Title: Still Time For You
Warnings: Tony is 21 and Tim is 16. Also underage drunkenness.
Word Count: 21,500
Summary: Modern Day High School AU.
A/N: Much love to miscellanny for the conversation that sparked this whole idea and for not minding when I sent her texts begging for her opinions on things like what Abby would wear to prom. Also massive thanks to ladyflowdi for super-fast beta and American picking.
A/N 2: the Naval Base at Alameda, California where Tim canonically grew up apparently no longer exists, but it does in this fic. Also, I took a lot of liberties with Tim, Jimmy and Abby’s relative ages.
Also available on AO3 here if you prefer to read as one long document.
ETA: Now with AMAZING cover art by the lovely girlnamedpixley! :D
Still Time For You
“Oh, my god,” Tim managed, staring at the car, The Car (the capital letters were totally necessary, because this was a 1984 Camaro Z28, the car of his dreams) sitting on his driveway.
His mom smiled and spread her arms wide. “Happy birthday. Do you like it?”
“Do I-?” Tim moved his mouth silently, no more words coming out. “But, but, how?” They weren’t poor, but Tim had wanted this car for as long as he could remember; he knew how much it cost. It cost more than his mom’s car, more than his dad’s car, more than the bicycle they’d surprised Sarah with over the weekend and-. Wait.
He turned to his mom, managing to tear his eyes away from the car long enough. “Mom? What’s going on?”
His mom’s smile slipped but she did her best to hitch it up again. Tim wasn’t fooled. “Your father and I are really proud of you, that’s all. Graduating two years early, heading for Annapolis, we wanted to give you something to show you that.”
Tim hid a wince at the mention of Annapolis and stood his ground. “And?”
His mom glanced toward the house, where Sarah was hanging out of her bedroom window and making faces at them. She lowered her voice and put her hand on Tim’s arm, turning him away from the house. He tensed, waiting. “Your dad’s been redeployed,” she told.
It took a while for the buzzing in Tim’s ears to fade, but he definitely heard himself say, “No.”
His dad had been stationed at Alameda for so long now that Tim had let himself believe there’d be no more redeployments.
“We don’t have to move,” Tim’s mom told him, holding up her hands, “He’s going to Iraq.” She said it like it was something Tim should be pleased about, that he didn’t have to move schools again because his dad was going to a war zone.
“No,” he said again, knowing he sounded six years old, Sarah’s age but, god, it was his sixteenth birthday; he didn’t need this today.
Her arm slid around his waist and she squeezed him tight. “You knew the hardship tour was coming, Timmy.” She took his hand and pressed a set of car keys into them; suddenly his beautiful new car didn’t look so shiny and bright. It’ll be okay,” she promised. “Now, it’s your birthday! Go to school and show off a little.”
“I-.” He wanted to ask questions, like how she was holding up, when his dad was leaving. He remembered the last time his dad had been deployed overseas, how calm she’d been but how her lips would quiver and her eyes would shine sometimes when she thought no one could see.
She waved him off. “Go to school, Timothy. They won’t let you graduate if you don’t go.”
Tim managed to rake up a smile from somewhere. “Okay,” he said, because that was what she wanted him to say. They weren’t a family who talked. He slipped the key into the lock, surprised that he could still feel a jolt of excitement at the pop of the door unlocking. Without quite looking at her, he added, “Thanks, Mom.”
The Camaro was a dream to drive, just like Classic American had said it would be. Tim wasn’t the most confident driver, but he felt like it today, with his seat rolled back as far as it could go, one hand on the wheel. Yeah, he felt like a man.
A bus swerved into his lane and he cursed, stepping on the brake and putting both hands back on the wheel. Okay, he could feel like a man without driving like Steve McQueen; that was okay too.
This being California, there was no shortage of cars in the student parking lot behind his school. Tim couldn’t help feeling that his was the hottest though, as he curved neatly around into the widest parking space, pulling to a stop between a BMW and a Ford.
His was a classic; that was automatically better.
Tim could feel people looking at him and, for once, he didn’t try to duck their gazes. He didn’t think you could turn up to school in a Camaro and get thrown in a dumpster all in one day; it just didn’t sound like something that could happen.
He turned off the ignition and climbed out slowly, easing the keys into his front pocket. Oh yeah, people were looking at him. And… he was blushing. Great. Awesome.
“Tim,” Jimmy Palmer said, bumping into Tim’s back and nearly sending him flying back into the driver’s seat. “Is this yours?”
Tim closed the door and locked up the car. “Hey, Jimmy,” he said, turning with a smile. The small crowd of popular kids who’d stopped to see the car, shook their heads at each other and started to disperse, like it was obvious that whatever car he drove, Tim McGee was still the freak prodigy who hung out with the other dorks. “Yeah, birthday present from my parents.”
