Written for the NFA Near Brothers Challenge
Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine; I've just borrowed the characters
Characters: Tony, Tim, with an appearance by Gibbs
Genres: A cup of friendship, a fistful of gen, a tablespoon of humour, a sprinkling of drama and a hint of angst
Word Count: 2,995 words
Summary: Tony and Tim get trapped in a basement.
"Would you please stop calling it that, Tony," Tim muttered as he pushed open the gate that granted them access to the quaint little cottage. Tony sidestepped Tim and pushed out in front, leaving Tim holding the open gate.
"Now why would I want to do that?" Tony taunted, spinning to face his partner. "With a name like . . ."
"They are not fairies, they're . . ." Tim offered Tony a tried look as he passed.
"Snow elves," Tony laughed harshly, grinning widely. "I know. Doesn't make it any less geeky, McGeekster."
"It's not about the elves," Tim tried to defend himself, badly. "It's . . ."
"They're still fairies. Weapon carrying or not. Fairies with little pointy shoes and blue fuzzy hats. Face it, Probie; you're an uber geek," Tony finished with a flourish.
Tim sighed, but said nothing. It was better not to add fuel to the fire.
Tony continued, "What is the game about, anyway? And who would come up with something like blue fuzzy elves." He shook his head and laughed. "I should really take to out, Probie. Do some real man stuff."
"What? Drink beer and get smashed?" Tim retorted as he raised his hand to knock on the door of the house belonging to one Erna Starr.
"And get laid," Tony added with a leer, trailing behind Tim and coming to halt next to the younger agent. "Seriously, Probie, when was the last time . . ."
"Yes?" The door opened slightly and eighty-nine year old Erna Starr peered out at them through the gap.
"Agent DiNozzo, Agent McGee, NCIS," Tony announced with a charming smile as he and Tim flashed their badges. "Ms Starr? May we come in?"
"Why?" Ms Starr queried.
"We would like to talk to you about your next door neighbour, Petty Officer Ronan Jones," Tim replied.
"Oh, why didn't you say so," Ms Starr said, shutting the door and then reopening it fully. She smiled at the pair. "Come in. Sorry, if I sounded rude, but you have to be careful." She lowered her voice. "With all the devilish young men trying to take advantage of a little old lady like me."
She turned and motioned for the agents to follow her. Tony and Tim exchanged a look, but followed her willingly in to the kitchen.
"Can I get you anything, dears?" Ms Starr asked sweetly as Tony and Tim trickled in to the kitchen.
They shook their heads. "We're good, Ms Starr," Tim thanked.
"Now, if we could just ask you a few questions, we can be off," Tony continued pleasantly.
Ms Starr nodded and sat down delicately at her kitchen table. "Shoot."
"How long have you known Petty Officer Jones," Tim started.
"Oh, I've known him since he was in diapers, that one," Ms Starr replied. "Good kid." She looked sad. "I don't have any idea why someone would want to kill sweet Ronan. Bless that boy and may his soul rest in peace." Tony and Tim exchanged another look, but said nothing about the slightly eccentric old lady.
"Well, that aside, do you know of anyone that might have a grudge against him?" Tony asked, flashing one of his smiles.
Ms Starr shook her head. "Nope. He was such a good boy. Everybody loved him." She wiped a tear from her eye.
"Are you sure?" Tony asked.
"Sure as sure can be," Ms Starr smiled sweetly and wiped another tear off her cheek. "Such a tragic waste of life."
"Was he in any trouble?" Tim cut in, asking another question.
"If he was, I didn't know about it," she sighed. "We were ever so close. He would have told me. I know he would."
"I can see that," Tony smiled through clenched teeth and refrained from rolling his eyes. "Well, thank you, Ms Starr, for you help. It is much appreciated." Tim smiled genuinely at the old lady.
"It's been my pleasure, agents," Ms Starr smiled and stood to show the agents out. "I'll show you out."
"Thanks," Tim said, remembering his manners. She gestured for them to follow, so they did.
As they walked down the passage they'd come through, Ms Starr stumbled and fell into a door. Immediately, gentleman Tim rushed to her aid.
