"Abs, you can't hold me to this," Tony whispered urgently. "It wasn't like it was a bet."
"You could have chosen to tell me the truth," Abby replied. Her smile was wicked. This was going to be good. She leaned against his desk. "You'll do it."
"There's no way you can make me do it," Tony shot back. A smack to the back of the head made him jump.
"Don't break promises to Abby," Gibbs snapped.
Tony rubbed the back of his head. "Yes, boss. Thank you, boss." The tone was sarcastic. "Fine. When?"
"Saturday at nine. I'll pick you up. Wear leather."
"You're riding your bike?"
"We're riding it."
"Fine. Nine o'clock sharp. Leather. Any other requests?"
"Bring a credit card and civilian ID."
Tony saluted. Abby grinned at him. He was pouting already. It was going to be a great day to watch the team. Tony sulking and Gibbs snapping meant Kate and Tim would be spending as much time in the lab as possible. She bounced out of the room blowing a kiss in Gibbs' direction.
"Okay, spill it, Tony," Kate said over lunch. "You've been pouting since this morning and I want to know why."
"I'm not pouting." Tony crossed his arms over his chest.
"Sulking," McGee said with an authoritative nod. "My sister had it down to an artform once."
Tony snorted. He nibbled at his lunch. Kate stared at him. "Talk, Tony. I'm not going to take you sulking anymore than I have to."
"I'm hoping for a case that will keep me here over the weekend," Tony stated.
"Oh, did your parents call you?" she asked. That would make sense. Tony would probably eat his own arm off before he went home to his parents.
McGee frowned thoughtfully. "Or does it have to do with why Abby is grinning like the Cheshire Cat?"
"You're smarter than you look, Probie." Tony slouched in his seat. McGee smiled at the backhanded compliment and Kate realized that the two actually did like each other.
"I know you two went out clubbing last Saturday."
"I'm not answering any questions about that night on the grounds that I may incriminate myself. Capice?"
"That's okay. I'll just ask Abby."
That made the lead agent glower even more. McGee's smile was positively wicked.
"So what did Abby get you to agree to do this weekend?" Kate pressed.
"I'm not saying. Drop it."
"I'll tell Gibbs."
"Tell Gibbs what?" the man in question growled.
"They're picking on me," Tony whined.
Gibbs chuckled. "Good work," he complimented the others. He bent down to speak in Tony's ear. Kate strained to hear it, but couldn't. Tony rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, I know, boss. I'll go armed."
Gibbs left, grinning a sly little grin at the other members of the team. At the next possible time, she went to see Abby. The goth grinned at her. "Hey, Kate."
"Hey, yourself. I have to know what you did to Tony. He's been sulking all morning."
"Sorry, that's a secret of the truth-or-dare variety. Since you're down here though, could you take these results up to Tony?"
"Results of what? I didn't know he was working a case?" Kate frowned.
"Oh, one of his colds. He revisits them whenever he gets down-time. They bother him."
"Sure. I'll take them up." Kate took the folders. "I better get back before Gibbs calls looking for me."
"Oh, he won't. He made sure you'd all have the weekend off."
"Unless someone tries to kill the president or something, you'll be free for the entire weekend."
"Wow. I don't know what to do with a weekend."
Abby winked. "Call a boy and make some time, girl. It's easy. I can set you up with someone if you want."
"That's okay." Kate smiled. "I'll see you. Have a good weekend."
"Oh, I will."
McGee looked around the office. Gibbs was talking to the director in MTAC. Tony was studying some file that he'd pulled from a bottom drawer. Kate was in the lab with Abby. "What did you bet Abby?"
"I didn't make a bet with Abby. She's got better luck than I do. It's the science background."
"I've got a science background and you make bets with me."
"You aren't tempered with street calculations yet. Hang out with Abs some more and she'll get you educated."
"But she's got you backed in a corner. Drunken promise maybe? Must be more than dinner."
"Oh, it's more than dinner."
McGee stared. "Piercing or tattoo?"
"See, we'll make an investigator of you yet."
"Oh, God. I'm sorry. I'll see if I can find a case."
"If I don't go, she'll tell Gibbs I broke my promise and he'll have me cleaning the head." Tony sighed and closed his eyes. "I am dead."
"My father will go through the roof if he finds out. I'll be completely out of the will then."
"Over a tattoo?"
"'Just like the common gutter-rat I always said you'd be.'"
McGee blinked. "That's just wrong, Tony," he said seriously.
"Yeah, well, we've got issues."
"So what dare did you lose?" Kate asked, entering the bullpen. She dropped a file onto Tony's desk. "From Abby."
