OK! Note for any reading this… This is more than rough!! Not only do I not have a beta I haven’t even beta’d it myself. I guarantee there are run on sentences and missing commas. I’m posting this here so that I can just give people the link so I can get some feedback on A) does it suck. B) does it need broken up and if so where. C) are the characters too OCC, does it feel too rushed… ETC. OH! Forgot to add… I have totally messed with Tony’s backstory! I needed to do so for the relationship between Danny & Tony, which is the backbone of the story. So, yeah… DEFINITELY AU.
Chapter 1 – Meetings & Matchmaking
Danny sat on the beach watching Steve and Chin messing around in the water with Gracie. It didn’t seem to matter how many times or how often it happened, or how many times he himself went into the ocean, he couldn’t completely get over his fear of the ocean. There was just a part of him that refused to completely buy into the notion that the ocean wasn’t going to come up and steal someone else that he loved.
Feeling someone come up and sit down next to him, Danny turned his head and saw his longtime friend Tony DiNozzo had sat down on Gracie’s abandoned towel. “Where’s Jethro?” Danny asked still finding it hard to believe that his childhood friend was there. It seemed like they’d lost contact a million times, but for some reason, the universe kept thrusting them back together. This time it had been Tony’s lover who had tracked him down after he heard how much Tony missed his old friend.
“You should tell him how you feel,” Tony said not taking his gaze off of the small group in the ocean. Danny just rolled his eyes moving his gaze from Gracie to Tony scowling. “For the love of God, what is it with the world that everyone thinks that I want in Steve McGarrett’s pants?”
Slowly Tony’s head turned and he lifted his sunglasses up enough so that Danny could see his all too knowing look, and the arched eyebrow. “Why in the hell would I be talking about the S.E.A.L? That would be nearly incest and just… eww. Despite your close relationship, you and Steve would be a really bad idea and way too close to your relationship with Rachel. Arguing can make for some great make up sex, but constant bickering even the playful kind, eventually wears you down when the heart is involved. Quit deflecting, Daniel. You know who I am talking about.”
‘Oh’ was the only thought that went through Danny’s head. Blushing he looked away cursing his friend’s perceptiveness. Of course it was probably one of the reasons their friendship had been able to survive so many breaks. Each time they reconnected it was as if no time had passed at all, always picking back up right where they left off. When he found himself staring at Chin’s body instead of Grace, Danny covered his face groaning, pretending that he didn’t hear Tony’s manic-like cackling beside him.
Turning his head, Danny glared at his friend, which only made Tony laugh that much harder. “Come in, Ponch, what’s the deal? Tell ol’ John why you haven’t bared your soul to that hot guy with the high cheekbones.”
When Danny just glared again, Tony rolled his eyes, before pulling a couple of bottles of water from the cooler on the other side of the blanket he was on, the juice boxes told him it was mostly for Gracie’s benefit, but he figured the water was fair game. Handing one to Danny, Tony opened his and took a long swig before continuing on to ask, “It can’t be the ‘he used to be married’ thing.
“Please tell me that it isn’t the married thing.” When Danny lifted his chin still glaring Tony just rolled his eyes. “Jesus Christ, Danny!” Turning so that he could watch Danny, Tony let loose his best Gibbs glare. “Daniel, maybe I forgot to introduce you to my better half? One Leroy Jethro Gibbs, married four times divorced three, still holds his first wife on a pedestal… rightfully so, maybe. Most likely somewhat unhealthy, definitely. The man had never been in a relationship with a man before me, only a quick fuck here and there.”
Tony then pulled out the pendant Jethro had gotten him for Christmas to match the one Tony had gotten him a few months before. “Maybe I forgot to tell you about the promises we made? The house that I moved into? Is any of this ringing a bell, Daniel? I know our talk last night went into the wee hours of the morning. I will, also, admit that there was some consumption of beer involved. If your memory is that bad or you can’t handle a few beers though, maybe you should give up alcohol all together. Then there’s the whole… YOU WERE MARRIED YOUSELF YOU MORON!
“Does the name Rachel mean anything to you? I do believe that this most recent separation we went through is mostly entirely her fault. Yet here you are sitting on your butt on a beach drooling over tight abs and high cheekbones.”
Danny huffed and glared before turning his head to watch Chin again. “Just because your Jethro turned out to be bisexual, doesn’t mean that Chin is that… flexible. As far as Rach, of course I remember my marriage. Other than Grace, it was some of the most miserable times of my life, and I have always known that I was into guys too. Again, that doesn’t mean that Chin is, jackass!”
