. Let me take you back to your rooms. You'll want to change?"
"Of course, I can't go to a party dressed like this. Besides, I have to make sure Tim is presentable. He spends his money on computer games and equipment." Tony rolled his eyes.
"As opposed to clothing?"
"Exactly. He barely has anything he can't wear to the office. It's disturbing to go clubbing with someone younger than I am in a suit and tie."
"You're fond of him?"
"Don't ever tell him that," Tony ordered. "He'll just see how far he can push me."
"I would never betray a confidence."
He said the words with such solemnity that Tony had to look down and away. This was wrong. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him not to get involved. This man would hurt him. He smiled shyly, forcing the little alarms away and back. This was his job, his best skill. He would create an Anthony DiNozzo that Sergei would never let go of. Let's see, a little shy, a little insecure, looking for attention and security, brash, attractive, and only a little resistant to being commited to someone. "I won't change, you know. I'm still going to flirt and dance and play. I'm not going to become a monk because we're, doing whatever we're doing."
"I wouldn't want you to give up your playing. I want to see you dance. I like to see you laugh. Still, at the end of the night, I expect you to end up in my arms."
"You work quickly."
"Next week I must be in Geneva. I don't have the time to wait."
Tony looked up suddenly. "You're going to Geneva?"
"Yes. Will you come with me? You and your cousin?"
"Actually, we're flying out at the end of the week," Tony admitted. Sergei's eyes flashed and Tony winced away from him, half-convinced he was going to be hit.
"Geneva. Papa has an apartment there for business, but he'll be in Moscow next week." Tony knew his voice was a little too small. Sergei reached out and carefully lifted his chin until their eyes met.
"You do not have to rely on your father, Anthony," he whispered. "Do not give him that power over you."
"Give it to you instead? Great choice." Tony tried to turn away from the grip, but it tightened.
"Anthony." Tony bit his lip.
"Sorry. I know you're trying to help."
"Why didn't you tell me you weren't going to stay in Nice?"
"I just, well, I thought, I," Tony paused for a moment. "I wanted a way out."
"Do I scare you that badly?"
"No one has ever wanted me quite so badly as you do. It's more intense than anything I've ever felt. I wanted a way to run. I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize, Anthony. It's a sign of weakness."
Tony blinked. He bit back the "Yes, boss," that seemed automaticly to jump to his lips. He tried a smile as a response to that and it seemed to work. "I'll come to Geneva, but I'll keep the separate room. It's too soon, Sergei."
The older man looked into his eyes for a long moment. "You lost someone."
"A good friend."
"She was shot."
"A dangerous life your friend led."
"Yes." He didn't elaborate. He felt faintly light-headed. He hadn't thought about Kate in a while. Well, he hadn't thought about her death. He could still feel the blood on his face. He blinked and found Sergei looking at him anxiously.
"I've ordered you some tea," Sergei stated. He rubbed Tony's hands briskly. Tony nodded.
"I thought I was over this," he whispered.
"A good friend?"
"The best. We argued a lot, but it was all in fun. And she could give an innuendo back just as well as she took one. I miss her."
Sergei opened sugar into the hot tea, one hand resting on Tony's wrist.
"I don't. . ."
"Just drink it. You'll feel better." Sergei's eyes were anxious.
"I'm fine." Tony felt the cold in his stomach and chest. He drank the tea automatically. "Maybe I shouldn't go out tonight." His voice sounded strange. He frowned.
"I do not think you would do well to be alone. I will take you back to your rooms. Change, force your cousin to change. Then, we will go to the party and I will hold you close as we dance. Later, you will tell me about your friend and cry for her once more."
"You seem to have my night planned out." Tony felt a little less shaky. He put down the empty teacup. Sergei's hand was still on his arm.
"Do you agree?"
"Tony, what's wrong?" Tim demanded as the older agent came into the room. He looked pale.
"I'm fine, cuz."
Sergei followed Tony in. He spoke in soft French. Tony smiled and Tim tried not to stare. That was the soft, reassuring smile Tony offered Abby when he thought she was upset. It wasn't something he'd expected to see here.
"I sort of had a flashback to Kate's death."
Tim stilled. "Are you okay?" he asked. Their eyes met. Tony nodded.
"You should change."
McGee looked down at his clothes. "These are fine."
"Did you really take that as a suggestion?" Tony raised a brow.
The younger man snorted. "Fine, what should I wear, oh my lord and master?"
"I like that. Clothes are that way. Let's go. Chop-chop."
Sergei watched them with an amused smile that reminded Tim viscerally of Gibbs. He'd never have believed that he would miss the man barking at him, but he did. He missed him even more because he knew, without a doubt, that Gibbs would be able to fix whatever had put that desperate light into Tony's eyes. Tony needed to go out tonight. He needed to run away from the memory of Kate and Tim didn't have the heart to ruin that for him. Tony moved quickly to the closet and selected and outfit. Tim shook his head. "Those jeans are too tight."
"Bullshit. They look good on you."
"I want to be able to have children one day."
"Which means you need to have a woman notice you."
McGee scowled at his partner, but took off his shirt. "Out. Go primp or something."
"I'm too dignified to primp. I prepare."
"Then go prepare." Tony gave him a smile.