Jimmy whistled. “Sweet,” he said, running his hand along the hood. Tim wanted to tell him not to touch, but for all that he often fell over his own feet, Jimmy was never clumsy with his hands.
“Yeah,” Tim agreed and didn’t tell him it was partly a guilt present and partly a pre-emptive apology from his dad in case he managed to get himself killed this time.
The familiar cough of a familiar car made Tim turn around and watch Abby backed her hearse into the tightest possible space, between a bubblegum pink Cadillac and the wall of the gym. Abby liked to park near the perkiest cars, said it gave her car something to look at.
Abby was wearing smart black jeans and a black dress shirt held together by thin, silver chains, almost ordinary for her. Her eyebrows climbed and continued to climb as she came towards Tim and Jimmy. “Nice penis extension, Timmy,” she told him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and giving him a squeeze like she actually meant it.
Tim grinned at her, letting her hug him even though the last time he did that, he’d ended up with black (“burnished cherry, McGee”) lipstick on his collar and a lecture from his mom.
“Happy birthday,” she said in his ear and he couldn’t help tightening his arms around her because it was a happy birthday, sort of; he’d gotten the best present in the world, and he knew he should feel happier. “Tell me about it later,” she added in a whisper and he nodded, wondering how he’d ended up with the most perceptive person in the world for a best friend.
The bell rang while they were making their way into school and Jimmy who had rollcall with the other sophomores squeaked and took off at a run. Normally, Tim would be right behind him; he hated being late too, but today he felt calm, Zen maybe like his grandma’s self-help books said.
Abby walked Tim to the lockers, but she always had something to do that meant she got out of homeroom. She was pretty much every teacher’s favourite and she could always convince one of them that they needed her help with something.
“See you at lunch!” Abby told him, grabbing his hand and giving him a peck on the cheek.
Tim waved her off, rubbing his cheek for any waxy, lipsticky residue, and didn’t notice that he was about to walk into Cecile Chambers until he… walked into Cecile Chambers. Great.
Cecile was beautiful. She was blonde and tall and a cheerleader and Abby said she was a walking stereotype but that was fine with Tim, he’d had a crush on her since fifth grade.
Normally, she acted like he had a fatal and contagious disease whenever he came within ten feet of her, but today she didn’t even try to brush the cooties off from where he’d bumped against her while trying not to fall directly into her breasts.
“Hi, Tim,” she said, leaning against her locker, which was next to his, which had always been next to his and never before caused her to speak to him.
“Ngfhdfgd,” Tim said. He thought that was actually pretty eloquent on the spur of the moment.
“Is that your car out back?” Cecile asked him, still smiling this tiny little smile. Tim thought she had a lovely smile.
“Which car?” Tim asked, then hated himself. “I mean, yes. Yes, it’s my car.” Something about saying that made his shoulders straighten and his chest puff out. He didn’t fight it.
Cecile’s smile widened. “Sweet,” she said and it was entirely different from when Jimmy had said it. She touched his arm, lightly just lightly but still, a touch. “See you later.”
Tim watched her saunter all the way to the classroom and nearly forgot that it was his classroom too.
The day passed in the usual blur of lessons and lunch and trying not to get shoved into any lockers.
Abby had bowling with her nuns straight after school and Jimmy had whatever he did when he wasn’t hanging out with them (usually staring with worrying attachment at the new issue of the British Medical Journal, reading and rereading the latest findings by his hero, Dr. Donald Mallard) but they’d both promised to meet up with Tim later for birthday milkshakes.
Tim bounced his keys in his hand as he made his way out to the parking lot. He wasn’t particularly looking forward to going home and watching his dad packing for his deployment, but he was looking forward to the drive that would take him there.
Five feet from his car, he stopped, pinched himself to check he wasn’t dreaming, then started to walk forward again. Cecile Chambers was sitting on the hood of Tim’s car. This was… not exactly an unfamiliar event in his dreams but in reality, it wasn’t so common.
“Hi, again, Tim,” Cecile said, swinging her legs. If it were anyone else, Tim would have asked them to please stop sitting on his brand new car, but he honestly didn’t care if he wound up with an imprint of Cecile’s ass in the metal, in fact he thought he might like that. Like a ship’s figurehead for the new millennium.
“Hi,” he managed and wow, words. Well, word.
“Are you going to Kyle’s party next month?” she asked, like there was any chance in the world that Tim would be. Kyle Marshall had graduated last year and started Berkeley in the fall; the longest conversation Tim had ever had with him was from inside a dumpster.