Tony sighed and moved to sit closer to his friend. “Can I give you some advice?” Tony waited until Danny nodded before going on. “I’ve known you most of my life Danny Boy, and I love you like a brother. You are the biggest worst case scenario person I have ever known. You’ve been that way since we were kids. I know it’s hard on your heart, and I know why you’re that way. I love you too much though, Poncho, to just sit here and watch you follow the same path that I’ve already walked down, without saying something. I get it brother, it’s scary, it’s uncertain, it’s the hardest thing that you’ve ever done in your life to take that risk. Goddamn, Danny, it’s worth it when it works out. I know it’s hard for you to even consider that it could work out, but, babe, I’ve got enough confidence for both of us. I promise you.
“Don’t fuckin’ wait, Daniel. It’s too important. I wasted 9 damned years that I could have had his support though. I suffered crappy bosses, crappier undercover assignments, co-workers who clawed away at my soul like a mouse with a hunk of cheese. I agonized over recovering from the plague alone, and my father popping in and out of my life whenever the whim hit him. My partner getting her brains blown out right next to me, and crappy foreign intelligence agency directors, who wanted to torture me, all by myself when I could have had his support.
“He went through the never-ending loss of his girls. Amnesia, crappy ex-wives, and crappier ex-girlfriends who thought they could pick right back up where they left off after abandoning him. General constant loneliness outside of work, all because we both were too afraid to take a chance.
“Jesus, Danny, there isn’t anything worth going through life alone just to save ourselves a little humiliation if we’re wrong. All the things that Jethro and I suffered through alone, and for what? Because we were too chicken shit to say ‘Hey! I think you’re hot and I’d like to try and build a life with you’. Nine years wasted. Nine years that could have been filled with love, Stop waiting, Danny Boy. It isn’t worth it, brother, not when there is so much upside and in my opinion very little downside. Especially since he keeps checking you out.”
Danny quickly looked back to the ocean, catching Chin looking at him. He couldn’t help but smiling shyly as he felt his cheeks grow warm. It seemed as if Chin’s gaze was suddenly all too knowing however, and he found himself staring at the sand in front of him when it got to be too much. “So, where is your other half today, John?” Danny asked repeating his earlier question.
Tony huffed knowing he’d get no further, and just hoped that Danny was at least thinking about what he’d said. Slapping Danny on the back, Tony smiled thinking about his partner in every way. “Ok, Ponch, have it your way.”
Danny snuck a quick thankful smile before turning his gaze back to the sand again, Tony wrapped his arms around his legs drawing them up to his chest, as he watched the people in the water. “Jethro is with an old Marine buddy of his who works at the base here. I think today was the only day the guy had off, so they’re… doing whatever retired Marines do. He’s not really the beach type unless he’s in Mexico and there’s a shitload of tequila or bourbon involved. I think he’d also like to ease his friend into the concept that maybe he isn’t as straight as this guy always probably assumed that he was. He didn’t think just popping the big gay romance on him all of a sudden was the way to go.
“My guess is they’re sittin’ in a bar somewhere drinkin’ beer and watchin’ baseball or somethin’. If everything goes well, when he finally drops the bomb on the guy, I am meeting them for dinner. I am under orders to invite you and Gracie, Chin, and the rest of your ohana along. You guys can pick the place, as long as it isn’t too formal. Jethro isn’t really the dress up and go to dinner type, unless it’s just the two of us, and its some important event or date or something of that sort.”
Danny decided that it sounded like fun, but advised that unfortunately Gracie wouldn’t be able to make it due to prior events planned that her mother insisted she couldn’t get out of. So the two of them discussed options for where they could eat with Tony throwing out food ideas and Danny giving restaurant options to match. Tony advised Danny that he was leaving the final dinner plans up to them. He only requested that they give him enough advance notice so his friend could let his roommate know.
“Let his roommate know?” Danny frowned and looked at Tony who shrugged. “I have my opinions. I mean the guy is like in his 50s and a career military man, so he has to make good money, but he has a roommate? Now I know it’s possible, and maybe there’s some other reason than what I suspect, but I won’t be surprised if we find out this whole big gay romance revelation thing isn’t exactly one sided.”
