Shot To Hell by ceilidh

A/N:- Well, my lovely readers and reviewers, this is the final chapter for my latest story. Again, I hope you've enjoyed it, and thanks to everyone who took the time and trouble to review it for me.

I love writing these 'missing scenes' stories – as you may have noticed! I'm currently working on one for Twisted Sister, another of my all time favourite episodes. Mind you, there are so many of these great episodes to choose from, it's hard to decide which to write for!

For now, though, I'll leave you with our sweet Timothy, bonding with his new four legged friend. Enjoy, and I hope to see you all again soon!

Chapter Fifteen – McGee's Mutt

If he hadn't been officially claimed already, Tim McGee might have enjoyed what had just happened.

Aside from its protection, walking into your new condo with a massive dog beside you had some real, and unexpected, advantages – a chorus of 'oohs…' 'aahs…' and 'aaw, what a cutie…!' causing him to smile and shake his head.

He'd have to tell Tony that eligible bachelor, plus money, plus dog equalled a lot of female interest.

Then again, Tim then dryly reflected, having a furry babe magnet had its downsides too. There he was, standing at the door of his apartment, struggling with half a pet store in his arms, and –

– all chance of help vanished as his three neighbours descended on Jethro in a gushing, cooing frenzy.

And Jethro's response? The same ferocious beast who, just two weeks earlier, had tried to rip his arm off? Oh, he was on his back already, his whole body wagging furiously, not just his tail, from a three-way tummy rub.

Rolling his eyes, Tim then cast them down, in a baleful glare towards his supposedly fearless protector.

'When we finally get inside, McMutt, you and me are gonna have a little chat-'

That thought was barely half way through before Tim's sense of self-preservation tagged on another.

'…once you're safely fed…'

Through some canine sixth sense, Jethro's head suddenly swivelled towards him in hopeful interest. Tummy-rub forgotten, he bounded upright, straight onto Tim's feet, his loyalties magically switched by the lure of finest kibble.

Rolling his eyes, Tim grinned a rueful 'what can you do?' apology to Jethro's latest conquests – silently adding three more willing doggy-walkers to an ever growing, and always useful list.

Still smiling, he then gingerly steered Jethro, and all the junk that came with him, into his apartment – Jethro's panting bark of anticipation met with a plaintive groan as he staggered into the kitchen.

"Hey, gimme a break, okay? I've only got two arms here. And since all this stuff's yours, you could at least have carried some of it-"

Now there was a thought, and not just for Christmas either – a great big dog, with a great big sled.

'Yeah, McGenius - like you couldn't have had that bright idea before we hit the pet-store?'

Dryly thinking that doggy-hood wasn't as easy as he'd first expected, Tim then sighed and shook his head – his next words as much for Jethro's benefit as they were for himself as he reached for Jethro's bowl.

"Yeah, just go easy on me here, okay? I'm new to all this-"

Met with another panting grin, Tim felt himself smile too, as Jethro's head tilted quizzically sideways. There was such intelligence in this dog's eyes, such an astonishingly deep intelligence, that – yes, he could understand now, maybe for the first time, why Abby had defended him so fiercely.

So for all its many demands, especially on his bank balance, Tim really didn't even have any regrets on this first experience of doggy-hood – not even when Jethro followed him into the living room, and bounded happily onto the couch.

Stretching out, as best he could, on what little space was left, Tim then sighed and closed his eyes – rubbing Jethro's ears while drowsily reflecting on how even the best laid plans could go astray.

Of course, his parents had been delighted by his suggestion to adopt Jethro, especially after that burglary. But when they'd reached his pen, and his mother had seen just how strong and powerful he was – no, with real regret, she'd pointed out that she just couldn't cope with such a constantly demanding dog.

Being the dutiful son he was, he'd smiled back – assuring her it wasn't a problem when, in truth, it was. Without a new owner, Jethro was headed for the big kennel in the sky. And that would have broken not just Abby's heart, but his now, too.

The plan he'd silently counted on had fallen through, forcing Tim to find an instant alternative. Despite his greater commitments for work, and his complete absence during the day, he'd keep Jethro instead – balancing, as best he could, the demands of his job against those of keeping him fed and exercised.

To his grateful surprise, it had been Jethro's namesake who'd come up with the obvious solution. There would be no problem, Gibbs had dryly pointed out, in having such a highly trained dog in the bullpen - his response to four gaping faces instantly quashing any notion that he was going soft on them.

"What? All this supposed genius around here, and none of you thought of it yourselves?

So, stationed faithfully under Tim's desk, 'team Gibbs' now had a new, if rather unexpected addition. And Tim had to admit, there was a certain sense of security in having Jethro curled snugly by his feet. It certainly explained why Tony, if maybe not Gibbs, was suddenly being so much nicer to him.

Abby, of course, was ecstatic - that senseless rift between them now truly forgiven and forgotten. When he was called out to a crime scene, or sent onto an assignment, Tim knew that Jethro would trot down to Abby's lab, and be totally and thoroughly spoiled.

When he was home, too, this massive rug on legs went way beyond keeping him safe. Sprawled on top of him - he hadn't dared argue - Jethro kept him as snugly warm and cosy as any quilt – one that now startled him out of his thoughts with a furry-faced, kibble-scented lick across his face.

Halfway through an indignant protest, Tim then stared down at the massive paw draped over his chest – its unmistakeable message to him met with a delighted smile, and an even happier question.

"Hey, are – are you guarding me?"

Answered with another slurp of slobbery wetness, but not minding in the slightest, Tim then grinned – wrapping Jethro into a playful hug while making his new protector a soft but heartfelt promise.

"Yeah, you know what, McMutt? Me and you? Yeah, I think we're gonna be okay."