I don't own NCIS. Many thanks to finlura for Betaing this for me.
Looking at each other in concern Tony and Kate in unspoken agreement decided to see what was wrong with their young teammate. McGee hadn't been eating well for the past few weeks and had been scrubbing his face as if he was in pain. Their boss for some reason seemed oblivious to the man's discomfort, which was strange. They walked over to where Tim was collecting the equipment to load in the van and cornered him.
"Hey Probie what's wrong? It looks like you're not feeling well," Tony wanted to know.
"Yeah Tim what's going on? We're a team we should be able to confide in each other." Kate reminded him.
"Well um… ah," Tim hedged. He was still too new on the team to be sure of his place and wanted to try to be tougher than this.
"Gees McGee, pulling teeth would be easier than this, just spit it out already," Tony cried in exasperation.
Shaking his head at the choice of word Tim looked at his new teammates and decided to get the teasing over with. The looks on their faces said they would keep at it until he told them what was wrong, "My wisdom teeth are bothering me."
"Your wisdom teeth are coming in? How old are you?" Kate laughed. Her young teammate seemed even younger than usual at that moment and it was incredibly funny.
"Uh I've got to get this stuff in the van," Tim told them before pushing past the pair eyes down too hide the hurt of the laughter that followed him. He figured they would make fun of him a bit but not outright laugh at him.
"What the hell's wrong with you Kate?" Tony demanded after he watched his Probie leave with slumped shoulders.
"What do you mean what's wrong with me? McGee so young that he needs his wisdom teeth pulled and you don't think that's funny?" Kate asked in surprise.
"I didn't get them until I was thirty and what you did wasn't funny it was humiliating," he snapped before turning to see to his friend.
"Oh come on DiNozzo," she snapped back, "What about you? You make fun of him all the time."
"Yeah I tease him, but there's a line Kate and you crossed it. He trusted us enough to tell us there was a problem and got laughed at. Ya think he's going to be so willing the next time some things wrong?" Tony asked the fury rising at her thoughtlessness. Kate watched him go after the younger man in shock.
"Hey Tim," Tony said softly as he approached the van.
"DiNozzo," was the curt reply.
Tony sighed, the kid had shown a stubborn streak that was wider then Gibbs' in the months that he had been on the team and it was up in full force right now, "If I had known that Kate was going to laugh I would have done that alone. It was a bad move on her part, part of being on a team is being able to talk to each other about anything, and not having to worry about our reaction. You're hurting and that's not funny." Tony was pleased to see that the sorting that McGee had been doing had slowed and he had cocked an ear towards his senior agent, "Have you been too the dentist yet?"
"Yeah she said that they need to come out." Tim was surprised at Tony coming over to talk to him about what happened and not just to say that he was being sensitive about it.
Something about the way, he had said that it was his wisdom teeth bothered Tim and not that they were coming in made the older man ask, "When did they come in?"
"Just before I moved here to be on the team," Tim cringed.
"That was over three months ago. Why haven't you gotten them out?" Tony asked surprised at the delay.
"I had to find a new dentist first. Then I needed to save the money up and I've been delaying the surgery, because of work," he replied softly.
"Surgery?" Tony gasped in surprise, "What's wrong with them?"
"They can't be yanked by my normal dentist, they're mostly buried in my gums and a local anesthesia would wear off before the dentist would be done so I have to go under."
"How close are the teeth to abscessing?" Tony asked. Tooth problems left untreated could abbess quickly and with four of them at that point it would be more of a problem then Kate had had to deal with when she just had the one infected tooth.
"Close. Not sure what I'm going to do though every time I've made an appointment a big case has come up and I've had to cancel it." The worry was evident in the young man's voice.
"Make another one and I'll make sure you get there. Who's going to be there for you when the surgery's done?" Tony asked figuring it would be a day surgery rather than spending time in a hospital.
"Umm no one," he replied looking at his feet, "Abby's so busy and I don't really know anyone that well here yet that would be willing to take me home after. Besides the team has more important things to do then baby sit me after work. You guys do that enough during work to be doing it after as well."
