Rookie Mistakes

By: Mahiri Chuma

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I don't own anything NCIS related – though I really wish I did, and if I did, oh the whumpage there would be!

Summary: He just couldn't help but think that it would be such a stupid way to die. Toy and Tim make a rookie mistake.

A/N: Hey NCIS fans! This is my first NCI fanfic! I wanted to do a Tim/Tony friendship fic so here you have it. I just love these two and hope this little ficlet does them an ounce of justice.

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Rookie Mistakes

Chapter One: DiNo-zoes and McStakes

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He really hoped he would be able to get out of this. He just couldn't help but think that it would be such a stupid way to die. He always assumed he would go out in a rain of gunfire, poison by Ziva, maybe saving a beautiful woman or hell, Gibbs; but dying of hypothermia surrounded by slabs of cow and other nameless meats in a giant freezer?

Pathetic.

"P-Probie you had better got a-a damned g-good reason for shut-shutting that door behind us."

Tony was trying very hard to find the silver lining of this particular cloud (or clown if Ziva was speaking) but after finding nothing, not even an inkling of evidence to convict the man of the triple homicide of three Navy officers, he was becoming frustrated. Even after much prodding of the meat, looking for an area with mobile reception and testing of the doors accompanied by bruised and sore shoulders, they were at a loss.

Tony shook his head of the predicament for a moment and focused on staying warm as he shivered violently and watched his breath condense in the cold air as he held his arms tight to his chest.

"You kn-know I didn't sh-shut the door. If y-you hadn't c-called the room clear w-when it WASN'T cle-clear the suspect wouldn't h-have locked us in here!"

Tony's eyes narrowed and he pointed a finger at the man sitting next to him, his hand shaking and his eyes wide at the other man's accusation.

"It W-WAS clear, Probie! I-It was until y-you announced yourself b-by tripping over everything in th-the kitchen, y-you're like some kind of cartoon chara-character, McGoofy."

"I j-just didn't th-think it was a great idea, Tony, t-to check the freezer by walking all the w-way in!"

"Hey, it's c-called thorough p-police work, McGee, t-try it sometime."

Tony took a deep breath and winced. His lungs were beginning to feel somewhat tight, as if he had a bad chest cold and his throat was beginning to tingle with the beginnings of a cough. He could feel McGee's eyes on him and he quickly hid any discomfort, turning to the slab of meat dangling next to him.

McGee knew Tony's lungs had to be bothering him given his rather impressive medical history. From what he had witnessed during the past couple of years particularly during the winter months, Tony had an hour or so before he began to really cough. He too was beginning to feel the extreme discomfort of their environment. He had long ago forgotten the existence of his toes or ears and a small but persistent ache was forming behind his eyes.

The sooner they got out of there the better.

"W-We can keep arguing a-bout this, Tony OR we can start th-thinking of a way to get out."

"You think I haven't b-been trying to f-figure that out, Probie? Rule n-number 29: look around, th-the answer is i-in your surroundings."

"Gibbs never s-said that, T-Tony."

"W-well, consider th-that an of-ficial DiNozzo rule right after d-don't feed your p-probie after midnight and don't open letters s-sealed with a kiss."

"I would n-never follow those r-rules."

McGee shifted uncomfortably on the freezing ground, picking his hands up quickly as the cold steel threatened to blister his fingers. If he hadn't known that he was currently in a meat locker he wouldn't have been able to tell whether the sensation had been scorching hot or freezing cold.

"Don't touch the gr-ground Probsicle, unless y-you want to become the s-six million dollar man."

The glint in Tony's eyes was all McGee needed to catch the movie reference despite his complete ignorance to what that movie was.

"I'm assuming th-that's a movie, Tony?"

Tony made a sound of disbelief and shook his head despite the uncontrollable shivering. He found himself wishing the weather hadn't been so nice that day as he had neglected to wear his NCIS windbreaker and was stuck with the swiftly stiffening suit and non-insulatory shoes. Sure they were expensive and they sure were shiny but they weren't exactly meant for a walk in the tundra.

"Nope, T-TV Show. G-guy loses both legs, an eye and h-his right arm…get's 'em replaced w-with bionic ones. H-he becomes a secret agent. G-Good stuff, played by L-Lee Majors. 1974."

McGee shook his head before blowing hot air into his cupped hands.

"Well, I-I'm going to have to wait, f-for the technology to catch up. Until th-then, It'll be McCripple."

Tony couldn't help but let out an amused snort, surprised by McGee's joke.

