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A Different Path

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Banner by the lovely KliqzAngel.

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Tony looked at himself in the mirror once more and decided it was now or never. When he stepped out that door, he knew he would begin a journey to find out who he really was. Tony just needed to be sure that this was really what he wanted, did he really want to dive this deep into his own psyche? Did he want answers to questions that had plagued him his whole life? Looking at his own face in the mirror as he smoothed his hands down the clothes he was wearing, Tony gave himself a little half-smile, part fear, part anticipation, and knew that yes this was what he wanted.

Tony took another quick critical eye at how he was dressed. The shirt he was wearing was a soft peach skin fabric in a subtle lilac color. It felt good against his skin and made him feel soft inside. The jeans were sinfully tight and were women’s jeans that fit him better than most of the men’s jeans he had in his closet. The difference wasn’t that noticeable, but to Tony it was everything. The slight flare on the bottom gave a flattering look to his legs making Tony smile once more at his reflection. He didn’t wear a lot of jewelry, but he decided that the bracelet he had taken notice of in a shop while out on a case was the perfect balance between masculine and feminine. He liked the way it slid up, and down his arm, the silkiness of the silver gave him a little shudder.

The last part was bold, even for him. He had used a little dark brown mascara. Not enough to make his lashes thick like many of the women he knew, but just enough to make his eyes stand out, and to indulge that feminine side he was exploring. He held the eyeliner in his hand, but he couldn’t do it. Not yet at least. Maybe another day when he began to feel more comfortable with this side of himself he had never tried to explore.

Tony had always felt a little different than everyone else but had never put a name to it until a recent experience where he came face to face with a Marine that was just like him. Tony slipped on the matching silver ring, then the patent leather dance/dress shoes he had picked up recently. They also skirted that line between masculine and feminine, but then Tony looked at himself in the mirror and could admit it all worked together. Maybe it was time he stopped thinking in terms of binary and started to think of endless possibilities.

“Well, DiNozzo, it’s now or never, and it isn’t like you to chicken out on something.” Taking a deep breath before slicking his lips up with a barely there tinted lip balm, Tony could admit that he felt good. He felt right in his own skin for the first time since he could remember.

Tony had called a cab, he didn’t want to drive that night, he was too nervous. He gave the cab driver the address, then sat back and took a long deep breath centering himself.

Club Blur he found while doing a deep search for something like it on the internet. It’s supposed to be a haven for the non-heteronormative, non-binary in the DC area. The club had rules for everyone’s safety, and from what his research told him they ruthlessly enforced those rules. Tony was going over everything he had researched in his head on the cab ride over. The small bag he had brought with him had a tablet and a paperback just in case he needed something safe to hide behind if he needed it.

The club was clean, and though the music was loud, it was just loud enough to get people in the mood for dancing. Tony had called ahead and booked himself a booth. It was a bit pricey, but he figured it would be well worth it to have a little privacy while still being able to people watch.

“First time?” The doorman asked as Tony showed his civilian ID and paid the door fee.

“Yes.”

“Well, keep it clean, keep it legal, and have fun.”

Tony pulled on his courage and made one more mental pass that this would be good for him. The doorman just smiled at him, and Tony wondered how many others were like him, searching and scared at the same time. Walking through the doors, Tony knew he was going to begin a journey that could possibly be life-changing.

First thing Tony did was check in and paid the booth fee. He got a wristband and a number tag as well as a small plaque. The number denoted which table he was given, and it clipped to the wristband. The table number was displayed just big enough in case he wanted company for the evening. Tony thanked the person who helped him, then went to go find his place for the night.

Finding the table wasn’t hard, the booth numbers were prominently displayed and all Tony had to do was place his marker on the slot at the edge to denote that it was taken. Tony had pulled the tablet out and set it aside. He wasn’t sure how the night was going to go and having something to read as a backup always helped get him through nights where he felt kind of lost.

After sliding in the booth and leaning back, his eyes swung towards the crowd on the dance floor. The music was an eclectic mix of Europop and early ’80s. Dancers of all kinds were jumping around and appeared to be having fun. The combination of people didn’t surprise Tony, not when that was precisely what the club was all about. He contented himself with watching for the moment.

“Can I get you anything?” A member of the waitstaff asked Tony. He watched them for a moment trying to figure out their gender, but then caught himself. That kind of thinking is precisely what killed the young Marine just days before and had Tony questioning his own identity.

“Um, actually let’s keep it non-alcoholic for a while.”

“I could bring you a coke. All non-alcoholic drinks are on the house.”

“Really?”

The server chuckled as they leaned to the side and smiled.

“Yes. We get that reaction a lot. The owners make plenty on alcohol, the entrance fees, and memberships that the cost of most non-alcoholic stuff is negligible. Some things you have to pay for, like high-end sparkling waters, but sodas, tea, bottled water, all free.”

“Well, then just a coke is fine for now.”

“Here, I’ll leave a menu in case you want anything to snack on, or our extensive list of mixed drinks and alcohols available.”

“Thank you...”

“I’m Charlie.”

That didn’t clear anything up in Tony’s mind, and he mentally slapped himself for that stray thought. This was going to be a night where he needed to have restraint and patience with himself.

“Charlie. Again, thank you, and I’ll let you know if I want anything else.”

“Have a good time.”

Charlie walked away, and Tony could admit that he appreciated watching them move away. There were things about Tony that would shock his team to their very foundation. For one, Tony may have bragged about dating and his ‘conquests,’ but the reality was very different. He was, in fact, a bit of a workaholic. Not because he had some burning need to always be working, but his mind was seldom quiet and though he would find solace in his music, that didn’t always help. Getting in early, or staying late and working on cold cases, or helping some of the other teams with a puzzle they had satisfied Tony’s mind and after getting lost in cases was sometimes the only thing that actually let him sleep.