"What are you talking about?" Tony demanded surprised by what he had just heard.
"I know I'm not going to last here. I just want don't want to sound like I'm whining, as well as being useless."
"Tim, Gibbs never would have transferred you to the team if he did think you could make it. And I think he's right," Tony informed him.
"Alright if that's true then why do I keep making so many mistakes?" Tim asked miserably.
"Uh, because you've never been an investigator before Probie. This is something that takes time to learn. Did you learn to be such a computer genius overnight?" Tony asked him.
"Of course not Tony. It's taken me years to develop the proficiency that I have now," was the exasperated reply. The younger man then blushed at the piercing look he got driving home the point home, "Well I suppose you're right Tony."
"Yup that's me Mr. Right," he replied smugly. Tim just rolled his eyes and tossed him a box of gloves that needed to be put away. The only sound was that of a chuckle and a drawer opening.
Behind them Gibbs silently cursed at his lack of judgment. He had gotten use to dealing with people who were nowhere as green as the kid was and apparently fumble this situation badly. He suspected that Tony would make him pay for it. The Senior Agent had really taken to the fact he would be training the young man. When Gibbs had come over to see what was going on at the start of the conversation and had not allowed Kate to interrupt it and was glad he had. The look on Kate's face showed she was starting to realize that there was more to the boys then just what was on the surface. That there was more to Tony then the frat boy persona and that Tim was more than just a walking, unfeeling computer.
As for Tony hopefully he would take the hint that the kid dropped on his head and ease up on the teasing. When it sounded like the conversation had run its course, Gibbs made a point of making his presence known. Tony looked like he had guessed that they had been over heard and that he expected to be backed up on making Tim keep the appointment that he would force the man into making. Kate was quiet the way back, lost in her own thoughts.
When the team got back to headquarters Gibbs headed down to autopsy giving Tony the opportunity to chance to make a run at Tim, "Why haven't you called your dentist yet?"
"We're at work Tony…"
"So? You need to get this dealt with," Tony said cutting the younger man off, "Two reasons why; First you're in pain and that's not cool, second you're going to affect the team at some point because you can't concentrate on what you're doing."
"One problem I can't get my teeth dealt with if I'm never able to get the time off to deal with it. I've asked for the time off every time and when something's come up Gibbs has forced me to cancel," Tim snapped in frustration.
"Tim make the appointment, and I'll make sure you get there. Please trust me that I have your six on this," Tony pleaded as he squat down beside his Probie.
Looking at his mentor Tim sighed, picked up the phone and started dialing. Knowing that this was going to be the best for now Tony got up and went to keep his end of the bargain. Finding Gibbs had been easier then he thought when the elevator doors opened and his boss was standing there. Walking in he hit a random button and when the elevator started moving, he hit the emergency switch stopping the ride.
"Well Boss what's the excuse?" Tony glared at him.
"Tony I… there is none, I messed up," he replied wondering where the young man was getting this strength from.
"Ya think Boss? If I pulled something like this, you would have head slapped me into next week. I know the kid's greener then grass, but toughening him by ignoring him doesn't work. I won't lose someone else like that not even to you Boss," Tony clamped his mouth shut as soon as he realized what he just said.
"Tony talk to me," Gibbs implored worried for the younger man.
"It was someone I went to the Academy with. Military school did wonders for helping for preparing me for learning to be a cop. But this kid, just out of college, came in the same time as me and he was a lot like McGee. He was shy, green and a total sponge for whatever you gave him. We got close, buddies you know. I helped him along with the people aspect of police work and he helped me with paper work learning, showed me tricks and stuff," Tony paused a moment to collect himself, "Well some of the other guys saw that and decided that he had a thing for me and started giving him grief. I complained on his behalf because he didn't want to cause trouble, but I was ignored even though our instructors knew what was happening, and eventually it got him killed. I won't let that happen again, Boss. If had been Kate or me, you would have dragged us to the appointment if you needed too, but with McGee you just ignored it. Why?"
