Title: Dance With Me
Author: Keira Marcos
Relationship: Tony DiNozzo/OMC
Word Count: 4,984
Warnings: No beta
Summary: Tony meets someone new at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
“Tell the gunny I need five minutes, Agent DiNozzo.”
Tony raised an eyebrow at General Randolph Rampart as Gibbs tersely acknowledged the order. He gamely pulled the earwig from his ear so he could give the Marine in front of him his complete attention. “Is there a problem, sir?”
Rampart glanced him over, eyes dark and predatory. “No, problem.” He inclined his toward the half-full dance floor. “Dance with me?”
Tony felt like he should probably be intimidated by the display, but he was just curious instead. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had ended months ago and as far as Tony could tell they were attending the first formal event, in Washington, following the change in legislation. His gaze drifted over the dancers and noted there wasn’t a single same-sex couple dancing. “Personal or politics?”
Rampart grinned. “Can it be both?”
“Of course,” Tony murmured and took the hand Rampart offered.
He let himself be led out onto the dance floor and ignored the look of shock on McGee’s face as they passed him. There were three teams from NCIS working security for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. It was just the second one he’d attended since becoming an agent as the detail was normally on a rotation. Rampart pulled him close as they found a spot on the floor and Tony focused on the older man.
Rampart was the newly promoted Commandant of the Marine Corps and even more recently divorced. Tony couldn’t help but wonder if the divorce had been inspired by the repeal of DADT.
Rampart hummed as his fingers pressed gently against Tony’s hip, and DiNozzo responded by moving closer. “I was vocal in my support of the repeal. I just want to make sure my people understand I wasn’t following some party line.”
Tony nodded and relaxed slightly. “Personal?”
“You’re gorgeous,” Rampart said and grinned when Tony’s face heated.
“I really wished I turned this mic off, too,” Tony said ruefully and glanced around the room until he caught sight of Gibbs. The boss was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed.
“Your looks are no secret,” Rampart said dryly. “Not even to you.”
Tony could hardly disagree with the man. “My face has come in handy a time or two on the job.”
“I just bet,” Rampart murmured. “You won a few fans while you were out on the Seahawk.”
“Did I?” Tony grinned. “Captain Owens was good to me.”
“He hardly wanted to see you go,” Rampart acknowledged. “Can’t blame him. I was pleased to see you here this evening.”
“Ah, now let’s not start this off with such a deception,” Tony said and grinned. “You knew I’d be here because you specifically requested Gibbs’ team for this event.”
“Tell you that, did he?” Rampart questioned.
“I handled all the paperwork for this event,” Tony said. “I saw the request, General.”
“Call me Rand,” Rampart murmured. “If you don’t mind.”
“Tony then,” Tony responded and wet his lips as he looked over Rampart’s entirely too attractive face. “You’re really working this whole dress uniform thing, by the way.”
Rampart grinned. “I know.”
Tony laughed and looked over the dance floor. It was more crowded now, and he was relieved to see that several of the same-sex couples in the room had joined in. Politics, he thought, achieved. He wondered just how far Rampart’s personal interest reached or if he’d just wanted to dance with someone that was both safe and attractive.
The music transitioned from slow to fast, and he found himself escorted off the floor. He was honestly kind of sad to see the end of his little break. Rampart released his hand and took a deep breath before casually tucking a card into the front pocket of Tony’s suit as Tony slipped the earwig back into his ear.
“I’m free all weekend, Tony.”
“You’re not,” Gibbs said tersely over the radio. “We’re on call.”
Tony really didn’t need to be told that. “My team’s on-call this weekend. But I’ll get in touch.”
“I’d like that very much,” Rampart murmured. “Have a good evening, Tony.” He paused. “You, too, gunny.”
Gibbs huffed audibly in Tony’s ear.
“He says thank you, sir.”
Rampart smirked. “I thought we weren’t going to lie to each other?”
Tony laughed as the older man walked away. He returned to his station and studiously ignored the questioning look McGee sent his way. Ziva was staring at him pointedly, and Tony didn’t really have to wonder what was going through her head. He figured she’d probably have something disgusting to say later. It had been quite a while since he’d dated a man, in fact, not since before Wendy, but he really didn’t consider his bisexuality a secret. Another hole, he thought, in her profile where it concerned him. He wondered if she’d done the research personally or had merely trusted what she’d been given.
