First, NCIS is not mine *tear* and they get the credit for the original characters.

Hey guys, so this is totally my first ever story being posted, and as mentioned in my profile, I am really bad at the whole technology thing so I could totally be messing this up. And until I figure it out I apologize for any errors at all :(

Soo, this takes place in season seven immediately following episode five: Code of Conduct. The entire Benoit case is over and done with and in the past. Tony's relationship with the team is still off. Gibbs has all of his memories back but they haven't gotten their relationship back to normal. He and Ziva have made up after their issues, but only outwardly. Tony is still hurt by the whole affair.

Please be kind, any constructive criticism is totally appreciated, feel free to make suggestions or corrections (though, I do have a plan for this story and it does not involve Tiva, I'm sorry). No meanness please :) and enjoy and review :D Oh and the title is based off of Seether "yeah", excellent song which totally fits my story hehe.

ch 1

He knocked on the door, which was surprisingly answered by Keira. Her adorable eyes got big and round as she charged him with a giant hug that took his breath away and shot pain across his back and chest. He grabbed the railing next to him, clenched fiercely, and breathed sharply as he tried not to react in pain. The little girl didn't need to be overly worried. "Hey sweetie, I didn't know you would be here today. It's a school day isn't it?" He asked in an ever so taut voice. "But, hon, I have a bit of an owie on my stomach so maybe you could loosen your grip."

She jumped back, "Oh I'm sorry Tony, did I hurt you, are you okay? What happened?"

Meanwhile, her mom had made her way to the door and watched the short exchange, glancing closely at Tony after she heard him say he was hurt. He had told the girls that he wouldn't be around for a month or so because he had some important work with the police. He hadn't gone into detail, but from the information he gave them, Tony figured they understood that this so called work was undercover.

Tony was certain that the dark circles under his eyes were obvious. She probably wondered why he was here, he had already put his foot in his mouth by saying that he thought the kids should be at school. She pursed her lips. They barely knew each other. She had been pissed off at him originally when they first met. He had been unable to express to her exactly what his intentions were. So far they had smacked heads several times, but he figured that Nala couldn't dismiss the fact that her two daughters needed a male role model and that he was willing and hopefully capable of filling that role. She had tried to separate them on several occasions but the girls had kicked up a fuss. At the moment she had come to a standstill; she hadn't welcomed him with open arms but she wasn't kicking him out of her home.

Her legs were planted firmly on the ground in a defensive move that spoke much about her opinion of him. She was an intelligent woman and he was certain that she was pondering why he had come to the house to meet with her. Tony did not get embarrassed…at least that's what everybody thought. However, without realizing it, his eyes filled with humiliation.

"Well, umm, I better go. I just thought I'd quickly stop by to say hi, but I should be getting back to work."

She raised her hand to crush his pathetic attempt at avoiding the issue. "Mr. DiNozzo," he grimaced at her title for him, she always called him by his last name. "You thought the girls were at school, were you stopping by to say hi to me?" Her voice was dry, bored even and did not encourage him to open up about the situation. He watched as she got a glare from the tiny girl. She shrugged her shoulders displaying an innocent face. The girl giggled but then glared again and moved closer to him, careful to hug his legs this time.

"Did that hurt Tony?" She asked.

"Nope that was perfect." He grinned before looking to the mother. "Well I just wanted to tell you that I was done with my special assignment and available for the girls and I wanted to see when would be a good time for you."

"Really?" She asked oozing doubt to his clear displeasure and disbelief.

Now was time for a hasty retreat. As he attempted to disengage Keira he banged his back up against the door knob and he felt his face drain of colour. He prayed that his facial expression didn't change. He continued to smile and try and wheedle his leg out of her tight hold, but he knew there was a slight gasp in his voice.

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Nala nearing him. He prayed she and Tawnie didn't talk about him, if that was the case she would probably figure out his problem. Tawnie was always on his back about the fact that he attracted trouble like a magnet. She also nagged him about going to a doctor. His lips turned up at the thought. Nala was a nurse, if she knew a bit about his personality she may figure out that he actually needed her help.

Before he had a chance to process these thoughts she had made her move. Nala pulled her daughter off of him and then as he turned to go she gave him a quick, but firm pat on the back. Her hand landed right on the spot Tony was concerned about and he let out a bit of a groan,hoping she felt guilty. He was mad, this situation was getting out of control.