Tony didn’t limit the few romantic liaisons he had actually had in his life to only women. There were more than his fair share of men, he was just discreet about it. The bragging was to deflect his coworkers away from his personal life. Tony watched the dancers who let the music move them with abandon and Tony felt a small pang deep inside. He wanted to be that free, he wanted to end the charade that had been his life, but it was hard to change, especially when the persona he presented was all on him. The masks, the frat boy, the joking was all subterfuge for others to not look too deep at Tony. The only people he didn’t think he fooled was Gibbs and Ducky. Maybe even Palmer, who Tony was finding an unexpected friendship with.

Charlie brought his drink, and Tony made a mental note to tip them well at the end of the evening, he had watched as they worked the rest of the tables, never skipping a beat. He knew the service was going to be top notch. Sipping his coke, Tony swung his eyes back towards the dance floor and enjoyed watching for a bit.

“Do you not want to join us on the dance floor?”

Tony had watched the approach of someone who was not on the waitstaff. He didn’t even stop his eyes trailing from head to toe. To Tony, the person appeared male, but he always knew appearances could be deceiving. The floppy curls were artfully messy, the black jeans sinfully tight showed off the person’s legs and made one of Tony’s eyebrows raise in interest. The shirt clung perfectly and was cut to show off just a bit of skin around the stomach and sides. The feminine flare only accentuated their body and Tony could admit his mouth went a little dry. He took a sip of his coke to try to clear his throat.

“Maybe I was just waiting for the perfect opportunity.” Tony smiled, and the look in his companion's eyes went dark with interest. Tony leaned forward and noticed the eyes were made up to only enhance the gold that was prominent in the hazel.

“Maybe you’d like dancing with me.” They smiled a crooked smile and Tony had to tamp down on a further spike of arousal.

“Maybe I would.” Tony slid out of the booth and took his companion’s hand and led him out to the dance floor.

“Name’s Tony.”

“Spencer.”

Tony settled his hands around Spencer’s hips pulling them close. Spencer draped their arms around Tony’s neck, and the two got lost in the music as they danced together. One song turned into two, then three, which saw Spencer and Tony moving closer together till they were practically plastered against each other.

Tony wasn’t sure what came over him as he leaned in and kissed Spencer, but those lips had been tempting him all night, and he let himself get lost as Spencer kissed back. Pulling back was harder than Tony thought, but the look in Spencer’ eyes told Tony they were more than interested.

“Would you like something to drink?” Tony brushed some stray curls away from Spencer’s face, he let his fingers trail over soft skin and prominent cheekbones.

“Yes, please.” Again that smile, open, bright, and utterly charming, Tony hoped the night was going where he thought it was, but he would never push. If they got there, he would enjoy every second of it, if they didn't, Tony would remember the evening fondly.

Moving to his table, Tony sat, and Spencer slid in across from him. The server from earlier came by and took their drink orders, and Tony also ordered a couple of the small plates offered on the menu.

“So, what brings someone like you to a club like this?” Spencer asked as they picked up their glass of water and sipped.

“That is a long and complicated story. The short answer is that I’ve always known I was a little different, but never had a name to put to how I felt. After some research, I found this place and decided to come out and try it. And you?” Tony leaned back and watched Spencer as they sprawled out on the long bench seat of the booth.

“I’ve been coming here since it opened. I’ve always known who and what I was, which is just me. I know you’re curious to ask, but won’t because you are too polite. Yes, I am genderfluid, but I lean towards identifying as male. I personally don’t like a lot of different pronouns, but I respect those who do. In my line of work, well let’s just say that it would be difficult to get everyone to abide by any personal wishes of mine. I travel too much and meet too many different people that it would be impossible.

“But, I am just me. Spencer Reid. I am confident in who I am, but it’s not to say that I don’t have days where it’s a little overwhelming.”

Tony sipped his water then smiled at their server as they placed drinks in front of both Tony and Spencer. Taking a moment before he spoke, Tony watched Spencer sip from a straw. That act should not have been as sexy as it was, but Tony was discovering a lot about himself in such a short time.

“I was trying not to ask. But, thank you. This is all relatively new to me, even if I acknowledge it’s always been a part of who I am. I don’t know much about gender pronouns, or how people identify themselves. I am just trying to figure me out first.

“I don’t think I could think of myself other than male. It’s just some days there is this rush of emotions and thoughts that feel so out of place, but I don’t know what to do with those feelings. I guess I’m here trying to figure it all out.” Tony looked towards the dancers as his fingers absently wiped at the condensation beading on his water glass.

“Dysphoria. It’s a big issue with a lot of us in the community. It’s where your head is thinking one way, but you are feeling another. We all at one time or another feel it.”

Charlie once more swung by the table and delivered the appetizers and a refill on Tony’s soda. They took empties away and asked if Spencer wanted anything else to drink. Spencer said they were fine, then Charlie left with a smile and worked their way around the other tables.

“The food is top notch here. I’ve known their chef for a while.”

“Oh really?” Tony couldn’t help the little smirk that curled up on his mouth as he picked up a marinated shrimp and took a bite.

“Not like that. Though I wouldn’t have said no. DJ has a longtime partner, and they are in a happy monogamous relationship.”

“And what about you? What do you want?”

“I don’t know. I have not really had much of a normal life, and at the moment, I’m having fun exploring who I am. Believe it or not, the people I work with still think I am a virgin and would be shocked if they saw me here. Someday I just might bring them, shock them out of their very narrow worldview of me.” Spencer looked sad to Tony. Reaching out, Tony took Spencer’s free hand and curled his fingers with Spencer’s. He looked up at Tony and smiled as he picked up a piece of bread that had some fresh tomato and garlic with thin slices of cured chorizo. Tony didn’t let Spencer go as they slowly ate the appetizers. Tony was feeling all kinds of mixed emotions, but he didn’t want to analyze them too deeply at the moment. He was enjoying Spencer’s company.

After they finished off the food, Tony stood and pulled Spencer back out onto the dance floor. This time, Spencer allowed Tony to touch him more. Tony took advantage and slipped his hands under the shirt that had been driving him crazy all night. When his fingers encountered silk, he pulled back and looked Spencer in the eye. There was a little twinkle as well as a wicked smile on Spencer’s face.

“Silk Cami. I like how it feels against my skin.”