He pushed that aside because there was no closure to be had on that issue and focused on his job. A five-minute break was practically a sin in Gibbs’ head so he could expect to get some shit for it despite the fact that he hadn’t been the one to ask for it. Tony let his gaze drift around the room and settle briefly on Rampart, who was having a conversation with several other generals. The men and women around him looked stiff and uncomfortable—he wasn’t sure if it was just because they were talking to Rampart or because of the dance the Commandant had indulged in before joining them.
– – – –
Tony slouched down in the front seat of Gibbs’ car and ignored the muttering of Tim and Ziva in the backseat. He hadn’t even pretended to jockey with them over the front seat though honestly, none of them really wanted the front passenger seat. Gibbs was a nightmare behind the wheel. Though Tony thought Ziva was worse.
“Many were expressing concerns over Tony dancing with that general,” Ziva announced.
Tony loosened his tie and closed his eyes as Gibbs moved the car out into traffic.
“Tony?” McGee questioned. “You okay? General Rampart wasn’t…I mean, you know you could’ve said no, right?”
“Yeah, Tim, I know,” Tony murmured and glanced over his shoulder at McGee, who was seated behind Gibbs. “It’s fine.”
Tim frowned. “And you don’t have to call him either—he can’t just use his rank to make you…” He trailed off.
“Tim.” Tony held up a hand. “Be careful. It would be beyond disrespectful, even in private, to insinuate the Commandant of the Marine Corps would force someone to be personally involved with him. I danced with him because I wanted to and when I call him it will be because I want to. He left the ball in my court on purpose, ya know.”
“He didn’t get Tony’s personal contact details, so the choice remains his,” Gibbs shortly. “Leave it alone, McGee. Tony’s relationships are none of our business.”
Tim frowned and averted his gaze.
“Don’t mind him, boss, he’s fresh out of a sexual harassment seminar,” Tony said dryly and grinned when Gibbs snorted.
“You’re straight though,” Tim said helplessly.
“Perhaps Tony is willing to make exceptions to get ahead,” Ziva said slyly. “How else will he get promoted?”
The car jerked abruptly, and Gibbs cut two different people off to turn down a street and park in roughly against a curb. Tony made a mental note to check the tires as the older man jerked off his seat belt and turned around to face the back seat of the car.
“How stupid do you think I am?” Gibbs questioned.
Tony blew out air between his lips and didn’t bother to look back at Ziva. He figured she was making every impression of a wounded bird at the moment, and he wasn’t interested in even trying to swallow that.
“Gibbs…I…” Ziva began.
“Do you think, for a minute, I’d have kept Tony in my team if he was incompetent as you like to pretend he is?” Gibbs demanded. “I recruited him personally not only to NCIS but to work with me specifically. In fact, he’s the only person on this team that I asked for. You’re here, Ziva, because Jenny forced me to take you. And McGee got his spot because Tony thought he had potential and agreed to train him.
“Tony could’ve been promoted three different times in the last four years, and I told him that the next time Vance offers him a team lead he’s taking it. He only stuck around as long as he has because I…” Gibbs turned around and stared out the front window shield. “Because I wasn’t ready when I came back from Mexico. I still don’t remember everything.”
“Boss,” Tony murmured.
“No, it’s about time these two realized they don’t know a damn thing about you, and the fact that you’ve had your share of men is the least of it.”
Tony huffed with as much drama as he could muster. “Hardly my share actually, which is a shame. I mean how many would my share even be? Can I Google that?”
Gibbs frowned. “Shut up, Tony.” He pulled his seat belt back on.
“Rampart’s…really good looking,” Tim offered thoughtfully from the backseat. “I mean, if you like dudes.” He paused. “Are you going to call him?”
“It’s like I’m not even in charge,” Gibbs muttered.
“Welcome to my world,” Tony said and shrugged when the older man looked his way.
– – – –
Gibbs dismissed Ziva and Tim in the parking garage individually by name, so Tony just followed him to the elevator. It was clear that the older man had something on his mind and it probably wasn’t going to be a comfortable conversation. Tony really didn’t want to have another conversation about their brief sexual affair that had been cut short by the plague or perhaps, really, by Kate’s murder. They’d already had it twice—one before and another after the whole amnesia thing.
