A/N: Co-Written with Shelbylou
Written: on 03/16/2012 for the NFA "Episode Tag" and "Fix It" Challenges. Part 1 of the Dog Tag Chronicles
Part 1 of the Dog Tag Chronicles
Sitting here in his car, parked out on the street in front of the house, his mind couldn't help but wander back to the events that had brought him here tonight. His torn and mangled neck was swathed in fresh emergency room bandages as was his freshly irritated and throbbing set of bitten fingers and his mind was slightly fuzzy from the mild pain killer he had requested when he'd driven himself there after work. Still, the prescribed medicine wasn't nearly strong enough to numb the throb of his wounds and yet it was that pain that served as a stark reminder now, of what the dog had wanted to do to him. The incessant throb was also keeping his mind restless with painful memories and angry thoughts that still insisted on coming back to the forefront as if the answer was so important that his mind wouldn't rest until it found it. He sighed into the darkness and pressed the home button on his iphone. Damn, it was almost midnight!
God, what the hell was I thinkin' comin' here at this hour? It's bad enough I'd come here thinkin' anything would be solved by doin' so, but to do so at this ungodly hour of the night? Those pain killers must have killed some brains cells or something!
Closing his eyes, he laid his head back against the headrest of his seat, bowing to the onslaught of vivid memories from the day as they came at him now in waves:
"When did you last have a tetanus shot?"
"Yes well, a trip to the infirmary is in order"
"DiNozzo, Ziva, come on." However normal the request was, it still rankled that it was given first, before anything else. Always business…always the case – unless it was one of the others' who'd gotten hurt, that is.
"Boss, what about me?" Yeah, what about me? Where did I fit into everything? You're just gonna leave me sittin' here, wounded with the dog that attacked me?
"Take the evidence back to Abby." Well doesn't that just seal the deal! Take the dog that tried to kill me, back to Abby even though I'm injured. Would Gibbs have done the same thing if it were Tony or Ziva? Wasn't I important enough?
"Hey, they check you for rabies?" Good old Tony. He always knows how to say just the right thing! And yeah, that is laced with a healthy dose of sarcasm. I mean, wouldn't it hurt to show some modicum of concern?
"Cujo You know, the movie? Based on the novel by Stephen King? Perfectly friendly Saint Bernard contracts rabies, bites up everyone in this town. I mean, peoples' brains start swelling up, leaking out of their ears. People are foaming at the mouth."
"You do not have rabies. You're getting him all worried for no good reason." God I love Ziva…sometimes. She always manages to say the right thing. At least she can see what the office clown is doing.
"She's right, McGruff. What you should worry about is whether our dead petty officer, whose blood was all over the dog, 'cause he might have had some transmittable disease like herpes or hepatitis or malaria." He just doesn't stop! He never, never stops! Why does he make it his lot in life to scare me, or make a fool out of me?
"I hadn't thought about that."
"Have any of you thought about how to pick up the pieces to this case?" Again, not a concern in sight for the injured who, as I know he just overheard, might be in more trouble from his injuries than we know.
"Whatta we have, McGee?" – Yup, business as usual. No surprise there.
"Yeah, Boss?" Why does it always bother me? Out of the blue, he calls my name and my stomach drops.
"You okay?" Huh…I…better late than never I suppose. At least he's showing some concern but I know the case is more important to him. Where was this concern when he told me to drive the dog back here right after I was mauled?
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay, Boss." That's the only answer you wanna hear, right?
You okay?. Tim sat up straight with a jolt as those words Gibbs had said to earlier today came back to him now.. He definitely wasn't okay yet with the answers he'd come up with about today. That was why he was here, despite the late hour and despite the fact that he'd never come here before. Guess there really was a first time for everything.
Breathing out a huge sigh of pure resignation at the realization that this was something he had to do, he pulled the key out of the ignition and pocketed his keys, which included every important key to his life, as he stepped from his vehicle, making sure to lock his car before he did so. Squaring his shoulders, he walked with a heap more confidence than he felt, his steps firm and steady as they carried him up to the porch and on up the steps to the front door. He laid his hand on the door handle of the door that was never locked, at least, according to everyone on the team who'd ever been here; which, turns out, was everyone but himself.