Danny snorted taking a sip of his water. “The whole world isn’t gay you know, DiNozzo. Maybe the guy just doesn’t want to live alone.” Tony just smiled as he took a drink himself. “We’ll see, Danny Boy, we’ll see.”
The three swimmers came back and joined the conversation getting drinks themselves and settling down on the towels. When Tony admitted to wanting some place that he could get good seafood, but that also had beef for Jethro, Chin said that he knew just the place. Tony and Danny were happy to leave things up to the native. Tony especially when he heard it was a family member.
Of course that comment led to about 20 minutes of teasing as Steve and Danny teamed up to explain how Chin was related to half of the island. By the time they were done, Tony was laying in the sand holding his sides as he laughed at their antics. He honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d laughed so hard, and sent a quick thanks to whomever was listening for giving him his brother back. Once things settled down again, Danny said that it was time to get Gracie home, much to her displeasure. It wasn’t his weekend, and Rachel had only been willing to agree to a few hours for Tony and Grace to meet that day. She had though promised that Danny could have her all day Monday when Danny was going to take Tony and Jethro around the island to all of the touristy places.
Tony quickly promised the girl that if everyone else was willing they could have dinner again the next weekend. Danny had Gracie, and Jethro had managed to get them a full two weeks off from work. He knew that Jethro would love to meet the little girl. Tony wasn’t surprised that his Danny Boy was raising such a smart and polite little girl. If there was anyone who was meant to have children, it was Danny Williams. Once Danny and Grace left, Steve was close behind them promising that he would meet them for dinner and promised to let Kono and Kamekona know to meet them. “It was very nice to meet you,” Steve offered before hurrying off. Tony couldn’t help but shake his head and grin. He wasn’t quite sure what he thought of Danny’s best friend, but after almost 10 years at NCIS he would have pegged him as military even if Danny hadn’t told him he was a S.E.A.L.
This was how Tony found himself alone with Chin, trying to decide if he should get involved in his stubborn friend’s love life. “So what are your plans ‘til dinner, brah?” Chin asked politely. It was friendly enough though that Tony could tell that he genuinely wanted to know, and wasn’t just asking to make conversation. In the limited time he’d known, Chin, Tony found himself oddly compelled to not only liking the man, but opening up to him, also. The last being something of a surprise, considering how hard it normally was for Tony to trust people. He supposed that it could be his connection to Danny, or the whole Zen Master Vibe thing that Chin gave off. Tony suspected that there was more to it than that. Ultimately Tony decided to go the Gibbs route trusting his gut, and shrugged before answering.
“Trying not to go nuts? I think that I’m more nervous than Jethro is. I mean this guy was a pretty good friend of his when they were in the Corps. Not to mention I’m not much for just sitting around a hotel room and doing nothing. People watching isn’t nearly as much fun when Danny Boy isn’t there to share in the snarky comments. Then there’s the fact that I have little to no faith that I won’t get hopelessly lost if I try to explore on my own.
“Did I mention I was nervous? Seriously it’s worse than meeting the parents. ‘Cause I knew Jackson years before Jet and I got together, and with the way my luck runs this guy will be some uptight homophobe. He’llblame me for turning his buddy gay before having some nervous breakdown. Then he’ll turn into some weird serial killer kidnapping Italian playboys and torturing them with Justin Bieber and sporks before dumping them into volcanos. You’ll get so many bodies you’ll have to call my buddy Morgan who works at the BAU. I’ll end up framed for murder, cause they’ll bring Slacks along, and end up serving life in prison playing bitch to some bubba. Jet will leave me and move to some sheik’s kingdom and start his own harem of red heads.” Chin smiled and shook his head not even trying to hold in his grin as he thought to himself that Tony and Danny certainly were some pair. It seemed that Danny wasn’t the only worry wart of the pair.
The two men stood and gathered the blankets and cooler, which Tony found out Chin had brought for Grace. A fact that further convinced Tony that he was on the right path with the whole ‘Danny and Chin sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G’ thing. Patting Tony on the shoulder, Chin automatically followed Tony when he turned toward his hotel, which was within walking distance of the beach.
“If you’d like I can show you some out of the way places that Danny won’t know about.” Chin wasn’t even going to touch the rambling doomsday scenario having enough experience with Danny to know some things were better off left alone.
