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cyndrarae

Rebelling against Reality since 2003

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cyndrarae

Wrong at the top of my Voice: Chapter Four

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***

“Talky as a jaybird she was, with something smart to say on every subject. Better than the radio.”

January 17, 2008. Washington DC

Tony was eagerly looking forward to the night. For one, it was good to not have to go to his cold and lonely apartment so soon. And two, he just loved, LOVED Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The show didn’t start until eight, so they had time to go home, grab a shower and change into more comfortable attires. Tony was the last one to arrive, wearing his Abercrombie distressed jeans, a white pullover and his favorite black jacket with its bright red hood turned inside out at the back of his neck. He met McGee in the parking lot, who was also dressed casually in blue jeans and a red sweater with a thick black overcoat that flattered his tall frame and made him look slimmer. Together they walked in and reached with ten minutes to spare.

They spotted the girls from a distance: Abby wore a long black ankle-length dress with matching boots and a Bordeaux red overcoat. And Ziva sported skinny blue jeans with a purple blouse and black leather jacket. Obviously it was rare for the team to meet in such a casual setting in the middle of the week. So engrossed was Tony in checking his favorite girls out that he almost didn’t notice the tall, burly fellow standing behind them with his arms loosely crossed behind his back, and his feet set slightly apart in the classic military ‘at ease’ position.

Damon Werth.

Tony halted mid-step as he felt his breath catch in his throat for a second. The man was dressed in frighteningly faded and tattered jeans (probably looted a thrift store in Baghdad), along with a black t-shirt, and denim jacket that couldn’t possibly be warm enough for this time of the year. And he looked so… clean… freshly scrubbed, recently shaved razor-sharp jaw line, close-cropped hair…

Tony grimaced, chided himself for paying so much attention to the man and looked away.

McGee caught sight of Damon at about the same time Tony did and he almost halted too. He turned towards Tony. “I swear I didn’t know he was going to be here.”

“I know, Probie. Whatever, guess it’s my cue to let him know about the job interview I got him in New York.”

Damon hadn’t noticed their arrival yet. He had his head bent towards the girls due to his insane height advantage, smiling softly as he spoke, making them laugh. The ugly green monster rose up through Tony’s gut and into his throat again.

“Oh, hey guys!” Abby greeted them happily. “You know Damon, of course. Damon you’ve met the boys?”

“Of course. Hey, man.” Damon held out a hand to McGee who had no choice but to take it, didn’t matter how much Tony glared at him, discretely of course.

Then the marine turned to Tony. “Tony…” and that’s all he said, looking straight into the agent’s eyes, a slightly amused smile playing across his handsome face.

Tony grinned, a little too widely. “Well, since you’re here and all, welcome to the gang!”

Not enough you took my boss, now you want my friends too? Bastard…

“I’m actually really glad you came tonight, Werth. I wanted to talk to you about something.”

Damon smiled so happily it took Tony aback for a second. And he hadn’t even brought up the job interview yet.

“Hey, guys,” Ziva interrupted, “Why don’t you carry on, find our seats inside? Abby and I need to go to the little girls’ room.”

Tony scoffed. “Seriously, why do you insist on calling it that?”

Ziva made a face and took Abby by the arm as they strutted away. “Um, McGee? Would you mind grabbing us some popcorn, please?”

McGee shrugged and left in the opposite direction, leaving Tony and Damon alone. Damon was still grinning off and on like a loon. What the hell was up with him?

***

Damon Werth. Bet you never took the time to watch this magnificent piece of Hollywood history, did ya?” Tony drawled lazily.

Five minutes alone in the semi-dark amphitheater with Tony (well, technically not alone since they were surrounded by a bunch of strangers) and Damon knew: it was not a fluke. It was not a one-off thing, this feeling that had rushed over him the first time Tony turned his eyes on him outside the court hall. Something about this guy had… fixed Damon, like an energy that infected him with hope and positivity, even as he walked into his court-martial proceedings.