Shaking his head to dispel that line of thought, he turned his attention back to the door in front of him. Was it locked tonight? Pushing down on the handle, he was surprised to find that the door did indeed give way with nothing stopping it as it slid noiselessly wide to allow him acess to the house.
Gibbs' expression remained thoughtful as he continued on with the steady, calming motions of gliding the planer across the assembled bow of his next masterpiece. With every stroke, he managed to find a modicum of calm as his focus shifted to the task. It didn't stop him thinking though, far from it, if anything he could think logically. Lost in his thoughts of how tough the day had been seeing as the youngest of his team had nearly been ripped to shreds by an attack dog; it was only the sound of the creaking floorboard above his head that brought him back to the here and now. An alarm bell rang true and clear in his head as he waited to see who had come to see him at- what the hell time was it anyway? Nearly 2400? He moved quietly to the bench and quietly picked up his weapon before going back to his position sanding the boat; the sig sitting innocently by the side of him out of view just in case.
Tim froze as the floor underneath his foot creaked loudly. Crap! Now the man was gonna be pissed that he'd come uninvited into his house. Better get this over with. Warily, he continued on to the basement door, since he'd heard it said that that was where the boss lived 99% of his time. With his heart up in his throat, Tim stopped in the open doorway to the basement, his feet suddenly feeling like concrete as he took in the sight of the bossman working on a homemade boat with a handtool. It was obvious the man was caught up in his own thoughts and Tim didn't feel happy about disturbing him. It wasn't right that he'd invaded the inner sanctum of the boss' home because hell, everyone needed a release; a place to hide.
What was it that his sister quoted the other day? Oh yeah, she'd been reading Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus…Seriously, that was the last thing that girl needed to read…and it had led to some serious ribbing about Tim needing to escape to his 'cave' all the time. Well, this was Gibbs' cave and he, Tim McGee, had no right to be there, but there was something stopping him. His feet were rooted to the spot despite feeling torn about being here.
Pausing in his task, the Team Leader looked up towards his basement door and was shocked to see that his visitor was none other than the agent who had just occupied his concerned thoughts a few minutes ago. Silently he watched as the young man stood frozen on the top step looking like a deer caught in the headlights. His green eyes found those of the man he'd come to talk to and the struggle that Tim was currently dealing with wasn't lost on the Boss. Not wanting to scare the kid away, Gibbs broke the silence with a gentle, neutral tone
"Kinda late for a visit, McGee, everything alright?"
Feeling the boss' eyes on him, even across the distance between them, Tim bit down on his urge to run. Instead, he gathered up his nerves and set them firmly in place next to his backbone. This really needed to be said and he'd never get another chance to fix things. If he bailed on this chance now, it would only get worse and he'd only have himself to blame. Internal pep talk over, Tim opened his mouth to answer the man but floundered briefly as nerves took over.
He finally found his voice after shaking his head and gazing down at the floor to collect himself. "I know, Boss and I'm sorry. I would have been here sooner, but I didn't plan on being in the E.R. so late. I really hate to bother you, but I need to talk to you."
"Uh, yeah. Actually, I do need to do this now."
"Wait, McGee, why were you at the Emergency Room?"
"It's no big deal. The infirmary told me if I was still hurting after six hours to go to the E.R. so I did. Turns out, I just needed to be checked and treated against any infection that might have been trying to settle in." Tim replied quietly. This wasn't what he'd come to talk about and he didn't want this to become the focus of their conversation.
"You okay?" Gibbs asked. The concern was genuine and for a short moment, it threw Tim. Thinking back, Tim realized it was the same tone he'd used in the squadroom earlier that morning…Maybe the guy really did care about Tim as a person and not just the team computer geek.
"Yeah. I think I need to sit down though." Tim admitted as he dropped down unceremoniously, hitting the step he'd stopped on hard jarring his injuries and making them throb harder. Apparently after carrying on through the day; the full effect of the mauling took some time to hit him as he'd been finding out since leaving work earlier. Grimacing through the pain, he attempted to find the thoughts that defined the reason he'd come here but they were so scattered that he found it difficult to pinpoint one, important thing. Damn, I'm too tired for this. He thought. Why did I think this was a good idea?
"What's on your mind, McGee?"