Taking the offer as the sign that he’d asked for, Tony quickly accepted as the two of them stepped onto the hotel grounds. Chin was amused to watch Tony flirt with the teenagers parking cars for guests, the bellhop at the door, the girl at the front desk when he checked for messages, and the couple that were waiting to go upstairs, who informed them they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Tony was obviously the social one of the two.
He’d seen Danny flirt, but usually only with people he knew and was comfortable with. Otherwise it was done fairly reluctantly and usually for some bigger purpose like coaxing information out of a witness or reluctant bystander. As if reading his mind, Tony smirked at Chin after wishing the couple congratulations again before they stepped off the elevator. “Yes, I am the social butterfly, and Daniel is the grumpy old bastard. Been that way since we first met when we were kids, but it works for us.” Chin couldn’t help but laugh and hoped that he could get more Kid!Danny stories out of Tony while he was on the island.
Once they reached Tony and Jethro’s room, Tony informed Chin that he needed to change, then asked if it’d be ok if they took the convertible that Gibbs had rented for them to use on the trip. Chin happily said that he didn’t mind in the least, especially when Tony said he could drive. He was after all the one who knew where they were going.
“I have a question for you,” Chin hollered as he wandered around the living room of the suite. After tony shouted, “sure,” from the other room, Chin asked, “Explain the nicknames.” Chin couldn’t help but smile as he heard Tony’s laughter from the bedroom. Eventually the other man came out dressed in jeans shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, then sat to put on a pair of sneakers, all the while still grinning.
“My mother died when I was little. Afterwards my father, who never really wanted me anyway, lost all interest in me. He’d been forced to take me on a business trip to New Jersey after my nanny quit. I don’t know why he had to stay there. We just lived on Long Island, but for some reason he couldn’t come home at night. He had no one to watch me, so he’d taken me with him. He put me in a hotel room the first day we got there and then… just… never came back.
Chin suddenly found himself struggling to hold onto his calm façade, especially in the calm every day story way Tony was relaying the memory. He sensed though that if he didn’t stay quiet that the story would stop. “Eventually the hotel noticed, and called the cops. The guy that responded was Danny’s Uncle Mario. The man is probably the most stereotypical bachelor you will ever meet. He told me once that he didn’t know why he didn’t get CSP involved right away like he was supposed to. Normally he was a 100% by the books kind of guy, but for some reason this time he didn’t. He said that something just told him that it would be a mistake.
“Instead he took me to his brother’s house. When we walked in he sat me down next to this small blonde headed kid. Danny was watching his favorite TV show, C.H.I.P.S and when Mario sat me down, Danny didn’t even blink an eye. He just handed me this blonde action figure and said, “You can be John. I’m Ponch.”
Chin smiled picturing little Danny in his head. “That’s great. How long where you with them?”
“I was eight at the time. Danny was five. I lived with them until I was thirteen. At that time my father seemed to remember that he had a child. I’m pretty sure that he must have paid someone off ‘cause I was removed from the house in the middle of the night. They took me to his home on Long Island where I met his new wife.
“She left him about eight months later and not long after that I was shipped off to a military academy. Met up with Danny again during college, but lost track with both of us being so busy in different states. Then we ran into each other when I was working with the NYPD. I got picked for a long term undercover assignment about a year and a half later, which led to the next separation. About a year into it, I’m introduced to some thug for this Russin mobster my guy is trying to do business with… Danny again.
“When that assignment was over, things got weird. I got put in another UC case, and by the time was done and free to look him up again, I was at NCIS. He was with Rachel who as it turns out hated me. So, that one didn’t last long. I got a letter at work from his mom randomly one day a couple weeks back, telling me he was here. I have no idea how she found me or knew I was working at NCIS. All I can think of is she must have seen the news clip that flashed a picture of me in my windbreaker when we were working this big case with a missing Admiral’s nephew that was all over ZNN. When Jethro found out about Danny and the whole situation though he kicked my ass, had Abby – the Forensic Scientist for our team – track Danny Boy down, and now here we are.”
Tony headed for the door assuming that Chin would follow. When they got to the car, Tony tossed the other man the keys. When they both were settled and buckled in, Tony snorted and shook his head. “You know, it’s funny.”
Chin looked at him questioningly as he started the car, letting it idle while he waited on Tony to finish his thought. Eventually, just before Chin was going to give up and pull out of the spot, Tony snorted again and shrugged. “No matter how much time passes, or what age we are, every time we reconnect it always feels like it’s been hours instead of months or years. There’s no weirdness, no awkward pauses, we just launch right back into how’s everyone, and who are you datin’ now and hey did you hear about… insert random name or event. Been line that from day one and hasn’t changed since.”