Her expression showed surprise, "Get your butt back in here mister, did you come here seeking some medical help, hmm?" She was trying to remain aloof but a hint of her worrying mom voice dripped in. His shoulders drooped and he turned around to face her. Again that glint of embarrassment showed itself and he was aware, he could feel his cheeks burning up. His distaste aka fear of doctors was written all over his face, he was sure of it.

She smirked a little again. "I think I felt some stitching back there?" She stated boldly. He was wasting her time.

He tried to catch her eye, giving her what he hoped was a conspiratorial look. Instead he just appeared to be squinting his eyebrows in a funny expression. She gave him a quizzical look and he dramatically stuck his hand on his face.

He beckoned her over and whispered in her ear, "I umm pulled out some stitches and I was hoping you could patch me up, but the, uh, cut is kinda nasty and I didn't want to scare Keira, and it's okay, I can deal with it myself. So don't worry." He finished this run on sentence in a reassuring voice that he doubted did anything to reassure her in any way.

She firmly gripped his arm in a gesture to stop. Then she turned to the little one who had at this point taken out Tony's badge from his pants pocket and was peering through the contents. She was oblivious to their conversation.

"Keira honey, I need you to do me a favour. Could you go and tidy up the basement, I know you guys left it in a mess and I am just going to send Tony home okay." He held out his hand for the wallet. She stuck out her tongue, handed over her findings and made her way down stairs.

"You are not leaving Buster." She muttered under her breath, "How long will this take?" She put her hand on his mouth when he tried to excuse himself and followed this up with her best you better behave glare and raised an eyebrow. He was startled by this bold move, what was he, her kid?

He backed up, and out loud said, "Well, it might take some time, I am assuming you will need to take out the rest of the stitching and then restitch it. And the cut is pretty long."

"Alright, we are going to do this in my bathroom. Tawnie is over at her friend's house, the girls had a PD day. So I am not worried about her, but if this cut is that gruesome I don`t want to risk Keira coming upstairs and getting face to face with this. We will go in my bathroom where I can lock the door. You go on up and take off your shirt and I will bring up the medical supplies okay? I don`t have any numbing solution though." He nodded and gave her grateful puppy dog eyes upon receiving directions to her room.

Walking slowly, Tony made his way upstairs and down the hall. She had decorated simply but tastefully. There were cute photos of the girls throughout and one or two with her as well, most of the group shots appeared recent. All three women looked alike, he would bet money that Nala looked very similar to her daughters at their age. All three women had the same naturally tan skin, dark black hair and big brown eyes. Nala's hair was very long, nearly to her waist. Tawnie had evidently decided she did not want to follow her mom's footsteps in this way, she had hers cut to shoulder length, and it had an obstinate curl in it unlike the straight hair of the other members of the trio. He spotted both girl's rooms, doors open, and mess evident. He smiled, glad that they had the freedom to make a mess.

Tony noted the posters on the oldest daughter's wall. She was into hard rock and borderline screamo. He spotted posters for Three Days Grace, Billy Talent and the Devil wears Prada and smirked. She was slightly punk, but such a sweetie, as usual. Most girls were pretty soft even if they didn't look it or act it. Sure there were definitely the exceptions, but in his experience the hardest, toughest female cops still held that sensitive side. You simply had to look deeper and get to really know them. Not that he would tell a girl that, she'd probably make some frustrated comment about him being sexist when he really wasn't trying to be.

He snorted to himself. Women. In his gut he knew Nala would take him out if she heard him say anything along those lines. She was manhandling him into accepting her help, which he was grateful for, cause he hadn't been sure who to turn to. Couldn't go to Ducky, things were off between them, he honestly felt uncomfortable with nearly everyone on the team, and had been feeling that way for months now. Going to see Jimmy would have been best, but Palmer was away at a medical conference this week. Tony found himself turning to him more and more, and he planned on making him his official doctor when Jimmy finished getting his medical license. He loved Ducky, he did, but the guy was Gibbs' best friend and he didn't trust him not to confide in Gibbs. Tony stopped those thoughts right there, he didn't want to continue on that road or he'd be jumping off a cliff at the end.