"Like you said he's green as grass and needs toughing up. I kept telling myself I was doing the right thing making him stronger, and maybe it would help him stand up to me. That, and I watched you step it up with him and decided to leave you too it. You've been doing a great job. Damn it DiNozzo, don't look at me like that I'm not infallible and I do screw up. Just make sure he gives me the request for leave form and I'll make sure he has the time off," Gibbs ranted at his senior agent.
"You better," Tony informed him before flicking the emergency switch sending the elevator on its way.
Gibbs knew that this wasn't the end of if it but it was the best he could do for now. When he got back to the bullpen, Tim dropped a request form on his desk. Gibbs was surprised that it was for three days and asked him about it. Reluctantly he told the man that he need surgery and that he would need a couple days off to shake off the anesthesia. Tim was surprised at the look of guilt that passed across his boss's face, but didn't comment on it. Turning back to his desk Tim was surprised to find Tony leaning against it with a Caf-Pow in his hand.
"I thought that you would like something cold for your teeth," Tony smiled.
"Thanks," Tim beamed grabbing for the treat causing a mummer of laughter from the others.
"DiNozzo, McGee, go get lunch, something other than the Chinese we've had for three days in a row," Gibbs ordered to a course of 'yes bosses'.
"Hey Probie when I tease you, you know it's just teasing right?" Tony asked as they got into the car.
"Mostly, but sometimes you can take things too far," Tim told him looking out the window so the other man couldn't see his face, "And I don't always know if your just kidding or not. I learned not to trust teasing very early so sometimes it's hard for me to figure out if people really don't like me or not when they tease me so I just figure that they don't."
"Probie I know I can be a knucklehead sometimes but I care about you, nothing's going to change that. When's your appointment?" Tony asked knowing he had damage control to do.
"Wednesday at 8 o'clock."
"When do you need to be there?"
"I'll pick you up at seven then, and don't tell me I don't have to I know that. I want to and let me deal with El Jefe."
"Thanks Tony, for everything, not just this, but for well, everything."
"No problem kid, now when greasy food is no longer an option, pasta is a good bet. Gibbs enjoys spaghetti and meat sauce and Kate goes for a good seafood linguine. Now me a cacciatore is always welcome," Tony explained as they made the drive to the pasta joint that the older man favored. When they got back, Kate smiled at the pair and dug into the box of pasta. It took her a moment to realize that neither of the men had asked what she wanted but brought back what she liked anyway. She was ashamed she couldn't do the same thing for either of her two teammates.
Tim blinked owlishly as he stumbled for the door to let Tony in before he annoyed the neighbors and was surprised to find Gibbs and Kate there as well. He rolled his eyes as the three of them barged in and began poking around. At least they didn't have any food on them Tim grumbled to himself as he headed back to the small bedroom to get changed. When he came back out Tim smirked at the sight Kate had claimed his computer chair and a battered copy of Frankenstein, he would never have pegged her for a horror fan, and the other two were currently drooling over his record collection.
"I'm ready whenever you guys are," Tim said to catch his teams attention.
"Sure you're ready Tim?" Kate asked getting up from her spot.
"Of course he's ready. Probie's not a McBaby about going to the dentist like you Kate," Tony piped up.
"I'm not a baby DiNozzo," she snapped.
"Hey can we get a move on?" Gibbs asked head slapping the two agents.
"Yes Boss," they both chimed in at once. Tim just chuckled and followed the three of them out. He quirked an eyebrow when he ended up in Kate's car but didn't comment on it.
"Um Tim about the other day I'm sorry. I shouldn't have laughed it's not funny," she offered.
"Thanks Kate. So you like horror?" He asked curious, about the women beside him.
"Yeah guilty pleasure," she blushed.
"Ever watch them, horror movies not just read books I enjoy the old stuff you know the old black and whites?"
"I love the old black and whites. Just don't tell DiNozzo or I'll never hear the end of it."
"My lips are sealed."