Chin smiled and nodded familiar with the concept. As big as his family is, he went thought the same thing often. “That’s how it is with ohana, brah.” When Tony looked at him confused, Chin resisted saying haole out loud knowing how much Danny hated the word, and not wanting to offend his new friend.
“Family, Tony. Ohana means family. You heard the teasing from Danny and Steve down on the beach about me being related to half the island. They don’t mean just Kono and Kamekona. Some days it seems like I really am related to half the people born on this island. So, I get what you’re saying.
“When it comes to family, you don’t have to talk every day to remain important to each other. One of my favorite quotes, which I think best explains what ohana means to me, is by Edna Buchanan “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. Ohana isn’t just blood and genetics, brah. Danny is ohana to me as much as Kono is. Just as he is ohana to you, making you part of my ohana as well.”
Not sure how to respond and slightly choked up at the thought that this virtual stranger would take him into his family based only on a childhood friendship, Tony nodded, but didn’t speak. He wanted to give the comment the serious thought that it deserved. It was more than a little ironic how that quote fit his life.
He’d heard it before of course, and he knew what ohana meant. He’d given himself a crash course on Hawaiian words and slang and such when he found out where Danny was living. It wasn’t though until just now hearing Chin actually explain it and relate them to him and Danny that he really understood this connection.
Maybe it was the choppiness of their relationship. It seemed like they’d never really been given time to settle into being used to each other’s company, before someone or something yanked them apart again. It also wasn’t that he’d never considered Danny is brother because… well he had. It seemed like he always had. It was just… somehow Chin had explained it in a way that just… made the whole thing make so much more sense.
Tony made a mental note to make sure and relay the conversation to Jethro at some point, knowing that he would understand and appreciate the moment. Smiling, he finally turned off his brain to give himself a mental break as he turned his attention to the gorgeous scenery he was being driven though. It wasn’t until about half an hour later when Tony was standing on a cliff looking out at the most beautiful view that he’d ever seen that he spoke.
Casually, as he took pictures to show Jethro later, Tony asked, “So, Chin Ho Kelly, when are you going to tell Danny that you’re in love with him and wanna have his imaginary man babies?” When he was done taking pictures, Tony turned and smirked seeing chin frozen in place. Slowly the older man’s head turned to look at him. Eyebrow arched, Chin opened his mouth to respond, but Tony held up a hand to stop him.
“Look, you’ve been really nice to me, and to be honest that’s what convinced me to say something. Normally I would be a lot slicker about this, ease us into the question. I’d use all my interrogation and undercover skills to make sure you didn’t realize what conversation we were having until you were ass deep in revelations and unable to turn back. Once you were feeling nice and safe about the conversation, having filled you with a false sense of security about my intentions, I’d pounce. You’d realize how badly you’d outted yourself and you’d be forced to lay it all on the line.”
Chin lifted an eyebrow and crossed his arms unsure how happy he was at the situation his new friend had laid out for him. At the same time, he wasn’t entirely confident that it wouldn’t happen exactly as Tony suggested. While Chin had no lack of confidence in his own skills, there was just something about Tony that told him he was in a whole different class of cop from Chin himself.
Tony either didn’t notice Chin’s momentary aggravation, or was wholly unfazed by it as he just kept on talking. “Like I said though you’ve been really nice to me, and we’re both off work today. So, I don’t really wanna test my interrogation skills on a fellow detective. So, let’s just cut to the chase, huh?
“I can see you care about Danny more than a normal co-worker, the lovely ohana conversation, which I believe was heartfelt and honest, aside. The thing is, I also love Danny Boy too much to let you two waste 9 years like Jethro and I did.” Chin internally huffed, but winced at the thought of pinning for Danny for 9 years only to find out that they could have gotten together much sooner.
He’d been attracted to the shorter man almost from the start, but the whole vibe that Danny and Steve have going kinda threw him off for more than a moment. By the time he’d regained his footing and realized they were more like brothers than future lovers, Malia had re-entered his life, and his feelings for the blonde haole were put on the back burner. It was the thought of her that brought him back to what Tony was saying.