Tony groaned because he could picture it. The soft silk sliding against Spencer’s skin, he started to become hard just thinking about it. Tony didn’t shy away, he wanted Spencer to know that he was interested. Very interested.

Curling his fingers around Spencer’s waist, Tony pulled him in closer. Spencer draped his arms over Tony’s shoulders and let himself be pulled in close. The way the two of them were dancing there was hardly any room between them. Spencer’s cock was pressed against Tony’s making him stay hard the whole time. Then that wicked mouth of Spencer’s was on his again, testing, pushing at Tony’s boundaries which by this time were very little. One of Tony’s hands drifted down to Spencer’s ass, and a firm press had Spencer groaning against Tony’s lips.

“I hope I’m not too forward here because despite the pretense I keep up with my coworkers, I don’t really do one-night stands, but fuck, Spencer I really want you to come home with me.” Tony rushed the words out as he kept hold of Spencer in his arms.

“No, not forward at all.” Spencer smiled as he leaned in once again and kissed Tony in such a way that had him letting out one of the filthiest moans he had ever made. Pulling away was harder than he thought it would be. Taking Spencer’s hand, Tony paid his check then pulled out his phone and called for a cab, which luckily didn’t take long at all. Tony gave his address and was tempted to pull Spencer onto his lap, but he wanted to get them to his apartment in one piece.

Tumbling out of the cab, Tony paid the driver and practically dragged Spencer upstairs to his place. The two laughed at the ridiculousness of their antics, but Tony had not wanted someone like this in far too long.

“Tony, slow down, we’ll get there.” Spencer laughed as he was gently pushed against the wall just inside Tony’s apartment. His fingers were shaking with anticipation and want. Laying his head against Spencer’s Tony took a few deep breaths and settled his hands on Spencer's hips.

“Sorry, it’s been a while, and you are gorgeous.”

Spencer cupped Tony’s chin and pushed his face away a few inches, the smile on their face had Tony smiling back.

“Come on, let’s take this to your bedroom.” Spencer laid his hands on Tony’s chest gently telling him to move. Tony pulled away and led Spencer through the apartment to his bedroom, which gave him enough time to settle himself. Once there, Tony wrapped his arms around Spencer before pressing his lips against those soft tempting lips of his companion. He took it slow, just a gentle slide before licking at the seam seeking entrance. Spencer slid their tongue out and into Tony’s mouth, exploring, touching, arousing all at the same time.

Tony thought that kissing Spencer was one of the best experiences of his life. He felt connected in a way he never had before, especially with a one-night stand. Tony’s hands weren’t idle either, he was slowly unbuttoning Spencer’s shirt one button at a time. When he popped the last one and slid the shirt off Spencer’s shoulders Tony stood back, he wanted to get the full view.

The camisole was cut perfectly for Spencer’s body which made Tony wonder where he had gotten it from. The color was a jeweled burgundy that looked gorgeous against Spencer’s skin. Tony slid his hands under the camisole, closing his eyes as the fabric fell against his hands. The combination of soft skin and silk had Tony making noises that had Spencer smiling.

“Fuck, Spencer. I never thought anything like this could be so sexy on a man. You make me think naughty thoughts.”

“I am looking forward to experiencing those very filthy thoughts.”

Tony curled his fingers around the sides of Spencer’s skin, his fingernails just scratching enough to make Spencer hiss. Tony took his time touching and kissing along Spencer’s jaw, his tongue darted out tasting the flesh beneath his lips. The clean taste of Spencer’s skin made Tony want more. Trailing along Spencer’s jaw, Tony moved down to his neck making Spencer press his hips closer towards Tony. Chuckling against the skin, Tony was enjoying taking Spencer apart little by little.

Tony’s hands made it down to the tight jeans Spencer was wearing, and with deft fingers he had the button undone and the noise of the zipper being opened one click at a time had Spencer’s breath catching in his throat.

Tony slowly sank to his knees and pushed the jeans off of Spencer’s hips as he went.

“Jesus, Spencer. Did you dress like this to give someone a heart attack?”

Spencer laid one hand on Tony’s shoulder letting a little laugh out as he stepped out of the jeans. Tony had not been prepared for the matching high-cut feminine briefs Spencer was wearing. There was a bow on the front, and black lace trim around the legs of the panties. Tony knew they would be silk even before he touched them.

Leaning forward he wrapped his lips around the still covered, but semi-hard cock now straining against its confinement.

“Oh, fuck..” Spencer let out as Tony sucked against the silk leaving a wet spot as he pulled away. Standing up, Tony quickly undressed before he practically tackled Spencer down onto the bed.

“I am going to make you scream, Spencer. I’m going to take you apart piece by piece. And I’m going to do it while you are still wearing this very sexy lingerie.”

Tony watched as Spencer’s eyes rolled in the back of his head. Tony pressed his hips down and barely thrust against Spencer’s now fully hard erection. The silk felt terrific, but Tony knew he would eventually hurt if he kept that up. Sitting up, he gestured for Spencer to flip over on his stomach which gave Tony an eyeful of firm ass wrapped around that beautiful burgundy silk.

“You make me think naughty thoughts, Spencer.”

Spencer didn’t even try to stop the chuckle as he thrust his ass towards Tony and wiggled it. Tony took the opportunity to smack him, making Spencer groan and curl his hands into the sheets underneath him. Tony indeed had plans, and the first was to fuck that beautiful ass without taking those silk panties off of Spencer. He would be careful, he wanted to make it good for both of them. Tony was letting himself fully explore before coming through on his promises, but he knew it was going to be one amazing night.

______________________

Tony stumbled into his kitchen and started the coffee pot. He grabbed a few things from his fridge to make a quick meal for Spencer and himself. Eggs diablo sounded like the perfect thing. Sliding the onions and pepper Tony had already chopped into the pan, the coffee dinged it was done. Tony fixed his first cup and would wait for Spencer to get up to get his.

After the onions and peppers were soft, Tony threw in the garlic, some fresh chopped tomatoes, and one smashed up chipotle pepper. He waited until the tomatoes had released their juices before adding some homemade tomato sauce, and a tablespoon of harissa, a North African spice that Tony had grown to love. He stirred it all together, wanting the liquid to reduce.