"Well, ah, first, I need to apologise. I know I shouldn't have done it, but I needed to look up your address, so I asked Director Shepherd for it before I left work. She gave it to me, but only after making me tell her the reasons behind wanting it." Tim forced himself to maintain eye contact with Gibbs, but for some reason his own body betrayed him and he felt his face flush.
"What'd I tell you about apologies? And why the hell did you have to ask for my address? Why didn't you just look it up?"
"Invasion of privacy, Boss. I couldn't do that to you."
Gibbs smirked. Sometimes he forgot just how much of a 'by the book' kind of guy Tim really was underneath all that willingness to do anything Gibbs asked of him including hacking, But his heart and morals were in the right place and for that Gibbs was thankful. Still, it was late and the kid had never come to him after work for anything before, so what was going on that would bring him here tonight?
"Couldn't just call me and ask me?" Gibbs asked with the smirk still playing on his handsome, rugged features.
"I thought about that but it…Boss, it just didn't feel right." Tim admitted and sighed heavily
"Still waitin', McGee. There a point to this visit in there somewhere?" Gibbs asked gruffly as he turned his attention back to the planer and once again took up the soothing motions of the physical job.
"The reason I'm here; the reason I needed to talk to you; tonight; is because I needed to ask you something."
"Something that couldn't have waited until tomorrow." The Boss reasoned.
"Yeah. I mean, no. No it couldn't."
"Alright. Out with it, then. What do you need to know that's so important it brings you here straight from the E. R. after 2300?" Gibbs turned his attention away from the boat once again and stood there frowning at his agent with the plane still held against the wood."
Swallowing hard around the lump in his throat, Tim looked his boss straight on and asked him the question he had to have the answer to before another day went by. "Do you regret promoting me to your team – are you wanting me to leave the team now?"
The hand tool slipped from Gibbs' grasp, but the team leader's quick reflexes helped him catch it before it could damage the boat. He set it down carefully before walking over to his work table where he kept his drink of choice. He was contemplating the bourbon because this conversation needed something to break the tension but Tim never was a big drinker and truth be told, a clear head was what it was gonna take. Raising his eyes up to meet those of his agent, the team leader found it hard to hide the shock he was feeling.
"Why the hell would you ask me something like that, McGee?"
"It's the only reason that makes sense for the punishment you handed me thsi morning." Tim explained as if the answer should have been obvious.
Gibbs made his way back to the boat, this time approaching the front side, not five feet from his agent. leaning back against the structure he'd just been working on, crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his head at the statement Tim had just made. Looking over at his agent where he sat two steps higher than Gibbs' eye level, he questioned what made no sense to him."Punishment?"
"That's the easiest way to explain it." Tim admitted ruefully.
"Explain what, McGee?" Gibbs barked out in frustration. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Tim stiffly stood to his feet and turned to go, being careful not to move too suddenly as he slowly headed back up the stairs. "You know what, Boss. Don't worry about it. Sorry to have bothered you so late."
Tim stopped and slowly turned back to hear what Gibbs had to say.
"Explain what?" The question was softer this time and the tone had none of the brashness from a moment ago, but still, Tim felt uncomfortable and had his confirmation that this was a bad idea.
Tim took a minute to search the older man's expression; needing to see just how much of this Gibbs really didn't get. It didn't take very long for it to be obvious that there was no fake confusion going on here. The man really didn't understand what Tim was referring to. Squaring his shoulders, Tim walked back down the steps and this time took himself to the step that would bring them on the same eye level as he lowered himself down gingerly; now eye to eye with the man and that at least made him feel slightly better about facing the music.
"Okay. Here goes…I…This has to be said, Boss. I need to get it off my chest."
"Then talk, McGee."
Tim nodded and paused briefly before starting. "You made my drive myself back to the yard with the dog that attacked me not even a half hour before that. I could hardly see straight enough to drive and the fact that I had the dog with me in close quarters terrified me. I'm pretty sure I was still in shock as it was but still, I literally had to stop on the way back and get out of the car for a minute before I could calm down enough to bring the dog to Abby." Tim was quick to quietly put out what had most bothered him about the boss' treatment of him today. "Yeah, the dog was sedated and muzzled, but, I was still cooped up with him in a very confined space, by myself. What if the sedative had worn off? What if he'd pulled that muzzle off his mouth? He could have chewed those front leg restraints off in no time with those killer teeth of his."
Gibbs remained silent as the sting of truth in his agent's words permeated his brain..