“I know you recently lost your wife, and while I can’t say that I know exactly how you feel, I can say I have an idea. I don’t know how much Danny has told you about Jethro since we started talking again, but Jet lost his first wife when a Mexican drug dealer murdered her and their daughter Kelly. He’s mourned their loss every day of his life since. I was also engaged myself, and got abandoned the day before our wedding. I told you that my mom died when I was a kid, and up to that point she’d been my whole world. So, as I said, I can sincerely say that I have an idea.
“What I am unwilling to do is see you become him. I’ve found that life has a way of giving you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. DO. NOT. BE. US, Chin Ho Kelly. Don’t wait. Don’t be Jethro. I don’t know if you have a basement or if you like bourbon, but this is Hawaii and I am sure you could just build a boat in your backyard.” Chin blinked at the last part and frowned confused. He was coming to the realization that Tony often got himself off track when allowed to ramble. Chin decided to just chalk the question up for later as he continued to Tony speak.
“Sharing your grief with someone who loves you and letting them fill holes seems to be a much better solution to me. Letting Danny in does not mean pushing your wife out. Your love for her will never end. I would never ask Jethro to stop loving Shannon, and I don’t even have to ask him to know Danny would never ask you to stop loving your wife. If she was though half as amazing as it seems Shannon was I have to believe that she would never want you to pass up a second chance at forever happiness in her name. Moving on doesn’t equal forgetting. It just means… well… moving on. Letting someone living bring happiness, love, and joy back into your life.”
Tony smiled at him so large it seemed to take up extra space around the man’s body. Chin had a feeling whatever came next was going to be thoroughly embarrassing and was thankful they were alone. “Then there’s the whole virtually undressing Danny at the beach with your eyes in front of his kid, his boss, and his best friend thing that totally gives you away, dude. I mean, you kinda committed yourself there even if you didn’t realize it.” Chin couldn’t help but groan not having realized that he’d been so obvious in front of so many people. When he looked at Tony again he was getting a look the other man could have only learned from his boss. It was way too similar to one he’d seen on Steve’s face when he was trying to be sympathetic, but was about to dish you up a heaping plate of reality and tough love.
“I assume you’ve met Rachel? The Ex-Wife?” When Chin nodded sharply, Tony continued. “Then I think that you can understand what I am about to impart upon you next. Danny will not ever, in any circumstance, in this or any alternate universe anywhere ever make the first move. It won’t be because he doesn’t totally have the hots for you… not that I’m saying that he does because that would totally be betraying a confidence and I would never consider such a thing.” Chin snorted at the over exaggerated wink and shook his head, growing to like this man more and more by the moment. He seemed to be equal parts fun, loyal, and the first person you’d want to call when you found yourself ass deep in sharks.
“Do not for one moment think that it is because he loves her. I can assure you that any positive couple type feelings he may have still held for her went out the window with this last ‘I love Stans, no I love you and I’m your baby mamma again, no Stan’s the baby daddy this time… oops’ fiasco. Finding out Charles wasn’t his nearly gutted him, and I honestly don’t think Danny will ever 100% forgive her for that situation.
“The reason he will never make the first move, is because she has so completely and totally mind fucked him that he would never have the confidence to do so. Maybe if you were some random chicky he met at the gas station yes, but… you’re not. You were his friend first. You’re his co-worker. He knows your friends and family, and the fear of the loss of all of that will never allow him to take the chance.”
Tony sighed and shook his head lost for a moment in his own dislike for Rachel Edwards formerly Williams. “The bottom line is, dude, that if you want a shot at the most loyal, loving man that you’ve ever met then you need to get off your ass and do something about it.”
When Tony finally stopped talking, the air between the two men was thick with tension. Tony did his best to keep his expression open and calm, calling on his undercover skills and years of being Gibbs’ SFA to hide the butterflies in his stomach. While he considered himself an expert at reading people, a requirement needed to survive his childhood, Tony admitted that guys as Zen as Chin were tough to judge. He’d had to rely on his gut instincts and just hoped they weren’t leading him down the wrong path. He was much more comfortable trusting Gibbs’ gut than his own.
“You seem to hold more than a little ill will for Rachel. Did something happen between the two of you?” Tony blinked at first at the question, as it wasn’t even in the ballpark of what he expected to come out of Chin’s mouth. Thus it took him a moment to understand what he was asking and form a response.