"Be careful," he mouthed. McGee nodded.
Sergei watched his Tony lose himself in the press of bodies on the dance-floor. His cousin kept one eye on Tony, but seemed to be doing well. A pretty young woman had set herself as his translator and he was doing fine making new friends. He'd had his PDA out no less than fifteen times taking down numbers. Tony's eyes were closed as he moved against the bodies that surrounded him. Eventually, he seemed to tire. He left his partners of the moment with a gentle kiss to the cheek.
He collapsed onto the short couch next to Sergei and reached for the bottle of water he'd left there. He snuggled under the offered arm without complaint. Sergei ruffled the sweat-dampened hair, imagining what it would be like to stroke the silken weight of it as he tucked his lover into his arms spent and drowzy. "You were right, I needed to be here," the young man said.
"You need someone to take care of you, Anthony. I'll take good care of you."
"I can take care of myself."
Sergei chuckled. "But you don't need to. Let me take care of you, Anthony. Let me show you the world as it can be. We'll go shopping tomorrow."
"I don't need you footing my bills."
"Ah, but I want to. I want to keep you as my boy."
"I'm not calling you Daddy."
"Knowing your father, it would be an insult coming from your lips. And I'm done with that."
"But you don't want an equal."
"And neither do you." Anthony looked at him for a long moment, eyes full of conflict. Then, the young man sighed and let himself be tucked close. "I will protect you. I will free you from your burdens. Simply trust me, Anthony."
"You hardly know me. And I hardly know you. How can I trust you? For all I know you'll drop me off a cliff when you get bored with me."
Sergei chuckled. "You shouldn't listen to gossip, sweetling. He went over the cliff because he was driving too quickly."
"From what I heard, he had a little bit of help from a broken brake line. Shouldn't that have been your look-out?"
The Russian paused, considering that. "I admit, I may have been distracted."
"Exactly, which is why I take care of myself."
Sergei chuckled. "Point granted, my dear. I understand your wishes for independence, but you must at least let me spoil you."
Anthony laughed at that. He didn't move out of the gentle grip or away from the hand that stroked his hair. "Okay, so if I let you spoil me, what would you do first?" That was more of a test than any other conversation they'd had. Sergei considered, this would likely make or break the deal. It amused him to realize that his boy was a better negotiator than the "businessmen" he usually worked with.
"We'll go shopping for clothing. Shoes we'll save for Italy. And we'll continue our dinners. Perhaps I'll buy you a few toys for the range."
"That sounds nice." The smile that turned up the expressive mouth was soft. "Okay. We'll still spend the time in Geneva in my father's apartment. You can show me the city. I'll see if I can hook Tim up with someone there for a few nights."
"He is welcome to come with us. I have the room. I expect that we'll be sharing accomidations soon enough."
"Oh, I already told you that I'm easy."
"But I want you forever, my precious one."
"Forever is a long time."
"Did you want the one who broke your heart forever?"
There was a long silence followed by a whispered, yearning, "yes."
"Give me the chance to have you."
"That's low and manipulative. I approve."
Sergei looked down quickly, stunned. Anthony winked at him. He placed a gentle kiss against Sergei's palm then headed back onto the dancefloor. It wasn't as solid as a yes, but it was more than he'd expected. He was surprised by the smile that spread across his face.
McGee looked up as Tony settled on the chair across from him. The older man ran a gentle hand down Sarah's back, resting it just above her hips. It was the same absent intimacy he had with Abby, so Tim knew it didn't mean anything beyond friendship. "So, how's Sergei?"
"He's trying to set his hook. I've agreed to go shopping tomorrow and to let him show me Geneva. By the end of next week, I'll probably be sharing his bed." Tony shrugged. He grinned at Sarah. "You taking good care of him for me?"
"The best." They were talking low, hoping the music would keep anyone from recording them. "You need me at your back, babe?"
"Nope, that's what Tim's for. But could I use you for a drop?"
"Of course. I gave Tim my assistant's address in Balitmore."
"Thanks. We're going to need it."
"Yeah. This is probably going to blow up in my face."
McGee frowned at him. "What do you mean?"
"This is going to get back to my father. He may not trust me with his money while he's alive, but if he gets a hint that I'm living on someone else's tab, he's going to be furious."
The younger agent stared at him. "Your father? What could he do?"
"Blow the that you're my cousin first. Second, he agreed to my using these places before he cut me off. It was part of the deal that anything my mother left me, he can't touch. That doesn't mean he won't try to control me instead."
"But you checked his schedule?"
"Plans change." Tony shook his head. "Probably just getting jumpy because Gibbs hasn't smacked me recently." Tim felt the smile on his lips. "And don't even think about it. You two having fun?"
"Yeah. We are. So go dance and I'll take care of Tim. Shoo." She smiled at Tim with brightly colored lips. She licked them slowly. "He's perfect."
"Then my work here is done." Tony slipped into the crowd.
"So how much of what he said worries you?" Sarah asked.
"Just that he'll be sharing a bed with Sergei. I mean I knew, intellectually, but I've never heard him so clinical about it."
"You get used to it." She patted Tim's hand. "Just keep an eye on him and I'll take care of you." She sighed. "I can follow you to Geneva, but after that, it's going to stretch credibility. You can email me. Tony'll tell you the codes we used to use. And if you need to be pulled out immediately, just text me with 'FUBAR' and a location and I'll get you out." She grinned. "Or you can just text me to talk." She winked.
