Another one, and so soon as well. I'm so proud =) Thanks loads for the reviews and alerts – some of you reviewed every chapter that time round, which made me a very happy person. Every single one of your reviews is greatly appreciated, and I will always love hearing from you.

Punching Bag


The loud noises coming from the NCIS gym peaked McGee's curiosity as he made his way out of the elevator. The rattling of a chain and the subsequent harsh sound of flesh coming into contact with synthetic padding caused him to turn around and peer into the darkened room. The only people left in the building were the members of Team Gibbs, having only just returned from making their latest arrest. It could have only been either Tony or Ziva inside as Gibbs was busy occupying himself with the Colonels interrogation.

The team, sans McGee, had walked into the bullpen earlier with the Colonel in handcuffs and Damon Werth following dutifully behind Gibbs. McGee, appointed as the unofficial bearer of good news had scampered down to Abby's lab to tell her of their success. He'd missed Tony and Ziva's entrance and his best bet was that it was either one of them who was now taking out their anger on the unsuspecting punching bag.

McGee squinted in the darkness and could barely make out the shape of a person circling the bag hanging from the ceiling in the far corner of the gym. He could tell in an instant that it was Tony; no one else hit as passionately and wildly as he did.

He considered backing away and going back to the bullpen after realising who it was. There was no need to stick his nose in someone else's business, especially if that someone turned out to be an irate Tony. Besides, he wanted to double check his order of self help CDs he was in the middle of when Team Gibbs returned before. But when he heard another loud grunt followed quickly by a curse of pain, he figured he should say something before Tony ended up with broken bones in his hands.

"Tony, is that you?"

His voice echoed through the near empty room and the man stopped moving before starting towards him. Indeed it was Tony, with his shirt sleeves rolled up and the top two buttons undone. He was sweating profusely and McGee noted that his co-worker was barefoot as well. McGee barely managed to restrain himself from making a Hobbit comment.

"What do you want, McNosy?"

McGee definitely did not expect the irritation that dripped from Tony's voice. Still, ever the loyal friend, he ploughed on.

"I just came from the lab. Abby said there was an attack at Gibbs' house while you and Ziva were there. Are you guys alright?" He asked, ignoring Tony's glare.

"I'm alive, aren't I?" Tony scoffed, snagging a towel hanging from the side of the room and draping it across his shoulders. There was a telling restlessness in his movements that McGee only saw when Tony was having one of his bad days. Tony was tense and if his shaking shoulders were any indication, still very riled up.

"So what did the punching bag do to you? Are you taking out your frustrations on it because Ziva had to save you back there?" He joked, trying to lighten the mood, and all at once he realised he had said the wrong thing.

Tony's nose flared, his eyes widened and his mouth parted in what McGee would classify as a menacing snarl. McGee's skin prickled and instinctively stepped an inch away from Tony.

"Save me?" Tony's voice increased by several decibels.

"I got thrown to the ground when the flashbang went off. I'm not allowed to sleep tonight because apparently if I do, I'll go into a coma. There was a gun, a foot away from her hand, McGee. And she was just lying there on the ground. Ziva was not in the right frame of mind to save anyone tonight."

Obviously, that was the source of his frustrations. McGee took in the exhaustion that was written all over Tony's face and found himself feeling guilty for egging him on. McGee started to apologise, but stopped himself as Tony flung the soaked towel in his direction.

"Look, McGee. It's been really long night. So if I want to hit something, I'll very well hit whatever I like. And you should be grateful it isn't you."

McGee let out a puff of air he didn't realise he had been holding. An angry Tony was a force to be reckoned with, and he'd learned that the hard way last summer. Tony's hands were balled up into fists and McGee could see the splotches of red across his knuckles from the beating they had just suffered. The only times he'd seen Tony so worked up was after Kate got shot, and during the weeks after they heard the news about the Damocles going down.



"You... you thought you were going to lose her tonight."

The force of the look Tony sent his way as he said the words had the same effect as Gibbs smacking him upside the head. McGee flinched.

Instead of the denial McGee thought would come out of his mouth, Tony resigned himself to speaking in a normal volume with just a hint of defeat in his voice.

"I don't know what I was thinking. They were big men, with big guns and fully armed for an all out tactical assault. And all I know is that when that junkie Werth recognised her, I was never more thankful in my life, as crazy as that sounds."

McGee nodded. "But it's all settled right? You guys got the Colonel. And Werth is willing to testify to the Federalis about the bounty hunting..." He stopped when Tony waved a dismissing hand in the air.

"Yeah, it's done, settled. We're both okay according to Ducky except for my head. I think I just need to get out of my 'have-to-save-Ziva' mode - old habits die hard, y'know? The summer ..." Tony trailed off and McGee knew not to push any further.

Tony pushed himself off the wall and rolled down his sleeves, signalling the end of their short conversation. "But I guess she can handle herself now. She's back to being the super ninja extraordinaire. " He said, plastering a fake grin on his face. Tony turned around and pointed to the far end of the gym.

"I'm just gonna go get my shoes."

McGee waited as Tony jogged back to put on his shoes and returned, his hair still dishevelled but nonetheless looking slightly more like his normal self again. Tony turned to McGee as they left the gym and fixed him with a stern stare.

"You know, last summer when we talked about not mentioning certain conversations ever again?"

Memories of late nights at the bar with Tony drunk and rambling on about Ziva, Mossad, Jeanne, campfires and Gibbs' summer of retirement flashed in his mind's eye. McGee nodded slowly and cleared his throat.

"Uh... yeah?"

"That was one of them."



The McGee/Tony dynamic this season has been great, obviously due to them being partners with the absence of Ziva that summer. The first few episodes had them talking about dates and women – and I liked that. Only seems natural that they both had each other to talk to – and the latest episode about their 'bromance' was such an awesome testament to that.

As usual – I love hearing what you thought of this piece =)