“Danny is literally the only thing I had in some points of my life. When I was at the military academy there were nights I would lay in bed and tell myself that someday it would all be a nightmare and I would have Ponch back. It was the only thing that kept me from crying myself to sleep night after night. Danny has always been the most accepting person I know. Like I said earlier, when we find each other again, it’s always as if no time has passed. He takes all the stupid shit I tell him I’ve done and just… takes it in and smiles.”
Tony paused trying to restrain from losing his temper, but it wasn’t easy. Rachel was one of the surefire ways to see him go from mellow to raging in no time flat. “Rachel deliberately tried to destroy that. She either couldn’t or wouldn’t accept that Danny and I were friends and brothers, but nothing more. Danny old her all about me before I met her. He knew I was Bi with a preference for men from the times we talked during college and had told her. Of course Danny being Danny also told her of his own bi-sexual preference. She somehow took that as a threat to her marriage, and wouldn’t believe that we hadn’t fucked, which if you’re curious we haven’t. Danny and I have never even contemplated a relationship like that. We’re both affectionate, sure. We hug, we have been known to give little peck kisses on occasion. I mean I’m as Italian as you’re Hawaiian, dude. It’s in my blood. We however have never and will never have any kind of sexual relationship.
“She made it nearly impossible for us to talk. She’d lay guilt trips on him if we were on the phone. She stalked him like the paparazzi does a Kardashian if we tried to get together for beers or a game. She went through his phone, questioned his partner, hell I doubt there was a line she didn’t cross.
“When she got pregnant and threatened to keep Gracie from him, I finally was forced to back off. There was no way I was going to be responsible for Danny losing his kid even if I’d never done anything wrong. I truly thought that, that was it. I’d finally come to the point where I would never see him again. I stopped keeping track of him because it was too hard to know things and not get involved. It was worse than when my mother died. Add to that Jethro being on a siesta in Mexico, having crappy co-workers, and a raging bitch boss who was more concerned about per personal vendetta than my health & safety… It’s a miracle that I survived it at all.
“So, yes, I hold a considerable amount of ill will for Rachel Edwards formerly Williams. She is one of the few people on the planet that I truly hope nothing but the worst comes her way, and hope someday a piano is dropped on her head.” Chin couldn’t help but nod and wondered if he wouldn’t be cheering right alongside Tony if it ever happened. When he really stopped to consider everything that he’d learned about the man in front of him, and the friend he held so close to his heart, Chin couldn’t help but feel compelled to follow the path Tony was laying for him.
“Oh, Chin Ho Kelly, one last thing…” Chin turned his thoughts back to Tony. He straightened his spine as the man smiled at him in such a way that Chin was tempted to turn around and look behind himself for the monster that used to hide in his closet. “If you hurt him, I will unleash my marine sniper on you and let our forensic scientist help. Abby loves to tell people she knows how to kill someone without leaving any forensic evidence…. So keep that in mind.”
Chin would have smiled and reminded him about the S.E.A.L that was his boss, except for the part where Tony didn’t seem to be joking. Once again he found himself unwilling to pit himself against this man. Instead he just nodded seriously and thanked every God he could think of that Tony’s phone chose that second to ring. From the smile on his friend’s face, he guessed it must be the mysterious Jethro. Tony confirmed this as he mouthed Gibbs, before turning away to check out the scenery to give himself some semblance of privacy.
Chin was thankful for the interruption as it gave him time to process everything that he’d been told. The cop in him wished he had a time machine so that he could go back and arrest the senior DiNozzo for what was at best child neglect and abandonment. The passionate side of himself wanted to run right that second and sweep Danny Williams into his arms so they didn’t waste another second. However, it was the logical side and that side of himself still entrenched in his grief at Malia’s death that held him in place.
The more he thought about everything the more he realized that he needed guidance from someone who knew both himself and Danny both. Someone who would lay it all on the line, and not let him not hear things just because they made him uncomfortable. Before he could second guess himself, Chin pulled out his phone and hit speed dial 2, waiting impatiently for the other person to answer.
“Sup, Cuz?” Chin smiled, feeling his insides uncurl at the sound of her voice.
“Is Adam still there with you?” Chin asked biting on the inside of his cheek as he watched Tony talk to Gibbs.
“Yeah, but we we’re not doing anything major. What’s up?” Kono moved from her spot at the counter where she was wiping things down from the salad she’d made to sit on a barstool at the island.
“If you’re busy, it’s not…” Chin started, but was cut off before he could finish his thought. “Cuz,” Kono said stopping him before he could finish his thought. It was obvious to her that there was something important on his mind, and she knew if she let him finish he’d talk himself out of opening up to her.