"Ms Starr, are you okay?" he asked quickly as Ms Starr lent heavily against the door.
She was silent, so Tim reached out to take her hand. Unfortunately, in his act of kindness, he'd failed to notice that Ms Starr had pressed down on the door handle. She yanked open the door and with surprising strength for her age, pushed Tim through the door before he'd even had a chance to cry out.
"McGee!" Tony yelled, but hesitated in drawing his gun and instead rushed to the basement door. "Wha . . ." He, too, underestimated the old lady and she also shoved him through the door.
Tony had been half expecting that, so he managed to stop himself from tumbling down the stairs. Tim wasn't so lucky, though. Tony looked down and saw him crumpled in a heap at the foot of the stairs.
"McGee," he yelled. He received no answer from the fallen agent, and at the same time, the door above him clicked shut, accompanied by a cackle from the crazy old lady. He cursed and lashed out at the door before hurrying down the stairs to Tim's prone form.
"Probie, you okay?" he asked softly, touching his shoulder. Tim flinched violently and cracked open an eye.
"Ouch," he muttered and strained his head to look at his shoulder, which proved to be difficult. "Is it broken?"
Tony followed Tim's eyes and winced. "Don't think so. Dislocated, I would guess."
Tim sighed and repeated, "Ouch."
"It's your fault, you know." Tony looked annoyed. "That we're stuck down here."
"My fault? How can it be my fault?" Tim grimaced as the pain started to worsen.
"Easy, Probie, you're the one that fell for the crazy bat's trick. Seriously, it's the oldest trick in the book." Tony shook his head. "Really, Probie, did you really . . ."
Tim let Tony's voice fade out as he concentrated on controlling the pain in his shoulder.
Tim groaned as Tony pushed against the basement door five minutes later. "It's stuck," he announced.
"I could have saved you the trouble," Tim muttered, clutching his shoulder. He was feeling light-headed.
Tony kicked the locked door angrily, wincing as his foot connected with the wood. He sighed and trudged back to where Tim was propped up against the wall. He crouched down and looked sympathetically at Tim.
"You hurting, Probie?" he asked, with no traces of sarcasm, just worry.
"What do you think, DiNozzo," Tim snapped and shuddered as a fresh wave of pain rocketed up his arm. Tony screwed up his face with sympathy pain.
"Ouch," he grimaced. "Know exactly what you're going though, McGeek." Tim looked slightly disbelieving, and Tony huffed. "I had my fair share of dislocated shoulders during high school and college, I'll have you know."
"I bet you did," Tim replied, but not really caring about much besides getting rid of the pain.
Tony fell silent for a moment, and Tim thought he could detect a light in Tony's eye that worried him. "You know, Probie," Tony started slowly, "one of the benefits of being both an athlete and a PE major was that I learned a little about shoulder injuries . . ." Tony had a dangerous look in his eye.
"Tony . . ." Tim said warningly.
"What?" Tony looked innocent. "I was just saying I've done it before . . . a few times in college and once with Homicide in Baltimore. Nasty, that was. So, in theory, I could realign that shoulder of yours . . ."
"Oh, no, absolutely not," Tim said firmly. "You do not touch me."
"I know what I'm doing, Probie," Tony said confidently.
"You said that last week when you tried to use that machine of Abby's," Tim said in a disbelieving voice. "And look how that turned out."
Tony winced at the memory. Abby had not been happy. "Well, that was then and this is now. So what if I was stretching the truth with the mass-specky thing of hers, I know this." Tim shook his head and Tony sighed. "It'll lessen the pain."
"It's not that I don't trust you, Tony . . ." Tim tried saying, but his eyes clearly said the opposite.
Tony looked hurt. "Look. I may not be good at computers, or science, or the smart stuff, but I know my way around injuries like that." He gestured to Tim's shoulder.
"I know I can be a bit of a pain . . ." Tim snorted at this comment. " . . . But I just want to help." Tony looked pained. "You're my partner; I don't like seeing you hurt," Tony said softly. "It looks bad on my account," he joked, trying to cover up his concern.