It lingered between them, perhaps because Tony hadn’t had the good taste to get out of Gibbs’ life after it was over. Or maybe it was because Tony had ended it before Gibbs could. He honestly couldn’t be sure, and maybe it wasn’t worth figuring out. The sex had been great, but their work relationship had suffered for it. It had suffered even more after Gibbs had returned from Mexico. The older man had been really stupidly hostile about the whole thing for months because he’d only remembered bits and pieces of their relationship both professionally and personally.
Tony wasn’t all that surprised when Gibbs stopped the elevator.
“HR sent out another memo, where they pointedly did not mention you, to remind everyone to stop taking the main elevator out of commission for private discussions.”
Gibbs shrugged and leaned against the wall. “Are you going to call him?”
“Mind your own business, Jethro,” Tony said evenly and raised an eyebrow when Gibbs blinked in surprise. “I told you—this gets as personal as you make it. You want me to call you Boss or Gibbs? Then act like my boss otherwise be prepared to deal with me like you’re an actual human fucking being.”
“Right.” Gibbs unbuttoned his suit jacket and jerked loose his own tie. “I wish I’d stayed in Mexico.”
“That’s the would-be alcoholic in you talking,” Tony said evenly. “And I think you know better than to try to find your answers at the bottom of a bottle again.”
“Yeah,” Gibbs admitted. “I…” He started the elevator and said nothing else until the doors open to their floor. “He’s a good man. I’ve never heard otherwise.”
“Yeah, okay,” Tony said and went to his desk and shrugged out of his jacket as he booted up his computer. “Why’d you send those two home?”
“Because they annoyed the shit of me in the car,” Gibbs muttered. “And I’m not in the mood for more of what they were throwing out in the car. I guess McGee meant well, but Ziva essentially called you a whore.”
“Well, mostly, she’s just pissed that I won’t sleep with her,” Tony said and shrugged when Gibbs focused on him. “She doesn’t have a lot of skills to bring to the table when it comes to work relationships, and the methods she’s deployed with you and McGee don’t work for me. I don’t care about her feelings like you do, and I’m not afraid of her like McGee. The only tool she’s got left in the box is seduction, and I’d rather not.”
Gibbs glared at him. “If you bring up that surrogate daughter crap again…”
Tony just sighed. “I don’t get paid enough to deal with your psychological issues, Gibbs. I told you I’d leave it alone as long as it doesn’t impact the team dynamic.”
“I don’t think I’m her father.”
“I’d hope not,” Tony muttered as he checked through his email. “Forensic accounting has the results of their audit of Donnie Benjamin’s records. They found a few off-shore accounts that no Marine of his grade could possibly have. No family money to be found—looks like ill-gotten gains, but it’ll be difficult to prove without the actual transaction records.”
“We could’ve gotten that information sooner if you’d just let McGee do it.”
“I told you—more than once—McGee can’t be trusted with that kind of thing. I found that out the hard way during the Renny Grant case. If I’d let it go, Grant would’ve gone to jail for something he didn’t do.”
“McGee isn’t going to learn anything this way.”
“He’s learning exactly what I want him to learn,” Tony said evenly.
“Which is?” Gibbs questioned.
“Humility,” Tony said as he filed the report. “Every single time I send a task down to cyber that he could certainly do, he gets a big dose of humility. His arrogance, inability to follow instructions, and his lack of respect for my instincts could’ve ruined Grant’s life. I’m not going to let him forget that any time soon.”
Gibbs nodded and shrugged out of his jacket. “Coffee?”
“No, I’ll bounce off the walls, and I hope to get some sleep tonight,” Tony said and rubbed his neck. “The next time Ziva disrespects me while we’re on duty, I’m going to write her up.”
“You should do it this time.”
“I don’t want to drag Rampart’s name through that kind of mess,” Tony said. “All the man did was ask me to dance.”
“He did a lot more than that,” Gibbs said wryly. “He came about as close as he could to planting a flag in public as a man of his rank and position can.”
Tony felt his face heat. “Shut up, Gibbs.”
