Chapter 4 – Feedback?
He'd made it in before Gibbs, managed to shave without anyone coming in to the washroom this time, changed into his suit and typed up his list. He was about to print off a copy when he noticed Geoff pushing the mail delivery cart in his direction.
"Very heavy package for Special Agent McGee", Geoff huffed. "Where do you want it Tony?"
"Just shove it over there", Tony smiled, pointing to Gibbs's desk.
"That's Special Agent Gibbs's desk, as well you know", Geoff said, folding his arms and raising his eyebrows at Tony.
"You got me", he grinned raising his hands in the air. "Ah... just stick it over there", Tony sighed and nodded his head in the direction of McGee's desk.
Geoff deposited the large, heavy box on McGee's desk and then started to push the delivery cart out of the squad room, narrowly missing Gibbs as he exited the elevator. Luckily the coffee survived.
"Morning boss", Tony offered as Gibbs strode past him and headed straight for his desk.
He waited until Gibbs had taken in a large measure of coffee from the Styrofoam cup and had placed his jacket on top of the files by the side of his desk. It was now or never, he thought.
Gibbs sighed. "What DiNozzo?"
That sigh was there again and he wondered whether he really ought to be doing this right now. Do it Anthony.
"Can I have a word?" he asked, looking directly at Gibbs.
"Fired... how about that one?"
He stared, his mouth slightly ajar, as the words smacked him in the face. There was no one else in the squad room. No need to put on a show. No need to hide. It was just the two of them... Gibbs and him. He knew it was a joke but his eyes drifted downwards and he closed his mouth. Half-heartedly attempting a fake laugh, Tony turned back to face his monitor. He knew Gibbs wouldn't buy it. He didn't know why he'd even tried to cover his hurt up.
"Never mind, it's not important"
"Tony", Gibbs sighed and picked up his coffee, "I have the Director in..." Gibbs checked his watch, "less than 30 seconds... it'll have to wait 'til later"
"Sure... fine", he replied, glancing over in his boss's direction.
He watched Gibbs walk off towards the central staircase which led up towards MTAC and the Director's office. And although he had his back to the staircase and couldn't see Gibbs striding up the steps two at a time, he heard the heavy tread of his gait and he could feel a pair of blue eyes watching him from the mezzanine. He waited for the sound of the Director's outer office door being opened.
"You go play with the Director", he muttered under his breath.
He really didn't want to show Gibbs the list he'd made now anyway. He knew he ought to do it, but 'ought to do' and 'actually doing' were not the same thing. He didn't want to think about it. He needed a distraction and it wasn't long before he turned his attention to McGee's parcel.
Just a quick look he thought. It was huge. He tried to lift it but it was he-av-y. How the hell had Geoff lifted it? The guy was only 1.65 meters and not in particularly good shape.
"Toning up Tony?"
Tony jumped slightly at the sound of the Mossad Officer's clipped voice.
"... you could use it", Ziva continued.
"I'll have you know, Zee-Vah, I carried McGeek's package, all the way up from the ground floor to right here on his desk... wait that didn't come out right"
"McGee does have a big package", Ziva snorted.
Tony smiled at her. Ziva looked radiant today. Her brown striped top matched her long brown hair which she'd tied back in a ponytail. It was simple, practical and she was beautiful.
"What is it?" she asked nodding quizzically at the package on McGee's desk.
"I don't know... you wanna guess?"
Ziva made a puzzled face. "Why would I want to guess when I have my knife, Tony?"
He looked at her incredulously, "Because it's fun?"
Stepping back, Tony couldn't help the reflex swallow as Ziva advanced, looking him up and down and replying in a low sultry voice, "I will stick with the knife, Tony"
"O--kay", he responded, "but let me guess first".
Ziva turned away. "If you must..." she shot over her shoulder, "what is it then?"
"Oh c'mon Ziva, it's McGee... it's obvious isn't it...?" he grinned and shrugged his shoulders, "redirected hate mail for Thom E. Gemcity".
Getting no rise from Ziva, he tried a couple more guesses... cookies, winter clothes and finally mittens, before Ziva painfully brought to his attention that the box was too heavy for it to contain mittens.
Feeling slightly put out, he said he didn't want to play anymore... although he did. He said he didn't care... although he did. His distraction was over... although he didn't want it to be, but he really did need to print that list out for Gibbs and get it over with... clear the air. He was almost at his desk when Ziva had whipped out her knife and had said she was going to open McGee's package.
"Thank God", he cried. His curiosity was killing him and he was relieved in more ways than one at Ziva's impulsiveness.