Tony leaned back, recognizing Sergei's scent. The Russian's arms wrapped around his waist. "Let's get out of here. Your cousin seems to have found himself a partner."
McGee was holding hands with Sarah now. From the look on his face, they were either discussing technology or poetry. Tony smiled. Abby would be so pleased. She and McGee weren't exclusive, but McGee didn't date much. "Let me tell him we're leaving." A soft brush of hair against his cheek indicated Sergei's agreement. He left the older man to settle the check. He leaned down and spoke quietly. "We're heading out. Kate died in a drive-by shooting in DC. I witnessed it. It was instant."
"Got it. I'll see you later." McGee said. He nodded. "Sarah and I were going to head to her place."
"Leave her number on my voice mail. Have a very good night." He grinned at Sarah. She frowned at him.
"Be nice," she chided. Tony left them. He hated being solo, but the silver stud in his ear held a tracker that McGee could access on his laptop. Abby assured him it was waterproof, so he could wear it at all times. Sergei was waiting by the door for him. He made his way towards the man, only to be stopped by the presence of a man the size of a bouncer.
"Hi, Rocky," he said with a grin.
"Don't do this, Tony. He's bad news." The body-builder had known Tony since childhood.
"I know." He shrugged. "Sometimes you have to take a chance. I can always dump him."
"Damn it, Tony, you don't have to get involved with someone like that. If you're that hard-up just ask for help."
"Rock, I. . ." The unexpected worry warmed him. "I'll explain it someday. Don't worry about me. I'll watch my back."
The man nodded slowly. "I'll get an explanation from you. Just, be careful. He tends to go through boys at an alarming rate and he doesn't dump them, Tony. His boys end up dead."
Tony met Rocky's dark eyes for a long moment. "I know."
"Call me, bro."
"I will." Tony moved on. Segei was frowning at him.
"Who was that?"
"Childhood friend. We used to lift together. Now, I thought you had my night planned out for me?"
That made his mark laugh. He was escorted to the car that the valet had waiting. He settled into the soft leather. Well, if I've got to do this, might as well enjoy myself a little bit. He stretched, blatantly inviting a touch. Sergei didn't disappoint. He stroked the abs. Tony almost purred. He'd spent most of the night being touched and he'd enjoyed every minute of it. Then, they were sliding through the streets, obviously not towards Tony's. Tony noted the route out of habit.
"You do know that you're not getting me into your bed tonight."
"I have a guest room."
Over a cup of coffee, Tony told Sergei lightly edited stories about Kate. He smiled in fond rememberance. She'd been a friend, even if she could cut him to the quick with a look or a word. His smile faded as he remembered her teasing about Voss. "I just wish I could have been closer to her."
"What do you mean? It sounds like you were close?"
"She. . . she was rather rigid about sex. She would never have understood. I kissed a transexual once and she never let it go." He grimaced. "It's not that I didn't trust her, but it was like we never balanced out. We ran from best friends to cordial enemies and never found that middle ground. And we never will now." Sergei tugged him a little closer.
"Tell me of her death."
Somehow it didn't sound like an order, but it felt like one. Tony frowned, choosing his words carefully. "We were walking. The two of us and our boss. He used to have us spar together. She taught me a lot, especially to wear a cup." He shook his head, hair catching on the five o'clock shadow that was creeping up his soon-to-be lover's cheeks. "We were walking and she suddenly pushed our boss out of the way of a skateboarder. Nothing big, but we were smiling, sharing a happy moment. Then, her blood was on my face and she was on the ground, with half of her head missing. The ME did a good job at making her look good, but when I close my eyes, I see her with that hole in the middle of her forehead."
Sergei kissed him on the top of the head and tightened his arms. "Have you mourned her?"
"I wanted vengence for her. I heard the man who shot her died, but it doesn't change anything. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be the one who avenged her. My boss, he was so lost. It was like he'd lost his drive. She was his protegee. The one who'd pass on his lessons."
"No, not me. Never me. Affection, yes, but she was his golden girl."
"Oh, Anthony," he whispered. "And you lost them both with that bullet. I'm so sorry, sweetheart."
The tears were easy to summon. Tony let them drip down his cheeks without a sound. Sergei tucked him closer, offering his chest as a pillow and Tony took him up on that. He sniffed, pushing the tears down.
"No, you must mourn them both. Don't hide your tears. It is not a weakness. Holding this pain is destroying you." Tony buried his face against the side of Sergei's throat and let himself cry for missed chances. His friends would never recognize him like this. Hell, he barely recognized the man he'd created for Sergei. He pulled away, wiping at his cheeks. The older man's arms turned to steel, holding him close. He fought down a wave of claustrophobia. A gentle, soothing kiss teased his lips apart. When it was over, Sergei stroked over Tony's cheek with his thumb. "Let me put you to bed, sweetheart. In the morning, we'll go shopping."
Gibbs stalked through the apartment. "What do we have?" he snapped at Ziva.
"Money to purchase weapons and an appointment for next week in Geneva. Gossip has placed Sergei and Tony together for the past three days. And McGee indicated that they would be travelling in Sergei's company next week."
