Truth and Consequences
"So, a little bird told me something interesting today."
Kate stops and turns around, glaring at Tony like she wishes his head would explode, and he smirks.
Given that she's dating the boss, and retribution from both of them at once could be painful (or maybe fatal), Tony's taking his life in his hands when he teases her these days, but God, it's so much fun. Catching her unawares like this in a quiet corner of NCIS is never anything less than highly entertaining.
"Tony, what makes you think I care about office gossip?"
"Well, Katie, it's not office gossip, it's scuttlebutt from somewhere else. And also, it concerns you."
She looks less than impressed.
Tony gives her his best 'yes, I'm totally checking you out' once over, then grins wider. "Apparently, shenanigans were had, and unusual behaviour was observed."
She frowns at him. Tony's pretty convinced that expression is one she's picked up from Gibbs over the years. It says something like 'What the hell are you talking about? Explain immediately if you don't wanna get shot.'
He glances ostentatiously over one shoulder, then the other, before leaning in. "Apparently good little Catholic girl Caitlin Todd is corruptible after all." He lets his grin go lascivious. "I thought that Foster woman was even straighter laced than you, but a reliable source tells me you and she were-" he pauses (this is a moment to savour) and lets his voice drop to a suggestive murmur "-making out."
His source actually wasn't all that reliable, but Kate's cheeks go pink, and the way she's suddenly looking everywhere except into his eyes says it's true. He's caught her by surprise, and she can't hide her reaction and how it tells him everything he wants to know.
He grins a little wider. This is... delicious. This might be the most delicious piece of scuttlebutt he's ever come across (pun fully intended) in a career with more gossip than a quilting bee. "If I'd known you went that way, it woulda made fantasising about you way more entertaining. Kate Todd gettin' down with another chick... oh, yeah." He bites his lip suggestively, half-closes his eyes and lets out a low, appreciative growl.
She recovers enough to roll her eyes. "God, Tony, there's something wrong with you."
"Nothing wrong with a red-blooded American guy enjoying some good old-fashioned girl on girl action."
Kate purses her lips at him. "Are you done?"
He's not even close to done. "Aren't you the little kinkster? First another girl, then the boss-man. Tell me, is he as pushy in bed as in real life, or do you take it in turns? Flip a coin?"
"Why do you even care? It's not like me and Gibbs satisfy your disgusting obsession with lesbians."
"Nothing disgusting about it. Two women-"
"That's so not what I meant, DiNozzo, and you know it."
Her voice is sharp, and she seems surprisingly offended. Tony can't help wondering if maybe there was more to her and Foster than a little kissing. Ay caramba...
He puts a pin in that. It's undoubtedly fertile territory for teasing, but the idea is hot enough to break his brain. Kate is, well, Kate, and that Foster chick is pretty, and... wow. Much as he enjoys making Kate blush, this is an avenue that could easily tip her over the edge from glaring to actual bodily harm. More care is required than he's capable of summoning.
Ragging on her about Gibbs? That's safer, as long as he makes sure Gibbs doesn't overhear. And it's almost as fun. "Seriously, you guys should get with the role play. I remember you in a Marine uniform, Kate; bet Gibbs does, too. The Gunny and the Captain, it just writes itself."
"Doncha wanna make him call you ma'am? Just think what you could order him to do, Katie..."
"DiNozzo, you are such a..."
He's not used to Kate stopping mid-scold without being interrupted, and it brings him back with a thump from his mental reverie about which out of Kate and Gibbs is the biggest control freak and how that might manifest in the bedroom. (AKA daydreaming about Kate in uniform and possibly in possession of a whip.)
"Oh, I see." Suddenly Kate seems a whole lot less embarrassed, and he can't work out why. She takes a step into his personal bubble and lightly taps his chest with her hand. "I think somebody's jealous."
"Jealous? Why would I be jealous of Gibbs, Kate? Sure, you're hot, but I do pretty well, in case you hadn't noticed. And I'm no slouch at role play myself, if you and Jethro ever need tips..." Tony should be so lucky. "Don't be so sure of yourself."
She gives him a calculating look which then dissolves into a mischievous grin. "Who says I thought you were jealous of Gibbs?"
He blinks, confused. "Who else would I be jealous-?" Mid-sentence, it occurs to him what she's driving at, and he stumbles to a halt because 1) how did she know, and 2) if she knows he swings both ways, how in hell did she manage to keep from teasing him about it this whole time? (And 3) how did she knooooooow?)
If he'd taken a moment to think before he spoke, he woulda been much better off. As it is, he stands there for a few seconds too long, like he's been struck dumb, and by the time he's recovered enough to issue a firm denial, Kate's got that satisfied look on her face which suggests there's no point trying. "I... don't know what you're talking about," he tries, but even to his own ears, it comes off pretty feeble.
Kate smirks. "Of course you don't." The sarcasm is so heavy, he could almost cut it.
He has no response, no comeback, no idea at all how to extricate himself from this hole, and every moment he stands here doing a credible goldfish impression is just confirming all her suspicions.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," she says with a grin.
He finally manages to shut his mouth. It's not gonna save his hide, but it might stop him from digging any deeper. He attempts a nonchalant expression and a shrug, though he doesn't need Kate's raised eyebrows to tell him he's not succeeding.
She tilts her head to one side and gives him a saccharine sweet smile he doesn't trust for a heartbeat. "I think I did you a favour, anyway. Made the decision for you."
