Title: Caribbean Love: Intrigued
Series: Caribbean Love
Relationship: Pre-Tony DiNozzo/OC-Jackson Grimes
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, OC-Jackson Grimes, Mentions of Aaron Hotchner
Warnings: Language, Non-Canon Compliant, Tony is Dom, Aaron is Mikey
Word Count: 5301
Author’s Note: This was written for Rivermoon1970. This was supposed to be for her birthday, but I missed it. Sorry it’s late! Happy Late Birthday!! In this world Tony DiNozzo and Aaron Hotchner are related through the Paddingtons. Aaron’s mother and Tony’s mother were sisters. I am considering turning this into a series. I have an idea for at least one more story.
Summary: When Jackson Grimes goes to search for a home in the islands, the last thing he expected was to find what could turn into the romance of a lifetime. He should have known though when his best friend Aaron Hotchner gave him a bar recommendation that he was up to something. It would all be easy to resist if he weren’t so damned intrigued.
Caribbean Love: Intrigued
Jackson Grimes was a man who knew what he wanted. When he decided that he needed a home in the Caribbean to get away to, the tech genius attacked the research process like he would any new idea he had for his company Grimes Tech. The St Kitts and Nevis Islands were the destination that he ended up deciding on. Before buying though, he decided a visit or three would be required before making that final plunge. It was his second time in the area and was heading into a bar more known to locals than tourists. It was the kind of place that Jackson craved on occasion when he wanted to be more just Jackson and less the owner and face of Grimes Tech. The fact that it wasn’t right on a beach or across from a beach helped keep tourists away.
When Jackson stepped inside and spotted the gorgeous guy in a sling seeming to be nursing some pink thing with an umbrella, the tech genius knew he’d made the right choice. However, the last thing that he expected when he sat down next to the man was to immediately get cursed out. Granted, the man looked vaguely familiar, but Jackson had at that point chalked it up to that he must look like someone thing than to actually knowing the man.
“Son of a fucking bitch! I fucking told Mikey that I would be fine on my own, and I didn’t fucking need a babysitter. I told him I needed some time alone to wrap my head around this FUBAR, and he promised he’d stay away. Leave it to a damned lawyer and sent his best buddy to stalk me. Go the fuck away, Grimes.”
Now, Jackson Grimes was in no way hurting for companionship or attention. He was self-aware enough to know that he could get company for the evening or afternoon or whatever without much effort. So, normally, getting cussed at by someone who seemed to know him, or think they knew him, much better than Jackson actually knew them was not a greeting he’d mistake for a pickup line. He also wasn’t insecure enough to stick around trying to get the attention of someone that obviously didn’t want him around. The problem was that his curiosity had been piqued. If he had a spirit animal, the millionaire knew that it would have been some kind of cat.
“You seem to have me at a disadvantage,” Jackson quipped as he ordered a beer and turned to face the stranger next to him. “I’m trying to wrack my mind for someone I know named Mike or Michael who is a lawyer and coming up blank.” He watched the man open his mouth, Jackson assumed to respond, and then watched said mouth snap shut again as the stranger looked at him puzzled.
“You’re either a really good liar, or… I don’t even know,” the stranger finally shot back after several minutes of just blinking back at Jackson. “I don’t even know how to respond to that mess. How the fuck can you not know who I am? I mean, granted, we’ve never met, but I know for a fact that my picture I all over Mikey and Jack’s house! And I would guess he talks about me to you as much as he does of you to me. So, someone either really needs to work with you on your situational awareness, or you need to give up the tech gig because the world needs you in the undercover business cause you’re really good at playing dumb.”
Jackson frowned at the further insistence that he should know this man and tilted his head as he tried to figure out why this stranger was so insistent about this whole thing. Jackson knew and employed a great deal of lawyers but couldn’t remember a single one named Mike or Michael. He knew only one Jack and that was Aaron’s son… Huh. Wait. When he heard a snort, the man turned back to the bar and took a sip of his drink.
“Finally, the genius gets a clue,” The man bit back still with an edge but he at least seemed to be calming down. There weren’t any curse words anyway, and Jackson took that as a good sign.