"I'm going out. I'll be back in two hours."
Ziva nodded sharply. Gibbs left her cleaning her gun. He hated inactivity. Ziva wasn't exactly helping. They didn't have much to talk about beyond the case. He simply didn't trust her enough. He had leverage against her, that was all. She was Jen's creature no matter how hard he'd tried to bring her into the team. Right now he'd pay good money to listen to Ducky ramble on, or DiNozzo talk about his last date.
The miles fell away as he walked, leaving him in the middle of the shopping district. He perused the windows as he walked. Four hundred dollar shoes, what a fucking waste, he thought. He frowned at a familiar pair of loafers. It must be DiNozzo's influence, he decided. He'd never noticed brand-names before. A familiar laugh drew his attention to the street. He nearly smiled seeing Tony with an ice cream cone and a handful of bags. He was heartbreakingly cheerful, doing things that shouldn't be legal with the cone. Damn, Petrovich didn't stand a chance with Tony in a mood.
The Russian was smiling as he wrapped a guiding arm around Tony's waist and they wandered across the street to a clothing shop. He followed descreetly. He peered at the window, seeing if he could guess the prices of the shirts that were shown there. The ripped jeans and tee-shirts actually looked comfortable. He heard Tony laughing again. Petrovich looked over his shoulder. He nodded a greeting to Gibbs. Gibbs nodded back, and continued to peruse the window. There was a rack of skirts on one side and he decided to look for a present for "Linda."
"You know him?" he heard Tony ask.
"He is a business associate." Gibbs picked up a few of the skirts, studying the embroidery with a frown. They were already starting to fray. He put them back and went to look at the shirts. They were better quality. He was in the middle of deciding whether the rust color would look good on Ziva or not when Petrovich was next to him. "You are looking for something for your assistant?"
Gibbs gave him a half-smile. "I seem to have upset her."
Petrovich nodded sagely. "Then, you should turn your attention to jewelry. We are heading to the best store in the city, do join us. You will be sure to be forgiven."
"Dangerous habit to get into though. She'll start expecting it."
"Ah, but you look rather lost. It's almost lunch time. You must join us."
"Anthony, come here for a moment." Tony looked up from the tee-shirts. He licked the ice cream from his lips, then wandered over to lean into Sergei's embrace. "This is Mr. Garrison. He seems to have upset his assistant."
"Anthony DiNozzo." They shook hands. He saw the amused twinkle in Tony's eyes and steeled himself for the teasing. "And what did you do to your poor assistant?"
"I have no idea. She's just upset."
"Ah. Then you should try jewelry. Sergei swears he knows the best place in the city."
"I offered to show him, but he has not yet agreed."
"Oh, you have to. He's got good taste. Except for this place." Tony rolled his eyes. "The quality is somewhat lacking. Let me get my bags and we'll go save you from the wrath of your assistant. There's nothing worse than upsetting the person who controls whether you get your phone messages." Tony left them alone.
"Not really your type is he, Petrovich? Not from what I hear."
Petrovich laughed. "If you'd asked me a few days ago, I'd have agreed with you. But things change in an instant."
"He buy you a drink?" Gibbs fished.
"No, he smiled."
The answer made Gibbs smile. Tony finished off his ice cream cone on the way back. He kissed Sergei on the cheek. "So, let's see this shop. You're an American, Mr. Garrison?"
"And how do you like Nice?"
"Not talkative is he?" Tony said to their target. "Too bad. I'm sure you have stories to tell."
"I'm not the storytelling kind."
"Maybe you should try it. It can be fun." Gibbs listened with half an ear as Tony spun stories of the Nice night-life. They ended up in a small shop. "So is your girl a gold or silver person?"
"Gold," Gibbs answered without hesitation. He'd never seen Ziva wear anything in silver.
"Good. Let's see. How upset was she?"
"What do you mean?"
"Is she upset enough that if you come back with anything less than a daimond you'll be booked on coach flights for the rest of your life, or will a simple necklace do it?"
"Something simple. She's not into ornamentation." Gibbs looked to Petrovich. The Russian smiled and patted him on the arm.
"He is very good with his women. They never fail to smile when he's done."
Tony was selecting a range of items. "Here, one of these should do. There's even a simple diamond drop." Gibbs looked over the necklaces. He smiled. They were all perfect for Ziva. Tony winked at him before wandering back to Petrovich's side.
"Let me see the bracelet there," Petrovich told the clerk. Gibbs watched in the reflection as Tony settled with easy grace against the cabinet. He noted that despite his appearant ease, Tony was keeping his attention was on the street. He followed the gaze. Gibbs frowned. Damn, the surviellence team was too obvious. Tony frowned as one of them lifted their camera. He moved around Petrovich casually, as if looking in the case and turned his face away from the street. Gibbs turned his own back a little more.
"I'll take this one," Gibbs told the clerk, selecting a gold star of David on a smooth chain. The clerk nodded and wrapped up the purchase. Tony was arguing with Sergei, but it was clear that he wasn't really trying. At least it was to Gibbs.