The room at the end of the hall had to be her bedroom, the door was closed. Was she hiding a mess in there? Tony liked to play the guessing game whenever he met anyone. It made it that much more fun in getting to know them, as he checked off his correct and very incorrect guesses. Based on their few encounters he had noted that she usually had her dark hair pinned up in some kind of messy bun. Also, he noticed that she had a slightly chic sense of style that was sadly hampered by the wrinkles that always appeared on her clothing. He had her pinned as a messy/clean person. She needed organization, and tidiness, she felt that was her job as a mom, but she didn't always succeed in that. He opened the door and gazed around. The room was tidy, nothing on the floor, but the laundry basket was full and one of the drawers had stuff sticking out. Check one, at this point he walked into the on suite bathroom, yup the mess continued in here, again it was concealed. It looked pretty tidy, except for the toothpaste missing its lid and if you opened any of the drawers. He nearly laughed out loud.

Now to take off his shirt, he had been hoping to somehow finagle his way out of her seeing his chest, but there was no way now. The plan had been to lift up the back of his shirt for her but she wanted it off. And if he took it off well then he couldn't just sit with his back to her when she entered. Tony grumbled to himself about this turn of events, but took off the shirt, he didn't want to argue with the woman any more; he would just deal with her mothering instincts. The shirt brushed against the open wound on his back as he removed it, Tony winced in the process. The weeklong stay in the hospital was brutal, but his ribs weren't broken and he didn't have many bruises, so fortunately they couldn't force him to stay longer.

Usually in his experience those who tortured others escalated in their violence, they began with beating, kicking and punching, then maybe bars or bats. After that they moved onto knives or cigarettes. This guy had informed Tony that he liked his captives bloody when he beat them. Tony had been literally dripping blood when they hung him from the ceiling and began the beating. They had only gotten in a few kicks when the Feds burst in. The Feds had actually had his back in this case and that was nice. Though that meant he and Gibbs missed the whole you saved me makeup scene that they desperately needed. He hadn't had a good talk with the guy in a while.

Either way the team hadn't known the full extent of his injuries except for Gibbs. They had been in to visit him, but Ziva and McGee had cracked a few jokes about him blowing his cover and getting caught, saying he mustn't be that great undercover. He had bit back his anger at them, wanting to declare that the Feds requested him and that he broke cover in order to save a young girl who was going to be severely raped and killed. He had gotten her out at the cost of his cover and Fornell had already assured him that he made the right decision.

Either way his reaction would have been petty and chances were the two jesters wouldn't have recognized the truth in his statement. They were too stuck in their views of him. His thoughts were interrupted by a cleared throat. He looked up to see Nala standing there. Two thoughts crossed his mind, damn I went there again and second, she didn't flinch. This is going well.

"Your cover got broken?" She asked with compassion as well as a touch of pain that resonated in her voice.

He did not hear this, instead he heard the doubt he expected and he reacted defensively. "Yes it was, but not because I suck at my job, for your information, I purposefully broke my cover to protect a girl from what would have been a brutal rape and possibly murder, okay?"

The vehemence in his voice shocked her and him. He quickly stuttered out an apology; remorse ringing in his every word. "Geez, I am sorry, you don't need some guy yelling at you. I am really sorry. It's just my team-some people have been doubting my actions in the field, and really that is no excuse at all actually. But um…" At this point Tony ran out of words.

He watched her eyes looking for some clue as to how she was taking this. The startled doe eye look left her eyes, to be replaced with surprise and then sincere acceptance. What was she surprised about? He wondered.

She quickly replied, "Hey, it's okay, I understand, bad day at work, annoying co-workers. I gotcha." He smiled glad at her easy acceptance and lack of questions, he knew she had kind of brushed over the subject, and he appreciated her for doing that. He met her eyes and he tried to convey that.

She continued speaking, "Now let's see what you need stitching. These all look pretty good, you haven't been over exerting yourself, except for the stitching you tore out today?" She smirked a little at this statement and so did he as he felt the tenseness in his back drain.

"Yeah, I uhh, well actually it's kinda silly. I slipped in my house on some water I spilled." He fibbed.

"Honesty please?" She said, probably waiting for a story about heading back to work too soon.

"Geez, mum radar much? Well, see I sometimes prank my coworkers, in all fun, you know. I am sure you have guessed that I am kinda immature. And they decided to get me back. Loosened the screws in my chair. They thought it was pretty funny." He tried to smile. He could tell his smile was not working, she looked angry.

"But you're hurt, just out of the hospital, don't they know that? I mean, for frigs sake you're like a human stitched puzzle of some sort. It's like Humpty dumpty without the whole menacing I stole the golden egg thing, and you know they put you back together again."