Finally, the pieces slipped together enough that Jackson offered a tentative, “Aaron? You’re talking about Aaron? No one calls him Mikey, well except… Oh. Ha! You must be Dom. No wonder Aaron got that satisfied smirk on his face when he found out I was coming down to scope things out again. The sneaky bitch. I don’t suppose you’d believe me that I honestly didn’t know you were here, although I guess I should have suspected something when he gave me the name of this place. In my defense, though, he recommended a few places. Does this him leaving you alone have something to do with the sling?”
AJ let loose another snort and turned his head again so that they were looking at each other again. “Fuckin’ figures. I swear to god Mikey is a sneaky asshole. I am so getting Spencer to deliver some payback for this on my behalf. Yes, by the way, I am Tony DiNozzo, or Dom to Aaron and Jack. The sling is courtesy of Mossad, twice in fact. The first time thanks to their now dead rogue agent and the second time thanks to Eli’s baby girl herself. That’s all I can really say on the subject without violating a shitload of confidentiality clauses in my NCIS contract.”
“I understand that,” Jackson conceded easily, “Grimes Tech has enough government contracts that I get it. So, how about this. Why Mikey?” When Tony actually smiled, Jackson hoped that meant that the man was thawing towards him.
“Cause we both hate our fathers with a passion that can’t be surpassed by anyone. So, when we were kids, we vowed to never call each other by the names the assholes chose. So, I call him Mikey, which is short for Michael like his middle name that was chosen by his mother. He calls me Dom, which is short for Dominic that was chosen by my mother, who also happens to be the sister of Aaron’s mother. What are you doing here if it isn’t to track me down? You said something about scoping things out?”
“Yeah, I’m looking to buy or build a vacation house down here, I think. I need a place to get away, and so far I’ve liked what I’ve seen. How about you? How did Aaron know you would be here? On a different note, should you be drinking if you’re on pain meds? I am assuming you’re taking something for whatever is broken or hurt.”
Tony huffed and took another drink from his glass before answering. “Pain meds make me stupid. So, I avoid them at all costs. I have something to help me sleep, but this drink will do just as well for the pain from my broken collarbone, and not make me spill state or personal secrets. As for how Mikey knew I’d be here, I’ve had a vacation home here on the beach for years. I actually bought it while I was in Baltimore. Aaron’s been at the house and to this bar with me. Hell, Spencer’s been here. He came down for a bit both after he was kidnapped and while he was letting his leg heal.”
Jackson perked up when he heard Tony had a home here of his own. So far, he was having trouble getting an idea of what he was looking for besides a vacation spot. “Any chance you’d let me see your place? I’m having trouble trying to decide what I want.”
Tony smiled at him and after draining his drink gave the bartender a wave as he told the young man he was taking off. “Hell, you can stay in my guest room if you want. I don’t know if my place is up to Jackson Grimes’ standards, and I sure as shit ain’t giving you my master suite. That aside, I’d be happy to have you at the house. Why don’t I show you where it is and then you can make up your mind about if you wanna stay?”
“I’m not a hard man to please, Tony,” Jackson insisted as he stood and walked beside Aaron’s cousin as they headed out of the bar and down the road. “I have places in the states for when I need to impress people. What I want for my vacation house is a bit of sand and a place for a hammock. It’s what I want beyond that, that I’m having trouble with.”
“Well sand and a hammock I can handle,” Tony offered pleasantly as he seemed to be settling his sling. “It’s a lot nicer now than it was before I bought it. I’ve done a lot of upgrades over the years. I’ve also purchased some of the plots around me as they’ve come up for sale over the years to give myself some privacy and so that I could expand a little.”
“You must come here a lot to put that much money in it,” Jackson observed, and Tony offered a shrug.
“It’s my hideaway,” the NCIS agent admitted quietly, and Jackson could hear a wealth of emotion behind the simple statement. “In some ways I think the people here know the real me better than the people I see back in DC. No one at work knows I have this place. I always make up some college vacation destination and some bubble head sounding name for my companion. I don’t trust them with this place. My Paddington family knows about this place, but outside of family I’ve never brought anyone here.”