They shared a laugh and talked the rest of the way to the clinic, enjoying the common ground that they had found. When they got their destination Kate dropped her passenger off at the door before parking the car, she had arranged to drive Tim to apologize for her behavior and it took more convincing then she had thought necessary to let Tony give up that privilege. She needed to say the words and for some reason had to do it before the surgery, she felt antsy like just before a storm, but chalked it up the fact that she hated going to the dentist until she saw Tony. The man was filled a nervous tension that he was suppressing. When she questioned him on it the senior agent just brushed it off with his usually crude humor.
After seeing their young friend off to surgery the trio trouped over to a nearby café to have breakfast. They hadn't wanted to eat in front of Tim so they had skipped breakfast and were hungry. Over their meal the pair managed to convince themselves everything was going to be fine and dragged it out until just before Tim was suppose to come out of surgery. Gibbs didn't say much the whole time though he picked up on the nervousness that the two showed. He felt it as well, but couldn't decide if it was the fact that one of his team was in surgery or if it was something else. They were too engrossed in their thoughts to register the ambulance that drove past them at full tilt, paramedics were just too much a part of their lives to notice anymore. If they had the team would have realized that it end up at the clinic and that the patient that they were loading looked a lot like McGee.
"What do you mean he's not here?" Gibbs demanded of the front desk nurse.
"The kid's not here that's all I can tell you," she snapped back.
"He just came out of minor surgery there's no way he could have shaken off the anesthesia that quick," was the angry response, "And it's Agent McGee, not Mr., not sonny, kid or whatever. It's Agent McGee."
"You're not family. I can't tell you anything," she growled at the man growing more irritated by the moment.
"Yes you do, I'm his medical proxy and should have been informed about any emergency that occurred," Gibbs shot back ignoring the growing crowd. It was something that he insisted upon with all of his agents, in case something happened.
"What's going on?" the head nurse of the dental clinic demanded of the feuding pair as she stormed over.
"This man is demanding that he be told about a patient, even claiming that he is Mr. McGee's medical proxy," she huffed in indignation.
"Well is he Agent McGee's medical proxy?" was the head nurse's query. She knew the young man in question was a federal agent and that part of the problem was the other nurse.
"Well I umm…," she hemmed and hawed not want to let her superior know she hadn't actually checked that out yet.
"Don't know? Check girl."
"Oh umm it says here that a Leroy Jethro Gibbs is his medical Proxy." She cringed when the older man slammed his badge and ID on the desk showing that he indeed was the man in question.
"I am sorry about this Agent Gibbs your agent was transported to Bethesda when he developed respiratory distress, and don't worry about the nurse she will be dealt with," she told the man. She hadn't needed to look at the computer screen to know that he was the young man's boss. Many years as a military nurse had taught her to recognize a worried C.O. when she saw one. The all consuming anger vanished as he processed the information he had been given and was replaced by worry. There was also an amount of respect for her in there as well, and trust that she would keep her word.
"Thank you," he replied with a nod and a small smile before rushing out the door.
If the team had waited even a moment longer they would have heard the dressing down of the year, but they had a teammate to find. Tony held on for dear life as he boss ignored not only every traffic law ever written, but every ounce of comments that they were screaming to drive safer. It got them to the hospital fast though. Slightly green, Tony stumbled out of the car and after his boss after it came to a screeching halt in the parking spot. Now he knew why Kate and Probie always dreaded riding with Gibbs when he got hurt. The man was even more of a maniac behind the wheel than usual.
After finding out what floor and room Tim was in, Tony went outside and called Kate to tell her where to go when she caught up with them. Gibbs had already bolted for the elevators. Calming himself with the meditation techniques he had been taught, Tony went up to the waiting room and took a seat next to his boss. In unspoken agreement, they decided to wait for Kate before going in to the hospital room. It was a good fifteen minutes before she arrived.
