A/N: Co-Written with Shelbylou
Written: on 03/21/2012 for the NFA "Episode Tag" and "Fix It" Challenges.
Takes place at the end of "Dog Tags"
Part 3 of the Dog Tag Chronicles - Three seperate conversations that should have taken place. -
Will make more sense if you read Parts 1 & 2 first.
A continuation of "Actions Speak Louder than Words"
"Go home, McGee. I already have your report." Gibbs told his youngest agent.
"Ah, I have to go talk to Abby first." Tim supplied nervously.
"I hear she's been treatin' kinda rough since this case started, Probie. According to Palmer, it sounds like she's been treatin' you worse than even I have. Pretty darn nice of ya to still wanna check on her."
Tim walked into Abby's lab, not looking forward to this but feeling the need to do it regardless. "Hey, Abbs."
"Gibbs asked the Base Commander if I could keep Jethro."
"And he said no."
"He said yes."
"Then why are you…?"
"My landlord said no." Abby replied sadly as she continued to hug the dog and scratch him behind his ears.
"Ooh, That's too bad." Tim did genuinely sympathise with her since he knew how attached to the dog she had allowed herself to become.
"I have to find Jethro a good home. He's a distinquished veteran."
Tim waited silently for her to finish what was obviously on her mind. His stomach twisted when she stood up from hugging on the dog and walked over to him to put her hands on his shoulders. He didn't think he was gonna like what she had to say and tried to cut her off at the pass. "Abby, no, no. nooo."
"You have been looking for a dog, Timmy."
"That dog tasted my blood and I think he liked it."
"Okay. Sometimes you have to look at the reality in front of you, and just accept it. You... are taking Jethro. Accept it. "McGee, Jethro, shake... All right, Jethro, you're going to have to be the bigger man." Abby said with a smirk playing across her face as the dog growled at Tim.
Even with the dog's paw in his hand, he felt his anger returning over this situation with Abby and the dog. It wasn't bad enough that Abby had treated him like dirt under her shoe through this entire case that surrounded this dog; what with calling Tim 'Bad McGee'; deliberately ruining his $500 dollar jacket by wrapping the blood and drug soaked dog in it; telling him to muzzle himself because it wasn't like the dog shot him and threatening him with bodily harm if he didn't give her money for flowers for the dog, but now this? This was the straw that had officially broken this camel's back. The answer was no. Hell no! Absolutely not!
He watched her angrily as she walked over to the crate that had housed the dog during his stay in her lab. She reached over to prod the kennel toward him with her foot. "Here ya go. This is for him. His food and food bowl, as well as his toys are in my office, already bagged up for you. Now play nice while I print out this list of everything you'll need to get for him that I so nicely put together for you."
"NO. Absolutely not." Tim turned and headed out of her lab deliberately not giving her time to answer.
"TIMOTHY NO MIDDLE NAME MCGEE, YOU GET BACK HERE THIS INSTANT!" Abby yelled from inside her lab.
Tim's temper rose about ten degrees, but still he kept going, wishing he could be hitting the stairs at almost a dead run, taking them two at a time, when in fact he was stuck escaping on the elevator so as to not aggravate his wounds. He knew that a pissed off Abby would not be far off his trail. Stepping off the elevator, he was chagrined to find that he'd been right about her speed since she'd beaten him up here. Apparently, she'd gotten fast at kenneling the viscious dog and pursuing her prey in full attack readiness. Maybe she'd taken lessons from the beast.
Abby followed Tim back to his desk as he headed there to get his backpack so he could head out, angry that he had dared not give in to her.
"No, Abby! Just because you don't give a damn that he tried to kill me, doesn' mean I have to take him in because you acccepted responsibility for him without first checking with your landlord! It's bad enough, you bullied me into donating for flowers for the mutt after you called me 'Bad McGee' and told me you don't want to know me because I defended myself against him attacking me; not to mention telling me to muzzle myself because, oh, after all the dog didn't shoot me so he's not the one who needs to be muzzled; but this where I draw the line, Abby! The answer is no! I am absolutely NOT taking him in! Call all your ex-boyfriends, maybe one of them will take him in for you, that way you'll still get visitation rights!" Tim sounded off in a rare display of anger that these last four days had brought out in him.
"McGEE!" Abby objected loudly.
"NO, ABBY ! He already tore my neck, part of my arm and some of my fingers to shreds when he was trying to kill me a few days ago. Do you REALLY think I need to be trying to take care of a BIG DOG right now? Seriously?" Tim yelled angrily.
"Absolutely not, my dear." Ducky inserted with his medical expertise as he walked up on the situation he'd heard unfolding with enough volume to have garnered the attention of the entire floor of agency personnel. "Timothy most definitely does not need to be undertaking any such task, at least until his injuries have had sufficient time to heal. Surely, Abigail, you were not even suggesting such a thing? He already took more than enough of a risk of his injuries not fully recovering by having to drive himself back here from the crime scene shortly after the attack."
"Thank you, Ducky! Maybe you can talk some sense into her! She sure hasn't heard a word I've said to her in the last four days!" Angry beyond words, Tim wasn't even aware that the rest of his team had been silent witnesses to his outburst, as he snatched up his coffee cup and stormed from the squad room without looking anywhere but straight ahead.
Glaring at her teammates, Ziva followed Tim to the break room, determined to let him know that he was not alone; as he obviously believed himself to be. She hated seeing her normally unflappable friend not only still recovering from being injured and physically in pain, but obviously also in the midst of being treated unkindly by his so-called trusted friends and teammates. The fact that she and Tony had just moments earlier, offered their own apology of how they treated him during this case, sharpened her sense of anger at what she was hearing.