“No?” Tim tried even though it wasn’t really a question. He wasn’t going to a Kyle’s party; he hadn’t been invited to a party held by a football player since he was thirteen years old and that football player had been Abby.
Cecile leaned back. She had what Tim’s mom would call ‘lovely lines’. “That’s a shame,” she said, smiling up at him. “If you were, you could have taken me.”
Tim didn’t swallow his tongue, but the only reason he knew that was because he was still breathing; it certainly felt like he had. “I could?” he asked. That was news to him.
Cecile shrugged. “Sure. But then you’re not going so it doesn’t matter.”
“No, I’m. I’m going,” Tim told her, tripping over his words. “I mean, I could go. Yeah.”
“Great,” Cecile said, smiling widely at him and bouncing up off the car. “It’s on the fifth. Pick me up at eight. You know where I live right?”
“Right,” Tim agreed but she was already striding off. Tim just blinked after her. Wow. Being sixteen was a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
“A party?” Abby asked, later that night, her voice rising so loud that people a couple of booths over turned to look at them.
“Shh,” Tim hissed, flapping his hands at her. He didn’t want it to get back to Cecile that he’d never been to a proper party in his life.
Jimmy just stirred his milkshake and watched them, like they were a really fascinating TV show.
“Wait,” Abby said, thankfully slightly less shrilly. “Kyle Marshall’s party? That’s a college party.” She reached over the table and squeezed his hand. “No, Tim, don’t. They’ll eat you alive.”
Tim decided not to be offended at Abby’s lack of faith in him; she was probably right. “Cecile, invited me, Abby. Cecile.”
Jimmy hummed like that made it totally understandable. Tim was glad to have him in his corner. Abby sighed, long and hopeless. “Why couldn’t you still be madly in love with me, huh? I wouldn’t be dragging you along to a college party.”
To be fair, Tim had never been madly in love with Abby, in fact he was no more or less in love with her now than he had been while they were dating. It was just that he was sixteen and read a lot of novels and thought that maybe, just maybe, madly in love should be what he was aiming for.
"You go to college parties all the time," Tim grumbled, pulling his hand away from hers to suck grumpily on his chocolate milkshake. It was nearly finished, but he had no qualms about having another; it was his birthday after all, and Sarah had stolen most of his birthday ice cream after dinner.
"Yes," Abby agreed, "But I’m me and you're not."
Jimmy hummed again like that made sense too. Tim needed better friends. It was one college party; he'd be fine.
A week after Tim’s birthday, Tim’s dad finished packing up for Iraq, hefted his bag over his shoulder and carried it out to his car.
Tim was still mad at him for going but he knew that was ridiculous, so he trailed after him and tried to pretend like he was supportive.
“Hey, champ,” his dad said when they were standing by the car. He bumped his fist against Tim’s shoulder. Tim hated when he did that; Tim never knew how to react.
Tim hitched up a smile. “Hey, dad.”
“This’ll be you soon,” his dad told him, like that was meant to be inspiring, like Tim was supposed to be looking forward to joining the Navy and risking his life.
“Mm,” Tim said and didn’t let himself go there right now. He knew that at some point he was going to have to tell his dad that he didn’t want to join the Navy, but not now, now he was going to concentrate on projecting his perfect son image so his dad would have that to take away with him.
“Take care of your sister, all right?”
“I always do,” Tim promised and then Sarah was there, running out of the house ahead of their mom to throw her arms around their dad’s legs.
“Daddy,” she whispered and he picked her up, giving her the kind of hug that he’d never given Tim, even when he was Sarah’s age.
Tim’s mom came up behind Tim and put her hand on his shoulder. She hadn’t really said much today; Tim couldn’t imagine how she must feel.
A car horn blared, making Tim jump and he looked across to see Lieutenant Vigar who lived four houses down and was part of Tim’s dad’s unit, drive slowly past.
“All right,” Tim’s dad said. “Looks like it’s time to go. Can’t have her getting there before me.”
He dropped a kiss on Sarah’s cheek then carried her over to Tim, who took her willingly, surprised when she wrapped her legs around his waist and clung on. She was normally way too independent to be held.
Tim looked away while his dad said goodbye to his mom then kept his chin up while his dad shook his hand.
The three of them, Tim, Sarah and their mom, stood together, watching while his dad drove away.
“It’s okay,” Tim heard someone say, realising belatedly that it was him. That he was trying to be inspiring. He wasn’t usually very good at inspiring. “He’ll be fine.”
He crossed his fingers against Sarah’s back and hoped it was true.
Tim wouldn’t say he was nervous as he drove to Cecile’s house. Although, he mostly wouldn’t say that because he was afraid that he’d puke if he opened his mouth.
