Disclaimer: If left untreated, mange can be fatal.
Spoilers: Thirst, and all that came before. Large-time.
Summary: A team bathroom conference about curses and gossip. But not about cursing gossip.
McGee jumped, causing a near splashback incident as the door behind him was opened with such force it hit the wall. "Are we jinxed?"
He looked over his shoulder with a sense of alarm. "Excuse me?"
Tony didn't seem to register what he was interrupting and went on, "Aren't you supposed to be an author? It's simple English, McPee. Jinxed. Y'know, cursed, tormented, had the whammy put on us."
McGee turned and tried to get back to business, finding it difficult with an audience. "I really don't think this is the best place to…"
He could hear Tony pacing behind him. "Black cats, broken mirrors, umbrellas opened indoors, billy goats – is any of this ringing a bell?"
Running water, running water, Niagara Falls…okay. McGee ignored Tony's further listing of superstitious sources of bad luck. Almost done, almost done….there! Two shakes and zip and McGee moved from the urinal to the sinks to wash his hands. The change in position did nothing, however, to increase his enthusiasm for Tony's line of conversation. "Why are you bothering me with this?"
"Because Ziva has decided to use the ladies' room today." Tony glanced toward the bathroom door with some alarm. "You think that's where she's getting the good gossip? Isn't that why women travel to the bathroom in packs? She could be saying anything about me in there!"
Opting for the less problematic issue, McGee grabbed a paper towel and asked, "Why do you think we're cursed?"
"Huh? Oh right. You can't tell me you haven't noticed a pattern with the people we date. This is the second psycho chick with a Duck fetish. That makes, uh…" He held up his fingers as he counted off, "So, two, then there was that girl who stole your identity, and the one who used you to try and kill the North Korean with the jones for Director Vance, and that guy Abby…"
McGee, finding his exit blocked, interrupted, "Fine. Okay, I get it. We've got a low romantic batting average as a team."
"Whoa, hold on there." Tony leaned against the doorframe. "A sports reference? I mean, I know we're in the men's room, Timmy Ballgame, but there's no need to go crazy with it. Let's just say that, as a team, we seem to attract a lot of unstable bedfellows."
"Feel free to use that as the title of your next McNovel. You gotta admit it's true. Why do you think Gibbs hasn't married anyone recently?"
McGee shrugged. "Well, we know he's dating, anyway. He'd already broken up with Agent Borin's friend by the time we suggested her."
"Yeah." Tony drummed his fingers against the door behind him. "Which reminds me, we're way behind on the Gibbs gossip if he's having relationships we never get a whiff of. I'd say he's got a secret thing with Borin, but then I remember how weird it got every time Col. Mann was here, so I think we can definitively say there's nothing going on there."
"You really want details about Gibbs' love life?"
"Hm good point. Now that I think about it, there's something profoundly disconcerting about the phrase 'Gibbs' love life.' Let's not say that anymore."
McGee gave up trying to escape the bathroom and moved to lean against the counter beside the sinks. "Why are we talking about it then?"
"I just meant it might be something better not to think too hard about. It's almost like picturing your parents as horny teenagers." Tony shuddered visibly. "Maybe it's better if some of us are cursed to not have lasting relationships. Still, not fair for all of us. We're not even Team Gibbs anymore; we're Team Depressing Singles Bar."
Having trouble thinking all the way back to his last interesting date, McGee countered, "Not Ziva. What about Cruz?"
"CI-Ray?" Tony shook his head. "He doesn't count. He's not even around, so Ziva's having a one-sided relationship with Gmail right now. Anyway, she only likes him because he's her from a few years back. All of the killer with none of the psycho. It's not illegal, but it's still not healthy." He sighed dramatically. "Face it, we should all be in a big never ending session of group therapy."
"In the bathroom?"
McGee couldn't resist a smirk as Ziva appeared in the suddenly open door behind Tony.
"I don't suppose another little talk about the sanctity of the men's room would stop you from…" She ducked under Tony's arm. "Nope, didn't think so."
"So what are you discussing in here?" She made herself comfortable on the countertop beside McGee. "Are you attempting to cultivate McGee as a new source for office gossip?"
"No, we were just discussing…" Tony suddenly pointed an accusatory finger at them. "Oh! I see how it is! Afraid I'm gonna steal your secret source away?" He laughed as he began to pace again. "Don't think I haven't figured it out. Neither of you have a web of office spies; you're just sharing information, conspiring to make me look like a doofus! You've probably been meeting here all along!"
"Tony, I can assure you, there is no bathroom conspiracy dedicated to making you look like a…doofus?"
"I didn't just teach you a new insult to use against me, did I?"
"I have heard it before, I just do not believe I have ever said it."
"Why would you need to when you can just say 'Tony'?" McGee smiled when he drew a laugh from Ziva and a scowl from Tony. Attempting to press his advantage, he added, "Besides, Ziva used to be a spy. She's probably got much better sources of information than me. Sources that don't sit across from her in the office all day and therefore have access to different gossip."
"Thank you, McGee." Ziva's tone was a little harsher than he had expected. He realized he probably shouldn't have mentioned the spying.
"I didn't mean…I just meant that you probably have ways of getting people to talk about…not that I think you're interrogating any of our coworkers…just that…"
"Stop digging, McGauche." Tony grabbed his shoulder and dragged him toward the door. "Well, Ziva, we'll leave you to enjoy the men's room in peace because we have important work things to do at our desks."
McGee had been pushed into the hallway before he could manage a simple apology. "Tony, I…"
"Relax, she wasn't mad. She wasn't even annoyed."
"How can you tell?"
Tony shrugged. "She didn't punch you."
McGee doubted the assessment. He grabbed his coat when they returned to the bullpen. It was about time for a coffee run.
Ziva waited until Tony and McGee's voices had faded to jump from her seat and lock the bathroom door. "You can come out."
The door of the last stall swung open and a portly man stepped out with a crooked grin on his face. "Whew! I thought they'd never leave. I was in there so long I thought I was going to have to go again!"
She frowned at the detail. "They are gone now. What do you know?"
"Your friends are weird."
"That is no secret."
"Heh, guess not." Steve Grossman passed the sinks to push himself up on the counter where she had been sitting. "Well, this is a pretty good one. You know Larry Johnston?"
"The Director's driver?"
"Yep, him. Well, Director Vance had lunch with his wife yesterday and he was mad about something when he got back into the car. I think it involved in-laws coming to visit, so you may not want to do anything to tick him off in the next two weeks."
"Noted. Anything else?"
"There's a rumor going around about Gibbs and that Coast Guard chick with the nice…"
"There is nothing there."
He waggled his eyebrows. "There was where I was looking."
"Whatever. Gibbs and Borin are not involved, so you can spread that around."
"Good to know." He picked at something under his ear. "Do you wanna know what your buddies were discussing in here before you walked in?"
"Well, they said…wait, no?"
"Tony said something stupid and McGee defended me."
"Huh. Good guess."
She rolled her eyes. "Not everything can be learned through gossip. Wash your hands."