– – – –
Tony dialed the number before he could talk himself out of it. He figured a career military man didn’t sleep in, not even on Saturday. He rolled over onto his back as the call connected.
“You didn’t strike me as a man who left things to chance,” Tony murmured.
“I was given the personal information of several agents on the protection detail for the ball,” Rampart admitted. “Yours was the only one I kept. Did I make things difficult for you? It crossed my mind, later, that I might have…outed you. It wasn’t my intention. I honestly wasn’t even sure you’d say yes.”
“Gibbs knew,” Tony said. “He’s always known. It doesn’t matter; if that had been a concern, I would’ve said no. I’m too old to care what anyone thinks about the sex I like to have.”
Rampart groaned. “Let’s not discuss age. I’m trying to ignore how much younger than me you are.”
Tony laughed. “The age gap isn’t that bad.” He wanted to say that he’d had relationships that had bigger gaps, but he didn’t want Rampart to think he had some kind of daddy kink. “I thought we could have brunch, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be around for the whole meal.”
“On-call, I remember,” Rampart murmured. “Come to mine—I’m sure the contents of my fridge can meet our needs.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Tony said and rolled out of his bed. “Give me about an hour.”
“I’ll text you the address,” Rampart said.
– – – –
A private meal might not be the normal first date, but Tony figured that Rampart essentially coming out during the Marine Corps Birthday ball was enough public scrutiny for anyone. He’d been far too handsy, and they’d danced way too close to play it off as a mere political maneuver. Rampart lived in a townhouse in Bethesda, not too far out, on a quiet street with fairly decent parking. Tony was kind of jealous of the parking situation.
He pocketed his keys as he walked up the steps, and after a few moments of hesitation he pushed the doorbell. The door opened, and Tony offered Rampart a smile. The older man looked him over in what amounted to an inspection, and Tony wondered how the men and women under the man’s command dealt with that. He refrained from straightening his clothes.
“Did you get enough rest?” Rampart asked as he motioned him inside.
“More than enough,” Tony assured as he shed his coat. “You?”
“There were questions,” Rampart admitted. “Less than I expected, but more than I was comfortable with.”
“Well, you did come out in a rather dramatic fashion,” Tony pointed out as he followed the other man into the kitchen. “Smells good.”
“Simple stuff,” Randolph said. “I didn’t plan it—you know.”
“You made sure Gibbs’ team was on security.”
“I wanted the gunny there in case there were issues,” Randolph said. “The regulations haven’t been changed long, and I figured there would be one or two same-sex couples. I was pleased to see nine.”
“We kept an eye on all of that to make sure nothing got out of hand. There were a few words exchanged, and one enlisted man was escorted out of the event before you arrived, but he won’t face formal charges. His CO has plans for him though.”
Rampart nodded. “I was informed. Still, I didn’t plan to ask you or any other man to dance. I’d heard about you, of course, and the work you did on the Seahawk. Owens protested your removal with the SecNav more than once, but apparently his ire couldn’t touch Gibbs’, and no one wanted to kick that hornet’s nest again.”
“Well, honestly, I never should’ve been on the ship, to begin with,” Tony said as he sat down on a stool at the bar. “I had the plague a few years back, and there isn’t a ship in the Navy that could deal with me if I got really sick. I was lucky not require a medical evac at some point during that assignment. Gibbs knew it was stupidly dangerous for me to be out there, but I felt like I shouldn’t say no to the assignment since Vance was…well.” Tony shrugged.
“I heard about the plague—well, I heard that an NCIS agent was exposed to the plague in a package that made it past security in the Navy Yard. It caused a revamp of the entire mail system for the Navy and the Corps. I didn’t realize that was you,” Rampart said with a frown.
“Medical privacy is a thing,” Tony pointed out. “Captain Owens was informed before I ever boarded the Seahawk, but he decided I was worth the risk. Vance simply didn’t care.”
“How’s he going to react to last night?” Rampart questioned.
Tony paused as a timer went off and watched Randolph pull a quiche from the oven. “Simple fare, huh?”
“My housekeeper made it. I just baked it,” Rampart confessed. “Spinach, feta, and bacon. I hope that combination is acceptable.”