In the oven he had some thick cut potatoes roasting.

“That smells amazing.”

“I call this Eggs Diablo. It’s a kind of hybrid of an Italian egg dish I grew up with, and it’s North African cousin. There is some spice in it, I hope you are okay with that.”

“I love spicy.”

Tony looked up and saw Spencer was dressed in a t-shirt and some short sleep pants. He wondered where they came from, then remembered the small bag Spencer had brought up with him.

“Good, it will be ready in a few minutes. There’s coffee, cups are in the cupboard right above, some fresh Italian cream is in the fridge, and sugar bowl on the counter. Help yourself.”

Spencer walked over, and Tony didn’t even hide the fact he was checking out Spencer’s ass.

“So, I assume you don’t wear those kinds of things all the time.” Tony’s mouth was turned up in a wicked little smile as Spencer turned and looked at him for a moment and his expression told Tony he was contemplating what to say. Spencer finished getting his coffee ready, then turned around and leaned on the counter.

“Once, I did wear something similar, but there was an incident, and I had to strip down completely. When some of the others saw what I was wearing it was....awkward. So, when I am at work, I dress to what most people consider are the social norms for my birth gender. But, on my own time, or when we are mostly in the office, I wear what feels comfortable for that day.”

Tony grabbed the bowl of eggs and set them on the counter in easy reach. Using a spoon, he made six wells in the sauce then cracked an egg in each well. Tony reduced the heat down and covered the pan and would watch it till the eggs just set. He was giving himself a moment to wrap his head around how comfortable Spencer was with himself. Or, maybe that was just the illusion Spencer put up for the world to see, Tony wasn’t really sure which it was.

He grated some mozzarella and grabbed the ricotta from the fridge setting it aside. He looked in the pan and saw the eggs were almost perfectly set, he turned off the saute pan and let the steam take care of the rest of the cooking. This gave him a moment to throw the sliced ciabatta on his grill after brushing with olive oil.

“I’ve never really been quite that brave. Last night, that was a whole new experience for me. I’m not even really sure what I’m trying to find. I know I’ve always been a little different, I just never really had a name for it before.”

“And you don’t have to know, Tony. If you need someone to talk to about this, to try to understand it, you can always call or text me. I understand that we barely know each other, but I would actually like to get to know you more. Even if we find we are better friends than anything else.”

Tony had flipped the bread over to let it grill on the other side for a minute. When it was done, Tony grabbed two plates and laid down two pieces of toast and spread a little of the ricotta on them. Then after taking the lid off the pan he scooped up an egg with a generous portion of sauce and spread it over a piece of the bread, he did the same to the other pieces then sprinkled on the shredded mozzarella.

Moving to the oven, he pulled the potatoes out and plated a few pieces on each plate. When he was done, he took everything to his small kitchen table and set them down.

“I think I would like that Spencer.” Tony finally spoke again after he had taken the time to consider what a friend, and to Tony possibly more, might mean. He found he didn’t really care what other people would think, the only two that mattered was him and Spencer. “But, I don’t know, I think we might be good together.”

“You say that now,” Spencer said as he speared a piece of potato and took a bite. “But wait till you hear me go off on a crazy tangent, you just might change your mind.” The smile on Spencer’s face had Tony thinking that he would actually like to see and hear one of these tangents.

“Well, I know that I want to see you again. You’re an amazing person Spencer, and I want to see what we could be together.”

“That could just be the fantastic sex talking.” Spencer smiled as he speared another piece of potato and bit into it.

“Oh, believe me, the sex was more than fantastic.” Tony returned the smile, and the two ate in a comfortable silence that Tony had not really had with anyone before.

“You know, I don’t usually bring anyone back to my place. I have to say this is the first time.”

Spencer leaned back in the chair and sipped his coffee watching Tony.

“Why did you?”

“A hotel seemed...tawdry. Even a nice hotel felt impersonal. Somehow I didn’t want impersonal with you.”

“We could have gone to my place. I don’t usually mind. Though my liaisons don’t normally last very long.”

“Oh, believe me, I understand that one.”

Tony stood up and took their empty plates to the kitchen and rinsed them off, giving himself time to come to terms with everything that happened the night before and this morning.

“You don’t stay overnight with anyone, do you?”

Tony shut off the water before grabbing his cup from the table. He got another pot of coffee started after filling his cup with the last of what was in the coffeepot. Tony had briefly contemplated the stovetop espresso maker but decided to forgo it this time. He held the cup in his hands and turned to look at Spencer who had one leg draped over the other, slouched a little in the chair, soft smile and his messy curls framing his face.

The sun peeked through the curtains casting its light behind Spencer almost making his skin glow, and the gold in his hair stand out. Tony’s breath caught at the sheer beauty of the moment, and it overwhelmed him. Spencer’s features seemed somehow both softer and sharper at the same time, his cheekbones stood out against the rosy-tinged alabaster skin. Tony itched to touch again, but the moment was too much, and he walked over to his piano, set his cup down and started to play something soft and melancholic.

The only noise in the apartment was Tony’s playing, he almost didn’t hear Spencer moving around until he was sitting on the bench next to Tony watching him. The heat of Spencer’s body warmed something that had gone cold inside of Tony, and he was having a hard time understanding what was happening between them. It was only a one night stand, wasn’t it?

“That’s beautiful. I don’t recognize it.”

“I write music here and there. Mostly for myself, but I’m glad you like it.” Tony just looked at Spencer with his eyes as he played the piece from memory. After Tony was done, Spencer crawled into his lap and kissed him.

“I want you to do something today.”

“What is it?” Tony frowned a little and knew right off that if he really did want to start something with Spencer, the man was going to push him more and more out of his shell. Tony wasn’t sure if he was ready to shed those masks he worked so hard to keep in place. But, maybe that was the point. Perhaps him taking that first step the night before was him reaching out to find someone that would push him, and help him become the person he had always wanted to be.