“No one?” Jackson asked stopping in the middle of the road they were walking down.
“No one,” Tony confirmed with a smile as he kept walking. Shaking his head to chase away his surprise, Jackson trotted forward until he’d caught up to his new friend, and hopefully more if the initial interest he had felt kept growing in the way it had been.
“Why me then?” Jackson asked curiously as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his cargo shorts. “I mean, I have a perfectly good hotel room, and we could have just kept hanging out at the bar. So, why me?”
Tony didn’t answer immediately, and Jackson didn’t push. Instead he just followed the man quietly, and when the NCIS agent stepped onto a drive and stopped, the tech genius did so as well.
“The easy answer is you’re Mikey’s best friend, and even if he’s a pain in my ass and being a sneaky lawyer, I know it’s because he’s worried.”
“And the not so easy answer?” Grimes pushed always needing to know the full story to everything.
“Mikey’s talked about you a lot over the years,” Tony admitted almost shyly as he looked first to the outside of what looked to be a gorgeous beach house. “I’ve always wanted to meet you but wouldn’t let Mikey set it up because I know I’m not in your league. Your stupidly hot, and crazy smart. If McGee has taught me nothing, it’s that really smart people aren’t all that impressed by a simple cop with a Phys Ed degree and a butt ton of personal problems not limited to occasional insecurity and abandonment issues. I knew it wouldn’t take much to fall half in love with you, and to be honest, I don’t need another broken heart. But, you’re here now and what the fuck, I’ve never turned away from a challenge in my life. I might not always be the best, but I always give it my best. So, maybe I’m hoping I get my own island miracle and you leave here with more than just a new vacation home. Come on. This is my place. Let me show you around.”
It took Jackson a couple minutes to follow Tony into the house. In fact, by the time that he regained his senses, the other man was out of sight. Usually, an admission like Tony’s would have sent him scurrying back to his hotel or to find a couple of young hot men to lose himself in for a wild weekend. He didn’t know what it said that instead, all the admission did was make him more curious about the Paddington cousin, but he knew himself well enough to know that he’d regret it if he didn’t see whatever was happening through to the end. So, with a smile on his face, Jackson hurried up the short drive, and into the house through the door DiNozzo had left open for him. Once inside, he leaned against the door he’d closed behind him to take in the view. It, like its owner, was breathtaking.
Pushing off the door, Jackson walked forward until he was standing in front of a wall of windows gazing out at the gorgeous view of the ocean beyond. “Those open if you’d like.”
Turning his head, Jackson saw Tony was perched on a stool in what looked to be the kitchen area. While the area that he was standing in was a very modern look, the kitchen area made Jackson think of a beach shack with a modern twist. There was a wood look, but still modern touches like the shape of the island and the hanging bulbs from the ceiling. Looking back to the windows, he saw that they appeared to slide as there was a track in the floor and a handle in a wooden frame to the far right.
“They open kind of hard, and you really need two hands to push them back,” Tony explained, and Jackson looked just in time to see the other man shift his sling. “Hence why they’re still closed. Sand is forever getting into the track. Unfortunately, mechanical engineering isn’t a skill I possess. So, I haven’t figured out how to fix it yet.”
Jackson smirked at Tony then moved to push the heavy glass panes open noting that his host was correct in his assessment of the problem. Once the front was opened up to the ocean breeze, the tech genius inhaled a lungful of the scent of the wind coming off the water as he took in the view. “Wow, DiNozzo, this is a gorgeous view. I can see why you put so much money into this place.”
“It was definitely worth it,” Tony murmured and Jackson could hear him shifting around on his stool. “There’s a guest room to the left of you that has the modern feel of the area you’re in right now. There’s another guest room to the right that has this more beach shack feel to it. Both have the glass panes that slide open. The top floor is my master suite and a library then there’s a rooftop deck that you can access from the outside of the house. The cabana to the right of the house has all of the entertainment stuff like a TV with a satellite and Blu-ray player, video game consoles, and a pool table and dart board area. You can pick either guest room you like. They both have en suites and an amazing view. So, it really is more about which look you prefer, I suppose.