He was wearing his best corduroy slacks and go ahead punk, make my data! t-shirt and he’d let Sarah do his hair, which was probably a mistake, but the alternative was letting Abby do it, and he’d rather look like Zac Efron than a member of Metallica right now.
Cecile was sitting on her front porch waiting for Tim when he pulled up and she was half way down the path before he’d gotten out of the car. Still, he did get out and he reached out to greet her (not to kiss her, no way was he going to try to kiss her, but he thought a hug might not be ought of the question). She breezed past him with a smile and around to the passenger side door. Belatedly, Tim realised he should have opened the door for her, but she was already inside by then.
Shit. It wasn’t really his fault he’d forgotten though; he’d never driven a girl who wasn’t Abby or his sister anywhere before, and, well, Cecile was wearing really tight white Capri pants.
“Hi, Tim,” Cecile said, smiling across at him once he’d lowered himself back into the car. She had lots of mascara and pale pink lipstick on, her hair backcombed so severely Tim thought it must hurt. She reached over the handbrake and squeezed his thigh. “Thanks for picking me up.”
“Don’t mention it,” Tim said, coughed, no, okay, it was a squeak but, come on, she was touching his thigh.
She turned to look out the windshield, sadly taking her hand off his leg so she could dig around in her purse. She pulled out a comb then raised her eyebrows at Tim. “Shouldn’t we go?”
Go? Right. The party. “Yes,” Tim said, turning the key in the ignition with suddenly sweaty fingers. Flustered, he released the clutch before he’d stepped off the gas and the car spluttered into a stall. “Shit. I mean, I didn’t mean-.” Tim stammered, taking his feet off the pedals, in case he managed to cause any more damage.
Cecile laughed. “It’s okay,” she said softly but he wasn’t sure she was exactly laughing with him.
“Right,” Tim agreed because it was. He was a good driver; this was only a party; this was only one girl. He took a deep breath, turned the car back on and moved off smoothly this time. Thank god.
They didn’t talk much on the drive up to Berkely which was okay, Tim was fine with that, too busy concentrating on following the GPS and not getting lost.
Cecile stared out the window and hummed along to the music on the radio and only looked at Tim once when he asked her if she knew anyone else who was going tonight.
“Oh yeah,” she said casually, “Pretty much everyone.”
Right, Tim thought. That was cool. One thing he really loved was being the only person who was completely out of place at a social gathering. It was right up there with athlete’s foot and finding half a worm in his apple amongst his favourite things.
“Why-” Tim started to ask then stopped himself. He’d nearly asked why Cecile had wanted to go with him, god.
Luckily, she didn’t seem to have been listening, sitting up suddenly and waving toward one large brownstone building surrounded by patchy green lawn and low-hanging trees.
There were kids – college kids – spilling up the steps, across the lawn, around the back and woah, okay, this wasn’t just a party; this was a frat party.
“Oh, um,” Tim said, “Listen, are you sure you want to go in there?”
Cecile looked over her shoulder and frowned at him. She’d already unbuckled her seatbelt. “Of course,” she told him, like there was nothing to worry about. “Just park anywhere along here. They won’t care.”
“Right,” Tim muttered, thinking about his beautiful new car left on the street at the mercy of drunken fratboys. Cecile had already hopped out of the car though while he was stopped in the middle of the road deciding, so Tim sighed and parked against the curb, wincing all the while.
By the time Tim had locked the car, Cecile was half way up the drive, but a hand on his arm stopped him from following her.
Shit, Tim thought, this was the moment when he got kicked out on his ass. He raised his chin and looked across at the guy holding him back. He was tall, about as tall as Tim who never seemed to stop growing, and wearing a really ugly blue and white checked shirt, open over a tight white one. He was also smiling at Tim, a little incredulously maybe, but not like he wanted to pound Tim’s head in.
“Woah,” the guy said, waving over Tim’s shoulder at the car, “Dude, is this yours?”
“Yeah?” Tim said cautiously, tightening his hands around the keys.
The guy’s grin widened. “Dude, seriously? Oh man, she’s a beauty. Can I have a look?”
Tim hesitated. He’d lost sight of Cecile and he really should try to find her but someone -- a college someone, an, okay pretty hot, college someone -- was taking an interest in his car. “Yeah,” he said and walked around to pop the hood.
After half an hour of showing off his baby to the guy (“Tony,” he said, with a wide grin that was almost but not quite a leer) and to the guy’s friends, Tim started to feel guilty enough about Cecile that he made himself suck up his courage and go inside the house.
