Disclaimers: Don't own Tim, Gibbs, Ducky, Tony, Ziva, or Abby. Or the universe in which they operate. I'm just playing in DBell's and Shane Brennan's sandbox.
Rating: T; lots and lots and of Tim-whump.
Spoilers: Season 7; up to 7.15, "Jack-Knife" in general, and a few specific ones for 7.01.
Genre: General/Drama/Hurt-Comfort/Case-Fic/Drama
Characters: Tim-centric; All Hands On Deck. (Plus assorted OMCs.)
Pairings: None
Notes: a) A completed fic, in six parts; I'll post one a day until it's done.
b) Title borrowed from P.G. Wodehouse.
c) Inspired, encouraged, and has lovely bits written by, melliyna on LJ. She is my muse and partner in crime, and this fic would not have come to be without the lovely crack ficlet she wrote me for the prompt, "Gibbs, McGee, ER, waiting/worry"

Summary: What should have been a routine interview has gone, as they say, pear-shaped. Now Tim must a) figure out how he got in this dangerous situation, and b) get out of it. But Gibbs and his teammates are there to back him up. In more senses than one.

Chapter 1

NOW

Thank god Tony's not here to see this.

It was a stupid thing to think, but it was the one thing running through Tim's mind as he drifted back into consciousness. Slowly, painfully, and with all the stubbornness he could muster.

He hurt. He was tied to a chair, and he hurt all over. It came back to him in a rush. He catalogued it, clinically. At least one blow of a rifle butt to the back of his head. The pain of which was taking up at least 60% of his processing capacity. Several blows to the ribs, a sprained, probably broken wrist, and....blood? Blood running down his crisp white shirt front. Oh yeah, the (most likely broken) nose. Plus, getting bodily shoved into the cramped trunk of a '78 Dodge Dart did not help at all.

As he regained his vision, he saw...well, that there was really not that much to see. Bare bones lighting. What seemed to be a warehouse. A warehouse that, now that he thought about it, was really, really cold.

Cold. Hypothermia. Shock. None of this was helping his state of mind all that much. Tim, against his will, was starting to hyperventilate. His inner monologue was working overtime, and starting to sound really panicky. And kind of like his 9th grade Scout leader. The one Tim absolutely detested.

STUPID. STUPID. Weak. Incompetent. What the heck did you think you were doing, parading around as a field agent? The one time Ziva and Tony let you out of their sight, and this is what happens?

Fortunately, after 7 years, his inner voice also contained a good measure of Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

MCGEE! McGee, listen to me. Do. Not. Panic.

Also, a fair bit of one Doctor Donald Mallard.

Calm down, Timothy. If you slow down your breathing, your cognitive function will improve.

And it did. Although the fact that he was talking to himself in the voice of three different people? Kind of freaking him out, now.

"Okay. Okay.", he whispered to himself. "Gotta think. Gotta process. Where is this? Where am I?"

Begin from the beginning, McGee.

Then

"McGee. *pause* McKay. McDuff. McDonald. McGee. McGee."

Tim dragged his eyes away from the monitor, and heaved a sigh. Mostly for Tony's benefit, though.

"Yes, Tony?"

The senior agent smiled.

"Darn, forgot my question, now. Ah, yes, that was it: have you heard back from Frederick PD on the Slocumb case yet?"

"No, Tony. And I hadn't when you asked me that question 15 minutes ago."

"But that was 15 minutes ago. Things could have changed since then."

"You're just bored, because it's been an incredibly slow day. And you, for the moment, have nothing to do."

"I...really don't."

And then Tony got that gleam in his eye, the one Tim had learned to instinctively fear.

"Sit, and entertain me."

"You're really more of a secret geek than you let on, Tony."

"What?"

"Don't what me. You just made a Star Trek reference."

"No, no, nooo, what I made was a Ricardo Montalban reference. Much cooler."

"A reference *from* the Star Trek episode 'Space Seed'."

"Which I only made because you made me sit through it that one time on a stakeout."

"Nevertheless...."

Tony seemed to sense that he had lost this argument, and looked around desperately.

"Where the hell is Ziva?"

"I really wish I knew, Tony. She'd share my triumph, for one."

"Triumph, what triumph? Truce, if anything."

A familiar throat was cleared behind both of their heads. Tim and Tony reflexively flinched. Tim turned towards the stairwell. He found Gibbs, arms crossed and expression unamused, standing next to the invoked Israeli. Who was grinning widely.

Gibbs wordlessly nodded to Ziva, and her smile became even broader as she spoke for their boss.

"If you both are quite finished waging war on each other?"

"Yes." "Yes."

Gibbs's expression lightened somewhat, and he finally spoke. "Dead sailor in Anacostia. Ziva gets to drive."

Tim and Tony exchanged horrified looks, but followed the other two to the elevator.

*******