“I’m gonna leave you to decide if you wanna stay here instead at whatever hotel you’re at. There’s a golf cart in front of the house if you want to use that to get your stuff. I am gonna lay down in one of the hammocks out back. Feel free to use the other one when you get back if you want, or do whatever. Mi casa es tu casa.”
Jackson watched silently as Tony stood up from the stool he’d been perched on and wandered outside to the hammocks hanging in the back yard. Finding himself alone, Grimes took a deep breath and willed his erection to go away by picturing the owners of the bakery by his townhouse naked. They were both well into their 80s and nothing Jackson wanted to see in the buff.
Once he thought he could ride back to the hotel without permanently damaging himself, Grimes headed out to find the golf cart and get his stuff. Aaron may be a sneaky lawyer who was going to hear an earful when Jackson saw him again, but that didn’t mean the man didn’t know his best friend’s type. Damn him. There was no way there was any other man on this island who better fit Jackson’s type than Tony DiNozzo, and Grimes planned on spending his vacation seeing if this was just a simple case of lust, or maybe the start of something more.
~*~~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~~*~
Two days later, the word Jackson thought that best described how he felt about Tony DiNozzo was intrigued. He’d chosen to use the modern looking bedroom mostly because he liked the view from it a little better than the other guest room. There were fewer trees between him and the water to block his view of the ocean in the morning when he woke up. As he sat up, Jackson took a moment to appreciate the view, propping himself up on his elbows as he looked out at the view and listened to the sound of the waves crashing into the sand of the beach.
Faintly, he could hear the sounds of someone moving around in the house, most likely the kitchen if he was interpreting what sounded like typical food prep things correctly. He imagined that Tony was up. The slightly younger man typically was still awake when Jackson went to bed and was already up when Grimes made it out of his bedroom. The tech genius guessed that the pain of his healing collar bone was making it hard for his host to sleep. Still, it worried him a bit that Tony was sleeping so little, and Jackson had been keeping an eye on it. He’d been encouraging hours spent laying in the hammocks and hoped that the naps were helping his best friend’s cousin whom was beginning to grow on Grimes.
The word Jackson would best use to describe how he felt about Tony at the moment was intrigue. It was a word that had in the past gotten Grimes into the most trouble, but also the thing that had led to his greatest rewards. It was obvious that DiNozzo was attracted to Jackson, and it wasn’t like it was anything unusual. Men were always throwing themselves at him, and despite the fact that it was very widely known he was gay, Grimes often even had women making a pass at him just to see if they could be the one that turned him straight. So, in itself, open admiration wasn’t even something that made even a blip on the man’s radar unless Jackson was out on the prowl for his evening’s entertainment. It was along the same lines as to why it wasn’t Tony’s solely exceptionally good looks that were drawing him in.
Jackson wasn’t in denial about his own good looks. While he tried not to be too awfully conceited about it, he was aware of how attractive he was. It wasn’t unusual to find the pretty people of the world orbiting Jackson at the various social and charity events that he went to. Models and Entertainers were easy to be around, because they like him were aware of their own attractiveness and were usually looking for others who saw beyond that. No, what was really drawing Jackson in was the man’s mind, his easy humor and what seemed to be a complex personality.
Jackson hated one dimensional, boring people. While he, like most people, enjoyed people who found him to be compelling, he hated people who fawned but could not contribute anything other than that. The last thing that Jackson wanted in his life was an ass kissing, yes person who couldn’t hold up their end of a conversation. It wasn’t like Jackson’s only focus was technology. He loved fashion. One of his best friends in the world, after Aaron, ran an art gallery and Jackson had more than once served as something of a patron to one of Victor’s new, down on their luck finds. He had an at least passing interest in most major sports and loved books as much as he did movies. What he’d found in the few days that he’d been in Tony’s orbit, was that the younger man was as well versed and most likely nearly as intelligent as Jackson was himself. Which led to the… intrigue.