It wasn’t quite like the movies made it out to be; sure there were people drinking and making out in quiet corners, but no one was having sex on the furniture or being made to wear women’s clothing or any of the millions of other things Tim had heard about frat parties.
Someone tried to push a red plastic cup of something into Tim’s hand but he shook his head, moving from the living room into the kitchen, looking for Cecile.
He found her. She was sitting on the draining board, plastic red cup in one hand and her other hand in the back pocket of some guy’s jeans while the guy kissed his way down her throat.
“Hey!” Tim said. Wow, college parties weren’t safe for high school girls; he never should have left her alone.
Cecile’s eyes opened and she bit her lip. “Oh,” she said, “Tim.”
“Hi?” Tim prompted.
The guy didn’t bother to turn around, just kissed under Cecile’s jaw instead, lips against the soft, pale skin that Tim had maybe had one too many thoughts about. “Um,” Cecile said, “This is Grant? My boyfriend?”
“Boyfriend?” Tim repeated dumbly and apparently that was enough to get the guy to turn around.
“Yeah,” he said, the back off very clear. “Who are you?” He didn’t look threatened; he didn’t look like Tim even registered on his radar.
Cecile’s arms wound around Grant’s neck and she rested her chin on top of his head. “This is Tim,” she said easily, “He’s my ride.”
Ride, Tim thought, like they were best girl friends or like he was her taxi driver. God, he was stupid.
“Hey, Tim,” Grant said, picking up a cup and pressing it into Tim’s numb hands like it was a consolation prize. “Thanks for that.” He waggled his eyebrows before turning his attention back to Cecile. “Drink up.”
Not sure what else to do, Tim drank. The drink was bitter and tangy and he made a face but it wasn’t terrible so he finished it. Then he sort of stood uselessly in the middle of the kitchen for a minute while the girl he’d thought he was on a date with made out with the guy who actually was his boyfriend.
Abby was right; Tim wasn’t cut out for college parties.
Glumly, he wandered back into the main room where he knew precisely no one and there was nothing for him to do. He fiddled with the rim of his cup for a while until the next time someone offered him a drink. He took it.
He was going to stop at two, because he was driving and he didn’t want to crash his brand new car. Or, you know, die, dying would also be bad. But apparently two was more than enough anyway. His knees started to feel rubbery, his skin was hot, a really quite pleasant warmth in his cheeks, his chest, rolling down to his fingertips. He felt better, definitely. And better still a minute later, when a really pretty brunette girl came over to say hi and he didn’t even stutter before saying hi back.
The girl’s name was Kate. She was a junior and thought she might major in psychology. She didn’t look surprised when Tim told her he was still in high school but she also didn’t look disgusted. She was nice and sort of amused by him. The world was lazy and soft around the edges. He felt fine; he felt good.
“So, you’re a senior?” Kate asked and Tim just said, “Yeah,” without adding that he was the youngest senior at his school, partly because he didn’t feel the need to show off to her and partly because that would have been a lot of ‘s’ words and he’d noticed that he’d started to slur those.
“Do you think you might apply here next year?”
Tim thought about it. Berkeley was a good school but no, “Johns Hopkins,” he said, “Or maybe MIT.” He’d never said that out loud before; Abby and Jimmy knew he didn’t want to go to Annapolis like he dad wanted, but he hadn’t told them that he had actual alternative plans.
Kate smiled slowly. “Are you really clever, Tim?”
Tim nodded quickly because he was, he really was, except oh. Nodding was a bad plan. “Ow,” he said, pressing his hand curiously to his temple.
Kate bit her lip around a smile. “Are you okay?”
“Mm,” Tim hummed except he wasn’t suddenly; he felt dizzy. There was a row of drinks of the counter near where they were sitting and Tim felt so hot, he thought a drink might help.
It tasted different from the other two, sweeter and he made a face. Still, he drank half quickly before he started to feel kind of sick and passed it off to Kate. “You want?” he asked, holding it out.
“What is it?” Kate asked, taking the cup doubtfully.
“Beer,” Tim said with a shrug, because that was what they served at college parties, right? That had definitely been what he’d been drinking earlier.
Kate took a tiny sip then laughed, putting the cup on the floor. “That’s more than beer, Tim.” She licked her lips and Tim watched, half because she was pretty and had nice lips and half to give himself something to focus beside how weird he was starting to feel. “That’s mostly vodka.”
Oh, okay. That was why Tim felt weird. “Excuse me,” he mumbled, standing up with an effort, because he didn’t just feel kind of sick anymore.
He’d felt good earlier, had known he was maybe a little tipsy but it hadn’t felt like a bad thing. It felt like a bad thing now, the walls jumping rolling away from him and the floor feeling too far away. He pushed through a crowd of people, opening his mouth and hoping he was apologizing, then out the back door into the yard.