“Don’t look so worried. I just want you to do a little shopping. Find something like what you were wearing last night. Maybe break out of your shell a little. You don’t have to wear it anywhere but the club, or if we do go out on a proper date. Just something, or a few somethings, that make you Tony, feel good. Don’t get things you’re used to. Can you do that for me?”

“Shopping? Not a hardship.”

Spencer narrowed his eyes as he wrapped his legs around Tony.

“I bet you love shopping.”

“How’s this for a plan. We do our own separate things this morning, then we meet up for lunch at Ristorante Checchi, and I’ll buy you the absolute best authentic pizza in DC?”

“That’s a rather big boast, Mr. DiNozzo.”

“I guarantee you’ll love it.”

“What time?”

“1:30. Then, we play it by ear.”

Spencer leaned in and kissed Tony once more before getting up off his lap.

“That sounds wonderful. I will meet you there.”

Tony watched as Spencer walked around the apartment grabbing his clothes and slipping back into them. Tony almost groaned at the sight Spencer made. Slightly rumpled, hard disarrayed, but there was happiness in his steps that Tony knew he had put there. He hoped he wasn’t heading down a road to heartbreak because one Spencer Reid could definitely be one that rips Tony’s heart out and not even know it. There was something about Spencer, a quiet confidence that was genuine and not forced. Tony, somewhere along the way had lost some of that natural confidence and wanted it back. He wondered if his time at NCIS was closing in fast on him. There were things there he had not agreed with and slowly the man that he had been trying to be was being eroded away by too many factors.

Tony watched as Spencer stuffed himself into his jeans and groaned at the thoughts he was having. Spencer must have heard him as he turned and smiled, then wiggled his butt on purpose. Tony had no forethought as he stood and gave Spencer a smack on his now covered ass.

“Keep that up, I just might blow all my plans.”

“On don’t tempt me, Spencer. I think we need to have a few hours apart.”

“Tony, you don’t have to push yourself to do things you may not be ready for. But, I’ll be here if you need to talk.”

“Thank’s Spencer. I appreciate that. Now, you go, and we’ll see each other at lunch.”

Spencer nodded, but before he left, he turned and took Tony’s face in his hands, leaned in and gave him a kiss that wasn’t quite chaste but was so gentle and full of emotion that it shook Tony a little. Spencer broke apart, smiled and was out the door leaving a slightly emotional Tony in his wake.

_________________

Tony still had his packages in his hands when he got to the restaurant. He knew he might have gone a little overboard, but the androgynous store he found while walking DuPont circle and going in and out of his favorite clothing stores, drew his eye. The clothes were beautiful, and Tony was drawn to many of the items he saw. The vests being one. Others were the button ups that skirted the edge of feminine in fabrics that Tony had never considered but loved how they felt when he tried them on.

He had decided to dress in one of his better suits to see what looked good and was surprised at the outcome of what he tried on. The shop had a tailor that talked Tony into trying on one of their suits in what they were calling their everyday classics line.

The suits were a linen and bamboo blend that felt beyond luxurious against Tony’s skin. He found a few he liked the cut of and even though it was subtle Tony could tell that they were not the overtly masculine suits that he usually wore. He ordered three and the tailor took his measurements and said he would have them ready in two to three weeks. Tony was excited. He would keep the store in mind as it was precisely what he liked and was looking for.

When he stepped into the restaurant, he was shocked when he saw Spencer. The man had styled his hair and was in a three-piece suit with a vest that fit him like a glove. Tony had to swallow hard to keep his attraction from causing him to ‘stand out’ as it were. It took a moment to get control of himself, and when Spencer looked up and saw him the smile, he got had his stomach turning over with nerves.

The hostess didn’t even need to show him the table, he thanked her and walked over himself. Spencer stood and smiled even brighter. Tony leaned in, not caring they were in public and kissed Spencer on the side of the mouth.

“You look gorgeous, Spencer.”

“Thank you, so do you, Tony.”

The two of them sat at the table, and when the waiter came over, they ordered their drinks but asked for time to look over the menu.

“I was wondering if you liked the theatre at all?” Tony asked as he perused the menu. Spencer had his already back on the table and set aside. Tony just raised a brow because he was used to his dates taking their time in figuring out what they wanted.

“I love the Theatre. Plays, musicals, ballet, dance, I like it all.”

“I um, I have tickets to see Manhattan Dance next Sunday. The person I was supposed to go with canceled on me.”

“OH, are they the group that incorporates tap, percussion, and hip-hop? I’ve been trying to get tickets to see them for forever. I’ve watched quite a few of their YouTube videos and have been fascinated by their use of different styles of dance. I love their stepping videos... You know that the roots of stepping are heavily influenced by the Gumboots style of dance. It was a dance performed in boots, and no one is quite sure how old it really is. There are stories of  African slaves who kept up their dance traditions, and some of it evolved over time and intermingled with Gumboots and other types of step or tap. It’s become not just an African American phenomenon, but its influence can be seen in some modern Spanish, and Asian dances. Even Kpop and Jpop have incorporated stepping into their routines....”

Spencer stopped speaking and took a sip of his water as his face took on a slight blush.

“Why did you stop? I was enjoying what you were saying.”

“Oh. My boss is really the only other person I know who doesn’t mind my ramblings. Sometimes I get overly excited about a topic and I just sort of go.”

“Wait until you hear me on a movie rant. You won’t feel so alone.”

Spencer smiled, and Tony reached over to lace his fingers with Spencer’s.

“I like you, Spencer. I like you a lot.”

“I like you too, Tony.”

The waiter came over and took their orders. Tony found out quite a bit about Spencer by the time they were done with their meals. He knew the man was part of the BAU, that he admired his boss Aaron Hotchner and how Aaron had stood up to the Brass about his marriage to Jackson Grimes. Tony was shocked about that. He had kept up with Grimes Tech as he had bought quite a bit of stock when they were an up and coming company. Tony followed them carefully and was more than happy when his dividends began to pay off. He kept that money in a savings account and reinvested with companies he felt comfortable with. Grimes made him a lot of money.