"L-Look on the bright side. I'd f-find a really nice, b-beautiful level 5 s-sorceress to wipe your ass f-for you."

It was McGee's turn to laugh. As much as Tony got on his nerves he occasionally surprised him with his knowledge of terminology from his own life.

"I'd be an amputee, Tony, not quadriplegic."

"S-she doesn't h-have to know, it'll b-be our dirty secret." McGee smiled at the thought of Tony interviewing a woman to do that for him; Tony had such a strange sense of humor.

The two men sat in silence for a moment listening to each others breathing, Tony's beginning to become slightly ragged as their time in the freezer lengthened.

"Ok, it-its been an hour. I say we d-do something a bit more constructive while w-we wait for rescue."

"S-sure, McGI-Joe…one problem. L-like I said before, freezers are locked tight f-from the outside, airt-tight too, a-and they get to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, l-last thing we want to do i-is work up a sw-sweat or re-reduce blood flow to our extrem-extremities…" He was cut off as the tingling in his throat grew even more persistent and he began to cough. The fit didn't last for more than a few seconds but he felt spent by the end of it and let his head fall back against the freezing steel, eyes clenched tightly closed as tears stung his eyes.

McGee threw yet another worried glance in his direction but decided not to mention anything relating to that "P" word. He could only hope that Gibbs or Ziva or even Abby by some gothic forensic science miracle would find them soon.

"H-How do you know s-so much about freezers? Y-You plan this."

"I-if I had I w-woud've brought a c-coat…in college I w-worked at a couple of restaurants, p-part of the initiation into the kitchen i-is to sit in the f-freezer for ten minutes. D-don't remember it b-being this c-cold though," another short coughing fit stopped him, the sound becoming throaty and painful to hear, "d-damn, it really is cold in here."

McGee knew they had to be in the first stages of hypothermia, he was barely able to move his fingers at this point and was beginning to feel slightly warmer than before. He could tell Tony's shivering was beginning to slow down and he was sure he was only a step behind the senior field agent. Every agent had minimal first aid training and he knew what to do in this situation and he was sure Tony did as well; it was getting there that was the problem.

However, as he became increasingly more tired and watched as Tony began to pale he figured to hell with it.

"T-Tony, you know in first aid t-training, how they tell us to, you know –"

"No way, P-Probes."

'Well I f-figured, if we huddled to-together, we c-could delay hypothermia by quite a b-bit of time."

"It aint th-the end yet Probie, not until the fat lady s-sings and I don't h-hear you singing."

"Now's n-not the time to be m-macho, Tony."

"Oh, Probie. It's n-not about being macho, it's about not w-wanting to attend a warm up s-session with McCuddles."

Tony felt another painful series of coughs coming and took a deep breath, hoping to appease his aching lungs and avoid the inevitable. The cold air only seemed to make it worse and he found himself doubled over, his chest unreasonably tight and his head spinning.

"Duck's not going too h-happy with you, T-Tony." Tim wasn't too sure how to address Tony's quickly deteriorating health and decided a light joke would be the best way to express his concern.

"F-for what? Not wanting to spend th-the day in your arms. It m-might be different if you we-were McGirl, b-but I'm not that lucky."

"You know what I-I mean, Tony." Tim swallowed hard as he tried to keep his teeth from chattering. Just talking was becoming impossible.

Tony was silent for a moment, understanding all to clearly what McGee was implying. Anytime he so much as sneezed everyone, save a confused Ziva, dropped what they were doing only to surround him like mother hens. He knew it sounded bad, and sincerely hoped it wasn't that bad, but felt McGee might need a little convincing, despite his uncertainty.

"Yeah, Probes. I'm g-good," as if to accentuate how "good" he was doing, another wet cough erupted from his lungs and he gave a meek grin, "b-besides, Ducky loves my co-company."

"Tony…" Tony understood McGee's concern but there was simply nothing they could do and he was starting to get frustrated. He raked a hand through his hair and turned towards Tim, his eyes locking with his and the annoyance clear in his voice.

"McGee!" Tim looked at him for a moment before turning his head away, eyes locking onto the meat dangling in front of him, hurt and an inkling of anger in his eyes.

Tony immediately regretted his short outburst, but things weren't looking to well and he didn't feel like dealing with the concern being thrown his way. He was never good at dealing with the fact that people around him could feel concern for him.

