Chapter Summary: The big date arrives. Tony and Aaron discover they are more compatible than they think. As Tony gets to know Aaron, both DiNozzo and Hotch have to decide if they approve of this new romantic venture between their other selves.
Author’s Note: This is not as split personality as the summary makes it sound. Hopefully, it makes more sense when you read it. 🙂 You might want a tissue handy. This one made me sniffle when I wrote it, and again when I proofread it.
Chapter Eleven: Aaron & Tony Vs. DiNozzo & Hotch
It was finally time for the date. It was less than a week late, and considering their jobs, Tony was pretty impressed by that. OK, so technically only Aaron could be called away, but he had been. It had apparently been a pretty easy case because they’d gotten home that morning. Aaron had stopped by his office first thing to tell him the date was on. Tony was eyeballing the two dress shirts that he had to wear when he heard a knock on his doorframe. Turning his head, he waved in his SIC and went back to studying the shirts.
Feeling Elijah come to stand next to him, Tony waved a hand toward the shirts. “Opinion?”
“Hmm… Date?” Elijah asked and Tony nodded.
“First, with Agent Hotchner from the BAU. If I find that on the rumor mill, Mundo, your fingers will never be unglued from your keyboard.”
“Mums the word boss. He’s pretty hot, kind of serious. Where’s he taking you?” Elijah was leaning toward the green silk, but he could be swayed by the black turtleneck with the black paisley patterned jacket.
“Laporta’s. I’ve never heard of it. I Googled it, though. Seems expensive, and they have live jazz. Color me impressed.”
“You should be, boss. That place is awesome, and the music is fantastic. I’d suggest the zip-up mock turtleneck, with the fancy patterned coat. Maybe slick your hair back kinda? It’ll be a good look on you I think.”
Tony grinned and slapped his SIC on the shoulder. “See, Mundo, THIS is why I hired you.”
“Funny,” Elijah snorted grinning, “I thought it was because Avery came in here, and royally pissed you off. I sent her a fruit basket as a thank you, by the way. I felt it was only right.”
Tony laughed as he stripped off his shirt. “You are a man I can understand, Mundo. The two of us may make all of Cruz’s hair fall out. How’s Raven doing?”
“She’s barely restraining her enthusiasm. She’s dying to come in here and hug you, again. If she sees you without a shirt on, I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold her back, Boss.” Elijah grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.
Tony laughed loudly and hollered. “NO MOLESTING THE BOSS, RODRIGUEZ!”
“AWW MAN!” was heard from the floor, and both men snickered.
When Tony was dressed, he turned to look at Elijah who gave him a thumbs up. “You’re gonna knock his socks off, boss. You said you had something to ask?”
Tony frowned then remembering bopped himself in the forehead. “YES! Next weekend. I am thinking Saturday, I want everyone to come over for dinner. Think of it as a getting to know each other dinner. It’ll be at… well, I don’t have a home right now. OK, I do… I actually have two, but I can’t stay at mine. The place I am staying at though is not mine. It is in a gated patrolled community, though, so certain irritating people from NCIS can’t stalk me. Don’t forget rule #18 when you are inviting people.”
Elijah whipped out his phone. “I’m ready, Boss. Lay it on me.”
Tony smirked. “TEAM functions need to involve the whole TEAM. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t a TEAM function.”
Elijah nods frowning as he puts it into his notepad to distribute to the team. So far they had Rule#1 ‘Don’t sit on the sidelines while your people are in trouble’. The DiNozzo Motto ‘Always be prepared’, Rule # 20 ‘Marines don’t know everything’, and Rule #8 ‘There’s a movie for every scenario’.
Elijah was personally offended by rule #20. When he expressed this, he learned Rule #15 ‘Superglue is an authorized form of punishment’. That one sucked.
Elijah frowned at the new rule. “That one seems like common sense, Boss.”
Tony just snorted with amusement and added another reason why his new team was so awesome to his mental list. “You’d be surprised. People are assholes, Mundo. Always remember that.”
“Is that a rule?” He asked, finger ready to add it to the list.
Tony thought about it then nodded. “It is now. Label it as 26.” Elijah nodded and added #26 ‘People are Assholes’ to his list.
“Sounds reasonable. I will let the team know about the dinner next weekend. Good luck on your date, and I will see you Monday with coffee. I expect details.”
When Tony lifted an eyebrow, Elijah grinned unapologetically. “Come on, Boss. Cops gossip worse than teenage girls. Besides that, I’m single again. I need to live vicariously through someone!”