"I've never been so shaky behind the wheel before, Boss. Not even the first time I got behind the wheel after the accident I had when I was sixteen. It's not a good feeling.
"McGee…" Gibbs tried to interrupt but was bought up short by Tim's movements that brought his bandaged neck into view, along with the now wrapped fingers of the afflicted hand.
"That's not the half of it though. I get back to the yard, and sure there was a moment of worry from Abby when she saw that I'd been hurt but as soon as she saw the dog and knew I'd shot him, you know what she did?" Tim huffed out a laugh. "Of course you don't, why would you? Anyway, She called me Bad McGee. I'm not a dog, Gibbs. That mutt had attacked me and I shouldn't have to be treated like a criminal for defending myself. She'd already added salt to the wounds when she ripped my expensive new jacket out of my hand and used it to wrap the dog up. She treated me like crap while she babied the vicious dog that tried to eat me alive and left him un-muzzled and even clipped the restraints off his legs."
Tim huffed out a breath as he worked to sum up his point. Knowing Gibbs was waiting impaintently, he quickly hurried on. "So, after everything I'd been through; after making me drive myself back to NCIS without having someone else drive and then being treated like a criminal for protecting myself by Abby well yeah, I gotta say, Boss, it sure felt like …."
"We were punishing you for something you had no control over." Gibbs finished for him.
"Yeah." Tim breathed out on a ragged sigh of exhaustion and slightly moved his head around to try and ease the incessant throbbing that was getting worse. "Why didn't you or Abby care, Boss?."
"Seem to recall asking you if you were okay, McGee. Sure didn't say anythin' about any of this then." The boss reminded him, even as he watched the younger man's expressions with concern.
"I was so surprised to hear you ask, that I didn't even time to think about it. Besides, I was okay at the time you asked me, Boss. The bandages were holding and meds were working. Everything had already happened and I'd had a chance to recouperate enough to do my job, which is what mattered anyway. Besides, we were all hot to get this case solved and were all focusing on finding leads"
Gibbs remained silent as he remained leaning back against his boat with his arms still folded across his chest while he tried to process what Tim was saying.
Tim remained equally silent. He'd said all he came to say. There really wasn't anything else he could add that would help the situation, especially since it appeared that he was wasting both his breath and his time. Figures the one time he trusted that he really could come to Gibbs with a problem, it turned out that he'd been wrong after all.
With a sigh of sad resignation, Tim once again stood and turned to go, stiffly re-climbing the steps with the same carefulness he'd exhibited earlier. "I appreciate your open door, Boss. Sorry to have bothered you so late."
Gibbs silently watched him and noticed the tension of pain and weariness in the tall frame. It was if it hurt too much to actually move. He couldn't let this go another minute. It would be inexcusable to let Tim leave without having been successful in his efforts to work through a problem he had with the boss. So before Tim reached the door, he called out to him. "Hey!"
Tim stopped and looked back down at the boss, waiting silently to hear what the man had to say.
"Shouldn't have made you drive yourself back to the yard today."
Tim heard the apology Gibbs was offering in his own unique way and accepted it without hesitation. Offering a small smile of thanks, Tim opened his mouth to express his appreciation, but didn't get the chance.
"Abby crossed the line, but next time you have a problem with one of us; you damn well better speak up." Gibbs glared at him, apparently angry that Tim wasn't the confrontational type. The Team Leader's next words proved he was still a pretty damn good mind reader, as well. "There's a right way and a wrong way to speak up, McGee. Up to you to figure out the difference make it work for you! Figured you were smart enough to know all this already. I've just been waitin' for you to step up for yourself."
Tim sighed as he gave thought to what the boss was trying to teach him here. After all, Tim had come looking for the answers, hadn't he? It couldn't be helped if the teacher had turned the table back on him, since the man did have a valid point. "Yes, Boss. Thanks for your time. Again, I'm sorry it's so late."
"Knock it off, McGee. Go home get some sleep."
Tim nodded and turned back toward the doorway to head out but a wave of dizziness hit him making him reach out and grab the door frame for support. He stood there breathing deeply until it passed and felt a firm hand rest gently on his shoulder.
"You alright, McGee?"
Tim nodded and straightened up. "Yeah. Guess today was too much; it's catching up to me. I should go and get some sleep. Six a.m. comes early enough."