Taking a deep breath Tony walked into the hospital room followed closely by Gibbs and Kate. Watching Tim the team didn't like what they were seeing his skin was flushed even beneath an oxygen mask that forced air into his lungs. There also seemed to be angry red welts visible around the mask. Once in awhile a hitch in his labored breathing caused them to jump, and what possibly the most freighting was the swelling in his body particularly around his throat.
It was suppose to be a routine procedure. It was supposed to last a few hours at the most and not even an overnight stay not this, not struggling to breath in a hospital bed. Yet here they were watching him do just that. Unable to take it anymore, Tony went over to the bed and placed a hand on the young man's chest not caring if it woke him up. He needed to know the man was alright, needing to feel the rise and fall of his chest. Remembering their conversation in the elevator, Gibbs stopped Kate from interrupting the moment. He turned as the doctor making rounds materialized at his shoulder. Gibbs sent Kate out and then walked over to touch the Italians arm. He mouthed 'doctor' when Tony turned around, then both headed outside to wait for an explanation.
"Your agent is a lucky man," the doctor started without preamble, "Apparently he was allergic to the anesthesia administered and went into anaphylactic shock."
"If he was allergic to it why give it to him?" Tony was gob smacked at the thought of such a mistake.
"The allergy was unknown, as he has never been put under before and it was a common anesthesia that was being used. His has been steadily improving and if he has someone to look after him I'm willing to release him tomorrow." The doctor couldn't help smiling at the three 'I'll look after him' offers emanating from the young agents team, "Good if you folks would like to stay with him overnight I'll let the nurses know," he added knowing that life would be easier that way.
"When will he wake up?" Kate asked looking at her teammate's room.
"As the systems of the anesthesia wear off Agent McGee will gradually wake up. I need you three not to bother him until he's fully awake though," the doctor told them knowing that in their concern they might try to help the waking process along.
"Why do you want to keep him overnight? I had an aunt who was allergic to peanuts and she only had to stay in the hospital for about six hours," Kate asked.
"This is the first time he's had an episode and I want to monitor things from here," the doctor replied, before rushing off due to a page.
With nothing else to do the three slipped quietly into the room and waited. They passed the hours talking and playing cards with a deck that Kate had picked up in the gift shop while on a coffee run. Gibbs and Tony quickly started ganging up on her, as the Profiler easily picked up on tell-tales the men gave her. As the doctor predicted it was a few hours before Tim shook off the anesthesia enough to wake up enough realize he was not at the dental clinic. It was Tony who first noticed, not Gibbs. Kate had long since realized the Italian was watching his Probie like a hawk, thus the lousy card playing. Kate suspected that if he wasn't so concerned about the young man in the bed Tony would be an absolute card shark.
"W're?" Tim croaked out as he blinked owlishly at the harsh lights.
"You're in the hospital Probie," Tony told him as he settled on his friends' bed.
"You were allergic to the anesthesia you were given Tim," Kate told him, "Shush, don't talk. Your throat is still swollen."
"Yes Agent McGee you went into anaphylaxis shock due to the anesthesia and needed emergency care. We're keeping you overnight, to make sure you don't have a relapse.
Go back to sleep your body needs the rest," the doctor said as he walked into the room.
Gibbs had slipped out to the nurse's station when his agent woke up and had gotten the man. Sleep came quickly and easily for the young man as the team breathed a little easier. The reassurance of seeing Tim awake, even if it was for a few minutes, was enough for the team to get some rest themselves.
The next day, after much fussing, they managed to get Tim discharged and into the waiting car. Tony got him settled next to Gibbs before joining Kate in her car. They headed to McGee's apartment and got him some clothing. A quick stop at a local deli for soup was made just before they got to their boss's home. The sight made the pair smile. Tim was drowsing on the sofa underneath a warm comforter while Gibbs sat in the love seat next to him reading the morning paper and a coffee within easy reach.
"See Kate, I told you Gibbs would take care of Probie," Tony smirked as he walked in.
"You comfortable Tim?" she asked ignoring her teammate, "When you're up too it I've got soup."