There were people out here too, but less and no one was paying any attention to him. The cool night air brushed against his face and he ended up on his hands and knees against an outside wall, taking big breaths. He would have really liked to puke, because he thought he’d feel better if he did, but he just kept on feeling sick and dizzy like an endless out of control nightmare.
Tim swore to himself that if he survived this he wasn’t drinking again until he was twenty-one. Hell, he’d be okay never drinking again. Period.
“Hey,” someone said and Tim cringed; he didn’t want company right now.
He squinted open his eyes and, oh god, it was Tony, the guy from earlier who Tim had shown off his car to. Tim had felt cool then; he didn’t feel cool now. “Hey,” he croaked. “Do you mind?” He meant go away, give me some space, can’t you see I’m dying, but the guy squatted down against the wall beside him instead, expensive sneakers braced carefully out of Tim’s puking range.
“Man, you do not look good,” Tony told him.
Tim answered him by throwing up, which was so many levels of mortifying that even Tim couldn’t count them. At least, once he was done, he felt a little bit less like he was dying. More like he was already dead, sure, but less like he was dying.
Tony sighed. “You are so lucky you missed my shoes,” he said. Tim couldn’t really speak at the moment, so he just sort of groaned and hoped it sounded like an apology. He coughed and his stomach rolled over and then he was puking again.
Tony stood up. “This is why freshman should not be allowed to go to big boys’ parties,” he said and Tim would have told him he wasn’t a freshman but he was a little busy right now. He also didn’t want to die alone and before he could stop himself, he was reaching out, clammy hand grabbing Tony’s pant leg.
“Jeez,” Tony sighed, crouching down again by Tim’s other side. “I wasn’t leaving you, Clingy Frosh, I was being a nice guy and getting you some water.” He waved another of those evil red cups under Tim’s nose.
Tim shook his head and batted at it weakly; he knew what those things did, now.
Tony laughed. “It’s water. I promise,” he said, voice gentler than Tim had expected.
Deciding that if Tony was lying, Tim really was going to vomit on his shoes next time, Tim took the cup. It was water. It was blessed, sweet water and he gulped it down faster than he probably should have done but that was okay, he didn’t throw it up and nothing had ever tasted so good. “More?” he asked, and his throat felt horrible.
Tony got him more and stayed with Tim while he drank it. When he was finished, Tim smiled at Tony, feeling tired and loopy but so much better. “Thank you,” he remembered to say.
Tony groaned. “Jesus, why can’t you be obnoxious like all the other kids who crash our parties?” he asked but Tim didn’t think he was supposed to answer. According to the kids at his high school, he was plenty obnoxious, anyway. “Are you done now?”
Oh, Tim was so done. He was totally done with college life and he wanted to go home. Then he realised that Tony meant done with puking. “Yeah,” he said, “I think so.” He got half way through adding, “So I think I’ll go home now,” when he realised that he couldn’t. There was no way he was going to be able to drive.
“Fuck,” he muttered, even though he never swore out loud when other people could hear.
“What?” Tony asked cautiously, looking ready to leap back away from Tim again.
“I can’t drive home.” Tim didn’t meant to sound so miserable; it just sort of happened.
Tony groaned. He rubbed his face with the hand not smoothing lines down Tim’s back and oh, that was nice, when he started doing that? “Kate is going to owe me big time,” Tony told him. He put a hand under Tim’s elbow and braced him to his feet. “Let’s get you home, kid.”
Home sounded good, really great, even if it was going to lead to his mom killing and then grounding him for the rest of his life.
“Which dorm?” Tony asked propelling Tim around the side of the building to the front. Tim maybe clung to him a little, but whatever. It wasn’t like he could get any more mortified.
Tim shook his head then stopped because wow, bad idea. “No dorm.”
Tony frowned at him. “So where’d you live? Dude, if you have a car like that and off-campus housing, fraternities are going to be crawling all over themselves to get you to rush.”
Tim stared at him blankly. He was too tired for whatever the hell Tony was talking about now. “Home,” he managed and didn’t understand Tony’s why me? sigh. Tony put both hands on Tim’s shoulders and shook him a little.
“Where’s home?” he asked clearly and oh, oh right. Tim rattled off his address and frowned when Tony stared at him. “That’s Navy housing. You’re in the Navy?” Tony asked like he really didn’t believe it.
Tim made a face then felt guilty about it. “My dad,” he said, wishing Tony would let him sit down. The grass looked comfy, he could sit down there and sleepy.
“No, stay on your feet,” Tony said distractedly and then, “You don’t go here?”