Tim sighed. Tony looked really hurt at his perceived lack of trust. He did trust Tony, with his life, he had too, but a medical procedure, Tim wasn't so sure. But he felt terrible for doubting Tony's ability and the look on his face made it even more hurtful.
"I . . ." He flinched as his shoulder cramped. The idea about less pain really did sound very attractive, but it was Tony he was talking about. The frat boy. The tease. Tim looked at Tony and noted his wounded expression.
"I just want to help," Tony repeated, looking a little desperate. Tim had failed to notice that he was growing paler by the minute and had his face constantly screwed up in pain.
"I . . ." The pain was debilitating for Tim this time, and the next thing he knew, he was lying on the floor and looking into Tony's concerned eyes.
"Probie, I swear . . ." Tony looked scared and this worried him. A lot.
"Okay, what?" Tony looked dazed and confused.
"Do your shoulder thing," Tim grimaced, trying to sit up, but fell back down as pain shot down his shoulder. He groaned.
"You sure?" Now it looked like Tony doubted his skills.
"God, yes," Tim moaned, screwing up his face. "If it will get rid of some of the pain, just do it already!" He didn't care that Tony wasn't a doctor or officially trained. He just wanted some of the pain to go away, and Tim really didn't care anymore how that happened.
"Um . . . okay." Tony looked a little petrified. "I will, uh . . ."
Tim groaned, but not because of the pain. "Don't chicken out on me now, DiNozzo," Tim egged, wincing. "C'mon, hot shot athlete, do you thing."
"Okay, okay, gosh, calm down," Tony muttered, but still looked unsure and Tim hated that it was probably his initial reluctance that had made Tony doubt his skill.
"Seriously, I want you to do this, Tony," Tim said firmly and gave him a small smile. "Anything has to be better than this. And you're wrong, I do trust you." Tim stared Tony in the eye. "Please?"
Tony nodded, looking less nervous, but still nervous all the same. "Righty-o, let's do this then," he said enthusiastically. "I'm just gonna sit you up . . ." Tony helped Tim to sit up and bent over the agent.
"Now it's gonna hurt," Tony said as he positioned his hands against Tim's shoulder. Tim gave him a withering look that screamed, 'really, I wouldn't have guessed.' Tony nodded. "Just letting you know what you're getting yourself into so you can't blame me."
"Why would I want to blame . . ." The rest of Tim's sentence was drowned out by a scream and a loud popping noise.
Tony paled and looked horrified as Tim slumped to the ground. "Probie?" No response. "McGee . . . Tim . . ." For a moment, Tony believed that he'd killed Tim. Then . . .
"That hurt," Tim groaned and rubbed his shoulder. He glanced up at Tony and glared. "You could have at least given me some warning."
Tony let out the breath he was holding and cracked a weak smile. "It's better to do it unexpectedly. And that was why I warned you, not my fault about the pain."
Tim grimaced for a moment, and then smiled gratefully as he shuffled back to sit against the wall. "Thanks, Tony," he said sincerely, rubbing his shoulder. "It still hurts, but not so much. And I don't blame you for the pain."
Tony grinned, relief flooding his body. He hadn't stuffed up. "What can I say? I'm a multitalented guy."
"With a rather large ego," Tim added and Tony grinned even wider.
"You know you love me," Tony said cheekily and Tim rolled his eyes.
"But the world would be a much easier place if we didn't," Tim retorted in good nature.
"What?" Tony feigned horror. "A world without Anthony D. DiNozzo? Never."
Tim laughed, but his laughter soon turned to tears as his shoulder continued to throb.
"Probie, don't." Tony looked awkward. Shoulders were one thing, but tears . . . He awkwardly sat down next to Tim. "Hey, be a man, suck it up," he tried to joke, but failed miserably.
"It hurts," Tim whimpered like a child and Tony sighed.
"Yeah, it does, Tim, and I'm sorry," Tony murmured. "But there's nothing I can do until we get found."
"I know that," Tim said through tears. He looked ashamed. "I'm sorry."
