- Character Bashing
- Ménage or More
“Come on, Tony step in further, other people gotta get in,” Tobias urged from behind him, and DiNozzo allowed himself to be urged forward from where he was almost rooted to the tile floor.
“Welcome to Mínealaín Gallery,” a young man with white blond hair greeted him with a smile. “Do you have invitations for this evening’s exhibit?”
Tobias came from behind Tony, and the younger Italian found himself studying what he could see of the gallery around him. He had to admit that he liked what little he could see from the entrance, and he felt a small surge of excitement from somewhere inside of him, escaping from where he’d locked all of his art feelings away at. Mostly though, he just felt trepidation, and a sensation of wrongness at not having Justin’s excited whispering in his ear, and the feel of the younger man’s hand wrapped up with his own.
“Come on, Tony,” Tobias prodded once more, and Tony allowed himself to be led deeper into the gallery. Before he’d gotten too far though, he heard the sound of a familiar voice from behind him.
“DiNozzo!” Had him turning with a frown of surprise and allowed himself to smile when his gaze landed on Jackson Grimes who was just handing his coat off to someone lurking next to the greeter at the door. “I thought you were on a self-imposed exile from all things art. If I’d known you were interested I would have suggested we come together.”
Tony felt himself relax a little as he greeted Jax with a hug that he held onto a little longer than may have been necessary, but feelings were starting to build, and he needed the comfort of a true friend. While he liked and respected Tobias, and even saw him as a mentor, Jackson Grimes was one of Tony’s truly close friends in the world.
The Tech company owner was the best friend of Tony’s boss Aaron Hotchner. The two had known each other forever. Hotch introduced Tony and Jax at one of the gatherings at Aaron and Haley’s house, and the two men had hit it off almost immediately. So, while he knew this night was going to be hard, it maybe wouldn’t be as bad as it could have been knowing that Jackson was there, too.
“I was kidnapped,” Tony quipped, but knew that Jax would see the anxiety under the attempt at humor. “I was in the bullpen minding my own business when Fornell kidnapped me against my will. You’d think an FBI agent would know better.”
Tony didn’t need to see Tobias’ face to know there was an eyeroll that followed his words, and the snort that was heard was all the confirmation he needed. “What are you doing here? I thought you were out in Cali getting that new project off the ground.”
“Got that wrapped up enough that I passed it off to Roger,” Jackson explained with a grin. “I’m actually dating one of the artists here tonight. So, I had to make sure I was back for this.”
“You?” Tony asked overplaying his shock as his nerves tried to strangle his heart. “Dating?”
Jax blushed adorably, in Tony’s mind, and gave a shrug. “We met at B2 and hit it off right away. He’s stunningly beautiful, all surfer boy blond hair and blue eyes with a smile that won’t stop. Needless to say, I think I’ve gotten myself in over my head. He’s a metal sculptor. Come on back, and I’ll introduce you. I think you two will get along fabulously.”
Tony offered a nod and let Jax grab his hand and lead him through the gallery. Their relationship was a little bit complicated, and had a little bit of friendship and a little bit of something more thrown in. They both knew that they weren’t that magical “One” for the other, but they did have a connection that went deeper than just buddies. Tony hoped that this new man could handle that, because after losing Brian and Justin, having Jax taken from him for the sake of a romance would completely suck. Not that Tony wouldn’t step away if this guy really meant as much to his friend as it seemed he did, because he totally would. It just would hurt more than just about anything since he’d lost Brian and Justin.
Not really paying attention to what was going on around him as he lost himself inside of his own head musing on all of the potential things that could go wrong, Tony was startled when hey stopped moving. Shaking his head to pull himself out of his thoughts, Tony realized they were standing in front of a room that was darker than the rest of the gallery, and had The Doors blaring with some kind of animation or computer art on the walls surrounding some metal sculptures.
Jackson was just starting to introduce him to the taller of two blond men, when Tony’s brain kicked in gear and he realized just who was standing in front of him.
“Tony, I would like you to meet,” Jackson started when Tony quickly moved around him moving purely in instinct.
“Fuck, Justin!” He let loose before wrapping the smaller man up in his arms.