Tony just snorted and waved a hand. “Off with you. There better be sweets if you want any serious details, and if you tell Raven I will do more than superglue your fingers to your keyboard, Mundo!” Elijah walked away laughing, and Tony muttered under his breath about insolent employees.
Tony was headed to Aaron’s office and decided to stop and check in with Tobs. Knocking on the door, he walked in and set himself down in front of the older man’s desk. He could tell the other man was checking out his clothes as he finished his conversation. If he had to guess from the yelling and insults, he’d say it was Gibbs.
When he hung up the phone, Tony arched an eyebrow. “Gibbs still pissed?” Tony asked, and Tobias waved a hand in the air.
“Of course he is. Says that we’re traitors for stealing McGee, and since his psych eval with the Homeland shrink didn’t go well he’s on mandatory psych leave. We aren’t talking about him and his many issues, though. I thought that you were going on a date? You look nice by the way.”
“Thanks, Tobs. I am on my way to Aaron’s office. It occurred to me that my car would be here overnight. Are you coming in tomorrow? I know it’s Saturday, but I wasn’t sure.”
Tobias nodded. “Yeah, I have some paperwork to do. You can ride in with me.”
Tony nodded relieved. “Cool. I told the kids about dinner. You’re sure you don’t mind us all in the house while you are at your brother’s?”
Tobias scowled. “I’ve told you a million times that it’s your house, too. Even once you get your own place your room is yours. Have you decided what you want yet?”
Tony shook his head, and Tobias shrugged. “Well, no rush. Have fun on your date. I won’t wait up.”
Smiling, Tony nodded, and as he walked out he tapped the door frame twice. Without turning, he said, “I don’t know what I would have done without you, Tobs.”
Heading off to Aaron’s office Tony left a pleased Fornell behind. Picking up the phone, he called security to advise them Special Agent Leroy Gibbs, Abby Sciuto, and Special Agent David wasn’t allowed in the building without an escort. They also were not to be escorted up to AIC DiNozzo or his team for any reason. Those idiots weren’t getting to Tony on his watch.
Tony walked up the ramp to Aaron’s office. The door was open, and he could see a tall, thin man with shaggy hair inside. When he reached the doorway, he paused just outside the office and watched the interaction for a moment. The two were obviously good friends, and Tony guessed they had been working together for a while.
There was a momentary pang of pain and regret in Tony’s heart for what he’d lost. Of course, it was that moment that Aaron looked up and noticed him. He could tell the way the profiler cocked his head that he’d noticed the momentary crack in Tony’s façade. When the other man who appeared to be about 10 years younger than Tony, waved his fingers, he lifted an eyebrow but waved back before turning his attention back to Aaron.
“Tony, this is SSA Dr. Spencer Reid. He is one of the profilers on my team.” Tony nodded and smiled at the Doctor.
“It’s nice to meet you. I hope I’m not intruding on something important.”
The doctor shook his head and started to launch into something, but he was quickly cut off by Aaron. “Actually we were just discussing personal things. Are you ready to go?”
Tony nodded as he pressed his lips together trying not to laugh. It was such a familiar action, he didn’t even need explanation. It did give him a pang of longing for his old friend.
He was finding himself missing Ducky a little more every day. The reopened wounds left by the Narcissist Disorder fiasco were healing much slower the second time around. He didn’t want to have to be dealing with this again and longed for someone that would be his friend without leaving noticeable scars in their wake on Tony’s soul. He could see the worry on Aaron’s face and knew that his mask must have slipped again. To be honest… he was a little sick of the damned thing.
The thought was so out of left field that Tony meekly allowed himself to be herded out of the office and into the elevator as his mind tried to process the thought. It wasn’t until they were in the car that he came back to himself. Turning to look at Aaron, he saw the man was sitting with the key in the ignition but was just watching him concerned. “We can put it off if…”
“No! I just…” Tony sighed and ran a hand over his face. “I don’t feel like… DiNozzo. I don’t want you to be disappointed. Tony isn’t as entertaining as DiNozzo is.”
Hotch cocked his head. “DiNozzo? As opposed to being… what?”
Tony thought and shrugged taking a deep breath. “Tony? They are… quite different.”
“Aah,” Aaron replied and turned his head out the front of the car window.
“Then I propose a compromise. You be Tony, and I will be Aaron. We leave DiNozzo and Hotch at the office. I didn’t invite you to dinner to be entertained. I invited you because I wanted to get to know you. Be whomever you are, and leave the rest at the office.”