Soon enough, Sergei was making a purchase. He fastened the bracelet around Tony's wrist. The bulky chain settled against Tony's thumb, emphasizing the width of his hand and drawing attention to his fingers. He was wearing a silver thumb-band already that Gibbs knew was from Abby - Christmas three years back. There was a slight blush on his cheeks which Gibbs attributed to the softly whispered words that poured from Sergei's lips. "Thank you," Gibbs said.
"De nada," Tony replied. "Are you coming to lunch?"
"No, I think I'd better get back before she decides to do me in."
Petrovich laughed and nodded. "I'll see you next week."
Gibbs nodded a goodbye and headed back to his hotel.
"And what do you think of Mr. Garrison?"
Anthony shrugged. "I get the feeling that he wouldn't screw you over on a deal. Most of the military guys I've met are pretty good about keeping their word."
"And what?" He looked confused.
"Not your type?"
That gave the young man pause. "You know, you really have to work on this jealousy issue you've got. He's sexy, but he's got his girl right?"
"His assistant? Yes, I believe so. She is an attractive woman, in an ethnic way."
"There you go then."
"I would have thought you'd find him to your taste?" Sergei pressed. Anthony looked at him with a frown.
"I don't understand why you're harping on this."
Sergei smiled gently. "Nevermind. It must be something that doesn't translate equally to us."
"You'll have to teach me Russian then."
"I will, precious one, I will. Let us take lunch."
Ziva regarded the necklace warily. "What's this?"
"Protection of our cover. I ran into Petrovich and DiNozzo."
She looked up sharply. "And?"
"I told them you were mad at me. Petrovich decided I should buy you jewelry." Gibbs have her a half-shrug.
"And how is Tony?"
"Fine. He's got Petrovich wrapped around his little finger."
She raised her brows. "He'll be spoiled when you get him back."
"Nah. Not Tony." Gibbs settled into his seat to check his email, more relaxed than she's seen him in a week. She hid her amusement. The simple gold star of David was sleek and smooth. It would look perfect on her.
"Tony chose this?"
"Yeah." Gibbs didn't look up from the computer screen. She shook her head. "Damn."
"Well, it seems that Petrovich's boys regularly end up dead. Ducky reviewed the ME's reports. Looks like they've all had some help."
"How long does he stay with them?"
"The longest lasted three years."
"So we have evidence of murder as well?"
"Not yet, but Abby and Ducky are reviewing the information."
Tony collapsed across his bed. "McGee? You still alive?" he called.
"No, call me in an hour."
The older agent laughed. He closed his eyes, wondering if he should check his email or something. He woke up about an hour later. "Cuz? You alive yet?"
"I'm awake." McGee looked into the room. "I didn't wake you up did I?"
"I don't think so. You and Sarah have a nice night?"
"She introduced me to some more people. Tony, tell me the truth, how rich is your father?"
"He's a banker. He pulls down high-sixes a year and invested in some stock when he was younger. He never needs to work another day in his miserable life."
Tony rolled up onto his side. "What makes you think I've got money hiding up my sleeve?"
"Four hundred dollar shoes and a suit that costs more than my rent."
"Ah. Most people don't notice."
"Abby gave me a long lecture on brand names and why my suits were lacking in quality and style."
"That's my girl. I have access to the money my mother left me when she died. If I'm careful, I can draw enough to live on or I can use it to supplement my salary." Tony shrugged. "I'd rather play with the money she left me than work. When I say live on, I mean that literally. I could probably afford rent and food and utilities, but I wouldn't be any better off than a greeter at Wal-Mart." Tony shrugged. "And she left me half of the property, so Papa DiNozzo can't tell me not to stay in the apartments that I have half-ownership of. He bought me out of the London and Paris apartments, but I won't give him anything else."
Tim nodded slowly. "Which means, this suite is yours?"
"Partly. I own half of it. I think it's one of the things that my father's lawyers have never allowed to be stolen out from under him during the divorce proceedings. He learned the meaning of pre-nup pretty quickly. The decor in here was my mother's doing. None of his women have ever gotten around to changing it."
"How old were you when she died?"
"Eight." Tony snorted. "The housekeeper told me during 'I Love Lucy.' I didn't understand for at least a year after that that she wasn't coming back. I never did get to her grave." He shrugged. "Then my father brought Isabella into the house. She didn't last too long, but she did get me sent to boarding school. Best thing anyone ever did for me."
"Military school. Prep for the Naval Academy. I even got an appointment. Don't you dare tell Gibbs. I took the scholarship for Ohio State instead."
"You were going to go into the Navy?" McGee settled down into the armchair that was neatly stationed to become a reading area.
"I thought about it." The older man shrugged. He held out his wrist. "What do you think? I told Sergei it was too heavy. He didn't listen."
"I think it looks good," McGee said after a moment. He took the topic change with no quibble. He'd gotten more out of Tony than he'd expected. He was intensely curious about the man's home-life, but he didn't want to pry. The emotions were pretty raw and, despite everyone's assertion that he was better with computers than people, he could read Tony pretty well. "So when we get to Geneva are you planning to move in with him?"
"I'm guessing that I'll be getting an invitation for both of us to accompany him on. I couldn't abandon my poor cousin when he's so obviously lacking in social graces, now could I?"
Tim laughed. "You really sure he'll do that?"
"He will. I saw Garrison today. He said his assistant was ready to kill him. I don't blame her one bit. Well, let's go get dinner."