“Tone, Jesus, you’re here finally,” Justin cried out as his arms wrapped around Tony’s waist and his face tucked into the crook of his neck. “Fuck, we’ve missed you. Brian’s gonna be so pissed he’s not here, but he’ll be back in a bit. He had to piss.”
Tony nodded, but otherwise was unable to speak, as his brain still hadn’t quite figured out what his eyes had already seen. It looked like Justin. It smelled like Justin, and fuck if it didn’t even sound like Justin and his adorable potty mouth, but how in the fuck it could actually be Justin Tony didn’t understand. Tony figured that if Justin ever got out of Pittsburg, that it would be straight to New York City, but instead here he was in Washington DC. While he didn’t understand, DiNozzo decided that he would happily accept it.
“What? Fuck,” Tony heard as a hand touched his shoulder, and pulling back reluctantly, he saw Brian standing there next to him looking about as open and vulnerable as Tony had ever seen. So, still letting his instincts rule him, he surged forward, and pulled the other man toward him locking their lips together in kiss hot enough to melt the paint of the paintings on the wall.
By the time they finally came up for air, Justin was demanding a kiss of his own, and several of the patrons around them were offering whistles and catcalls or fanning themselves. “Who knew admission came with that kind of a show. I might have to come to more of these shindigs if that’s standard fare.” Tony heard and groaned as he turned to see Tobias watching him with a shit eating grin on his face. He’d totally forgotten in the excitement of seeing first Jax and then Justin and Brian that he’d been there.
“Fuck,” was all Tony could offer intelligently before he found himself wrapped up between Justin and Brian as they three men tried to wrap their minds around the idea that they had finally found each other again.
This time when they came back to reality, Tony noticed that while the area had somewhat cleared out, they’d drawn some newcomers. Jackson and Fornell were still present, although the taller blond had moved to stand next to Jax and Tobias. Tony was assuming that this was this mysterious new boyfriend. There was a younger woman he didn’t know along with another man who appeared to be somewhere around 30 that seemed familiar to Tony, but he didn’t know why. There were two men present though that the artist in Tony was very familiar with.
One of them he recognized as the world-famous artist Padraig McCormac. He was someone that his mother had talked about when he’d been a small child and she’d still been alive. After her death, Tony had almost forgotten about him until his 21st birthday, when her lawyer advised him of his trust fund that came with a handful of the man’s paintings. Since then, Tony had added a few more to his collection, and someday hoped to have a home grand enough to have room to display them.
There was another artist nearby that Tony recognized as being Victor Marks, another well-known, but more current artist that Tony was familiar with. While he was familiar with his work, Tony didn’t own any Marks paintings because the man leaned more toward an area of art that Tony didn’t favor as much. There was no doubt that the man was unbelievably talented though, and being so open about his asexuality had really helped a lot of people around the globe who were like him but didn’t understand who they were.
“Tony, this is my agent Victor Marks, he also serves as Sean’s agent, and behind him is the Gallery owners Padraig and Caterina McCormac,” Justin introduced smoothly, as he gripped Tony’s hand tightly. Brian had moved behind them, but Tony could feel the touch of Bri’s hand at the small of his back. “Next to them are their daughter Gwendolyn McCormac, and their son Greg Sanders. You and he kind of do similar work.”
Tony said hello to everyone and shook several hands before turning his attention to Padriag. “If you don’t mind me fanboying for a moment or two, its an honor to meet you, Mr. McCormac. My mother was a huge fan of yours, and when I turned 21 I inherited several of your early works in a trust from her. I’ve added a few more over the years that I thought went with it. Someday I hope to have a home that I can put a nice gallery space in to display them.”
“Your,” Padraig started, but stopped and seemed to be gathering himself before continuing. It was something Tony found slightly puzzling, but brushed it off. It was the first night of an exhibition opening, and Tony was sure that Padraig had many other things on his mind than the fanboy in front of him and his deceased fangirl mother. “I am glad you could join us. Justin has spoken of you a time or several since he started working for us. I am glad to see that the three of you could be reunited. I would be interested in hearing which pieces that you have and which ones that you purchased on your own. Your mother is deceased then? I am sorry to hear it.”