A tiny ball of fear formed in the pit of Tony’s stomach. Could he really do that? Just… be Tony? He wasn’t sure that anyone other than Trent and Tobias had ever wanted Tony around. Everyone else wanted DiNozzo until they didn’t then they just didn’t want any part of him. “What if you hate Tony?”
“Somehow I don’t see that happening. Why don’t we leave the worry for later, unless you can’t and that’s ok, also?” Aaron turned his head to look at Tony, again. It was the matching look of fear and vulnerability that convinced him to take a chance.
“OK, Aaron. Take me to dinner.”
When they were seated at the restaurant, Tony was still trying to squash the fear of letting his true self out. He’d already been rejected by Gibbs, and he wasn’t sure that enough time had gone by to be sure he could recover from a rejection from Aaron as well. “Tony we can…”
“The first person that made it clear they didn’t want me was my father. I was eight years old, and my mother had just died. It was the day of her funeral, and I had been crying for a week.
“My mother was an alcoholic who liked to dress me up in weird little outfits and parade me around in front of her friends. They liked to gush and tell me how cute I was and pinch my cheeks then send me off for more booze. I could have been a bartender at a high-class martini bar before I was even 10. Despite that she adored me. She cuddled me when I was sick, and watched old movies with me. She made me laugh, and feel loved, and when she died I wanted to die too because I didn’t want to be without her.
“My father, on the other hand, hated me. He despised my very presence in his life. He certainly didn’t want to waste money on me. The day of the funeral he beat the shit out of me because I wouldn’t or rather couldn’t stop crying. Of course, all the wounds were hidden underneath my clothes. I was advised that day that I was neither wanted nor loved, and that I better fucking shape up, or I would be out on the streets. I was quiet and shy and lonely and I’d lost the only person I really knew in the world. If it wasn’t for Trent…”
When Tony paused, Aaron waited patiently until Tony started speaking again. “I usually don’t tell people his name. Normally, I just call him TK, but… maybe I’m in a mood. Maybe it’s losing everything I had. Maybe it’s just… I am so goddamned tired of pretending. I am trusting you with his safety, Aaron. Other than you, only Tobias knows. The team will learn next weekend. By the way, if you’re free I would like you to come for the team dinner Saturday. Spouses and significant others are invited. I know this is new but…”
“I would love to come,” Aaron assured when Tony stopped speaking. The younger man just nodded and began his tale again.
“TK… Trent… my cousin on my mother’s side. He showed up with his father for my mother’s funeral. My mom was his dad’s favorite sibling, and he was devastated. I think that they knew things weren’t quite right. Anyway, he ended up in an American boarding school, and fast forwarding a lot ended up with the CIA. He’s not always in the country because he’s goddamned good at what he does, but somehow when I need him he always finds a way to be there. As a heartbroken child, he was the only thing that kept me afloat.
“Girlfriends, co-workers, a fiancé… everyone else seems to decide eventually that I’m not worth the hassle. I ended up at boarding school because Trent said I would be safer there, and his father was willing to shell out the bucks for it. I ended up at Ohio State because they offered me a dual scholarship for basketball and football. I ended up in the police department because the Pneumologist who saved me from the plague broke my leg my senior year during the Ohio State and Michigan game, and I saved one child from a fire but had to listen to the other burn.
“I ended up in Baltimore because my previous team leader at the FBI was crooked, and tried to have me killed when it turned out I was a little too good at undercover work. Turns out he was on the take, and a stupid rookie wasn’t supposed to be able to find out that kind of information. He was hedging his bets.
“He hadn’t told Victor about the agent he’d put in his organization until it was too late because I was supposed to be bad at it. Little did he know I’d been doing undercover work since my mother died. I ended up at NCIS because I was too afraid to trust Tobias when he came to save me from my crooked partner at Baltimore PD. I ended up back in the FBI because I was madly in love with my former boss one Leroy Jethro Gibbs. We’d been together… sleeping together for three years. I was expected to be faithful. Apparently, he wasn’t.”
When the waiter showed up at their table, Tony’s expression changed on a dime. If Aaron hadn’t been listening to him, he’d never know the younger man wasn’t as happy and amused as he was pretending to me. It was no wonder they selected him for the Elite Undercover & Investigative Unit Agent in Charge position. If they were smart they’d slap the Unit Chief label on him now, and to hell with the probation. Aaron was going to make sure Cruz knew his opinion on that. When they’d ordered their drinks and an appetizer, the waiter left, and Tony picked up his story.
