"For the Love of a Good Woman"
NFA "Near Brothers" Challenge entry.
The Challenge: To write a story focusing on the brotherly relationship between Tim McGee and Tony DiNozzo. This humorous one-shot was my entry.
Wow. I didn't think Probie had it in him.
That was Tony's thought immediately after McGee's fist connected with his face.
Sure, it wasn't McGee's best punch. Tony could tell that he was holding back, not putting all his strength behind the blow.
Still, he hadn't really thought McGee would hit him at all.
And he certainly didn't expect it to hurt that much.
McGee looked almost as surprised as Tony as he dropped his hand. His face resembled that of the weakling who, tired of being picked on, unexpectedly punches the older, larger bully. Quickly, his face hardened back into a mask of anger, and he drew back his hand to strike again.
This time, Tony was ready. He ducked and popped back up, returning a blow of his own. McGee was knocked backwards. He put his hand to his cheek.
Tony kept his fists up and jumped around. "Huh? Huh? You like that, Probie? Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee?"
For a moment, they eyed each other warily, circling like predators. Each wondering if they were really going to go through with this.
"Forget it, McGee." Tony spoke low. "She's out of your league."
With a guttural yell, McGee lowered his head and plowed forward, straight into Tony's stomach.
Tony grunted as he was knocked backwards into a garbage can. Trash went flying and so did the two agents. Tony ended up on the ground with McGee's considerable bulk on top of him. He pushed as hard as he could and managed to throw the younger agent up and off of him. Tony stumbled to his feet.
"Playtime's over, Probie!"
"QUIT CALLING ME THAT!"
He charged, but McGee was ready. The two agents slammed into each other like rams. Both stumbled back, shaken. McGee recovered first and swung, this time with all his strength.
McGee grinned and kept his fists up.
"You're the one who's out of your league, DiNozzo."
Tony swung, a quick right cross that McGee blocked, followed by an uppercut that he could not dodge. McGee groaned and grabbed his chin. Tony grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him up only inches from his face.
McGee's eyes narrowed. "You hit like a girl."
Tony shoved him back. McGee slipped on a piece of the spilled trash and fell back, to the ground. Tony stood over him, grinning.
"Give it up, Pro-"
His feet were out from under him before he knew what was happening. He landed hard on the concrete, on his butt. Hands slammed into the concrete, wrists bending painfully back as he instinctively tried and failed to catch himself.
I never should have taught him that leg sweep move.
They stared, eyes level with each other, both panting and out of breath, both trying to anticipate the other's next move while simultaneously planning their own.
Privately, Tony was a bit worried. His hands hurt from the fall, and from the punches. He glanced down and was surprised to see blood staining his knuckles. Mine or McGee's?
Slowly but determinedly, McGee rose to his feet. He loomed over Tony, his eyes reflecting a fire that the other agent had never seen before. He glared down at his partner, still on the ground.
"Get up," he snarled.
"I said get up!"
McGee still glared, uncomprehending. Slowly he reached up and touched his lip. His hand came away smeared with red. He swallowed hard as a sick look came over his face.
Carefully, hands up in a gesture of surrender, Tony got to his feet. The two partners faced each other warily.
"McGee, doesn't this seem a bit…junior high to you?"
McGee regarded the question for a moment. His expression softened a bit.
"Maybe," he grumbled.
"I mean," Tony continued breathlessly, "what exactly are we fighting over?"
McGee's eyes narrowed. His expression grew deadly once again.
"Ziva. We're fighting over Ziva."
Tony look a step back, hands still raised slightly. "Pro-… Tim, I didn't mean what I said-"
"Yes you did," McGee said, advancing. "You think you're better than me. That you can just have any girl you want and then drop them when you're bored with them."
"I do not!"
"You say you've changed, but I know better."
Tony felt his face growing hot with anger. "I would never treat Ziva that way."
McGee rolled his eyes. "Past behavior is indicative of future behavior."
Oh, I'm sorry! Were those words too big for you?"
Tony glared, anger rising again in him. "Look, McGeek, I was just trying to give you some friendly advice so you don't get hurt."
"What, you think I can't get a woman like Ziva? That I just have to settle for whatever I can get? You just want her for yourself!" McGee drew close so that he and Tony were eye to eye, nose to nose.
"She may be out of my league, but she's too good for you." His voice was barely above a whisper.
Tony dropped his voice as well. "That's it, McGee. You started this, and I'm going to-"
"Going to what, DiNozzo?"
Both agents froze like children who had been caught with a hand in the cookie jar. Their faces were still mere inches a part.
"You two about to kiss or something?"
Tony laughed, a forced, hollow laugh. "N-No. Kiss? That's a good one, boss." He quickly stood up straight and smoothed his jacket. "We were just, um, discussing the case."
Gibbs remained motionless, his face unreadable, as always. "We don't have a case. It's Friday afternoon. I thought you two were going home."
Ziva stepped out from behind Gibbs and stared at McGee's face. "McGee, your lip is bleeding."
"Oh, um, yeah…I, um, cut it. With my…tooth." He turned to Ziva with an innocent expression. "Maybe you could help me doctor it?"
Behind her, Tony gave a strangled cough and shot McGee a look of pure evil. Clever, Probie.
Ziva slid her thumb across his lip, cleaning off the still-wet blood. "There. You will live, yes?"
"Yes!" Tony interjected quickly. "Yes, he will. Now that we know McGee's going to survive, maybe you would like to join me for a drink this evening, Ziva?"
McGee's fist clenched again.
"Actually, I can't. I have a date."
Ziva looked from McGee to Tony, surprised by their unison outburst. "Yes, a date. Do not sound so surprised."
"A date with whom?" Tony asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
Ziva blushed. "With…with someone special." She grinned and winked at Gibbs, who gave a barely perceptible smile in return.
"You two go. Have a good weekend," Gibbs commanded, his eyes never leaving Ziva's retreating backside. Deliberately he followed her into the building, coffee in hand.
"And clean up that mess," he called over his shoulder.
In complete bewilderment, Tony and McGee watched them go. For a full minute, neither of them spoke.
"Well how do you like that?" Tony finally broke the silence.
McGee looked at him, eyes wide. "You don't think they…"
Tony grimaced. "I don't think I want to know."
McGee looked ashamed. "Tony, earlier…I may have, you know, over-reacted a bit."
Tony looked down at his scraped hands. "A bit?" He looked up at McGee's lip, now starting to swell. "Well, things may have gotten a bit out of hand on both sides, you know?"
He clapped his partner on the back, wincing as his palm tingled. "Come on Probie- I mean, McGee. I'll buy you that drink I was going to buy her. In fact, we'll hit the town together."
McGee frowned. "I don't really want to go out looking like this. I mean, my mouth must be pretty swollen."
Tony glanced at McGee's lower lip. One side was now the size of a quarter.
"Nah. It's barely even noticeable."