"Welcome to Geneva, Tim," Tony said throwing an arm around the younger man. "Land of banks and chocolate and Swiss Army knives. This way."
"Mr. DiNozzo," Charlie Banks said cheerfully. He was the man that Tony's family always hired to drive them around the city. He was a little more grey and a little more wrinkled than Tony remembered. He greeted the older man with a hug. "It's been far too long. You've grown up."
"And your Matilde, how is she?"
"Graduated from college as a doctor. We're very proud of her. She'd still be a good match for you."
"No, Charlie, I don't think so. I'll bring the bags. This is Tim. He's going to be staying with me. I'm telling everyone he's a cousin so they'll treat him nicely."
The old man laughed. He greeted Tim with a pat on the back. "Come along then, son, and I'll tell you all about the city. When I came here in nineteen fifty it was the stuff of legends. I'd met my Liza in the war, you know. . ."
Tony went for the bags, secure that Charlie would keep Tim out of trouble. He filled up a cart with their bags, humming to himself. It was some old-fashioned tune that he half-remembered from a black and white film. He was surprised when a pleasing baritone started to sing along. He turned. He shook his head. "I should have known you'd be here."
"I waited for your plane. What has happened to you cousin?" Sergei asked peering at the suitcases. "You didn't pack him in there did you?"
"No. He's out with our driver. Where are you staying?"
"Let me help with the bags."
They exchanged local phone numbers and split ways with a promise to meet for dinner. Tony settled into the backseat next to his partner. He winked. "I've already got a date." McGee sighed heavily. His eyes showed that he'd gotten the message though.
Anthony was lounging against the wall of the hotel, looking supremely bored as he watched the people moving through the lobby. Sergei smiled to himself. He didn't believe for an instant that the young man was in any way bored. His sunglasses simply gave him an excuse to stare at any person who caught his fancy. His lover smiled at a passing bright young thing and she blushed. The Russian stalked across the room.
"Now, my dear, you know I'm the jealous kind," he said in barely accented English.
"And I told you that I won't change. I'm a flirt. You'll just have to learn to live with it." Anthony moved from the wall in one fluid motion. "Where are we going to dinner?" He leaned into Sergei's embrace as he escorted his lover to the car. There was something in the young man's posture tonight. Anthony had a secret. That would never do.
Dinner was a light affair with the topic of conversation ranging through new gun designs to the latest fashions in the shops. "Do you want a bite of this?" Anthony said offering a forkful of chocolate cake. "It's completely decadent."
Sergei ate the treat, sighing in pleasure. The soft smile he got in response was perfect. "What is your secret, precious one? You are practically purring."
Anthony leaned forward. "I'm tired of waiting. Why should we waste another week of our time if we can't find our rhythm in bed? Take me home with you tonight," he whispered. The soft, deepened voice was a promise of things to come and the Russian smiled. He wasn't strong enough to resist anything his Anthony wanted so badly.
"Yes, my dear. Tonight." He placed a gentle kiss at the corner of his lover's soft mouth. That earned him a wicked smile. He stroked the clean shaven cheek. He chuckled. "And tomorrow, you will move your things to my home. Leave your chaperone behind."
"You know I can't abandon him." Anthony frowned. "Damn, I hadn't thought about that. I can't just leave him. He doesn't speak anything but English and computers.
Sergei considered that for a long moment. "Then, he shall have to come with us, but not this week. Leave him in your apartment. We'll collect him when we leave."
"You seem sure I'll leave with you."
"Oh, you will, my dear. I'm sure of it." The arms dealer smiled, letting some of his lust shine through. His lover's smile was a wicked echo of that heat. "Let me show you why."
The younger man set his cup aside and waved the waiter over for the check. They were at Sergei's apartment after a too-long car ride. Sergei set the alarms. The kiss they shared was deep, hard and needy. Anthony's mouth was like molten fire. He could taste the cinnamon from his tea and the soft spices that underlayed that flavor. He ran his hands into the soft black hair. "No one else, Anthony. After tonight, there will be no one else in your bed."
"Oh, yes, Anthony, it is a promise." Something in his tone made the young man try to pull back. The Russian simply couldn't allow that. He tightened his grip and laid a possessive kiss on the soft lips until Anthony stopped fighting.
What the Hell am I doing? Tony demanded of himself. The mouth that captured his in harsh possession was the same rough pain he remembered from the first time. He was not going to fall for this target. Sex was the best way into his world though. It was just sex and he could manage that. The kiss softened as he gave in to the inevitable. He'd started this tonight and of all the things he could be called "pricktease" was not one of them.
Sergei led him into the bedroom. They lost clothing along the way. Tony heard the unmistakable clunk of a gun holster, but ignored it, the way his knife was ignored. It was a dangerous world where muggers and kidnappers hunted for someone who looked good for a ransom. The sheets hit Tony's heated back and and he moaned, letting Sergei take control of his body. Anything he wanted tonight was his. A small part of his brain murmured "whore" and he ignored it the way he always did.
A hot mouth traveled down his chest, leaving sucking marks. He ran his hands through silky hair and writhed, hearing the desperate sounds in the back of his throat. His lover would love the submission. He stiffened momentarily when he felt those calloused fingers wrap around his cock. He groaned. "Just lay back and let me have my way, precious one. Give yourself over to pleasure and I'll show you things you've never imagined."