“A favorite, in fact,” Tony said. “Vance won’t have anything to say about me dancing with you. He’s a savvy politician who knows better to actively discriminate in that fashion. He can’t stand me, honestly, but me turning out to be bisexual isn’t going to add fuel to that fire.”
“I’m torn,” Rampart admitted as he deftly plated generous portions of quiche and brought it to the table with a bowl of fruit salad. “I want to know why he hates you, but I’m entirely sure that’s terrible first date conversation.”
Tony grinned. “I’m everything he’s not.” He plucked two cups from a glass-fronted cabinet and poured coffee for them both. “How old is your coffee maker? I think one of my teachers in the military academy had this model.”
“It makes perfect coffee,” Rampart declared. “I’ll never part with it. I take mine black, but I’ve some stuff in the fridge for my oldest, who visited last weekend. She mostly drinks creamer with a dash of coffee and tells me she’s an adult often, which I’d vehemently disagree with, but she’s eighteen and the last time I opened my mouth to express my opinion she snottily told me that I regularly sent men her age into combat.”
Tony winced. “Well.”
“I know,” Rand said with a huff. “It’s terrible when someone says something fucked up, and you can’t even argue with them because they’re right, and you wish they were wrong.”
Tony nodded and put the cups on the table. “I take cream and sugar.”
Rampart retrieved the coffee creamer, which turned out to be hazelnut flavored. “This do?”
They settled down at the smallish table in the kitchen, and Tony doctored his coffee before taking a sip. “It’s not bad coffee.”
“It’s perfect,” Rampart assured. “You’re all the things he’s not?”
“He lacks…” Tony frowned.
“I don’t gossip,” Rampart said. “And I’m not on duty, so I can’t take official offense to anything I might hear.”
Tony laughed and used his fork to cut into the fluffy quiche and hummed. “This looks perfect.” He ate a few pieces in silence before clearing his throat. “I’m a fluid thinker. I was a cop before I joined NCIS, and there are those who have no respect for that experience and what I bring to the table. Leon Vance is one of those people. He places no value on intuition or the instincts I honed on the streets of several different cities as a cop. He’d probably like to fire me, but I have the highest personal solve rate of any other field agent in DC. I’m in the top ten for the entire agency due to my side-work on cold cases.
“Over the last year or so, I’ve been moving in and out of teams as needed to consult on cases—proving my worth, so to speak, on a variety of crimes ranging from financial to fugitive recovery. I spent half the summer teaching a course at FLETC on undercover work. He’s realized, by now, that he can’t control the trajectory of my career without looking like an idiot, and he hates me for it.
“Vance thinks that the future of NCIS is solely in the use of technologies to solve crimes.” Tony shrugged. “He thinks agents like McGee are the future of the agency.”
Rampart snorted. “John McGee’s boy?”
“Yeah.” Tony shrugged. “He’s trainable, but he’ll never be the superstar he wants to be in the agency. What he lacks, he can’t be taught. He also thinks he doesn’t need to learn anything else to do his job.”
“You’re moving on soon, right, from this?” Rampart questioned. “You deserve more.”
“I’ve got my eye on something,” Tony said and smiled when Rampart laughed. “Enough about my job. How do you like your new one?”
Rampart frowned and sat back a little then set aside his fork. “Honestly? I’m surrounded by assholes, and I should’ve retired. I had no idea, clearly, how good a deal I had at Camp Pendleton.”
“You gave up Southern California for Washington, DC.” Tony shook his head sadly. “You’re nuts. I can’t date a crazy person.”
Randolph laughed. “There is a distressing lack of half-naked people here.”
Tony grinned. “How many kids and how old are they?”
“Thankfully none close to your age,” Rampart said wryly. “Three—the oldest is eighteen, and the youngest two are 15. They’re all from my first marriage. My second wife had no interest in children, and I was relieved as three was more than enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but it wasn’t easy seeing them after the divorce. Thankfully, their mother and I parted on good terms, so it was always more of logistics issue rather than one of animosity.”
“And the second divorce?”
“She decided she loved California more than she loved me,” Rampart said with a shrug. “Honestly, I’d say the same. I definitely miss the beach more than I miss her.”
“Well, there’s always Florida.” Tony watched Rampart consider that and wasn’t all that surprised when he shook his head. “You were looking to retire. Though I can’t say that Florida would be the best choice if one wants to avoid assholes.”