He shivered violently for a moment and let his head fall back against the wall as another deep cough got caught in his throat. Despite the cold, Tony's arms had long since dropped to his lap, not wanting to touch the freezing ground as McGee had done before. He knew he was cold but he simply couldn't find the energy to hold them up. They felt like weights and he had found it strangely relieving to relinquish the heat they offered.

Tony turned to McGee who had become unusually quiet after his last outburst. Tony gave his junior agent a once over and didn't really like what he was seeing. McGee was pale and had dark rings under his eyes, the shivering had slowed down and the backs of his hands were resting against the ground. Despite his apparent lack of awareness, his gaze was steady and it took Tony a second to realize he was staring at something rather than into space. He followed the man's gaze to a large slab of meat.

"Probie…" His voice had suddenly gained a hoarse, rough quality and he swallowed a bit sluggishly, his eyes blinking slowly. McGee continued to look ahead, ignoring him for a moment. "Tim…" the use of his name caught his attention, causing him to glance sideways, "your hands." It took Tim a moment to seem to comprehend what Tony was saying, thinking, for a moment, that he was confused as was common with progressive hypothermia. As Tony looked down at his hands, he realized, however, that he was touching the steel. He promptly lifted them to find them red, swollen and beginning to blister.

Unable to do anything about it he dropped the frost bitten hands into his lap. Tony shifted his long, outstretched legs for a minute, attempting to move but decided to give up, unable to lift them.

"Let me see, Tim. Y-You could have frostbite." Tim snorted, though due to his shivering it sounded more akin to a gasp.

"I'm good, Tony." He looked at Tony with a steely gaze, mimicking the words Tony had said before when he had voiced his own concerns.

Tony exhaled, a humorless chuckle escaping his lips. McGee ignored him and continued to stare ahead.

"What're you looking at?" He cleared his throat as a slow, wet cough made it's way lazily out of his lungs, his eyes continuing to water and his head throbbing painfully. It was becoming harder to hold his eyes open and it was taking all his attention and energy to speak the words with some clarity.

"The meat."

"Oh. Why?"

"Just thinking about how I'm g-going to become a vegetarian…" Tony chuckled for a moment, his eyes drooping further. He was sure McGee was saying something more but he couldn't quite hear it. His lungs ached terribly and his coughing was becoming more and more frequent. He had seen so many movies where the protagonist was stuck in a frozen wasteland, slowly dying of hypothermia, except those people were dying on Everest not in a crappy Italian Restaurant meat locker.

"Tony!" Tony hadn't realized that he had stopped listening or that McGee had been shaking his shoulder for the past 15 seconds.

He opened his eyes, unaware he had ever closed them, to see McGee looking at him, worry written all over his pale face. Tony coughed for a minute and tried to grin but failed miserably; his face felt frozen, his muscle uncooperative.

"Sorry, Probes. Was jus' thinking 'bout that movie K2…the one on the mountain."

"Oh yeah, I've seen that one. Except we're not gonna die." McGee watched only carefully for a moment before he was satisfied he wouldn't scare him and fall asleep again.

"Rule 32, McGee…DiNozzos don't die in meat lockers."

"I like that one."

"I didn't say Probies, I don't know what happens to them…"

"Well, seeing as I'm, " McGee paused to swallow, why was every little thing becoming so difficult? 'Seeing as I'm not a Probie anymore, I don't see how it matters."

"Oh it matters. You'll always be my little Probie. Kind of like my little pony, 'cept you don't have a tat-tattoo of an ice cream cone on your ass." Tony stopped for a moment and mustered up all his strength to turn towards McGee, eyes serious and clear.

"Or do you?"

"Rule number 87: a gentlemen n-never tells."

"So Probalicious d-does have a rule book? Rule number 4-40: a gentlemen always tells."

"Like I said, Tony, I would never follow those rule…"

Tony was beginning to feel quite pleased with McGee's ability to share in the banter, perhaps he really had taught him something after all. That or he was just being nice in their dying hours. He didn't really care either way; at least they had switched out that incessant stuttering for slurring.

He felt another coughing fit coming and turned his head away from McGee. He really was starting to regret opening that letter all those years ago. He cleared his throat once again and let out a shallow sigh.

"Maybe," He stopped, suddenly feeling tired, "—maybe we should've done that body heat thing."

Tim could only manage a lazy "Hmm" as he felt his eyes slip close.

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Yay! Our silly boys are always in trouble. Coming up, Tony and Probilicious start to take survival a little more seriously and continue to engage in good o' male bonding, but the question is, where the hell is the cavalry? Please read and review as it only makes me want to write faster, hope you enjoyed!