“I invested heavily with Grimes when they first started. I liked Jackson Grimes the moment I first heard him speak at a TED convention. The man is brilliant, but I love his philosophy of giving back to the community.”

“Oh, well, would you like to meet him?”

Tony almost choked on his after dinner coffee.

“Are you serious?”

“Of course I am. Aaron is one of my best friends. I go to dinner with him and Jax all the time.”

Tony sat there mouth agape.

“Tony?”

“Sorry, you just...I just...you just...” Tony was speechless as he took a long drink of his after dinner coffee.

“Tony, I take that as a yes?” Spencer quirked the side of his mouth and didn’t even try to keep the amused expression off his face.

“Hell, yes.”

“I will make arrangements.”

Tony sat back and let out a long slow breath and reigned in his emotions. The last not quite a day with Spencer had been quite the roller coaster already, but Tony could admit that he really, really enjoyed that roller coaster.

“There is a Thin Man retrospective playing at this old restored theatre not far from here. Would you like to go?”

“I’d love to go. Is it at the Rhino?”

“You know that movie theatre?”

“I do. I saw Operation Ganymed, an obscure German sci-fi film. Saw it in both the German and English versions.”

“I love obscure movies as much as I love old movies. I’ll just get the check, and we can head out.”

Spencer was about to protest when Tony took the check-holder and put his card inside. The waiter was quick and efficient, Tony left a generous tip, and Spencer and Tony left the restaurant together. Tony found out that Spencer took the train, so he drove them both to the theatre where he bought them drinks and popcorn because according to Tony you cannot watch a movie at the theatre without both. Spencer laughed, and that laugh sparked something in Tony. It was joy. Pure unadulterated joy, which Tony had had little of in the past couple of years. In twenty-four hours Spencer had turned Tony upside down, he was going to enjoy every single minute he got with Spencer in whatever guise the man wanted to be in. Tony wanted to experience it all and that scared him just a tad.

______________

Monday morning Tony walked into work with a bounce in his step and a hopeful new attitude. Spencer had stayed with him the whole weekend and Tony didn’t mind the wake-up sex, or the morning cuddling, even if Spencer was a bit gruff before coffee. Tony enjoyed all facets of the man. He knew he was in trouble, but it was a good kind of trouble that he wanted to last.

“Well, well, well, someone got lucky this weekend. Who was the unlucky lady? Crystal, Debbie, or, oh I know Candi.” McGee smirked at Tony as he leaned back in his chair.

“It was none of your business McDork. I just had an amazing weekend, and I feel good this morning. Nothing more.”

Tony sat down at his desk and began to boot-up his computer. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Ziva slid out from behind her own desk and sauntered over to his. She laid her hands on Tony’s desk and leaned forward. He blouse fell open. She wasn't subtle at all, and normally Tony would have a sarcastic comeback, but he didn’t want to put in the effort with her anymore.

“What, no bragging? No shaking the hips and being your obnoxious self?”

“Nope. And, I have work to do, I think you do as well. The Captain Jensen files aren’t complete.”

Ziva narrowed her eyes at him as she straightened up and pouted a little.

“Aw, come on, Tony. What happened to you this weekend to make you look...different.”

“Maybe this weekend showed me a few things about myself that I need to let go of. Now, I don’t need to explain to you, so go back to your desk and get to work.”

Ziva stood there frowning, but Tony chose to ignore her rather than continue trading soft barbs with her.

“You heard the man, David, get back to work. Those Jensen files better be complete.”

“Yes, Gibbs.” Ziva scrambled over to her desk and at least appeared to begin working.

“And she’s right, DiNozzo. You look different.” Gibbs sat at his desk, set his coffee cup down and frowned.

“Just had a perfect weekend. Nothing more, Boss.”

“Good enough for me.” Gibbs turned away and started to work on his own files. Tony was glad for the busy work for a change. It was keeping everyone out of his business. He had cultivated this persona, and while he did have a full social life outside of work with friends from College and people he had met along the way, Tony wasn’t quite the rapscallion he let people think he was. Maybe it was time to shed that personality altogether. As he looked around at his team, he wondered how they would take it if Tony changed and in his heart, he knew they would not take him seriously. Maybe Gibbs, but even then he wondered about the change in the man since adding more people to the team, especially Ziva. Sighing he got back to work, but would not let the weird mood from the others affect him.

Tony needed something from autopsy, and he quietly got up from his desk and made his way over to the elevator. He should have known that the peace in the office wouldn’t last as Gibbs slipped onto the elevator with him. Tony wasn’t surprised when Gibbs hit the stop button.

“What’s goin’ on with you?”

“I don’t know what you mean boss?”

“You look different, DiNozzo..”

“Maybe I am beginning to learn who I really am and don’t want to play act anymore.”

“Tony..”

“No, don’t, Gibbs. I am self-aware enough that I know I put up a lot of masks and that I’ve cultivated a certain persona, but there are things that I never wanted to confront about myself. This weekend showed me I don’t have to be so afraid.”

Gibbs watched Tony for a moment, nodded his head and started the elevator.

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Whatever you need to do, DiNozzo.”

It almost sounded like a compliment and Tony would take it. When the elevator dinged, and the door opened Tony stepped out but Gibbs didn’t he just nodded his head and the doors shut. Somehow, Tony knew he had gotten Gibbs acceptance of whatever it was Tony wanted for himself. It felt like the old Tony and Gibbs before everything got so complicated.

Tony shook himself out of his funk and made his way to autopsy. Seeing Jimmy working alone had Tony grinning at the younger man.

“Hey, Jimmy Jams. How’s it going?”

“Tony. Dr. Mallard had an errand to run, but he’ll be back in about an hour.”

“That’s fine, I just need to know if you have that report on Captain Jensen. I need to close out my files on the case.”

“It’s so sad. He just wanted to be who he was and never really had a chance. How’s the suspect doing?”

“I think we are going to recommend psychiatric care. There are mitigating circumstances, and the man needs help. It’s horrible that it took this for him to confront his own truth.”