His mind went blank in a haze of pleasure after that. Sergei didn't ask permission, didn't listen to his protestations or demands. He simply took over the entire process with a steely control that Tony longed for. He could manage to keep his head straight with women most of the time, but men just knocked him for a loop. The motions were different. "Relax," the older man ordered harshly as his fingers stretched and twisted Tony open. "Don't, my sweet, don't tense up. It's all right. Is this a first for you?" He asked suddenly.
Tony shook his head. "Please?" he managed in what he thought might be English, but he wasn't sure. "More?" That was far too plaintive a sound and he closed his eyes. Sergei entered inch by inch, driving Tony insane. He bit his lip and tried to drive his hips down on the cock only to find his hips were very securely held.
"My pace, Anthony," Sergei stated. His eyes were dilated. He was finally fully seated. He started to move, slowly, agonizingly, torturing his lover.
I think I might have to kill him, Tony thought wildly. He lost coherancy when his prostate recieved a few langerous rubs. He remembered coming, but nothing after that for a long moment. He was curled up around a pillow, Sergei's body pressed to his back when he woke.
"Ah, you're awake." A cold, harsh piece of metal touched the back of his neck. "You know what this is?"
"Very good, sweetheart. Now, a few answers. Who is Timothy really?"
Tony sighed. "My friend. I told everyone he was my cousin so they'd accept him. You can't meet the right people without a pedigree."
"My friend. My coworker. She was shot like I said."
"I didn't doubt that. I thought she might have been your lover."
"She'd be disgusted with me as a lover, knowing I wanted men as well. She was a good Catholic girl."
"And the man who broke your heart?"
"Jethro," Tony murmured. "I went to him, comforted him after his golden girl died. And he pushed me away." Tony shivered. Gibbs would never know how much it hurt that he'd let some stranger take out Kate's killer. He'd wanted to pull that trigger and the fact that he hadn't still tasted like ashes.
"The truth!" Sergei snapped.
Tony was silent for a moment. "He killed the son-of-a-bitch. Shot him in the back of the head. I helped him clean up the basement, but that's all he needed me for. I had to leave. I couldn't stay there and know I'd never be more than a reminder of her death." He shivered, hating the fact that he was using Kate's memory like this, that he was painting his boss as cold and unfeeling. He closed his eyes, waiting for the bullet. The gun barrel slid gently down Tony's cheek, then down his arm to settle under the pillow.
"You fear him?"
"He can't find me here."
"You will keep this weapon with you, Anthony. I will not lose you to anyone else. You know how to use it. Yes?"
"Yes," Tony whispered. "But I can't. I'm not. . ."
"You will, my sweet. I have enemies who would use you against me. So long as you don't lie to me, you are safe from me. Even if you tell me that you are no more than a plant," he murmured. "I would love you even then."
Tony shuddered, eyes tearing up. "Why?"
"Because of your smile," Sergei whispered. "You have stolen my heart, Anthony." He tightened his grip around Tony's waist. "Go back to sleep, my dear."
"Mr. Garrison," Tony said with a smile. "I didn't know you were coming for lunch. I'll get out of here and let you two talk business."
Gibbs nodded a goodbye. Ziva raised her brows. "Do you not wish to join us for lunch?" she inquired. "I'm told his cook is quite good."
"No, I have to go check on my cousin. Make sure that our chauffer hasn't gotten him into something he shouldn't be involved in." He dropped a kiss onto Petrovich's cheek. The Russian wrapped a hand into Tony's hair and pulled him into a real kiss. The young man went to his knees, obviously enraptured by the action. "So, where are we going for dinner?" he murmured.
"I'll pick you up at your apartment. Six o'clock. And you know I dislike waiting."
Tony's smile was smug. "I think you'll enjoy it," he purred. "Just give me a chance to show you." He left, avoiding Sergei's half-hearted swipe with a grin that made Gibbs stare after him.
"He is a handfull," Sergei said. His smile was self-satisfied. "Just needs some taming and tempering."
Gibbs swallowed the rage that welled up at that statement. He merely smirked. "Good luck." They went over a few more details and made plans to recieve the first shipment in a few days. They didn't just want Petrovich, they wanted his entire organization. He just hoped Tony would last out that long.
Tim McGee was surprised to see Tony staring out the window at the street below. "Tony?" he prompted.
"I told him that you're my friend, not really my cousin. And I told him that Gibbs shot Ari. I'm playing a broken heart Tim, don't fuck that up, okay? We're friends. I told you that my crush broke my heart and I wanted to escape with company. That's why you came. Got it?"
"Yes." Tim looked at his partner for a long time. "Did you give him a name for your crush?"
Tony looked at him with a smirk. "Oh, come on, McGee. You've dated Abby. You tell me who my crush is."
Tim sat down suddenly. "Oh God. I thought she was teasing Tony. I never. Shit."
Tony turned to lean against the wall. "Yeah, I know. Sort of blows my image, huh? Hell, I've been bi since I figured out what sex was all about. Have you noticed anyone in this atmosphere who's surprised about me dating a guy?"