Tim started to shake his head then remembered that he shouldn’t. “Next year,” he said even though he wasn’t planning to go here next year at all. For some reason that made Tony smile.
“You’re okay,” Tony said. “I crashed some college parties when I was a senior, too.”
Tim just blinked hopefully at Tony.
“Really?” Tony asked, waving the hand not holding Tim up, “You’re pulling out the puppy dog eyes? I don’t know you, you know, and you’re not cute.” Tim wanted to explain that he wasn’t trying to be cute but that was a little bit of lie; he’d always looked young for his age and he knew how to make it work. Tony sighed. “Okay, fine, give me your keys.”
Tim baulked at the idea of handing over the keys to his beautiful new car but Tony stayed firm so Tim went along with it. Then he took them back again. “Wait,” he said, while Tony’s fingers clenched sadly around where the keys had been. “Cecile.”
Tony raised an eyebrow. “You named your car?”
“No,” Tim scoffed even though yes, he’d named his car. He wasn’t telling Tony what she was called though. “Cecile’s my…” friend? No, she wasn’t his friend. She wasn’t his girlfriend either. “I’m her ride.”
“Seriously?” Tony asked. He let go of Tim so he could raise both hands to the sky. Tim swayed. Apparently Tony needed two hands to rage against the unfairness of the world. “Seriously?” He lowed his voice and looked at Tim. “Do you know what I could be doing right now?”
Tim shook his head.
“I have the telephone number of a brand new Israeli exchange student. My night was supposed to consist of a little partying, a little flirting, then a little bit of teaching her English, if you get my drift.” Tim was drunk but he wasn’t dumb; he got Tony’s drift. “Instead, I’m going to go back in there, rescue some high school girl I don’t know for a high school boy I also don’t know, and then I’m going to drive them home. This is not the life of a DiNozzo, you know?”
“Sorry?” Tim asked, but Tony just flapped him quiet.
He took the keys back from Tim and unlocked the car, helping Tim fit himself into the passenger seat. “Sit here and don’t move,” he said and then locked Tim in the car.
Tim blinked. “Um,” he said, banging feebly on the window.
Tony grinned. “Stay,” he said and turned back toward the house.
“Hmm,” Tim said to himself, watching Tony until he disappeared from view. If Tim had just gotten locked in here as some kind of weird hazing thing, he’d-. Well, he’d probably just pass out and wake up really embarrassed in the morning, actually.
His dashboard was surprisingly comfortable; he wondered why they hadn’t advertised that as a design feature. It felt nice and firm under his wobbly-feeling brain and he thought if he just rested his forehead against it for a while, it might not let him fall.
Tim woke with a start when a door slammed. He sat up, letting out a feeble “Ow!” when a sharp headache smacked him between the eyes and told him not to move that fast.
Tony was settling in the driver’s seat. He had to roll the seat back to accommodate his long legs, but not by much; Tim was totally growing all the time. “Sorry, sleepyhead,” he said, “Did I wake you?” His grin said that he knew he had.
“No,” Tim said, just to be awkward; he worried that he maybe just came across as petulant. He turned his head cautiously to look in the back. “Where’s Cecile?”
Tony didn’t answer for a minute, apparently preoccupied with running his hands over the overhead consul, turning the headlights on then off then on again and grinning like Sarah did on Christmas morning. “She’s fine,” he said, swiveling the radio towards himself then back to Tim and looking a lot like he wanted to say whee!
Tony held up a finger. “You like this girl, right? Trust me when I say you’ll be happier not knowing.”
“We can’t just leave her here,” Tim protested. He’d driven Cecile here; he was responsible for taking her home.
Tony put his hand on Tim’s shoulder, stopping him before his plan to get out of the car and find Cecile could materialise past an embarrassing amount of fumbling with the door lock. “Kid. Tim. It’s Tim, right?”
Tim nodded. “Tim McGee.” Tony should know his full name if he was going to hold Tim prisoner in his own car.
“Timmy McGee,” Tony said. “Your girlfriend is fine. In fact from what I saw she’s reallyfine. She was hanging with my man Grant; he’ll take care of her.”
Tim made a face. Stupid Surprise Boyfriend Grant, he thought grumpily and didn’t realise he’d said it aloud until Tony laughed and punched him in the thigh.
“You’re funny, kid,” he said which didn’t explain why he felt the need to hit Tim, but whatever. Tim was sleepy and Tony was putting the car in gear.
“You’re sure she’s okay?” Tim asked again. This really wasn’t how his night was supposed to end. He hadn’t let himself indulge in any fantasies of hooking up with Cecile or anything but he’d thought maybe, just maybe, he’d get his first kiss.
