WARNING: Smut ahead!
Tony sighed as he turned off his computer. Gibbs had head-slapped him over two hours ago with the injunction to go home and get some rest, but the prospect of spending the weekend alone in his apartment was enough to make him stay at his desk until all of his paperwork – his most hated part of the job – was completed. Now every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed, so there was nothing for it but to leave the office. He did, however, have one last item to deliver to Ducky, so he headed to the morgue on his way out.
The problem wasn’t that Anthony DiNozzo, the devastatingly handsome Senior Special Agent of NCIS, couldn’t find a date for the weekend; the problem was that he didn’t have the energy to find one, then go through the modern mating ritual of pretending to be interested in that person’s life and pouring on the inimitable DiNozzo charm, just to have some sex. He had been caught in a haze of ennui ever since the fiasco with Jeanne had blown up, and simply couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm to find another partner – even for a one-night stand. He had tasted too deeply of love, and could no longer be satisfied with lesser passions. But he wasn’t sure what he could do about it.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” he wondered, silently, in the elevator. “I mean, I know I have commitment issues, but why can’t I find someone that’s just right for me? Someone I would want to stay with, forever, even if it meant having the ol’ ball and chain?” He sighed again as he rubbed his tired eyes. “Maybe it isn’t me, but the women I’ve dated. Maybe they’ve all been wrong for me. Maybe I’ve been looking for the wrong type of woman. Maybe if I found a fat, frumpy girl, I’d feel like settling down… No. Definitely not!“
He walked into the morgue and tossed the folder onto Ducky’s desk, then realized that the lights were still on and that there was a figure hunched over a table in the far corner.
“Hey, Autopsy Gremlin! What’re you still doing here?” he called.
“I-I was just about to leave,” Jimmy replied, startled, turning around with a tube in his hand. “I wanted to extract some samples while the specimens were still fresh.” He put a sticker on the tube while asking, cautiously, “W-Were you working on a case?”
“Nah, just paperwork,” Tony answered, coming closer to see what the ME’s assistant was doing, picking up and skimming the log. He knew he was only putting off the inevitable – walking into the cold, empty apartment alone, with a box of pizza or some Chinese take-out as his only comfort. He stifled another sigh and glanced at Jimmy as he labeled a second tube, and noticed that the younger man looked flushed around the neck.
“Are you running a fever, Palmer?” he asked bluntly. “You look like you’re burning up!”
He could actually see the flush moving up Jimmy’s ears.
“N-No! I’m f-fine, you-you just… startled me!” he sputtered, his entire face turning red.
All of a sudden, something clicked inside Tony. The flushing, the nervousness, the eagerness to please… He’d seen all of these symptoms before, but had not recognized the tell-tale signs in Jimmy until now. He debated with himself for a split second, then made a rash decision.
“Well, if you’re not coming down with some deadly flu virus or something,” he said with deliberate calm, “you wanna grab a bite to eat? Maybe pizza, or some Chinese?”
“Ah-I-What?” Jimmy asked, dropping his marker in astonishment.
“You know, food? That tasty stuff you put in your mouth?” Tony queried in reply, raising his eyebrows. “You have heard of food, right?”
“Ah… Um… Yeah. I mean, yes, I have, and… yes, that would be… great!” Jimmy managed, still trying not to swallow his tongue.
“All right. You have a ride?”
“I, ah, take the bus.”
“Oh! Well in that case, we can take my car.”
Tony smiled, knowing his teeth sparkled dazzlingly, even in the fluorescent lights of the morgue. Jimmy seemed somewhat blinded by them.
“Um… yeah. So, I’ll, uh… put these in the freezer…”
“You do that,” Tony said reassuringly. “I’ll just wait for you here.”
He flipped through the previous pages of the log while Jimmy went to change out of his scrubs, and wondered if he’d made a big mistake.
“The kid’s obviously got a crush on you, DiNozzo,” he scolded himself, “and you’re gonna get his hopes up for nothing! Sure, he can’t help it, you’re hot no matter who’s doing the judging, but that doesn’t give you the right to toy with him!”
He ran his fingers through his hair angrily, making it stand on end in a rather becoming way.
“I’m not gonna toy with him, it’s just dinner, all right? It beats sitting at home watching reruns until you pass out on the couch! And besides,” he added, as Jimmy scurried back into the morgue in his street clothes, “he’s sorta cute, in a lost-puppy-please-take-me-home way.”
“So, what’ll it be? Italian or Chinese?” he asked brightly, flashing his pearly whites again.
“Uh… Italian?” Jimmy said timidly.
“That’s my man!” Tony beamed, thumping Jimmy’s back with enthusiasm – something he hadn’t felt in a long time. “You can’t go wrong with Italian!”