5 weeks later...
McGee looked up from his desk, when he heard the familiar ding of the elevator. Tony was a little late, and he had to admit to himself that he was worried. But as the older agent came out of the shaft and walked casually, with the help of a cane (which he graduated to a couple of weeks ago), toward the bullpen, giving brief nods hello to the agents he passed by, Tim sighed with relief.
Tony had been cleared for desk duty two weeks ago, and was itching to get back on the field, but needed to pass his firearms evaluation in order to do that. So, for now, he was stuck.
"You're late," McGee said anyway.
"I'm enslaved to the schedule of public transportation, Probie," he quipped. "The bus was a little late, this morning. Wasn't entirely my fault."
"I could always swing by and pick you up, ya know," Tim offered.
"You don't live anywhere near me, McQueen. It'd be going out of your way."
"Really, it's not a problem."
"I'd rather save up my options for taking advantage of you," he said, then immediately cringed. "That...did not come out the way I'd intended..."
"How did you intend it, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked as he rounded the corner into the bullpen.
"Oh, hi, Boss!" Tony grinned, hanging his cane on the handle of the filing cabinet beside his desk, before taking a seat. "I was just telling McGee that I'm perfectly capable of getting myself to and from work."
"Probably so," Gibbs said, taking a seat at his own desk. "But how capable are you of getting here on time?"
"Well, it's not my fault the bus was late," Tony defended. "And it's not like it happens all that often. I've been on time the last two weeks..."
"In his defense," Ziva chimed in, "That is still a record, for Tony."
"Hey!" Tony shot her an incredulous look.
"She's right," McGee backed.
"I'm not late very often..." Tony argued. "And I'll be able to get myself to work and back, by next Wednesday," he said, proudly. "Doc says I'm good to drive. My car's at the garage getting some repairs. Should be done by Tuesday afternoon."
"Good," Gibbs interjected, "Then McGee will only have to drive you around for a week." McGee grinned, and Gibbs continued before Tony could object, "Since we don't have a case right now, I think it's time for some training. McGee, Ziva, down to the gym. Tony, you're with me," he said, grabbing something from his desk drawer and sticking it in his pocket, before he headed toward the elevator.
Tony grabbed his cane and followed behind him, without question. Once the elevator doors were closed, Tony turned to his boss, "Where we going?"
"Shooting range," Gibbs replied.
"Uh..." Tony swallowed against the sudden dryness in his throat.
"There a problem with that?" Gibbs looked over at him, with raised brows.
"I uh... Well, it's just that...um..."
"Hey," Gibbs turned to face him, placing his hands on the younger man's shoulders, "You're never gonna know, if you don't try."
And of course, Gibbs was right. Tony knew that. But it also meant the possibility of knowing something he might not like...
"There's no rush," Gibbs told his SFA, as he watched him fidget in his booth. "Take your time, and shoot when you're ready."
He hadn't really been aware of his own stalling. But now that it was brought to his attention, Tony decided to square his shoulders and take aim at the target. Having his SIG in his hands felt nice; familiar. Nostalgic, even. But at the same time, it felt out of place. Part of him had wanted to believe that this would be like riding a bike; something you never really forget how to do. But his hands were...well, different. Sure, they were still his hands. But this just felt different, somehow. That fact made him doubt his ability.
"You're never gonna know, if you don't try," Gibbs' words played back in his head.
Tony eyed the target, and steadied his aim. His stomach nervously churned, right before he pulled the trigger. The bullet struck the paper, but no where on the painted part of the target.
"Try it again, without doubting yourself, this time," Gibbs said, beside him.
Tony almost looked over at him, wondering how it was that Gibbs always knew what he was thinking. But he kept his gaze on the target, confident now, at least that the reverb from the gun wasn't going to break his hands. He took aim, trying not to think about the fact that this was a test; but more like nothing had ever happened, and that this was just like six months ago, training, or rather showing up, McGee.
He fired, hitting the shoulder of the target. He fired three more times, each hitting close to the heart. Feeling more confident, he raised his aim and hit the head, square on in the middle of the forehead.
He wanted to smile. But he was too shocked. It felt like a dream; too good to be true. But the smell of gun smoke, and the slight soreness in his hands, was way too real.
"Like ridin' a bike," he heard the smirk in Gibbs' voice, before he felt his hand on his shoulder. "I'd call that a pass."
"Wait...that was an eval?" Tony turned to him with an incredulous look on his face.
"Now you've just gotta get that leg back in shape, and you should be good to go," Gibbs replied, grabbing his jacket, and turned to head toward the door.
"My leg doesn't even hurt, Boss!" he told him, holstering his gun and grabbing his cane as he followed to catch up. "The cane is just a precaution; not supposed to put my full weight on it yet." Gibbs glanced over at him as he caught up, tilting his head. "I know what you're thinkin'. But I can get McGoo to carry my stuff for me. I'd still be useful at a crime scene."
"Not if you've gotta chase down a suspect."