What Grimes knew he needed to figure out now was if there was anything more than intrigue beyond his own “oh my God I need to hit that” attraction to Tony DiNozzo. Knowing he wasn’t going to find any answers laying in bed, and wanting to eat so that he could get out to the beach, Jackson rolled out of bed, and rushed through a quick shower before making his way out to the patio, where Tony was laying out breakfast.
“I keep telling you that you don’t have to cook for me,” Jackson scolded as he took his place at the table, only to receive an amused smirk from his host.
“And yet you mysteriously show up right in time to eat three times a day,” Tony laughed before digging into the homemade breakfast burrito on his plate.
Not having a good comeback for that, Jackson busied himself by putting his own burrito together with the items in the various bowls that Tony laid out and didn’t even try to hold in the moan of pleasure as the tastes hit his tongue. One thing for sure, the man’s exemplary cooking skills were certainly adding to the intrigue.
One of the other things that Jackson liked about Tony was that despite the NCIS agent’s gift of gab, he also was equally as happy to enjoy the shared silence. The thing with silence though is that eventually it has to be broken, and while calling Aaron a sneaky lawyer was all fun for a laugh or a snicker, now that Jackson had met Dom he understood his friend’s current concern.
While Jackson didn’t claim to be the most emotionally sensitive person on the planet, or the best with words, he could see the moments when Tony’s stares off into the distance were less enjoying the environment and more loss and despair. It was clear that the other man was struggling with something that had at best dented his confidence and comfort, and at worst shattered them. And, while he understood that Tony couldn’t talk about specifics due to confidentiality and all that BS, Jackson thought maybe there were things his new acquaintance working on friend could say. Maybe possibly he just needed to vocalize his hurt and grief out loud to someone with really no invested interest in either side of the problem.
“I know that you said you can’t give me specifics, but I was curious if this maudlin gazing off into the distance was some inner pre-teen hiding inside of you or if you had something that you need to get off of your chest,” Jackson threw out as they dug into their breakfasts. When Tony stopped and stared at him for few brief moments, the tech genius just ignored him and went on with eating his meal. He didn’t exactly have a Care and Handling Manuel for the man yet, but he was hoping that this was the best way to go. When Tony eventually started responding, Jackson figured the question had been the right move.
“Have you ever looked at a situation and known that it was a really fucking bad idea, but allowed yourself to be convinced otherwise anyway?” Tony asked quietly, and Jackson couldn’t help but offer an annoyed huff before giving a jerky nod of confirmation.
“One of my… coworkers is the replacement for one that was killed in the line of action,” Tony began still speaking quietly, and Jackson could hear the solemn tone in his voice, understanding the seriousness of what he was about to say. “Not only did she replace her, but she was… directly involved in the series of events that led up to the other woman’s death. Really fucking directly involved. When Ziva was placed on the team to take Kate’s spot I was almost violently disagreed with the move. There was a new Director who was oozing insinserity and lust for Gibbs all over the situation that assured me that it was the right move whom I no interest in trusting. However, when Gibbs, the person that at the time I trusted more than maybe anyone in the world, even Mikey, vouched for the move, saying it was the right thing to do, I shut my mouth and went along with it. I kept trying to get on board with this decision, but every fucking time I thought maybe possibly they were right, something would fucking happen to prove that, no, as it turns out I was right. But, they’d convince me that no, I was being close minded, and I’d give it another change. And, another change, and another change, and on and on and… Well you get the picture.”
Tony let out a humorless laugh as he rubbed his hands over his face. When he puled them away and looked at Jackson though, Grimes almost flinched at the raw pain and anger he could see. “Now, the most vile betrayal that I can fucking imagine a Federal Law Enforcement Agent committing has occurred and I just… I don’t know how to… I keep trying… I keep… the pieces won’t go back in the box anymore. I can’t find the ability to put away all my anger and my hurt and swallow the mother of all “I told you so’s” that I want to throw in their faces. They told me that the issue is finally solved once and for all. The new Director actually fucking told me that I’d finally gotten my way, as if I was being unreasonable. As if this was some fucking kindergarten war of words where I was trying to get little Susie in trouble because she pinched me.