"Oh, great, she finished the ballistics run." Tony grabbed the papers. "Yes! Got you now, sucker," he nearly growled.
"What case is that?" Gibbs asked.
"Christ, boss! You're going to give me a heart-attack one of these days. You've got to start wearing aftershave or something. McAllen. Abby got me a ballistics match to his gun from another shooting."
"One was righteous. But it was the same gun he used to kill her."
"Go get him. I'll take care of the warrent. Take McGee."
"Come on, Probie."
"Nice try," Abby said into the phone. "I'll still be there at nine."
"You're evil," Tony replied. "I'll be ready. Should I bring my helmet?"
"Yeah, that would be good. Leave your gun home."
"Gibbs will shoot me if I go unarmed."
"No gun. I mean it, Tony."
"You're lying to me."
"You won't see any gun on me."
Her eyes narrowed. She frowned. "If I see one, you'll be in serious hurts. Got it."
"Now, go get dressed."
"I'll be ready by the time you get here."
Abby pulled up. Oh, yummy, she thought studying her companion. True to his word, she didn't see a gun. She did see leather pants, a green tee-shirt that brought out his eyes and a black leather jacket. He had his helmet resting on the low wall that surrounded the garden he was lounging by. She flipped up her visor. "Come on, gorgeous. We've got an appointment to keep."
"Is there no way I can bribe you?"
"None. Get on." He put on his helmet and joined her on the bike. He wrapped his arm around her waist and they were off. She took him through Alexandria and then into the city. She pulled to a stop next to the discrete black door in the side of a brownstone building. She patted his hands. He gave her a squeeze, then let go. He got off gracefully and set his helmet on the seat after she got off. She plunked hers next to it. "Come on, honey." She caught his hand and led him inside.
"Hi, Abby!" the receptionist said. She had multiple piercings and an incredibly delicate facial tattoo. "And who's this?"
"Tony, this is Lizzy. Lizzy, Tony. He's off limits."
"Hey!" Tony protested.
"Gibbs would kill me."
"Did I miss a memo, because last time I checked, Gibbs didn't have any say in who I dated."
"You're silly, Tony. You know he'd pitch a fit if you got serious with someone."
"No, he'd just make me work weekends until she broke up with me. Hi. Love the artwork."
"If you love the artwork, why are you so resistant to the idea of getting one?" Abby demanded.
"Tattoos on women are artwork. I just don't get the attraction on men."
"So, no bikers for you, huh? Not many servicemen either."
"Not my thing, honey." He grinned at her and she saw the twinkle in his green eyes. "And you know it."
"You're trying to tell me you're one hundred percent straight?" Abby demanded.
Tony snorted. "Doesn't exist. So, give me details on this little adventure."
"Mariella's going to do the work. She did my web."
"Ah. I see. Walk me through the process." Abby walked him through the basics of tattooing. "And the art?"
"Sh." She put a finger to her lips. "It's a secret."
"I know, baby. It's trendy, but non-descript. I was thinking a Playboy bunny, but changed my mind. It will be tribal."
"Okay. I trust you, to a point."
"Good." She kissed his cheek.
"Abby! You got him here," Mirella said with a broad smile. "Come on back. So, where is it going to be?"
"Shoulder blade," Abby replied. "Strip down, honey, and let her take a look."
Mirella studied her newest client. His eyes focussed on Abby, giving her a puppy-dog look that would have melted a lesser woman. "You promised," Abby said firmly.
He held his hands up in surrender. "Abby tells me you did her web?"
"Yes, I did."
"You do good work."
"Thanks. Now, lay down here." She patted the table. He followed her instructions. "So, are you worried?"
"Abby promises me that it will be tasteful."
"It will. I've done the flash. See."
He studied the circular design. "Do it far enough in that I can wear a sleeveless shirt without someone seeing it."
"Gibbs won't snap at you for getting art," Mirella's favorite client chided.
"No, he won't snap at *you* for getting another tat. Me, he'll rip a new one."
"Kate and McGee both have a tat."
"What does Kate have?"
"Naughty, naughty. Ask her."
"She lied to me twice about it, Abs. I know she let you look at it."
Mirella laughed. "Tony, right?"
"Yep. And he's art-shy," Abby told her. She patted him on the head. "He's afraid his sugar daddy will cut him off."
"My family will go nuts if they find out." He pouted at her.
"How much farther out of the will can you get?"
"You have a point."
