Disclaimer: I'm not Whedon or Bellesario, so I don't claim to own them.
Fandoms: Buffy the Vampire Slayer; NCIS
Timeline: Post-Chosen for BtVS; Post-Chained for NCIS
Written For: slash_me_twice; Prompt #45 - Reality; Prompt Table Here
Written For: crossovers100; Prompt #7 - Days (present in part 2); Prompt Table Here
Beta Reader: azraelz_angel & writinginct (many thanks!!)
Crossposted: spn_btvs_ncis; ncis_slash; ncisfanfic; slash_me_twice; crossovers100; i_need_a_parrot; xander_slash
Series: The Navy Watcher Series
Summary: After Tony was chained to a killer, both Xander and him had a startling realization they couldn't share with each other.
“Yeah Boss?” Tony looked up started from the keyboard he had been staring at.
He was still in his flannel shirt with the stitched up sleeve, his unshaved chin was starting to itch and he was trying desperately not to think of the dried blood that was spattered on his clothes and most likely in the back of his hair. His wrist was raw and sore from where the cuff had been wrapped around for most of the previous day. And all of those things were a distraction to keep his focus off the fact he had killed a man that was less than six inches behind him; a man that he had thought was just a confused innocent.
‘Shows what I know about human nature,’ he thought bitterly at himself as he looked up to meet Gibbs’ eyes. He tried not to let the wariness show in his eyes when he saw Gibbs’ calculating look. ‘Leave it to Gibbs to know when I’m not firing on all cylinders,’ he thought to himself.
“Go see if Abby has anything else on the other murders.” Gibbs’ gruff voice left no room for argument, even if Tony knew that Gibbs was just giving him an excuse to get out of the bullpen. The proof that Jeffrey was the one who killed the other victims on the West Coast was iron clad and since White was dead, the case was closed.
“On it Boss,” Tony said without his usual enthusiasm as he tried to push the thoughts of Jeffrey White out of his mind.
Down in Abby’s lab, he allowed himself a small smile as the thumping of her music reverberating in his chest. No matter what else was happening, some things would never change and Abby was one of them.
A moment later, he staggered backwards as Abby tackled him full force for a bone-crushing hug.
“Tony! You’re okay! When I found out that White was the killer from those other cases, I-- I just knew Gibbs would find you. He had to, he’s Gibbs.”
Then Tony winced as she pulled back and hit him relatively hard. “And don’t you ever get your tracker wet again. Next time I’m putting it somewhere you can’t damage it mister.”
Tony pulled her back for a hug as he mumbled into her hair, “No complaints from me Abs.”
They stood that way for a few moments before they slowly parted and Abby grabbed his hand to pull him towards the futon mattress she kept at the far wall under a desk. “You need to relax mister.”
Tony just smiled and followed her lead. Before long he was stretched out on the mattress with Abby pressed close to his side. She had her fingers threaded through his and gave his hand a tight squeeze.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Want to? No,” Tony said matter-of-factly. “But… I liked him, you know. White. Jeffrey.”
“What’d yah like about him?” Abby questioned as they both stared at the ceiling.
“I’m not really sure. I guess,” he paused as he considered what he was about to admit. “I guess he made me see what could have been.”
“He told me that no one was ever his friend and that-- that his father hit him,” Tony said quietly.
Abby’s hand squeezed down hard on Tony’s and he returned the gesture. “Guess I was seeing what could have been me if things hadn’t gone the way they did. I wanted to help him.”
“You tried,” Abby said quietly. “That counts for something.”
“I guess,” Tony said as his mind turned over other information from the last two days. “Abs? Have you ever liked another girl, um, woman?” he asked in a rush.
Abby rolled onto her side and propped her head up to look a little closer at Tony’s face. “When you say like do you mean like as in like or like as in like-like?”
“The second one,” Tony mumbled once he wrapped his mind around her question.
“A few times,” Abby admitted without hesitation. “What brought this on? You’re straight last I checked and we were talking about you and Jeffrey White, not… Oh,” Abby stopped as her mind supplied an answer to her own question. “Did something happen while you two were together?”
“No. Yes. I don’t know,” Tony finally ended. “Nothing really happened, but Jeffrey liked me in that second way, I think.”
“Oh,” Abby said quietly. “Did that bother you?”
“It should, but…” he paused again as he thought about why it both bothered and intrigued him. “Do you think that someone who’s been straight all their life can suddenly like-like someone who is the same sex?”
“We aren’t talking about White anymore are we?”
“Can I plead the fifth on that one?”
Abby glared at him before relenting, “For now, I’ll let you. So, this mystery guy, do you like-like him or do you think he like-likes you or both?”
Tony gave a short laugh, “I can’t believe we are having this conversation on the floor of your lab.”
“You started it,” Abby fired back with mirth in her voice. A laughing Tony was always better than a somber Tony in her opinion.
Tony continued to laugh lightly as thoughts of his current roommate filtered through his head. They had been living together for about four months and he felt more comfortable around Xander than he had ever felt around any of his girlfriends. Xander understood when a case had gotten to him and didn’t press for details. In return, he didn’t press for details when Xander came home early in the morning covered in various fluids that Tony thought it was best he couldn’t identify.
“I don’t know Abs. It’s-- I get along with him better than I have any of the women I’ve dated. I feel content with him, but I don’t know if that means I like-like him or not. Make sense?”
“Yeah,” Abby said as she moved to sit cross-legged next to Tony. “So this ‘whatever it was’ that happened with White got you thinking about how you act towards the mystery man?”
“Yeah,” Tony echoed back as he ran his hand over his face and sat up. “Probably just the stress catching up with me. Can you forget I even mentioned it?”
“Just call me Abigail ‘mum’s my middle name’ Sciuto,” Abby said as she used her hand to gesture zipping her mouth shut. “So, time to head back to our fearless leader?”
“Yeah. If I don’t, he’ll probably--" Tony stopped as he suddenly realized something. “Damn it!” he shouted as he jumped up and grabbed his cell to punch a number.
“What?!” Abby asked worriedly.
“I didn’t call Xander to let him know the case is over. I told him it wouldn’t be more than two days and it’s been two and a half. Damn! Keeps sending me to voice mail.”
Abby watched as Tony checked his pockets and retrieved his car keys with a satisfied grunt. “Can you tell Gibbs that I had to go take care of something? Tell him I’ll do my report tonight.”
Abby placed her hands on her hips and studied the worried agent for a moment. The dots were all connecting from their earlier talk and his current state. “I’ll only cover for you with Gibbs if you promise to tell me who the mystery man is in the near future.”
“Do I really have to?” Tony asked.
“Probably not,” Abby answered, letting him know that she knew who it was without him saying a thing. “But I would still like to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.”
“Give me some time,” Tony said quietly. “I’ll probably need to talk about it anyway, or I’ll be all screwed up when they do our next psych evaluations.”
“You better or I’ll tell Gibbs about that time you--" she was cut off by Tony’s hand covering her mouth.
He leaned in and a placed a kiss to her head. “That’s just between us and to never be spoken of again, remember?” At her nod, Tony removed his hand and tapped her nose. “I’ll tell you about it later, but I need some time to think about things. I need to go now.”
Abby gave him a parting hug as she said, “Don’t worry Tony. I’ll run Gibbs interference for you. Now scoot and let Xander know you’re still alive.”
Tony left her lab smiling. ‘Leave it to Abby to get me talking about the one thing I’ve been avoiding thinking about,’ he mused to himself. Then he turned his focus on getting home to see why he couldn’t reach Xander and to let the younger man know that he was okay.
Go to Part 2 of Shift in Reality >>