“I know I need to go back. I know that I shouldn’t shit can another job because I’m getting a little old to start over. I keep trying to figure out how to trust them not to take back their promises, because I have no doubt that she’ll be back if they can find a way. There’s no way that I can trust that something worse won’t happen if, or I should say when, they let her back into NCIS. I know I need to get over it all and just suck it up again. I just can’t figure out how. I’m too old to start over, and I’m not sure I believe that it will be any better some place else. How the fuck do you keep overlooking something when you just fucking keep being proven right, though?”
Jackson scowled, annoyed that Tony was even considering going back if even a quarter of the picture that Grimes had forming in his head was accurate. Suddenly, a lot of the things that Aaron had griped about his favorite cousin Dom were starting to make sense. Like for instance, his habit of assuming that it was his fault everything bad happened, or the always assuming he was the one that had to suck it up and make the sacrifice. “Fuck that shit!” Jackson snapped and when Tony arched an eyebrow at him, trying to hide a wince of upset, the older man took a breath to try and calm down.
“I know this is the point where I should probably tell you that you need to be the one to make your own decisions and offer some fucking gentle word of support that doesn’t really point you in one direction or the other but fuck that shit! Don’t you fucking dare go back to that shit house! Those assholes don’t deserve you if even a tiny percentage of the image I got from that story is correct. And, fuck that old shit! I know for a fact that Aaron would hire you onto the BAU team in a heartbeat. He’s been telling me you were wasted in your current position for years! If you don’t want to do that and can’t find any other options, there’s always room at Grimes Tech. Just, please don’t go back there.”
The silence that greeted his rant stretched on so long that Jackson was beginning to worry he’d seriously miscalculated. “Why do you care?” Tony asked finally, and Jackson almost let out a sigh of relief.
“Honestly?” Grimes asked, not expecting an answer and barreled on with his explanation, “because you intrigue me.”
“It’s not just your connection to Aaron either. There’s something about your mind and your personality that’s pulled me in. Maybe I’m just at the right spot in my life. Maybe you’ve seduced me with your gorgeous beach house. Maybe Aaron really is a sneaky lawyer, even though he doesn’t practice law anymore. Maybe life was just leading us both to this spot in time. Fuck if I know. I just know that you intrigue me, and I want to know more. I want to spend more time with you. I want to find out more about how your mind works. I want to hear more about your life, the good parts and the bad parts and all the other parts in-between. I want to learn to be friends and then maybe see if there’s something more to this than just friendship. I’ll be honest. There’s not a lot in life that intrigues me on this level.
“I was a little leery at the beginning because honestly, intrigue and I aren’t always good bedmates. I also know that two-ish days isn’t a lot of time to get an accurate picture of someone, but damnit I haven’t gotten this far in my life by ignoring my gut instincts. And, my gut says I need to keep you around. Intrigue, man. That’s why. Intrigue.”
Jackson watched as Tony cocked his head to one side and eventually let out a soft chuckle before offering a shy beautiful smile. “Well, I guess that’s not too bad for a fanboy, huh? Who knew my little celebrity crush would result in intrigue? As for Mikey’s offer, he’s made it before and I keep turning him down, but… maybe this time I need to accept. I’m just afraid that I’ll be letting people down if I leave NCIS.”
“But, Tony, what about all the times and ways that they’ve already let you down?” Jackson asked seriously, matching Tony’s earlier quiet tone. “In my book, they deserve everything that you could dish out and more. They already let you down. All you’re doing is shutting the door on the assholes. I think Aaron’s team will surprise you if you give them a chance. Just, maybe give it some time. Take whatever time you need to get your groove back, and then take the offer. You deserve it.”
Tony nodded quietly, and then turned his attention to the ocean, leaving Jackson with a gorgeous view of his profile. As the older man took a shaky breath while trying to reign in his hormones, all he could feel was the intrigue building. Maybe that damned sneaky lawyer was onto something this time.