Vital Negotiations

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Not betaed.

The session was closed, privacy carefully guarded and interruptions blatantly discouraged. Tension knotted the muscles of Tony's neck and shoulders; negotiations had been fierce. His job, perhaps even his life were on the line if he didn't win the concessions he'd come looking for, but his opponent was no less determined, no less motivated.

Already Tony knew he'd backed off of too many points. The opposition had momentum, but on the current detail he could not allow himself to be budged. Fortunately, Tony had been holding an incentive in reserve that he knew his opponent valued. Their gazes met and Tony leaned across the table to present his compromise.

"All right. Chocolate whiskey cake, but you have to get Gibbs to the party."

"Deal!" Abby stuck out her hand and they shook on it. "Now let's talk candles."

Tony's eyes widened in horror. "Abby, there is no way in hell we are putting candles on Gibbs's birthday cake."

She pouted. "But it's tradition!"

"Do you really want to see the look on Gibbs's face when he sees how many there are?" Tony asked, voice low and dangerous.

"We can use those ones shaped like numbers?" Abby offered.

"If you're putting any candles at all on the cake, I'm wearing body armour."

"Tony!" Abby admonished. "You can't wear body armour to a birthday party!"

Tony rolled his head on his shoulders and settled in for another round. Negotiations weren't over yet.