"No, I just, well, it's sort of fashionable." McGee smiled sheepishly. "It's just, I never thought about the possibility of you and Gibbs."
"Because Gibbs is the most unapproachable man ever? Hell, I probably wouldn't want him if he weren't. I've never been smart enough to take what I can reach. I've got this pathological need to reach the sun no matter how badly I get burned." Tony sighed and leaned his head against the window. "Enjoying Geneva?"
"Not really. This isn't my sort of place."
"Why not?" Tony looked thoroughly perplexed.
"This isn't my thing, Tony. I don't know how to be like these people."
"You're doing okay. When you relax, you're fine."
"But I've never been to the places they've been to. I don't shop where they shop. They talk about people and things I've never even heard of."
Tony still looked confused. "Hell, I always feel that way, Probie. Just keep faking it. You'll be fine."
Tim blinked. "What do you mean you always feel out of place?"
Tony laughed. "I haven't been to half the places they've talked about. You just listen to what people are saying, and encourage them to talk more. They don't really ever notice that you're not contributing to the conversation. They just want to hear themselves talk and know that someone's listening. You're doing great, Probie." Tony flopped onto the couch. "So, are you coming shopping with me?"
"Oh, I don't know, chocolate or wine or women. Whatever looks interesting. Wherever I recognize someone. Almost forgot. I'm going to be moving in with him for the week. You stay here and keep track of me with your new toy, okay? I'll check in with you pretty often, but he wants to share a bed. I'll see if I can get any passwords for you."
"You think he'll give those up?"
"McGee, you ain't seen nothing yet." Tony winked. He stretched. His shirt pulled up revealing a dark love-bite on his side. "Let's go, kiddo. Time to see the sites. Sarah said she'd be heading this way right?"
"She did. But why not just use our team?"
"Because I don't trust them. They're not from DC. I don't know them. And my gut says that Sergei's more than likely going to keep a close eye on me. I can send things back to my best girlfriend in Baltimore with no problem. He won't think anything strange about me having a girl who's my best friend." The green eyes studied him. "I know her. I know her reactions. I know that if I need her to, she'll kill to protect me. I also know that she's got the capital to get us out of here if we need to in a snap or if it gets too dangerous to stay. Let me show you the day life here. Then, Sergei will pick me up for dinner and after dinner, maybe I'll show you both the nightlife."
"Sergei, fair's fair. You know more about me than any of my friends. Tell me more about you."
Sergei looked at his lover with a raised brow. The young man looked earnestly at him, eyes pleading. "What do you wish to know?"
"What do you do for a living?"
"I am a businessman."
Anthony laughed at that. "I'd guessed that much. I mean you've been having business meetings with Mr. Garrison, but what kind of business? What keeps you in toys?"
Sergei put a finger over the soft lips. "The kind of business that doesn't like people prying into it."
The younger man pouted at him. "Then tell me more about you. Any siblings? Did you go to college? Any exes I need to worry about?"
The Russian shook his head. "I have no family left. I did not go to college. I went into business. And you know that most of my boys have done themselves in."
"A worrying pattern for me."
"My dear, you are far more intelligent than any of them were. And you can shoot in a straight line."
"And that is important to you?"
Sergei thought for a long moment. "If you had asked me that question last year, I would have answered differently. You, you are unique, Anthony. Anything that makes up your life is important to me now. Even your cousin."
Anthony smiled shyly. "No one's ever really cared about seeing me. They just see what they want to see."
The arms dealer shook his head. "And you were content to give them a mask. No more. I don't want your mask, Anthony. I want you."
The young man laughed. "No, you want a mask too. It's okay. No one ever wants to see a lover without their mask."
Sergi considered. "True, in a way. No one likes to think they've been made a fool of." He tucked Tony against his side and led him down the street toward the sweets shop. He'd learned that much about his lover within the first day. Something sweet would make him smile like a little boy. He let his hand rest on the gun Anthony wore confidently under his jacket. "As I told you, though, even if you were to tell me you were always a plant, I would love you still."
Anthony frowned at him, a little line forming between his brows. He kissed it away. "You seem to want to think the best of me. I'm just in it for the money."
"A very practiced one. Though it doesn't seem to work on you."
"I am also a practiced liar. Tell me, precious one, is your father also a liar?"
"Of course. We always learn from our families best."
"And is your father a... businessman." He made sure to emphasize the last word.
"Just because our name is Italian," Anthony started. He paused. "Well, you know, I'm actually not sure if he is or not."
Sergi stopped walking. "Really? I would have thought that he'd have brought you into the business if he were."
"No, he sent me off to boarding school when I was a teenager. He could be doing something illegal and I'd never know." Anthony shrugged. It was a careless move. "It doesn't really matter though, does it? I don't want to talk about him. I want to talk about you."
"You have gotten all you're going to get out of me for the moment. So let us discuss chocolate instead."
"Well, that is one of the highlights of Geneva isn't it?" Anthony raised challenging brows.
"It is. And tonight, when you go home to your cousin, you tell him so. And tomorrow, when you bring your suitcase with you to stay with me, I will give you more than just chocolates."
His Anthony's laughter made him feel young. "I will not be bringing a suitcase tomorrow. I am not moving in. I may stay the night, but I am not moving in."
"Soon, my precious. Soon."