"You, McGee and Ziva are capable of chasing, Boss. How often do we need to chase someone, when processing a scene, though?"
"Fine. Give me a week, and take me to the store to get some new tube socks, and I'll be good to go," he plastered on a big grin, and Gibbs couldn't help but to let out a laugh.
11 00 11 00 11
2 weeks later...
As Tony raced up the alley way after a suspect that suddenly fled the scene, he wondered if it was such a great idea to be so impatient to get let back out on the field. He'd been training for weeks, running the treadmill and the track with Gibbs. He'd thought he was ready.
But the terrain he'd been running this past half of a mile, was, at first, through a field, and then a rock-filled parking lot. There was a sickly twinge in his leg, which worried him more than probably necessary. He had a lingering fear that the bone would simply split and send him crashing to the earth beneath him.
But he kept on, without slowing down. The suspect was only a few yards ahead of him, now. Ziva had cut around the building a while back, to try and cut the man off, if he should decide to go that way and lose Tony. Gibbs and McGee hadn't seen him take off, but Ziva had called them as they ran, and they were, surely, in the car by now, trying to find them.
Tony's heart pounded in his chest. He was just a few feet behind him, now. He jumped, tackling him to the ground with a grunt. And just as quickly as he steadied himself, he had his gun pointed to the back of his neck. "Don't move!"
"I didn't do anything!" he yelled.
"Then why'd you run, huh?" Tony reached back with one hand, to grab his cuffs. The suspect said nothing. "Yeah. That's what I thought."
"Are you alright, Tony?" Ziva quickly rushed up to them, gun pointed at the suspect.
"I'm fine," Tony said, holstering his gun, now that Ziva was there, and he pulled the man's hands behind his back and slapped the cuffs on. They heard Gibbs' car pull up through the alley way, and come to a screeching halt.
Gibbs and McGee got out of the car as Tony stood and pulled the suspect up with him, wincing slightly as he did so.
"You okay, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, as he approached.
"Yeah, I'm good, Boss," he replied, handing the guy over to him. "Not enough room in the car for all of us, with Flash Gordon, here. I'll stay behind and wait for Ducky."
Gibbs nodded, "McGee, you stay with him. I'll let Duck know where you are. We'll see you both back at the Yard." Ducky wasn't but a minute away, still bagging the body with Palmer. Otherwise, Gibbs would've probably protested and waited on someone else to come transport the suspect.
Tony stood with his hands on his hips, catching his breath as the two agents watched the car pull out of the alley.
"Why'd you volunteer to stay back?" McGee asked, knowingly.
"Horrific leg cramp," Tony grimaced, forcing himself to resist grabbing onto it, until the car was out of sight. Then he sunk down to the pavement so quickly, McGee thought he was collapsing, and caught him in order to help lower him safely. Tony grabbed onto his calf and started squeezing the offending muscle. "Good god..." he squeaked.
"That's you good leg, though," McGee said, crouched in front of him, with a look of concern on his face.
"Yeah. Think I might've been subconsciously overcompensating," he replied.
"Here," Tim reached out and took Tony's calf in his hands, "Lemme help." He pulled Tony's leg straight, and allowed himself to kneel on his knees to the pavement, so he could brace his elbows on his thighs. He took off Tony's shoe and grabbed his foot, which was grossly pointing outward and to the side from the spasm. He slowly started pressing the ball of his foot up to flex it.
"Gaaaah!" Tony yelled out, his face contorting in pain.
"Okay okay, calm down," McGee retorted.
"You're killing me! How can I calm down, when you're killing me?"
"I'm not killing you, Tony. This is what you're supposed to do..."
"Oh dear sweet Jesus..." Tony choked out, as Tim continued to press.
McGee shook his head, releasing his hand, and moving up to Tony's calf to massage the muscle in spasm. "You'll be fine," he told him, feeling the muscle slowly start to relax.
"Don't tell Gibbs," Tony almost whispered. Tim looked at his face, then, noting the seriousness, laced with a hint of fear.
"I won't. But it's not a big deal, anyway. So you got a cramp. You're just getting used to running terrain, again. It's normal. And honestly, you should probably start eating bananas or something, for breakfast, instead of donuts."
"What're you, my physician, now?"
McGee rolled his eyes, but smirked, despite himself. He heard a vehicle turn up the alley, and looked to see the van pulling in. "There's Ducky," he told his partner. Then he stood, and gave Tony a hand up.
"Thanks, McMedicineWoman," he replied, grateful that his leg wasn't in so much pain anymore.
"You're welcome," McGee said, partly sarcastic in his tone.
"Really though," Tony told him, as they made their way toward the van. "Thanks. For everything. I mean that."
McGee turned to face him, his hand on the door handle, and searched his eyes for any sign of trickery. When he found none, he allowed himself to accept the sincerity. "You're welcome, Tony. Any time..."
A/N: Sorry this kinda decided it was done. Hope the ending was satisfactory! And thanks, again, for all the reviews and support throughout. :)