"This." Tim gestured to his face. "Breaking down . . . I mean it's just . . ." Tony held up a hand to hush him.
Tony shook is head. "It's okay, Tim," he said, feeling slightly less awkward. "You don't have to be sorry; it's a sign of weakness, remember. You can cry if you want." Tony squeezed Tim's uninjured shoulder. "I blubbed like a baby every time I dislocated my shoulder. And that was in front of the entire team, and the cheerleaders."
Tony grinned. "Major embarrassment there. Much worse that breaking down in the basement of a little old lady who outsmarted NCIS, Gibbs and managed to trap us in this hole . . . well, just . . ." Tim laughed through his tears and wiped his eyes.
Tony squeezed his shoulder again. "Don't worry," he said confidently. "Gibbs and Ziva will find us soon enough, and we can get you to hospital and pumped full of hallucinogenic drugs. Won't that be fun?"
"Oh, yes, real fun." Tim rolled his eyes, though they were still red from his semi-breakdown. "Thanks, Tony."
"You've already thanked me for my fantastic medical skills," Tony noted cockily.
"It's not for that," Tim replied.
"I know," Tony answered softly. "I know."
Tim was startled from his restless slumber by thumping noises from above. He blinked as he lifted his head off Tony's shoulder, blushing slightly at the position in which they'd been sleeping. Tim nudged Tony's shoulder, making him wake with a start.
"What?" he hissed in a low voice, immediately scanning for danger.
"I think someone is up there," Tim whispered back. This made Tony jump to his feet and pull his gun from its holster.
"Stay put, Probie. You can't shoot one-handed, especially with your wrong hand," he ordered and crept to the bottom of the stairs. He trained his gun on the door.
The door shook, then swung open to reveal a shadowy figure. Tony immediately yelled, "NCIS, drop you weapon." At the same time, a familiar voice also yelled, "NCIS, drop your weapon."
"Boss?" Tony lowered his gun a little, but refused to put it down.
"DiNozzo?" Gibbs echoed, thudding down the stairs and stepping into the light. He studied Tony for a moment. "Slacking off, huh, DiNozzo?"
Tony grinned, shrugged and holstered his weapon. "Well, it's slightly more interesting than . . ." He trailed off as he received a quick blow to the head. "Ouch, what was that for?" he pouted.
"Allowing yourself to be tricked by that old bat," Gibbs said seriously, but offered a tiny smile. "You okay, DiNozzo?" he asked, concerned.
Tony waved off his concern, but nodded to Tim. "I'm fine, but Probie took a tumble down the stairs . . . much like Humpty Dumpty. He's got a dislocated shoulder and a bruised ego, nothing more."
"Technically you fixed the dislocation, Tony," Tim called from his spot on the floor and grimaced at the pain.
Gibbs hurried over to Tim and crouched down. "Need some help, Tim?"
"I think Tony has it covered," Tim replied confidently as Tony sauntered over to the pair and offered Tim a hand. Tim grasped it with his uninjured arm and let Tony help him up.
Gibbs nodded approvingly and stood up. "Let's head back to NCIS. We'll stop off at the ER on the way."
"What about our crazy old lady?" Tony asked as he helped Tim to the stairs.
"Ziva's got Ms Starr covered. Don't worry about that," Gibbs replied.
"The crazy bat should be the worried one," Tony muttered, guiding Tim up the basement stairs.
"Be nice, Tony, she's an old lady," Tim defended.
"Yeah, who chucked us down some stairs and locked us in a basement," Tony countered.
"Actually, it was me whom she chucked down the stairs, and you let her shut the door on us in the first place," Tim corrected and Tony stuck out his tongue.
"Still her fault, I think." Tony stuck to his argument and helped Tim step into the hallway.
Tim shook his head. "Ever learnt of forgive and forget . . . oh, I forgot, you're Tony," Tim laughed.
"Oi, I forgive and forget all the time, Snow Fairy," Tony huffed as they slowly moved down the passage.
"Name one time," Tim shot back. "And they're not fairies!"
Gibbs smiled to himself.
Things were back to normal.