Ziva was about to slice open the box when McGee rounded the corner of the squad room and spied the package on his desk.
But McGee didn't seem to notice their blatant disregard for his privacy and with a wondrous look of elation and youthful enthusiasm he ran eagerly over to the package on his desk. He was hardly able to contain his excitement, "Oh Goody, they're here".
"Goody... who says Goody?" He hadn't meant to say that out loud but McGee wasn't listening. He was too engrossed in rummaging around in his package to notice.
"What is it?" Ziva asked.
Tony groaned to himself as McGee hauled an off-white rectangular box, obviously a Geek machine of some description, from deep within the package. She had to ask.
"This is my Mac SE. Got it for my eleventh birthday", McGee smiled. "She is my first".
"This is gonna get really strange isn't it?" he muttered to Ziva.
"Going to", she whispered back.
McGee wasn't interested, totally captivated by the childhood memories the outdated computers were bringing forth.
"These are chapters of my life... from the earliest discovery, to that palpable connection and the eventual evolution". McGee brought out a small dark grey box that looked rather like a large laptop. He held it up for them to see. "Look at this. Here I am making the transition to PC".
Tony'd had enough. "I'll alert the Smithsonian, maybe they can make a space for your exhibit..." he said beginning to head back towards his desk fully intent on finally completing what he 'ought to do'. He knew Gibbs would be back any minute and he needed to do this. "The chronicles of a teenage shut in", he hinted wryly to Ziva.
"How do you remember your childhood?" McGee asked.
He forced himself not to react. The memories invoked earlier that morning were still raw. "Vaguely", he lied.
"You have no sense of history" McGee said in exasperation.
Oh he had a history alright. Just one he didn't care to share with Tim, not right now anyway. Maybe in the future... someday.
He thought about responding but then caught sight of Gibbs walking with purpose towards the squad room. Something was up. Tony headed immediately for his desk draw to grab his Sig. There was no way in hell Gibbs would be interested in his list right now. And there was no way in hell he was going to give it to him. He breathed a sigh of relief and, holstering his Sig, hoped for a good day.
A/N – The dialogue from "Thank God" is all taken from the squad room scene after the opening credits of the Season 6 episode 'Broken Bird' (Bellisario/CBS/Paramount). I've just added a few of Tony's thoughts into the mix.
I know I've probably disappointed quite a few people by not making Gibbs and Tony have this out, but personally, I don't think they're ready to yet.
I will, at a later date, come back to the piece of paper that is hidden under Tony's sofa. When that will be depends really on what happens later on in Season 6... so for the moment I'm not going to reveal what Tony wrote on that piece of paper.
And I'm sorry for the delay to 'Weekend Duty' (Sequel to The Onion and Word Salad). It's progressing but it's turning into something rather longer and more complicated than I first planned so it's taking a while to write.
SA3' swallowed hard. "Boss?"
The ever hopeful expression drained from SA3's face as the boss shot him a stern look of warning and waited until McColleague was out of earshot.
"I don't mind the banter SA3'... it's good that you keep McColl on his toes, but there is a time and a place", he said, lowering his voice as Director Rants approached.
"Problem?" Director Rants asked the boss but looked directly at SA3'.
"SA3' and I are just discussing a case" the boss replied in a matter of fact tone.
Director Rants looked at the two agents in turn, clearly not believing a word. "I want the Q2 report by the end of the day"
The boss nodded. "End of the day", he acknowledged.
"SA3466996", Director Rants said coldly.
The two men watched the Director slowly head off in the direction of his office. SA3' paled as the boss started to angle his head and stretch his neck in the way that usually signified he was about to erupt and let fly with everything he had.
"I understand boss," SA3' said with remorse, "won't happen again".
"I know", the boss replied giving a small sigh. "I hear you're working tomorrow. You took the Saturday on call duty from McColl?"
"How would you like to do tonight as well?"
"Not really... I've got plans for tonight"
"You 'had' plans for tonight SA3466996"
"Oh come on boss, that's not f...."
"Neither is having to finish the Q2 reports by the end of the day SA3'. You can do all the jobs I had intended to get done today but won't have the time to do now that Rants has brought the Q2 deadline forward... and then..."
"... and then, SA3', you will spend the remaining time getting on with all the work 'you' were supposed to have done today but couldn't because you were busy doing mine. Is that clear SA3466996?"
"Good... and remember SA3', there's a time and a place... time... and a place... now work, go"
"Thank you boss", SA3' replied and sloped off in the direction of his desk.