C'mon, I'll drive you home." Gibbs ordered stepped back so Tim could open the door.
"Boss? What? No, I'm fine." Tim objected. He'd made a big thing by coming here and having Gibbs drive him back just embarrassed him. The weight that was on his shoulders had lifted slightly, that was the truth, but the last thing he needed adding insult to injury, was Gibbs having to rescue him like this.
"Yeah? Well that might be, but in the state you're in, you're gonna wrap yourself around the first tree you don't see jumpin' out in front of ya. I'd let you crash on my couch, but I'm guessing the pain on your neck is radiating through to your shoulder and it'd be more painful than comfortable. Let's go, it's late" Gibbs gestured for Tim to head out while he followed right behind him.
"Ow! Boss?" Tim wasn't expecting the headslap and rubbed at the back of his head. Great, that was the last thing my neck needed he thought as the forward momentum pulled at the wound
"That's for driving yourself to the E.R. McGee. Don't do it again."
"Thanks, Boss." Tim chuckled quietly as he rubbed the back of his head. "How else was I supposed to get there? I can't always afford a taxi and I didn't want to risk getting jostled on the bus."
Gibbs frowned even as they continued walking out to the car. How was it this kid didn't get the point?
"What is it, McGee?" Gibbs asked gently as they made their way to the car.
"Do you mind holding off on the headslaps for a while. It kinda pulled on my neck a bit." Tim admitted shakily. He was relieved to see the concern flicker across Gibbs' face and knew he hadn't crossed the line.
"Sure thing, but you step outta line while you're still healing and I'll save em' for when you're healthy." The boss smirked.
"Thanks, Boss." Tim softly smiled at the promise of continued support.
They both got into Gibbs' car and silence soon settled between them with Tim looking steadily out his window while the older man started the car.
Gibbs stared at his agent wondering how to fix the problem of Tim missing the point that he had been making with the head slap. Just as he pulled out of the driveway, he spoke into the silence to tell his clueless agent what he wanted him…no needed him to hear.
"Shoulda called one of your teammates to take you to the E.R., McGee."
"Wasn't gonna call Abby after the way she treated me today. Tony and Ziva already had plans. I didn't want to mess up their evening. Ducky and Jimmy both had things already planned, too. " Tim glanced over at him as he defended his actions. The last thing he needed was to ask them for help because he'd only get flack for messing up their plans when he went back to work.
"Then you shoulda called me!" Gibbs threw at Tim as he stepped on the gas and drove them out toward the main thoroughfare that would lead them to Tim's apartment.
"I didn't think you wanted me on the team anymore." Tim reminded him quietly as exhaustion slipped in and took him away.
Gibbs stopped at a traffic light and glanced over at Tim. His agent's head had fallen back against the seat and it struck the Team Leader that beneath this still somewhat green Agent, laid a sensitive, smart man that needed reassurances as well as molding into the excellent agent he knew the kid would become. Smirking at how easily Tim had fallen asleep despite being in the middle of being chewed out, he glanced up and set off again when the light turned green.
As the miles slipped by, the boss couldn't help but think back on what his agent had said and the effort the young man had put forth to make sure this conversation had taken place to begin with. Tim wasn't a confrontational person, so for this to have bothered him enough that he'd brought it to Gibbs and outside of work, as well as so late at night, spoke volumes of just how big of a deal this was to him.
Why hadn't he seen this coming? Why had he ordered the freshly injured young man to drive himself back to the Navy Yard today? Why hadn't Ducky stopped him? How could he explain to his agent that he relied on the M.E. to provide such safeguards for his team and that he'd buldozed ahead because the voice of reason that was Ducky, hadn't argued with him about it?
Again, he had to ask himself now, why not? Pulling out his phone, he pressed the speed dial button for his long-time friend and advisor before he remembered what time it was. Quickly, he ended the call and stowed his phone back in his pocket; only to have to retrieve it back out when it began to ring. Glancing over at his sleeping agent, Gibbs was relieved to see his phone hadn't woken the young man up, as he quickly answered it.
"Jethro, you called a moment ago? Is everything alright?"
"Sorry about that, Duck. For a minute, I forgot how late it was. It can wait."
"Nonsense, my friend. What seems to be the trouble?"Gibbs smiled at Ducky's willingness to help no matter the time. That was the one thing he loved about the older man.