"Thanks Kate," he rasped out, though he did look a little green at the thought of eating. The doctors had warned him that Tim might feel a little nausea.
"I put in the kitchen for when you're ready," she smiled before heading off.
"How you feeling kid?" Tony asked. The swelling had gone down a great deal and he was breathing easier, but there was still the occasional hiccup and the itchy red welts were still there.
"Gross," was the whining response.
"I can believe it Probie," the older man chuckled. Even Gibbs cracked a smile at the complaint. "I've got some clean clothes for you and some reading material for when you're up too it. What's wrong Tim?" Tony asked as a frown graced his Probies face.
"Are they still there?" he asked.
"What are still there?" Gibbs asked a moment before he realized the answer.
"My wisdom teeth," was the annoyed reply, "Are my wisdom teeth still there or did the dentist mange too pull them?"
"You almost died and all you can think of is your damned wisdom teeth?" Tony snarled, "No they weren't pulled! The doctors were too busy trying to save your life, or had you forgotten that Probie?"
"Tony outside, now." The look Gibbs gave his senior agent broke no arguments.
"What Boss?" Tony demanded petulantly as he turned to look at Gibbs.
"What was that?" Gibbs asked gently.
"He almost died and his teeth are the only thing he can think about? His stupid wisdom teeth? What about me having to watch him lie in some hospital bed unable to breath and dying?"
"Except he's not dead," Gibbs reminded him, "This was similar to how your friend died wasn't it?"
"They claimed it was a joke, problem was the joke sent him into respiratory distress and I had to watch as he slowly stopped breathing. It took hours for him to die," Tony whimpered needing to relive some of the guilt that had been eating at him, "It was my fault he died. If John and I hadn't been friends he would be alive, and now I almost got McGee killed. He wouldn't have made the appointment if I hadn't insisted on it."
"Not your fault Tony. You didn't know he was allergic to the anesthesia. No one did. And you didn't kill your friend. You made his passing easier," Gibbs told him softly. When the younger man tried to protest he gently head slapped him.
"Boss is right, it's not your fault Tony," Tim rasped. Both men jumped a little when they heard him speak. Concerned about the distress his friend was in, Tim shuffled his way to the back door making it in time to hear Tony's rant.
"But…" Tony tried.
"No buts Tony. You did nothing wrong, then or now. I wouldn't give up your friendship for anything in the world, and I suspect your John wouldn't have either." The words were rough but got the point across.
"Back at ya Probie, and what are you doing up Tim?" Tony asked choking up a little. Frowning at the shivering man he pulled the comforter tighter around his friend's shoulders, "back to the couch you're freezing, are you up to some soup yet?"
Gibbs exchanged an amused smirk with Kate as he watched Tony steer his charge back to the couch, Tim answering the questions posed to him. The older man needed to fuss for awhile and fortunately the kid was willing to suffer through it for the time being.
"Hey Tony, thanks for taking care of me," Tim smiled as Tony rubbed the calamine lotion on his back. The welts would take a few days to disappear and until then they would be itchy.
"Yeah no problem kid, just don't scare us like that again," Tony admonished.
"Don't worry I won't," was the mumbled reply. By the time he was done Tim was out for the count. Pulling the blanket up Tony sat there and watched his friend breath for awhile before drifting off himself. It had been a long day and everything had finely caught up to him. Kate had watched the whole thing assessing and reassessing her thoughts of the pair.
It was two weeks before Tim could have his wisdom teeth pulled. This time the team waited nervously in the clinic for him unwilling to leave just in case something happened. They all breathed a sigh of relief when he came out of the surgery without any complications. Kate giggled the whole time as they loaded their dopy teammate into the waiting car, even Gibbs was chuckling by the time they arrived at his house. Putting Tim to bed he fired up the grill knowing that there was no way he was getting rid of Kate and Tony. They stayed as long as they could before heading to their apartments to sleep. They both came back the next day bright and early. As he watched Tony and Tim dig into the ice cream Kate had bought, like a pair of overgrown kids; Gibbs smiled knowing that the team would be fine.