Elsie Wants a Ride
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written for: the NFA Because We're a Team challenge. The aim of the challenge is to show how Gibbs' team is more than a team; they're a family.
rating: K plus
genre: light angst and humor
characters: Tim & the team...and Elsie (OC)
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disclaimer: As always, I own nothing of NCIS.
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Tony came into the hospital emergency room, his open rain coat flapping as he walked quickly. Looking around, he didn't see his target anywhere. "Timothy McGee?" he asked at the front desk.
The nurse eyed him. "Are you family?"
"He's my goofy baby brother." Tony lied smoothly. "Got himself in trouble again. Dad's gonna freak. Can I see him?"
She looked skeptical, but only said, "Room 3."
"Thanks!" He gave her a dazzling smile, and headed for the room. When he turned away from the nurse, he dropped the smile. On the phone Tim had sounded scared and in pain. Something was very wrong; something beyond his injuries, maybe. And he had called Tony, as a friend, for help. Sounding scared, which wasn't like Tim.
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"Hey—!" Tony grinned, throwing his arms wide as he entered the room. It was fake enthusiasm, meant to help cheer up his teammate, who looked like he could use it. Tim lay on a gurney; his left leg still bearing the splint that the EMTs had put on at the accident scene. His face and arms sported bruises, and his face was contorted in pain.
"Hey," Tim said back, weakly. "Thanks for coming."
"You sure you're going to need a ride home tonight, Probie? You look like you've got your invitation for at least a night's stay at this fine establishment."
"Nah. Just a busted leg; that's it. As soon I get x-rays and get a cast, I can go." He paused, closing his eyes. "They must be backlogged. I've been triaged, but not seen by the doctor yet. Sorry to make you wait."
"S'okay…Mind telling me what happened? You sounded scared as a little girl on the phone."
"I totaled my car."
"I gathered that."
"Guy ran a stop sign. I only saw him a split second before impact. The side air bag helped, but…"
Tony waited. Tim should have been more forthcoming. True, auto accidents were scary, but Tim was not seriously hurt, and he should be used to this sort of thing. "And?" he finally said. "Something's given you the shivers. What?"
"My family is coming to visit this weekend. Along with my great-aunt Elsie, who was looking forward to a ride in my Porsche, and had been led to believe by my parents that I was a very safe driver. Elsie is 83, set in her ways, and very, very fussy about whom she lets drive her."
"Aha! So your problem is practical; not medical, emotional, financial, decoratorical, fumi—"
"Wait a second. 'Decoratorical' isn't even a word. But no, it's more than practical. Tony, this is family honor. My dad is going to kill me for screwing up these arrangements."
"So, call him and tell him this isn't a good time to come. You don't need to tell him why. Suggest they come in about 8 weeks' time. Then you'll be healed and fully mobile."
"They're on their way here already," Tim moaned. "They're driving. Elsie is afraid of flying."
Tony sensed that something important still wasn't coming out. He pulled up a chair to Tim's gurney. "Are you going to tell me what's really bothering you, or do I have to get Abby out here to hug it out of you?"
Tim sighed and didn't speak for a minute. "Elsie is rich. Filthy rich. My dad, her favorite (she says) relative, stands to inherit a couple million when she dies. For years he has been trying to stay on her good side to ensure this. For one thing, an additional couple million will be left by her to his non-profit meteorological educational program. And I, as Dad's son, have to also behave in her presence."
"I'm dead, Tony. Unless I can come up with a rental or loaner Porsche Boxster by Saturday, and be able to drive it with this leg, I will be dead to my family. If I'm not literally dead, they will finish me off."
Tony chuckled. "This is a joke, right? You hauled me out on a rainy night for a shaggy dog story? 'Cause I've met your parents, remember, and they're about the nicest people I know." He kept back a wistful sigh. Every time Tim talked about his childhood or his family, Tony felt envious; longing for the happy childhood he'd never had.