“So, Annaleigh will be interviewing you too. I know it’s kind of weird, a teenager deciding your fate and all. But she’s actually quite mature beyond her years. And she’ll appreciate your own background in music, you know, with the, um… cello playing…”

“Mm-hmm.” Was all Damon could muster, completely absorbed in the soft husk of Tony’s voice that he hadn’t noticed before. Maybe because they’d never been sitting this close before, and there’d been no need for Tony to drop his volume two notches and whisper right into Damon’s ear (oh fuck) before.

Obviously, because they went in together, it would have been weird to not sit in seats right next to each other. Good thing Damon had pulled off his jacket earlier. He used it now to cover his groin, thankful for the dimness of the theater around them.

“Aren’t you going to ask how I know about your… um, cello… experience?”

Damon tried to focus away from the heady mix of musk and ivory and possibly gunpowder emanating from the man beside him. “You must’ve pulled up my life history as part of your investigation.”

Tony shifted a little. Damon longed to reach out and pull him closer, not let him shift away too much. Maybe he’d even manage to touch his skin again in the process, feel the same electricity that coursed through him the first time he’d shaken Tony’s hand.

“Well, yeah. It’s why you were the first person I thought of when my cousin called and asked for recommendations. And I know you’re looking for a job in your area of specialization. But if I were you I’d wanna start over in a brand new city, and Long Island is… uh… it’s great! So posh and clean and… posh.”

“Sounds nice,” Damon responded, hearing the words but not really processing them, given that all his faculties were busy with something else.

Tony leaned forward in his chair and faced him fully. Even in the dim light, he could spot the green eyes sparkling with excitement. “Cool! I’ll set it up then. Tomorrow’s too early, right? How about Saturday? Can you do Saturday?”

Damon blinked. What was he talking about? Oh, a job interview. Personal bodyguard to a teenager – yeah, he didn’t think so. But Tony seemed so eager to want to help his cousin out that Damon figured, what the hell, he could give it a go. Later, he could let them know that he’d changed his mind, but at least Tony would have kept his promise. In truth, there was no way Damon was leaving DC. Not until he’d figured out what this… this thing was between him and this green-eyed beauty. Because it was… not nothing.

He could sense it in the way Tony’s breath hitched every time Damon got close to him, every time Damon smiled and Tony’s eyes immediately dropped down to his lips.

Yep, it was something alright.

“I can do Saturday. And thank you, Tony. I didn’t think you’d be so thoughtful and remember me, especially since we didn’t exactly hit it off before…” He tried to soften it with a chuckle and Tony fidgeted again.

“It’s no big deal, really. A-and now’s as good a time as any to start over, right?”

“I’d love that.” Damon sighed deeply, and held out his right hand. “Hi, I’m Damon Werth.”

Tony seemed to hesitate, but then put his own hand out and let Damon clasp it firmly. “Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo.”

Damon chuckled again as he rotated his hand until he could clasp Tony’s thumb and the agent did the same. The sensation was just as he’d expected… a pleasant jolt, an intoxicating relief.

Damon wished desperately for the day when he wouldn’t have to let go of Tony’s hand ever again.

***

Tim was paying for the popcorn at the snack bar when the girls caught up with him.

“Why don’t you go on inside, I’ll take just another minute.”

“It’s quite alright, McGee,” Ziva smiled. “We will help you carry this stuff inside. And no rush, take all the time you need.”

“Why don’t we get some sodas too?” Abby suggested.

Tim rolled his eyes and placed a second order. The movie was about to start and he got that old fluttering in his gut protesting the fact that he was running late, to anywhere, didn’t matter. But the girls didn’t seem too worried. From the corner of his eye, he even spied a conspiratorial look being exchanged.

He frowned. “And what are you two up to now?”

They just smirked and started yakking about clothes and shoes in the sixties, ignoring him completely.

