Like Coffee

Sometimes he goes to work looking for it. He's never disappointed; the only question seems to be how long he has to wait.

Jethro admits freely -- to himself -- that he looks forward to discovering what Tony will come up with next. He's predictable enough that Jethro is rarely surprised when it finally happens, but the details always differ enough he can't always see it coming until it's there. But Tony never fails. At least once or twice a week, Tony will do or say something that makes Jethro reach out and smack him on the back of the head.

In the beginning, he did it out of frustration and irritation. Jethro knew, before DiNozzo ever joined the team, that Tony was a good agent. But he'd had the unrealised potential to be an excellent one and he'd needed a smack now and then to get him focused in the right direction.

At first that was all it was. Jethro knows exactly when it became more than that. He knows when he realised that Tony was never going to change, that his style suited him as well as Jethro's did him and it only covered, not detracted from, his skill as an investigator. He's already an excellent agent despite the fact he still does shit that makes Jethro reach out and smack him without even thinking about it.

But sometimes Jethro deliberately waits for it. Sometimes he comes to work, watching, waiting, fingers already itching for it. Not because he has a secret desire to touch Tony -- he does, but the smack on his head isn't the touch he wants. It's the look afterwards that Jethro is after. Chasing it like a hot cup of coffee: something he knows will always be there for him when it wants it, with only the tiniest effort to get it.

Tony always gives him an opportunity. That's a certainty in Jethro's life. Tony will always do something that gives him an excuse -- and when he does, Jethro's hand flies.

Then he waits. Watching out of the corner of his eye, sometimes. Sometimes he stands there and blatantly watches. The satisfied grin on Tony's face will vanish, replaced by confusion, annoyance, or just a disappointed frown.

None of which are what he's after. It's the other look, and Jethro remembers the first time he saw it. It was the first time he'd smacked Tony just because he could.

It was hard not to grab him and kiss him, then. It's generally hard not to, every time. But seeing the look is enough, and Jethro finds that it keeps him going in the same way the caffeine does.

You're the only one, Tony tells him, with that narrow-eyed glare.

And that's what Jethro wants to hear.