He frowns. Curiosity killed the cat, but he can't help wondering what the hell she's talking about. "Made what decision for me?"
She glances from side to side as if she's checking the coast is clear, just like he did a few minutes ago back when he thought he had the upper hand, then leans in and says, "No way you'd care so much about McGee's sexual orientation if you didn't have a personal interest."
He's pretty sure his eyes bulge right out of his head. He sort of wants to know exactly how long she's been in the know, or if she's just making a bunch of really lucky guesses, or what. But his crush on Gibbs is one thing. (Hell, he's had a crush on Kate forever, too.)
Tim is something else entirely. Tim is... not someone Tony can be casual about, and he doesn't know what to say. He's not ready to admit to the truth of all she's surmised, and he's also not sure he trusts his voice not to break or crack or do something else that'll make it obvious she's dead on. DiNozzos don't do squeaky embarrassment, for God's sake. He has a reputation to uphold.
She grins, that 'gotcha' grin that involves her whole face, eyes crinkling, dimples popping, smug as a cat with a bowl of cream. He can't even entirely begrudge her, 'cause damn, the woman is too perceptive, and also she's very pretty when she smiles, which is distracting and makes it hard to stay mad.
He manages to roll his eyes. Okay, so it's completely ineffectual in this situation, there's no way Kate is gonna suddenly believe she's misread the whole thing when she's just wrong-footed him so spectacularly twice in a row, but a man's gotta salvage a little dignity and snark. She doesn't know, and he kinda wants to keep it that way - especially since Tim really doesn't know. If Kate has managed to keep her mouth shut for however long she's been sitting on this, she probably won't be cruel enough to let it slip now. Immature bickering aside, he knows she cares about him (and the Probie, too), and outing him isn't her style, but Tony is fairly sure that (assuming he has the guts to do something about it at some point) Tim should be officially in on it before any onlookers, however (surprisingly) well-intentioned they might be.
What she wanted was to shut Tony down, and she's succeeded on a level she's never managed before. Chances of him teasing her about Gillian (or Gibbs, or anything at all) any time soon? Slim to none.
Eventually he looks away, even though he knows it's practically an admission she won this round.
She giggles, thoroughly delighted with herself, and seriously, it's beyond unfair how adorable she is when she's being smug. His whole body sags. How did needling Kate about her apparent lesbian encounter backfire so spectacularly? That was supposed to be a slam-dunk.
"Okay," he says at last.
He makes an unconvincing sceptical noise. "Making a tactical retreat."
Her noise is less sceptical and more outright scoffing, but to be fair, it's probably justified.
Tony mimes waving a white flag. "All right, you win. This time." He bows deeply and with a flourish. "Milady."
She laughs, and when he looks up, she's watching him with that long-suffering affection he's so good at prompting. On the whole, he's escaping relatively unscathed; he gives her a wink and clicks his tongue and treats her to his very best grin (the DiNozzo charm has never worked that well on Kate, but he needs all the help he can get right now), then turns on his heel and starts to walk away. (Not to run; he's not running away, he's just walking. Rapidly.)
He thinks he's in the clear, then she clears her throat and he stops despite his better judgement.
"For what it's worth, DiNozzo..."
He turns back to her and cocks an eyebrow. He's really not sure what to expect, and if he had any sense, he'd vamoose while he still can. But he hasn't, so he doesn't.
She smiles, and yes, there's a good heaping of mischief, but it's also kind and happy. "I hope it works out for you, Tony," she adds more softly.
His cheeks flush again, and he looks down at his feet. Thanking her would be a little too much like outright admitting she's bang on the money, but he nods the smallest of small nods and figures that Kate's known him long enough to read the truth into it.
She chuckles, then she's the one walking away.
Tony leans against the wall and laughs with a strange mixture of relief and amusement and gladness. He was still a bit blindsided about the Kate and Gibbs thing, never mind the Kate and Gillian thing, and he's more than a little frightened by the realisation she had him so well pegged about Gibbs and McGee. But on the other hand, it's sorta nice to realise she's definitely on his side, and their tacit little ceasefire seems almost like her blessing to get on with finding out if McGee is remotely interested.
Not to mention Kate really is pretty damn perceptive and not particularly interested in saving Tony's feelings, so he suspects she'd tell him outright if she thought he didn't have a hope in hell. He may have just lost a way to torture her, but he might've gained something a lot more important. That's enough to put the spring right back in his step as he heads for the bullpen. And whaddya know, Tim is there, and Tony reaches over for a quick ruffle of the McHair as he strides past.
Tim looks up and does that McThing with his McEyebrow that Tony thinks is the next best thing to flirting in the McGamebook. Tim shakes his head at Tony's cheek, but he grins, too, and, well... Tony will take it. Gotta start somewhere. He's salvaged worse scenarios, and is flush with the confidence of knowing at least one person is unexpectedly in his corner. He throws Tim his best 'I wanna see you naked' face, just for a second (flirting won't work if he goes at it too hard and fries McGee's motherboard in the process), then looks down at his work and starts typing.
This report won't write itself, but Tony is a champion multi-tasker, especially when his love life is at stake. If anyone can finish up paperwork and figure out the best way to initiate an innuendo-laced email exchange with Tim at the same time, it is he.
Feeling happier than he has in weeks, he gets back to work.
~ fin ~