They walked into the theater just after the opening credits rolled past. Tim sat next to Abby who sat next to Ziva who sat next to Tony. Tony was flanked by Ziva on one side and… Damon on the other. That couldn’t possibly be good, could it?

Five minutes into the movie and Tim remembered why he was supposed to avoid going to the movies with Tony. Two words: running commentary.

“Does anyone else find it weird that she’s attracted to a guy who looks like her brother? Seriously, she’s even calling him Fred. Am I alone in this? Granted she’s a babe and babes can get away with a lot in this world even if they’re a couple screws short. Or maybe because of it? I never can make up my mind about that…”

And on and on it went. Abby and Ziva laughed heartily, enjoying his lame jokes, and Damon didn’t look too perturbed either. Tim just winced.

Then Tony started mouthing the dialogues, word for word. Good thing half the theater was empty and the other half was probably doing it themselves. “You know those days when you get the mean reds?”

Tim started when a new voice interjected, and with the right tone inflection and everything. It was Damon. “The mean reds? You mean, like the blues?”

“Whoa! Duuuuude!!” Tony seemed tickled by the fact that not only had Damon seen the movie but had probably seen it just as many times as Tony to be able to remember the words.

Damon didn’t speak much but Tim occasionally heard him laugh, which had the unfortunate side-effect of encouraging Tony to keep going. Tony clearly knew this movie by heart. How he chose his favorite quotes, Tim wouldn’t presume to know. But he noticed Tony mostly stuck to Hepburn’s character, possibly because Holly had the most to say, very much like Tony in real life. Also the fact that she was the most neurotic, enough said.

“I love you, Lula Mae,” Doc Golightly pleaded up on the big screen.

“I know you do, and that's just the trouble.” Tony replied. “It's the mistake you always made, Doc, trying to love a wild thing. You mustn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they're strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky…”

Aargh. Even the girls thought it was cute. Tim found it nauseating.

After a while, Tony fell silent, completely engrossed in the emotional scene playing out on the screen. Tim looked to his right towards Tony and found Damon leaning way back in his chair with his neck surreptitiously craned towards Tony as well. Tim and Damon caught each other’s eyes and looked away at the same time.

In all, it was a strangely fun night. McGee admitted the movie wasn’t half bad, and it was refreshing to have his friends for company mid-week for a change. But he suspected the ones who’d had the best time were Damon and Tony, laughing and quoting off and jabbering throughout. He wondered what that meant – had Tony bonded with Damon? Was Tony going to give up trying to kick Werth out of Gibbs’ life after all?

Or was it possible Tony was undercover, cozying up to his mark to discover what his real intentions were? If that was true, McGee thought raising an eyebrow in admiration, Tony sure was one hell of an actor.

Anyone watching him would think there was nowhere Tony would rather be than right here, in the company of one Damon Werth.

***

Damon sat with his arms crossed tightly against his chest, staring out the passenger seat window of Ziva’s fiery red Cooper. She had picked him up earlier and was now driving him back to Gibbs’ place. He realized he wasn’t being great company, maybe even downright rude. But no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t stop thinking about Tony.

His mind kept flashing back to the two hours he’d just spent sitting next to Tony – two hours of bittersweet agony. God, how he’d ached to touch Tony, trembled every time the happily oblivious agent’s arm had brushed accidentally against his. It took every last strand of grit he possessed to not reach out and pull Tony into his arms, onto his lap, kiss that teasing mouth and every inch of his face, run his calloused battle-hardened hands down the lithe body, pull his hair back and bare the long column of his throat to Damon’s hungry mouth…

“So did you have a good time?” Ziva asked after a few minutes.

Damon turned to her and smiled, happily, much to his own surprise. “I did. Thanks again Ziva. Your friends are totally awesome.”

She grinned. “They are, aren’t they? Who did you like the most?”

Damon started, the question felt a little out of left field to him. “Well, they’re all such unique personalities…”

“Oh, I know. I’m not asking you to compare and contrast, it would be like comparing apples to lemons.”