“I just…” Chin started then stopped, sighed and started again. “I’ve been driving around with Tony, Danno’s friend? You know, showing him places that aren’t so tourist friendly. He… he seems to think Danno is… well… interested in me and I just…”
Kono’s eyes got bigger as she listened to her cousin talk, and when he stopped she sat up straight smiling. “Get your scrawny hiney over here Chin Ho Kelly! Don’t pass go, don’t stop for anything but to take him back to his hotel, and we are talking about this. I expect to see you within a half hour.”
Chin shook his head when he realized she’d hung up on him. Looking at his watch he hoped that Tony was done soon. He was gonna have to push it to make it to Kono’s in time as it was.
Meanwhile, as Chin had been talking to Kono, Tony had walked back toward the cliff edge when he saw it was Jethro calling to try for a little privacy. “Jethro,” Tony said in greeting. “How is your day going?”
“Good. Headed back to the hotel, and thought I’d see where ya were. You still at the beach with Danny?” Tony sighed with relief hearing the relaxed happy tone and figured that things must have gone well.
“Nope! He had to take Grace home. I guess Rachel has her doing something this afternoon, but we’ll see her Monday when Danny takes us around. Fortunately Chin the Zen Master wasn’t busy so he offered to show me some out of the way places. I’m gonna have to get directions so I can bring you bacxk to a few of them. I took a bunch of pictures to show you. The views have been amazing! I think I know what I wanna put on that wall going up the stairs. I mean, if you don’t think they suck, Boss.”
Tony bit his lip hearing the snort on the other end of the line, and felt the headslap that he knew he’d have gotten if his lover and boss was there with him. “It sounds like things went well with Jerry then?”
He heard Jethro snort again, and this time could see him rolling his eyes in amusement. Jethro’d been quite amused that Tony was much more nervous about meeting his old Marine buddy, than Jethrow was in meeting a man who was Tony’s brother in all but blood. “Told ya that it would. Don’t change the subject though. You interfered didn’t ya?”
Tony fidgeted where he stood, and winced as he imagined the head slap he was gonna get when they both got back to the room. Jethro had been against Tony’s matchmaking, but the Italian felt he’d done the right thing nonetheless. The bottom line was Tony wanted nothing more in the world, but to have Danny be as madly in love as Tony was. He knew he’d never forgive himself if Danny missed his chance, and he hadn’t done all he could to help his friend and brother.
“Yes, I did say something. Don’t get mad, ok! It felt right though and I just don’t want them to waste 10 years like we did, Jeth. The only regret I have in this whole crazy thing, is that we wasted 10 fucking lonely years apart when we could have been together.” Tony heard a soft sigh and mentally invisioned an indulgent smile on Jethro’s face like he got sometimes. “DiNozzo, you’re a moron.”
Tony couldn’t help but grin hearing the affection in his lover’s voice. “Yes, boss!” He now could picture Jethro shaking his head, while he smiled that smile only Tony got. Jethro’s voice brought him out of his daydream. “While I appreciate you includin’ me in on your relationship with Danny, I certainly don’t think that I’ve got some right to tell you how to manage your friendship. It isn’t any different than us talkin’ ‘bout stuff with Toby. I ‘ppreciate our input, but in the end I’m gonna do what I think best. This ain’t work, babe, we’re equals here, remember?”
Tony nodded shyly, before remembering that Jethro couldn’t see him. He hoped that he would never lose the thrill he got hearing his love call him things like babe and darlin’. While it had been a long wait, it was definitely worth it. There was nothing else in Tony’s life he was more certain of than Jethro’s feelings for him, and his feelings for Jethro. “I know Jethro,” Tony finally answered softly then turned to see Chin looking ready to leave. “I think Chin and I are gonna head back to the hotel now. I’m guessing that you’ll make it back before me, but hopefully we won’t be far behind. Maybe we can talk more when I get there?”
“Sounds good, babe,” Jethro said before hanging up. Tony snorted, but couldn’t help but appreciate the consistency of some things. He knew he had a big goofy grin on his face, but from the look on chin’s face he wasn’t sure the man would notice. It seemed that possibly his words had gotten though as the man looked even more serious than normal. During the quiet ride back to the hotel, Tony found himself appreciating the certainty of his relationship. At the same time, Chin found himself worrying over the uncertainty of his.