Tony wanted to open the drawer and get one last look at the man that was killed over his prejudices against a man in crises.

“Tony? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I just am finding myself in new territory.”

Jimmy stopped what he was doing, took off his gloves and washed his hand. He grabbed two chairs and set them up near the desk and poured two cups of coffee. He set one down and pointed for Tony to sit.

“I know I’m not Dr. Mallard, but you know I’ll always listen, Tony.”

Tony sat and took the coffee cup, sipping a little at the hot brew.

“What if I told you that this case brought up some things I didn’t even realize I had buried deep down.”

“I would think that you would just need a friend to talk to. Someone understanding who wouldn’t judge.”

Tony had always been drawn to the affable James Palmer and knew that when he was done with school, he would make an excellent medical examiner. Jimmy was caring not just about the victims, but he cared about the people he worked with.

Tony felt comfortable enough to tell Jimmy what happened over his weekend and that he thought that there was something there for him and Spencer, but he was having a hard time not falling completely head over heels after only a couple of dates over the weekend.

“Breena has a few friends that identify as a non-binary gender, and it doesn’t surprise me, Tony. In fact, one of the most Alpha of men you would ever meet is genderfluid and prefers a neutral pronoun. And another friend likes to be called by their female name even when they have their ‘boy’ days as she calls it. There isn’t any right way to be Tony, and if you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

“Wow, Palmer, thank you.” Tony was a bit overwhelmed at Jimmy’s openness. He was grateful, though to have a friend like him.

“Anytime, Tony.”

Tony stood, and as he was leaving autopsy after grabbing the report he needed, his phone dinged. He looked and saw a text from Spencer.

Aaron and Jackson want to go to dinner on Thursday. I would love it if you could come with me, no pressure.

Tony took a breath knowing this was a big step for him. Though, the chance to meet Jackson Grimes, a man he has admired for quite some time now was just too good of an opportunity.

Sure. If no case comes up, I’m there. Just tell me where and when. Tony typed back and waited a moment for a reply.

Yeah, we are on downtime, so we are not supposed to get any cases. I’ll give you the details once I have them.

Sounds good. Tony signed off then walked back to his desk. The rest of the day flew by quickly, and no one teased him further. He also got down to work and kept his words to himself for once. He knew the road ahead might not be easy, but he was thrilled with the turn of events in his life. He smiled to himself as he finished up the reports and actually left work on time. He had research to do, and he wanted to do it in his own home.

_____________

Thursday rolled around, and Tony could admit he was nervous. He was wearing one of his newer suits that had been finished at his tailors just the day before. Slipping it on Tony felt confident and a bit indulgent. The suit was charcoal grey, and underneath was an electric blue peachskin shirt much like he had worn on the weekend. The feminine paisley vest pulled the look together as did the thinner charcoal tie.

Tony started to wear an earring again. It was just a simple small gold hoop, but he liked it. The bracelet was thin and delicate, and it made him feel good.

Spencer had said to be himself, or the self that he was coming to terms with a little more every day. Dressing for work the last few days he slipped on things that made him feel good, not just made him look good. Ziva was the only one to look at him funny. Gibbs and McGee either didn’t really notice, or they just took it all in stride. Tony didn’t really care which as long as they didn’t make a big thing out of it. Of course, he didn’t think it would last very long, there was eventually going to be some kind of confrontation at some point, but he was preparing for it.

Basically, Tony was going to tell them to butt out. Gathering up his wallet and keys, Tony took one last look in the mirror, even checking the almost imperceptible eyeliner he decided he was going to wear and made sure he had no smudges from the mascara, Tony smiled and just before leaving used a barely there tinted lip balm. Tony walked out the door with a confident step in his stride. He decided to take a cab to the restaurant, he didn’t want to worry about driving.

The restaurant Tony was surprised by. Corfu was a place he had been trying to get a table at for forever. How Spencer’s boss got one was impressive. Though, he figured Jackson Grimes could get a table just about anywhere. When he approached the hostess, he smiled and mentioned who he was meeting. She smiled and quickly showed him to the table. Spencer was already there, looking just as good as he had over the weekend.

Spencer was wearing a fitted long sleeve button up that fit him perfectly, showing off a bit of those sharp angles. The pants, Tony had to look twice, but they were definitely flared leg stylish, yoga pants, but on Spencer’s tall, lanky body, they didn’t seem strange or ridiculous. They looked, frankly amazing.

“Spencer,” Tony let out a long breath before leaning in and kissing him. “You look gorgeous.”

Spencer smiled, his lips were boldly tinted, but the color fit him, as did the subtle make-up he wore.

“Tony, I’d like you to meet my boss and friend, Aaron Hotchner and his husband, Jackson Grimes.”

The men half rose, and all shook hands then sat back down.

“Mr. Grimes, may I tell you what an honor it is to actually meet you? I saw one of your earliest TED talks and loved everything you said that day. In fact, I called my broker the next day and bought quite a lot of shares in Grimes Tech. And, I am happy to say that you have made me a lot of money.”

Tony grinned that boyish, charming grin that had gotten him more information out of people than the gruff, no-nonsense way Gibbs usually approached people.

“It’s always nice to meet a fan. though, I have to admit the thought of you dating our dear Spencer here has now put some quite risque pictures in my head.” Jackson grinned, and Tony felt himself swallow hard. The man’s smile was deadly, and his ridiculous hair had Tony thinking things he had no right to be thinking.

“Jax, stop that.” Aaron laughed at the look on his husband’s face. “The poor man has only been here for less than five minutes.”

“You cannot tell me, Aaron, that you don’t see a perfectly gorgeous man sitting in front of you and you are unaffected. You forget that I know you...intimately.”

Tony almost choked on the water he was drinking to try to clear his throat. Spencer chuckled and shook his head.

“Don’t worry, they only get worse. The people at work don’t believe that Aaron can be just as much of a shameless flirt as Jackson. Or that he smiles and has a sense of humor.”

“You should have seen Aaron in college. He was a terrible flirt.” A man in a chef’s coat came out and presented the table with an amuse bouche. “You must be Tony.” The chef held out his hand and smiled. “I’m Jake, and I will personally see to your meal.”