Damon squinted. “You mean oranges?”

“Ugh! Yes, oranges. I just could not help but notice that you really hit it off with DiNozzo.”

Damon bit his lip. “You two have an interesting relationship.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, here you are asking me about Tony. And Tony kept asking me about you. I think he was under the impression that you and I…” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“Really?” Ziva laughed and shook her head. “Tony has, over the years, become an integral part of my life here in America. We’re both fiercely protective of each other. Which is why, Tony was probably asking you about your intentions as they relate to me. And I… am asking you about your intentions… as they relate to Tony.”

There was no mistaking the words, or the knowing look in her eyes. “That obvious, huh?”

“No,” she assured him with another smile. “But I am Mossad, you know.”

She didn’t disapprove, nor did she care that Damon Werth, the disgraced steroid-addicted ‘hero that never was’ happened also to be a flaming homosexual. He wondered if this was his opportunity to find out what he couldn’t from Gibbs.

“Is, uh, Tony…?”

“Apparently he’s bisexual.”

“Apparently?”

Ziva shrugged. “I have not seen him date a guy in the two and a half years I have known him. But Abby says he used to. Off and on. Nothing serious. Experimental, mostly.”

“I get the drift, Ziva, thanks,” Damon winced, even as he let out a quiet sigh of relief. At least he wasn’t in danger of getting decked in the face the day he did find the courage to make his move. On the other hand, Tony’s slim track record with men sounded like he was going to have to work doubly hard to make a longer-lasting impression.

“I would not presume to speak on behalf of Tony. But I do believe he is intrigued by you.”

“Intrigued?”

“What? Did I say it wrong? Intriguing, intrigued, to – how you say – find interesting. Yes?”

Damon chuckled. “No, you said it right. I was just… wow, intrigued, really?

Ziva smirked. “You have seen the way he looks at you, have you not?”

Damon couldn’t help but blush a little. “I don’t know, Ziva. I keep getting these mixed signals. One minute he’s smiling, goofing off like we’re old buddies and the next he… it’s like he remembers he’s not supposed to, and pulls away. I’ve seen… glimpses, of possibilities. But they’re so rare and so short that, honestly I wonder if I’m just reading too much into it or something.”

Ziva nodded. Damon noticed she had dropped to about half her usual speed. “One thing you should probably know about Tony, in Abby’s words: our boy does not do subtle. He probably has no idea that you are onto, sorry, into him. You will have to be a little more obvious than you are right now, Damon.”

“I would, except…” Damon pauses, not sure how to finish the sentence. Ziva looked at him questioningly before she was forced to focus on the road again.

How could he explain his rabid fear of rejection to her? How could he describe the intense adrenaline rush every time those green eyes landed on him, like the sun coming out shining in the middle of a Michigan winter? And how could he possibly describe the despair that gripped his heart when those same eyes suddenly turned cold and distant, like he was all alone in his bunker in Iraq in the middle of the night, not a friend left alive?

“You need to find out, Damon. For both your sakes.”

Damon looked out his window again, signaling an end to the conversation.

After six years in the Corps and surviving four warzone deployments, he felt he’d accomplished what he set out to do. But now what? Maybe this constant obsessing over Tony was a rebound sort of thing, like replacing one gargantuan challenge with another. But even if it was, Damon didn’t care. His thoughts and dreams of Tony were the only thing these days (and nights) strong enough to distract him from the complete mess he’d made of his life.

He was lost, uncertain of his identity as a civilian. The only thing that held any promise whatsoever was the possibility of being with this guy, this, incredible person with the incredible smile, who could help him forget everything he’d lost, and make him feel alive again.

But Ziva was right. He couldn’t torture himself like this anymore. Either he found out if there was something here worth sticking around for, something more than just another experiment for Tony. Or he moved on to someplace far, far away from DC, from the Corps, and especially from one Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo.

***

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***


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