“She’s fine,” Tony said then blasted a hole in Tim’s self pity by turning the radio on and then way, way up.
“Do you mind?” Tim asked, letting his head clunk against the window. There were going to be weird forehead prints on the glass tomorrow and it was going to take him hours to wipe them away, he knew, but right now he couldn’t care.
“Nope,” Tony told him, flashing him a wide, shit-eating grin. After another block, he did turn down the radio though. “Now, click your heels and tell me how to get you home, McGale.”
Tim gave him directions then closed his eyes and slumped back into his seat. Watching the road was making him feel sick again.
Sadly, that didn’t help. It turned out the suspension was really no where near as good when you felt like your insides were trying to eat your outsides. He giggled suddenly.
“What?” Tony asked, a little bit suspiciously like he thought Tim might be secretly crazy.
“I feel like John Hurt in Alien,” he said and Tony laughed, which was good; Tim never knows when he was citing legitimate pop culture and when he was just being a geek.
“Dude,” Tony said, reaching over the gear shift to pat Tim’s knee, “I promise if anything comes bursting out your chest, I will let you know.”
Satisfied, Tim closed his eyes again. “Thank you,” he said and he meant it.
Tim had no idea what time it was when they pulled up to the base. He’d been dozing but he had to wake up and produce his pass when Tony elbowed him.
“Very 007,” Tony muttered, sounding impressed.
It probably wasn’t that late; it felt like a lot of stuff had happened really quickly at that damn party. Luckily, the lights were out when they reached his house so hopefully his mom wasn’t waiting up. He was feeling a little less out of control drunk, but he didn’t think he was okay enough to get by her.
“This one?” Tony asked, turning off the engine.
“Yeah,” Tim said and then blinked when Tony hopped out of the car.
“Come on, kid,” Tony said, opening Tim’s door for him.
Confused, Tim got out the car then suddenly really, really appreciated Tony’s foresight when the ground tipped away under him and only Tony’s hand under his arm kept him on his feet.
“Yeah, you’re going to have one hell of a hangover tomorrow,” Tony said, a smile in his voice like this was a game or like Tim’s poor, rapidly dehydrating and probably shrinking brain was funny.
“I’ll drink water,” Tim declared. That would help. There was no way that Tim was getting a hangover; he wasn’t the type of kid who spent Saturdays miserable in bed with hangovers and he suspected that hungover would be a bad look on him.
“Maybe if you drink the Mississippi,” Tony agreed. Or, maybe that wasn’t agreeing. Maybe he was mocking Tim again.
“Are you mocking me?” Tim asked suspiciously, letting Tony help him up the porch steps that led to his front door.
Tony clapped him on the shoulder. “Not even a little bit,” he said, then apparently changed his mind because he amended it to, “Well, maybe a little bit. Now, tell me you have door keys?”
“Front pocket,” Tim said then thought about the logistics of that. He had one arm over Tony’s shoulders and that one needed to stay or he was going to fall down. He was using his other hand to grip the front door jam and that one needed to stay or he was going to fall forward through his front door, which was made of glass and would hurt. “Um.”
Tony sighed. He propped Tim up against the door, which, oh, that was nice. Stability was good. “For the record, I’m not feeling you up. That would be really unclassy,” Tony muttered, seemingly talking under his breath rather than to Tim.
His hand slipped into Tim’s front pocket, big and warm through the thin layer of lining separating it from Tim’s thigh and that was nice, very nice. Tim didn’t get a chance to contemplate how nice before it was gone again.
“Success,” Tony declared, waving the keys in front of Tim’s face. Tim wrinkled his nose when the tip of one key brushed it and Tony laughed.
Tony unlocked the door for him, catching Tim before he could fall backwards through it and that was when Tim realised something.
“How are you going to get home?” he asked. Tony was a half hour drive from campus now. Tim really should have thought of that before.
Tony shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I can hitch a ride home.” He didn’t look bothered but Tim watched TV; hitchhiking was a bad idea.
Tim didn’t really plan to do it, but he found himself pressing the car keys back into Tony’s hands. “Drive home,” he said, “You came all this way. I can come get her tomorrow.”
Tony’s fingers smoothed lovingly over the keys, but, “Are you sure?” he asked. “I should probably warn you that when I don’t have a queasy McGeesy in the passenger side, I drive way faster.”
Tim felt a pang for his poor car, but not enough to overcome how bad he’d feel if Tony got murdered after taking him home. “Don’t crash her,” he warned, raising a slightly unsteady finger to point at Tony as firmly as he could.
Tony grinned and flicked Tim’s finger. “Later Timothy McGee,” he said, bouncing the keys in his hand all the way down the drive.