Tony was openly staring. Here was the chef-owner of Corfu.

“It ah, it’s nice to meet you. I’ve been trying to get a table for months.” Tony blurted out then blushed a bit when he realized what he had said.

“Don’t worry, from today forward you won’t have that problem.” Jake leaned down and whispered in Tony’s ear, “If things don’t work out with our little genius, I’ll gladly bend you over any table and have my way with you.” Jack stood up and smirked before sauntering off. Tony swallowed a few time and shook his head.

“What did he say?” Aaron shook his head as he watched Jake leave the table.

“He basically propositioned me.”

The three men chuckled, and Tony wondered what the joke was.

“Jake is worse than all of us. He would follow through whatever he told you if he could.” Aaron sipped at a cup of coffee, and when a waitress came over to take their drink orders, Tony opted for coffee for now. He had a feeling they would be getting wine with dinner.

“Yeah, Aaron was a bit of a manwhore in college.” Jackson lifted the side of his mouth in a wry grin.

“Hey. You were worse.”

“Maybe.”

Tony laughed and slowly eased into the conversation.

“I was pretty shy when it came to relationships in college.”

“Really? Because I would think you’d have people all over you. I watched you play quite often. It was terrible how your football career got cut short.” Jackson sipped at something bubbly.

“Funny story...” Tony started by telling them about the plague and how his pulmonologist is the man who had caused the injury and that they were now good friends.

“Wow. That’s a crazy coincidence. And, yes we all know your theory on coincidences, Spencer.” Aaron gave a wry smile, and Spencer just laughed. The dinner hadn’t even quite started, but Tony was finding it more comfortable than he thought it would be.

After their amuse bouche an appetizer was placed on the table. It was a beef carpaccio so thinly sliced you could almost see through it.

“Jake ages his own beef. You won’t find any better in the city. He even brought over a Japanese chef whose specialty is in Wagyu and Kobe beef. He has a small farm where they raise the cattle in the same way the Japanese do. In fact, most of the food except the seafood comes from the farm that Jake has owned for several years now.”

Tony took a bite and the moan he let out he didn’t even try to hide. The taste explosion was almost orgasmic.

“If this is the start, I’m not sure I’ll survive the meal.”

“The only thing I know about the meal is that Jake is serving a squid ink ramen with a dashi broth that takes like three days to make.” Aaron and Jackson, in turn, made similar noises but Spencer just had a look of utter contentment. The half closed eyes and small smile on his face Tony couldn’t help leaning over and kissing him.

Spencer opened his eyes, and the smile widened.

“You keep that up I might not last through dinner. And I really want dinner.” Spencer pushed his bottom lip out in a little pout.

“I make no promises to behave.” Tony was not only relaxed, he felt flirtatious right back. Even when Jake came back out and served the aforementioned squid ink ramen. The dashi looked clear, and the ingredients of the soup were simple, poached shrimp and a few precisely cut vegetables that complimented the broth and the noodles. Tony knew he was again making inappropriate noises, but he honestly didn’t care.

The rest of the meal went the same. Small plates and a wine paired with each. It was a special chef’s tasting menu, and Tony was savoring every single bite. The conversation was varied, and Tony loved listening to Spencer when he went on a ramble.

When dessert rolled around, Tony’s heart skipped a beat. The beautiful chocolate lace dome covered one of the most decadent and amazing layered chocolate sponge with all these fantastic flavors in between. The coffee was also some of the best he has had at a restaurant.

The double date wound down, and by the time Aaron and Jackson were saying their goodnights, Tony had a feeling he had made some new friends. Even Jake had included Tony in his circle of friends. Meeting Spencer had more than one benefit. Tony’s world was expanding outside of NCIS. He realized sitting there sipping his coffee and indulging in chocolate that Tony had been slowly isolating himself and putting NCIS first in his life. Things had needed to change years ago, but Tony had been so entrenched he had known how to pull himself out. Now, Tony had so many reasons to forge a new path for himself. To see his own value and self-worth, to acknowledge those parts of himself he had pushed down and tried not to ponder on.

The case of Captain Jensen and the poor confused young sailor that had killed him had smacked Tony in the face with some truths about himself that he had long denied, and in that denial created masks for himself to hide behind.

Spencer Reid showed him that he didn’t have to hide any longer.

“Hey, where’d you go?”

Tony smiled, pulled the tinted lip balm out of his pocket and quickly redid his lips. Slipping the tube back into his pocket he laced his fingers with Spencer's, who had painted his nails with blue police boxes making Tony chuckle.

“I’m just thinking about the last few days and how my life has changed. How much meeting you has changed it.” Tony lifted his and Spencer’s combined hands and kissed the back, sighing in contentment. “Something I had buried so deep down that I refused to acknowledge it has woken up and the way I’ve been feeling, I don’t want to go back.

“I know it’s not always going to be easy. I know I’m going to have bad days and difficult days. I know that one day I may want a gender-neutral pronoun, or I may always want to be Tony. I don’t know. I don’t know what my future is going to be like, but I know I want you in it. I want to navigate this craziness with you, Spencer.

“We’ve only known each other six days, but I feel like I’ve known you forever. I don’t know if we’ll last, there are no guarantees, but I do know I want to get to know you more. I want to spend time with you, I want you in my bed, and in my life. I want everything you are willing to give. I want my life to take a different path, and I think you, Spencer, are the key to that path.”

Spencer didn’t care that they were in a restaurant, he slipped out of his chair and sat in Tony’s lap. Taking Tony’s face in his hands, Spencer holds him right where he wants Tony and kisses him.

“I want all of that too, Tony. And, if I ever go too far, or don’t acknowledge your needs don’t be afraid to tell me. I think we want the same things and if we are on the same page, or at least working towards it, this just might be the best thing for both of us.”

Tony pressed his forehead to Spencer’s and felt his heart tip over just a little. He wasn’t going to say he was in love, but Tony knew he could easily find himself there with Spencer and he was quite enjoying the knowledge that his life just might never be boring again.