Mexico vs. Cuba and Paraguay

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Tony leaned back against the base of his couch, his legs stretched out in front of him. Beer bottles littered the floor around him, some standing up, some tipped over, all empty. Well, except the one that had tipped over with a couple of mouthfuls still in it. The rug was going to smell like beer until Tony kicked in the extra it would take to get his cleaning service to do the carpets. Usually they just vacuumed.

A long time frat buddy of his sprawled next to him, surrounded by his own alcoholic detritus. Rather more than orbited Tony. Ben was pretty drunk, but not smashed enough to be incoherent yet. Not that Tony was all that sober himself, but he knew if he stopped now he'd be able to handle the morning with a handful of aspirin and minimal wincing.

Of course, Ben wasn't too interested in stopping.

"Come on, Tone," Ben wheedled, dropping the 'y' like he always did. He waggled a bottle of tequila. "Break out the shot glasses. I'll race you."

Tony grinned nostalgically. Racing shots with Ben was an old pasttime. They'd finished off more than one bottle of tequila that way. At least, so the empties implied the next morning. Tony hardly remembered more than fragments of those nights. But despite the nostalgia, he just shook his head and leaned back against the couch. "Can't, Ben. Gibbs will kill me if I show up to work smashed."

"Hey, what does this Gibbs have on a trip to Mexico?" Ben waggled his eyebrows.

"I'll have you know, I have been to both Cuba and Paraguay without benefit of a bottle since we last met," Tony said, laughing.

Ben opened the bottle. "But not Mexico."

"I really can't," Tony said regretfully.

"Because of Gibbs, whoever he is?"

"My boss, Ben. Gibbs is my boss. He'll let me get away with a hangover, but if I'm still drunk in the morning I'll have a lot more to deal with than a smack upside the head."

"Sounds like a real hard ass," Ben said. He climbed unsteadily to his feet and stumbled off towards the kitchen. Presumably in search of a shot glass for the open bottle of tequila.

"Like you wouldn't believe," Tony said, raising his voice a little so that Ben could still hear him. "He used to be a marine."

The sound of cabinets opening and closing drifted out of the kitchen. "Officer?" Ben asked. "Shit, Tone, where the hell are your shot glasses?"

"Worse," Tony called back. "Gunnery sergeant. And they're on the top shelf of the cabinet to the left of the stove."

A couple more wooden thumps and then the clinking of glasses knocking against each other. Tony contemplated asking Ben to bring him a glass of water, then quickly dismissed the idea. He could get one after Ben had passed out on the couch. At this rate, that'd be sooner rather than later.

"There's dust on these!" Ben sounded aggrieved.

Tony snickered to himself. "I don't do much drinking at home."

Ben came back around the couch and more or less collapsed back into a sitting position. "You don't do much of anything at home, from the way this place looks," Ben said. He poured himself a shot with exaggerated care. "Got some sweet piece you've been shacking up with more often than not, huh?"

"Nope." Tony took a long pull from the beer he held in his hand. His last one, probably. There were a few swallows left in it, though. "Got myself a maid service."

"A maid service?" Ben exclaimed. He knocked back the shot and gasped a little at the burn of the alcohol. Shaking his head sharply, he pointed at Tony with the shot glass. "You, my fraternity brother, are a slob of the highest order. I was your roommate back in the day, remember? You cannot fool me."

"I'm also a player, but you don't seem to have much trouble thinking I'd settled down with someone," Tony pointed out. "And really, I swear, it's the maid service. Mondays and Thursdays while I'm at work."

Ben poured another shot and pushed it towards Tony, but Tony pushed it back. Ben shrugged. "I said shacked up, not settled down. And since when do you shell out for anything remotely related to cleaning? That's got to cost a bit."

"It's not too bad. And it's a hell of a lot better than risking Gibbs seeing this place the way it was the first time he had to pick me up here." Tony shuddered at the memory.

"You've been with this job for what, a year? Year and a half?" Ben asked. He stuck a finger in his tequila and swirled it around. Drop of liquor splashed over the edges of the glass and splashed on the coffee table.

"Four," Tony said. "Four years next week."

Ben shot Tony a startled glance. "When did that happen?"

Tony laughed. "About four years ago," he said dryly.

"Not that, dipshit." Ben slugged him in the arm. Tony's beer sloshed but didn't spill, since it was half empty already. "When did you give up on the pact? No hooks in our asses or bumps in our road, remember? Never get tied down. No commitments."

Shrugging, Tony picked at the label on his beer bottle. "I like NCIS. I work with good people." His throat closed up for a moment, remembering Kate, but he wasn't about to mention that. Not to Ben. "Gibbs may be a bastard, but I've learned from him."

"A bastard, huh?" Ben sucked the tequila off his finger and knocked the shot back.

"Self-confessed," Tony affirmed, smirking. "It's the second B."

"What's the second B?"

"That's the one that stands for bastard," Tony clarified.

Ben just shook his head. "I'm not going to even try to figure that out right now, Tone. You sure you don't want a shot?"

"Sure I'm sure," Tony said easily, leaning back and draining his beer bottled in one long swallow.

"You could--"

Ben was interrupted by the shrill ring of Tony's cell. "Hang on a sec," he told Ben, scrambling for his jacket pocket. Retrieving the phone, he glanced at the call display. 'Sheila'. He relaxed, not bothering to answer. "S'okay. Just a girl."

Ben's eyebrows went up. "What would've not okay been? Wait, no, let me guess. Your boss."

Tony shrugged, dropped the cell on the coffee table next to his last empty beer bottle, and sank back down onto the floor. "I'd hate for him to call me into a case and be drunk."

"I thought you said you had the weekend off?"

"Sure, but that doesn't mean Gibbs wouldn't call me if he needed me. Woke me up at three in the morning once. On a Saturday." Tony snickered, remembering. "Boy did that one piss him off. Couple of guys playing some sort of elaborate prank. Turns out they weren't even Navy."

Ben shook his head slowly, exaggerated sadness carved into every line of his expression. "Look at you, Tone. Clean apartment, moderate drinking, working on weekends, jumping for you cell phone. You might as well be married to this guy."

Tony choked for a minute before gales of laughter burst free. "Oh god, I hope not," he gasped when he'd finally calmed down a little. "Gibbs has been divorced three times."

"And I didn't even get to throw a stag party for you," Ben lamented. "And now it's too late. You're in deep, Tone. You wouldn't even appreciate a stag party anymore, would you?"

"I'll have you know I can still bong a beer faster than anyone in our house," Tony interjected.

"Just relieving past glories," Ben poured another shot. "Have a shot. Drown your sorrows."

"No sorrows to drown," Tony said easily.

"Yup, definitely hopeless."

Tony just chuckled and levered himself to his feet. He needed water and aspirin if he was going to be functional at work.