"Oh, dear! I do hope Timothy hasn't managed to aggravate his wounds since leaving work."
"You usually over-ride me when I make a mistake with one of them. Especially when their health is at risk, Duck."
"And today when you instructed Timothy to drive himself back to the Navy Yard with the dog that had just attacked him, I did not do so. I believed that with the dog sedated and subdued with both the muzzle and the restraints, that Timothy would be perfectly safe transporting him back as you'd ordered. I also knew that once Timothy got himself to the Infirmary, he wouldbe just fine. Why. What seems to be the nature of the problem? Is Timothy alright?"
"The fact that he had to get himself anywhere after being attacked like that, Duck.. You and I both know we shoulda had someone drive him and stay with him. Hell, we made him take the dog back. He was mauled by the damn mutt and we made him drive it back to NCIS; I made him do it. "
"As true as that may be,unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to undo that decision. It is not like you to wallow in hindsight, Jethro. Might I ask what brought this about?"
"Kid's been on my team for four years now, Duck. First time he's ever sought me out about anything outside of work, much less out about the way I treated him."
"What happened? Is he alright?"
"Apparently, he was in enough pain once he stopped staying busy and focused on the case, that he drove himself to the E.R., got himself treated, then brought himself here at almost midnight to ask me if I was trying to tell him that I didn't want him on my team anymore."
"Oh, dear heavens! Whatever did you tell him?"
"I handled it, Duck. He's not goin' anywhere." Gibbs assured the M.E. "Doesn't change the fact that we messed up. How did we know he wouldn't go into shock before he got back to the yard?"
"Yes, well, I'm afraid today was one of those unfortunate occasions, my friend. However, we must move forward if we are to salvage anything from our lack of better judgement. And I for one, am relieved to know that you've handled the difficult situation with our young man so well. I do not believe any of us want to see him leave, especially if he were to do so under such adverse beliefs regarding the team he has worked beside and come to think so highly of."
"Yeah. I know. Thanks, Duck. Sorry I woke ya."
"Nonsense, Jethro. I'm quite relieved that you did. I would hate to not be aware of such developments. Obviously, I needed to be made aware that my lack of judgement almost helped create a most unwelcome situation. I will certainly endeavor to do better in the future."
"Think we all will.."
That being said, where is Timothy now?"
"He's exhausted. Already crashed out. I'm driving him home."
"I see. Do you want me to come and check on him?"
Gibbs paused for a moment thinking about the question. "Not necessary, Duck. I'll make sure he takes his meds so he can sleep through the night."
"If you change your mind, let me know."
"Sure thing, Duck. Go back to sleep."
"I will. Good night, Jethro."
Gibbs snapped his phone shut and slid it into his pocket before glancing over at his agent for half a second. The kid was still sleeping and that realization bought a small smile to the boss' face. He let his thoughts travel to the actions of his favorite team member and found a deep rooted disappointment in Abby. For her to act the way she had was unacceptable and it would not go undealt with.
Yeah,he'd make sure this was taken care of all right. In fact, now he'd had it been pointed out to him, in Tim's very cut and dry way of getting his point heard, he'd make damn sure of it. The kid had been treated as if he were worthlesss, through the callous actions by some of the very people he should have had support from. Wasn't Abby always the one to spout off about McGee being her best friend? Tim had taken his cues from both her and the boss and come to the only conclusion that had made sense to him. It had probably taken a lot for him to come here for confirmation of the conclusion that he wasn't welcome on the team anymore, instead of simply acting on it.
He breathed out a sigh of relief that Tim had come to him and glanced over at his passenger once again to make sure he was sleeping comfortably. This young man was a damn good agent in the making, who still had both a lot to learn and a lot to offer as a Federal Agent both in the field and behind a computer. He'd earned this spot on this team and no one and nothing was gonna be allowed to chase him off, not the less than desirable behavior of his co-workers or lack of good judgement from his boss.
With a smile, Gibbs shook his head. Maybe now that Tim had gotten the kick in the pants he needed; he'd find his cahoonas to stand up for himself, He'd accepted that hard knock from Gibbs earlier without even so much as a flicker of an arguement.
Oh yeah. Tim wasn't being booted anywhere and what's more, the young man knew it.