"They are. In everything but this. It's the one item that we've fought about for years. How will I tell my dad that my car is wrecked…and I can't drive…"
"Lots of people can drive with a broken left leg. It depends on how the cast sits on your leg."
Tim finally brightened, a little. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. Why don't you leave this to me?"
"Oh, man. I would owe you so much, Tony!"
"Just the cost of the Porsche rental."
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After a long wait, Tim's leg was put in a cast below the knee, and, armed with crutches, he was ready to go. "You need anything?" Tony said as he dropped Tim off at his Silver Spring apartment and unlocked the door for him.
"A new family," Tim said shortly.
"A little beyond my power. Since you won't be going to work tomorrow, just spend the time relaxing. I'll call you about the car rental."
"They're arriving tomorrow night, Tony!"
"I know. Don't panic. Team NCIS is on the case." With a flippant wave, he was off.
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Once at home, Tony phoned Abby. "This better be good, Tony. It's 11 o'clock and you're interrupting my viewing of The Simpsons."
"Don't you have all the episodes memorized? Abbs, Tim is in trouble and needs our help." He explained about the car wreck and told her what he needed to have her do.
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Tony was at work early the next day, Friday, and showed off a picture he'd taken of Tim in the ER as evidence of Tim's absence from work. Gibbs only rolled his eyes. On break, Tony made some phone calls and found a dealership that would rent him a Boxster for a price that made him whistle. Nonetheless, he pulled out his credit card and reserved it; promising to pick it up that evening.
He called Tim at lunch. "Ziva's coming over to your place after work to fix you dinner," he said, over Ziva's surprised look. He grinned weakly at her when he remembered he hadn't discussed this with her. "I'll bet you haven't eaten all day. Broken legs are the world's biggest nuisance. Now, Abby will be over there first thing Saturday morning, before your family gets there."
"Why? What's she going to do?"
"Be there for you as a friendly distraction, to keep your father from tearing you limb from limb."
"You didn't get a rental car!"
"Have I ever let you down?! Of course I got the car. I'm picking it up after work. I'll drop it off at your place bright and early tomorrow morning, around the time that Abby gets there. Then since she'll be riding with you, I'll borrow her car, and come pick her up at the end of the d—"
"The Boxster only seats two. It can't hold me and Abby and Elsie!"
"Ahhhhhhhhh….Is your aunt small? Maybe she could sit on Abby's lap. Don't hang up, Prob—" He looked at Ziva in surprise. "He hung up!"
She shot paperclips at him with a rubberband bowstring. They stung where they hit. "Do not expect sympathy from me, you who have volunteered my services without asking me!"
"Cut me some slack! The Probster's going through some heavy family issues right now, and needs us." He explained.
"His father would be angry with him over a car crash that was not his fault?" Ziva asked soberly.
"All because of a stupid inheritance. Which may never even come to pass. I've seen a lot of them fizzle. Maybe the old lady will leave it all to her parakeet."
"Money," Ziva said softly. "The love of gold is the root of all evil. Call him back. Tell him I will be there at 6."
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It had been a quiet day, with no new case for the team. This was good; it meant they'd get to leave work on time. Tony was going over a cold case at 4 when Tim called him.
"I can't do it, Tony! They'll disown me—as in, throwing me out of the family!" Tim said frantically. "I'm going to call them now and confess everything, and maybe they'll just turn around and go home!"
Tony still hadn't figured out why Tim was so troubled by all this. Surely he couldn't believe that people as nice as his parents would actually disown him. He wanted to tell Tim that having his parents turn around and go home might be the best option after all, but he knew Tim didn't want to hear that. "Now, calm down. Everything's gonna work out. You've got the Tonster on the case!"
But Tim was still sobbing. "Hey. Hey. Ziva will be there soon," said Tony. "And maybe after I pick up your rental car, I'll swing by, too. See ya later, Probie."
He hung up the phone, looking troubled himself. One thing he was sure of—at the earliest opportunity, he would give the McGees a piece of his mind.