“You said you want Tony, but no one wants Tony. DiNozzo is the life of the party. He’s fun, he’s juvenile, and he pulls pranks. He’s not serious about anything, and he’ll follow anyone with a strong will around like a puppy. He’s not a threat to anyone with ambition. People love DiNozzo until they don’t.”
“Tony is quieter and likes a more adult social scene. DiNozzo wants parties and keggers. Tony likes museum exhibit openings and art gallery showings. Tony doesn’t let anyone lead him around by his nose, and he’ll take out anyone who fucks with him regardless of where they stand on the ladder. He respects only those that have earned his trust, and trust is not given out cheap. DiNozzo not only doesn’t want love, he insists that he doesn’t need it. A different girl every night is his shtick.
“Tony wants forever and true love and home. Tony wants a place he can call his own, with fur babies, and someone less feminine, and quite a bit more masculine. Tony is about as far from submissive as it gets, but he’s covered in scars. He’s scared shitless, he gets anxious and insecure for no reason, and he will never be easy to live with. If someone would just give him half of what he’s willing to give out, though, he’d be faithful to them forever. Tony will definitely be the alpha in the relationship, but he will treat his partner like a king if they’ll just love his weaknesses along with the strengths. I don’t think I can be DiNozzo anymore, and I don’t know what to do because I need more than two people in my life.”
The waiter brought their beers. Aaron let Tony order drinks first and followed his lead. After hearing about his parents he was glad he’d resisted the urge to order a bourbon even though he was pretty sure he was going to need it for what was going to come next.
“Hotch is the ultimate alpha male. He takes no shit from anyone and bulldozes everyone in his path. He was a shark as a lawyer and runs the BAU the same way. There is no give when it comes to the opponents he faces off with.
“His team is his family, and he is incredibly protective of them. He will do everything in his power though to never show them an ounce of vulnerability. Hotch is the creation of a little boy who got the shit beat out of him so that his younger brother would be safe. A little boy that was in no way prepared to deal with the abusive alcoholic that was his father, and the indifferent, cold blooded bitch that was his mother. Hotch will always protect Aaron, sometimes even from those, he doesn’t need to be protected from.
“Aaron is quiet and likes to read. He’s a little shy, and sometimes afraid to go after what he wants. He’s willing though to let Hotch push him into what he needs if it’s important enough. Aaron doesn’t like being in charge. Aaron married the girl he met in high school because it was what she wanted. Hotch is the one that refused to have a child with her, and threw her out on her ass the first time she cheated on him.”
When the waiter brought their appetizer of fried calamari, he paused and smiled politely, as Tony again drew the waiter’s attention away from him. The profiler in Aaron pointed out it was most likely a combination of a defensive mechanism and a way for him to protect his partner who didn’t like the spotlight. When the man left, Aaron continued as Tony served them both the delicious looking seafood.
“Aaron wants forever with someone who won’t expect him to be in charge but doesn’t expect him to be some doormat either. The thought of an adult relationship like his parents’ scares him to death. Aaron needs someone who will understand his job is as important to him as their relationship, and won’t ask him to choose something he won’t love to save something that’s never going to work. Aaron wants someone he can cuddle with, and be the geek that he really is. He wants to watch old movies and cartoons and read comics without being laughed at. He wants to know he’s safe without needing Hotch to protect him.
“When his ex-wife was killed he felt guilty, but Hotch wouldn’t allow Aaron to make her out to be something more than what she was. She didn’t deserve to die at the hands of that man, but she was also a cheating bitch, who was probably more than a little verbally abusive. He wants to be able to love openly and without reservation. He doesn’t want to have to run his relationship at some pace that other people think he should move at. He may be reserved and shy, but he knows what he wants. There is nothing that you’ve said that has done anything but convince him that you are exactly what he’s been looking for. Aaron would love to come to your dinner party for your team as your significant other, and Hotch approves.”
Tony watched this earnest man who was just as scared as he was. They’d both laid their insides out, and made themselves vulnerable for the sake of something neither one of them understood.
A part of him screamed at him that it was too soon, but a bigger part said that this was right. This here, this moment, this man, this offer was what they’d been waiting for. If this man couldn’t understand him, no one else would ever. When the waiter came to take their dishes and bring their salads, Tony had moved around to sit next to Aaron, and refused to let go of his hand until he had to.
DiNozzo and Hotch approved.