"Lay down, sweetie, and I'll get started." Mariella smiled at him. He smiled back at her. Damn, how did Abby concentrate at work with that? He laid down, head in the hole, arms relaxed. She cleaned the area and transferred the flash onto it. She saw Abby moving and raised her brows. Tony tensed.
"Hush, Tony, I've got your back. Relax your back." She rubbed the back of his neck and a tension Mariella hadn't noticed eased.
"So tell me about his sugar daddy. You stay quiet, Tony, let Abby distract you."
"Gibbs? You know all about him."
"Bi, I think. He's just never acted on it. Married three times."
"Currently single. I think Tony is the perfect match for him. Addicted to work. Caffiene fiend. Adorable." She continued to rub in small circles at the base of his neck. "She's starting now, sweetie. You need to stay still. The area will numb up in a few minutes."
Mirelle worked carefully, adding shading and depth. Abby kept a running commentary up, entertaining both artist and client. About half an hour later, she sat back. "There you go. It'll heal in about two weeks. I'll let Abby talk to you about treatment because she's an old hand at it. I'll give you some cream for it. Keep it covered."
"Yes, ma'am," Tony said, sitting up. He gave her another smile, a little more shy this time. She put a bandage over it and let him pull his tee back on. "So, Abs, you will not be telling McGee or Kate anything about this, right?"
"Right. I'll let you tell them. You're on your own with the boss, though."
"Aren't I always? Thanks, Mirella." He kissed her hand.
"You're charming, sweetie, but I'm taken."
"Too bad." He winked at her.
"Come on, Tony, let's go." Abby pulled him out of the room to pay.
Gibbs raised a brow at the subdued Tony that greeted him on Monday morning. "How long have you been here?"
"Nope. Got to thinking about a case and I had to come in."
"And Abby kept you out late on Saturday?"
"No, she had a date with McGee on Saturday."
"Anyone else in?"
"Not yet. It's not even nine yet."
"Good. Let me see it."
"Why, boss, I didn't know."
"DiNozzo," Gibbs growled.
"Don't whine. Come on."
"She told you?"
"I know everything that concerns my people. Besides, I need to add it to your file for identifying marks."
"You're such a ray of sunshine, boss." They went down to the gym, which was mostly deserted. Tony stripped off his holster, shirt and tee-shirt. Gibbs carefully pulled away the bandage. He studied the tattoo for a long moment. "Abby said it was long life or something like that."
"You can use all the help you can get. It suits you."
Gibbs covered it again. He watched Tony dress. "I hear Abby is introducing you as my boy-toy."
"Don't tell me, Mirella?"
"She's a friend of a friend." Gibbs grinned. "You should have told me."
"Abby's description of our relationship."
"Ah, she's just being Abby."
"Back to work."
"You're the one that pulled me away from it." Tony took his time ruffling his hair into place.
"You're still on salary."
"I know. Doesn't matter. Things need to be done."
"Well, if I had to stay at your place, I wouldn't go home either."
"It's not that bad. I've stayed in worse."
"All over Europe. I did summers there on whatever I saved of my allowance."
Gibbs stopped the elevator. "Tony, you're okay with Abby thinking of you as my boy-toy and warning women off?"
"It's okay. She helped me spread the rumor that McGee's gay to the ladies downstairs. She doesn't like competition and neither do I. Besides, it's not like I really have a life, is it? My weekends are usually booked and my evenings, well most of those aren't free either."
Gibbs paused. Seriously, he studied the young man. "Tony, do I really use you that much?"
"No more than I want to be used. You make me feel useful, boss."
"There's a difference between loyalty and me using you, DiNozzo."
"You didn't order me in here at four. It's my choice to do the cold case work that I do."
Their eyes met for a long moment. Tony held his gaze just long enough that Gibbs knew he was serious, before dropping his eyes. Gibbs reached out and lifted his chin. "Tell me something else, Tony. Do you want Abby to be telling the truth?"
"In a heartbeat, boss." Tony grinned. He shrugged. "Doesn't matter, really, I've been yours for years."
"So, that's why the serial dating has died down."
"You put me on 24/7 call after Ari kidnapped Kate, boss." Tony scowled. "Not like I wasn't before that, of course."
"You're my lead. If I wanted Kate to do your job, she would be."
"Boss? If I did say I wanted it to be true, would you hold it against me?"
Tony's smile was soft. "So, what do you want, Gibbs. That's what it comes down to. All you have to do is ask me."
"Not today, but soon," Gibbs promised. "First, we need to get you out of that shithole apartment and into my guest room."
The younger man grinned. "My lease is up in two months. You still want me then, just ask."
"I'll keep it under advisement." Gibbs started the elevator again. "I'd start packing."