Jimmy had already told them of Abby's cruel remark to Tim out at the site where they'd found the dead dog. Ziva hadn't been happy with the lab rat when she'd heard about that but she'd held her tongue, waiting to see if Abby would turn her own attitude around. Apparently, that hadn't happened. In fact, from what Tim had just said, Abby had done worse befoer this case was over. What was wrong with this woman? Could she not see the line she consistently crossed like this?
"Abby?" Gibbs asked in that tone that demanded the situation be explained.
Caught up in her anger, the Lab Rat seemed to have tuned out everything else around her and wasn't even paying attention to the Team Leader's question. Walking out from around his desk, he grasped her elbow and gently propelled her through their work space, past Tony's desk and on toward the back elevator. He wanted answers and he wanted them now.
Tony was left in the squad room with an unhappy M.E. Looking around at the nearly empty space, Ducky could only shake his head in sadness. This team meant so much to each other but this could tear them apart. He hoped it would not come to that. Somehow, someway, they would find a way to re-knit their unity back together; he just knew it. Without another word, he, too took himself toward the back elevator, choosing to take the route that ran behind Tim's desk.
Alone in the squad room, Tony blew out a frustrated sigh. What the hell had just happened in here?
"McGee. Are you alright?" Ziva asked him as she came to a stop at the table he was sitting at.
He glanced at her wordlessly before returning his eyes to the cup of coffee his hands were wrapped around on the table in front of him.
"May I join you?" she pushed, while ignoring his refusal to answer her first question.
Tim shrugged his good shoulder in a show of indifference even though his silence screamed of his displeasure at the idea.
"McGee. I feel as though I should apologise again for what happened the other day with the attacking dogs program.
Tim looked over at her with a frown. It wasn't her fault.. Why then was he treating her like she had done what Abby had done to him? With a flash of guilt and remorse, he was quick to offer her the apology he owed her. "This has nothing to do with you. I'm sorry for taking it out on you."
"Apology accepted. Now, shall we talk about what needs to be done about this?"
"Well, obviously Abby needs someone to take the dog in and she cannot have animals in her apartment. As a matter of fact, if I remember correctly, you happen to be the only one with the apartment management that allows large pets, such as this dog."
"Ziva, I am NOT taking that man eating animal in! Did you know he growled at me just now? I mean, it's not bad enough Abby thought it was funny when he snarled and growled at me yesterday behind her office door, but now I'm supposed to become his caregiver? I was made to 'make up' with him by Abby because she couldn't take him.I can't believe she even considered this crazy idea!"
"McGee, I am not suggesting that you do so permenantly, only that you do so until he can find a home that wants him. If it will help at all, I will act as a buffer – I could stay with him." Ziva suggested calmly.
"You would do that for me?" Tim asked in surprise.
"It is what a friend does for a friend, is it not?" Ziva asked in her no-nonsense tone of voice.
"Thanks, Ziva. This means a lot to me. With you there to help me, I can take him in - temporarily. I don't trust him if it's just me there." Tim admitted sadly."I'll find him a new home as soon as I can."
"McGee,I would enjoy having the chance to help you with this." Ziva answered earnestly.
"Thank you, Ziva."
"Shall we go and collect your temporary house guest and get started on this adventure of finding him a new home?"
"Yeah. C'mon, let's go."
Ziva settled in on Tim's couch, with the seemingly docile german shepherd flopped across her lap. Tim sat in the chair next to her, typing away on his laptop. With a final flourish of tapping, he sat back with a smile on his face. "Yes!"
"Wow, that was fast, McGee." Ziva remarked as she absently stroked the dog's fur around his ears.
"That was the plan, Ziva. It's best for the dog to get settled in his new home sooner than later."
"I think it is very big of you to put the dog's needs before thinking of what you need." Ziva offered with a smile.
"He can't help what's happened to him." Tim explained as his phone rang. Picking it up, he glanced at it and frowned. Why would the boss be calling him now? "Hey, Boss, something wrong?"
"Talked to Abby."
"Did you take the dog home with you?"
"Yeah. But, Ziva's here with me. I didn't want to risk doing it alone. I'm not sure he is all that keen about me since he still growls at me, although I do think he liked the taste of my blood."
"McGee, you okay to keep him?"
"I'm not going to. I've already found him a home with an ex-marine buddy. He lost his leg in Afghanistan and I remembered he was a handler with a bomb dog so I called him to see if he knew anyone. He said he'd take him and would take care of him." Tim told him cheerfully.
"When?" Gibbs asked gently, feeling proud that Tim had done the right thing for both a veteran and the verteran dog.
"I'll take him tomorrow evening after work. He lives in DC and told me Abby can go see Jethro whenever she wanted." Tim paused. "Maybe that will keep her anger about it in check enough that she'll forgive me for not keeping him."
From her seat on the couch, Ziva frowned at Tim's worrying about Abby's feeling over those of his own as she waited to hear what Tim would tell her about Gibbs' side of the conversation.
"Seriously?" Tim asked into the phone in genuine surprise, bringing a small smile to Ziva's face. She knew Gibbs would not let McGee suffer through any more of this unfair treatment from Abby. "Thanks, Boss, for everything,"
Tim grinned as he snapped his phone shut and stared at it in genuine shock. "Wow!"
"What is it, McGee?" Ziva asked as she looked over at him.
"Gibbs just told me something I never thought I'd hear him say. Guess talking to him the other night and again while you and Tony were at lunch, actually did some good."
"Do not keep me in suspense, McGee! What did he say?" Ziva demanded impatiently.
Tim smiled at her with a smile that reached all the way to his eyes, lighting the room around them.
"He actually told me to stop worrying about what Abby thinks!"