“I still have the house in California,” Rampart said with a laugh. “The ex was real pissed not to get in the divorce, but it’s part of a family trust and wasn’t considered a marital asset.”
“Here’s hoping she isn’t the vengeful sort that would set it on fire,” Tony said and laughed when Rampart’s eyes widened. “I’ve seen it more than once. People can go a little nuts during a divorce. I arrested a pair of nutbars last week for what could only be called an attempt to reenact the War of the Roses. She’s Navy, and he’s a Marine—they’re both facing charges for assault and property damage.”
“The movie or an English civil war?” Rampart questioned.
Tony grinned. “The movie.”
– – – –
After eating, Tony found himself guided into a living room where a TV dominated one wall. “Wow. I think we’re soulmates.”
“I bought it for myself as a house warming present,” Rampart admitted as he motioned Tony toward a couch. “I figure my boys will enjoy it when they come to visit, but I’ve already been informed that my oldest doesn’t want to spend her whole summer in what she considers a wasteland.”
“You split custody?”
“They stay with their mother during the school year and with me for the entire summer. Though, they’ll probably be less thrilled with the location this year.”
Tony nodded as he settled on the sofa and shifted so he could focus on Rampart instead of the blank screen of the television. It had been ages, really, since he’d let himself get involved in what anyone would consider a real relationship. “I’m a hot mess, you know.”
Randolph lifted an eyebrow. “Are you really?” He reached out and cupped Tony’s face then rubbed his thumb over Tony’s bottom lip. “I’m not at all opposed to getting dirty.”
“I don’t think I can handle you,” Tony murmured, but he moved closer anyway. “I’m a bad bet—I work terrible hours for a tyrant who doesn’t believe in sleep or balanced meals.”
“I don’t see my own bed for days at a time,” Tony admitted. “I’ll miss important things and have to bail on dates and sex at a moment’s notice. I was once handcuffed to a serial killer, and sometimes I have nightmares about him cutting my throat before I could blow his head off and—”
Rampart’s mouth settled on his, and Tony shuddered into the kiss. He was a big guy, but Rampart was more so—broad-shouldered and thick with muscle, so Tony just huffed a little as he was manhandled half into the Marine’s lap.
They parted, and Rand smirked. “I sleep with my socks on.”
“You monster!” Tony exclaimed and laughed then sighed as his phone went off. “Son of a bitch.”
“I thought Gibbs preferred bastard,” Rampart said dryly.
Tony just grinned as he pulled the phone free. “DiNozzo.”
“Got a dead Navy Commander, shot on a live radio show,” Gibbs said tersely. “Virginia State police called us in—I’ll want you to run point with them. McGee is texting you the info you need.”
Tony reluctantly pulled free from Rampart and rubbed his head in frustration. “On my way, Boss.”
Gibbs huffed. “Tell the Commandant I’m sorry.”
“I don’t think I should tell him your lies either, Gibbs,” Tony said without confirming the older man’s assumption and laughed when Gibbs growled then hung up. He turned to Rand. “He says he’s sorry.”
Rampart stood with a shake of his head. “Definitely don’t tell me his lies. I’ll walk you out.”
A few moments later, Tony slid on his coat and turned to face Rampart. “So…about the socks.”
“No one has ever successfully parted me from my socks,” Rampart said gravely. “You’re not that pretty.”
“Sure I am,” Tony said and moved into Rampart’s space. He pressed a kiss against the Marine’s mouth and hummed a little. “Let’s have dinner sometime this week.”
Tony pulled out his gloves as Rand opened the door, and he slipped out. “I’ll call when I can.”
“Do that and be safe.”
Tony offered the man a salute that was a 100 percent sass and grinned when Rampart lifted one dark eyebrow. “I guess I can put up with the socks.” He grinned. “Because you are definitely that pretty.”
Rampart’s laughter followed him to his car. Tony slid into the driver’s seat and checked his phone for the information McGee owed him. There were several text messages. He read the address and mapped out the best route to the location in his head as he started the car. He hoped the case was short and sweet because he really wanted to start tolerating that whole sock situation as soon as he could.
Read the sequel: Love in the Afternoon