“She died when I was young,” Tony murmured quietly. His mother’s death always made him sad, no matter how long she had been gone, or what he’d come to understand about her as a child. “I remember her showing me some of your paintings when she was alive. I am sure she would have been thrilled to meet you.”
“I am sure I would have been as happy to meet her,” Padraig returned politely, and Tony turned his attention to Victor Marks.
“Mr. Marks, it’s an honor to meet you as well,” Tony offered with a smile. “I am familiar with your work, also. I wasn’t aware that you did agent work. You have your own gallery in New York City, correct? I think I’ve been in it in my visits.”
“Isn’t it right down the street from Beau Rêve?” Jackson asked, and the mischievous smile on his face made Tony’s suspicious. “I think I’ve been there as well at some point when I went to see your drawings at Beau Rêve.”
“You are an artist?” Caterina inquired and Tony turned his gaze to her after sending a scornful glare Jax’s direction.
“Well, yes,” Tony admitted with a grin and a shrug. “Nothing on this level though. I mostly just do it for fun and as a stress relief. I am sure Marie just displays them to be kind.”
Victor choked as he was taking a drink of his wine. “Marie LeFonte? Kind? I am not sure that dragon knows the meaning of the word. I can assure you Mr. DiNozzo that if that woman has your drawings on her wall it is because she considers you quite talented. She doesn’t waste her time on anyone she sees as beneath her. It doesn’t matter to her if she considers you a friend or not. In fact, I’m not convinced she actually has friends.”
Tony lifted an eyebrow at Victor’s snark, but internally had to admit that he was correct. “She was definitely a hard nut to crack, but once you get to know her there’s a soft squishy middle underneath that prickly steel exterior. She ran across me drawing in a park on one of my few summer vacations that I came home from military school as a teenager. She knows I only do it for fun, but she’s always been good about displaying what I send her. The money I got from her helped me through some rough times in college.”
“I would love to see your work sometime,” Padraig inserted, and Caterina followed up after him quickly. “That sounds wonderful. Tony, you should come with Justin and Brian to our post exhibit dinner in a few weeks. Jackson, we would love to have you attend with Sean as well. That is if you don’t mind showing your work off, Tony. We understand not all artists like to share work they haven’t publicly displayed.”
Tony felt his face getting hot and was happy to feel the touch of Brian’s hand on his back. “I really think more is being made of my drawings than they are worth, but I have a few things I can throw together to show you if Justin has a portfolio I can borrow for the evening.”
“Please,” Jackson snorted, inserting himself once more. “If your father was less of a jerk bag he would have allowed you to take art lessons, but even without them your drawings are amazing. Sean, tell them. You’ve seen the drawing in my study. That’s one of Tony’s works.”
“Jesus, that thing is gorgeous,” Sean agreed readily, “and having dealt with Madame LeMonde I can wholeheartedly agree that she doesn’t display anything on the walls of her gallery to be kind.”
When Justin bumped his shoulder against Tony’s side, the taller man looked down to see Justin grinning up at him. “I told you those drawings were fucking amazing. Maybe you should listen to me sometimes. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done while we’ve been apart! Oh, please, please say you’ll come to the dinner with us.”
Offering a nod, Tony pressed a kiss to the side of Justin’s head. “Case permitting of course, but yes. I would love to come. Padraig, I have a list of the pieces of yours in my collection on my computer at home. I will print you off a copy. I admit, I am curious to see if some of them are really yours. There’s about two or three that I’ve not seen on any lists of your works that you’ve made public.”
“It will be my honor,” Padraig finally offered, and Caterina then shifted the conversation to the exhibit works, saying that she and Padraig would be happy to take Tony and Fornell around to see the exhibit with Brian accompanying them. His hand firmly held by Tony’s. Jackson invited himself along saying he’d like to see some of the pieces again. Justin and Sean were ushered off to talk to a reporter by Victor. The others wandered off on their own. At the end of the night, Tony was trading goodbye’s looking forward to the dinner in a few weeks, but not as much as he was looking forward to what the rest of the evening would bring.