This time he looked at her with complete confusion. She turned bright red.

"Puss in Boots." She answered the unspoken question. But this didn't clear anything up, Tony maintained the blank stare. "You know Shrek, it was like a modern retake on the Disney princess?" He continued to stare quizzically. "Well I guess you are a guy, you probably skipped Disney princess, but, okay, maybe it is just me, I am a bit of a cartoon buff." She laughed at herself.

Tony laughed, "I am a movie buff, but not the cartoon type, I didn't really watch any cartoons as a kid, none of the Disney movies either and well, I don't have kids soo." He finished in a light tone.

"Well, that has to be remedied immediately. Puss in Boots is hilarious, you have to see it!" She stopped short after saying that.

He could read her like a book. She was mortified, probably because she just told a grown man to watch a movie entitled "Puss in Boots". She didn't even know him. He began to laugh harder, this woman was just too much.

"Well, enough of that, how bout I get down to stitching, nothing seems amiss with your chest." He watched as her tan skin turned even brighter red, it was obvious that she was embarrassed. Again he felt like he could read her thoughts. He was sure they went something like, "did I just say that out loud". He winked, but turned around. He heard a little breath and saw her hand clench out of the corner of his eye.

She patted his shoulder gingerly. "Okay, I can deal with this, I'm going to have to cut the other stitches, there are only a few left and I'd prefer for the sewing to be seamless from top to bottom. It's going to really hurt without any numbing agent.

His response was every bit the macho cop he had to be. "Honey, I will be fine, I understand it will hurt, but I'm sure you have surmised from what your daughter has told you and the fact that I am seeking you for help that I have an ever so small fear of doctors. I prefer the pain. I know, it's pathetic." His shoulders shrugged and his eyes looked down to the floor while he spoke.

"Hey, it's not pathetic, I am sure your fear of doctors came from somewhere. It's not my job to judge nor is it anyone else's. Well, I am going to go ahead and get at this. Sorry if I ramble but don't feel you have to answer."

At that she pulled out some medical scissors and began to cut the stitches out. This is usually not too painful but since the cut was still in the healing process it was not exactly pleasant. It was nothing though in comparison to the stitching, which dangit really hurt. Sure it didn't compare to the torture, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt. However, Tony knew that this was way better than being in a hospital. Just being in the building made him sick, it was filled with doctors. He gripped the toilet lid tightly and smirked to himself. She must have seen cause she laughed and made a comment about this being a great hospital room. He wasn't really paying any attention and she slowly quieted.

Suddenly she spoke up, "Tony, when are you due back at work? Is this a lunch break or something? I don't really know how these things work with cops." He could hear the curiosity in her voice, curiosity mixed with apprehension.

He answered hoping she wouldn't be upset. The woman was too intelligent for her own good. "Yeah, it is a lunch break, and I am due back soon, probably less than a half hour. Don't worry about rushing. If I'm late I'm late."

"And when did you rip these stitches out?"



"This morning when I came into work." He mumbled.

"Which was at what time?"


"You didn't seek help until now! Let me guess no one knows you are hurt!"

He was silent in reaction to her statement, gaging flight or fight. His shoulder muscles tensed under her hands.

"Sorry, I'm not your mom. Wounded people bring that side out in me. I mean I barely know you. I just worry." His shoulders relaxed despite her constant threading of the needle.

"No worries, it's nice to be worried about even if it's in a kinda scary way." He said.

She poked him in the cheek, the only skin that wasn't hurt, and his face. Good thing they left that alone.

"I have nice bone structure ehh." He said with a wink.

"I hadn't noticed." She smiled. He whimpered.

"Did I hurt you?" she asked, seriousness right back in place.

"Emotionally yes." She poked him in the cheek again.


"Meanie pants"

"Well, that's the last stitch." She said putting an end to their discussion. "Do you really have to go back to work? Honestly some rest would be beneficial." He shrugged and slowly rolled his shoulders after standing up from the toilet.

"I'm a tough guy." He said with another one of those dumb winks. She poked him in the cheek again.

"Oh you're tough alright." She grumbled to herself about macho men and led the way out of the washroom.

"Nala, you're a doll; thanks so much for stitching Humpty back together. You know, I really ought to come over here once in a while with the girls. We could have a movie night, watch Puss in Boots, among other Disney movies. Something tells me you are an animation addict and I would love to have some semblance of friendship with you. I know your daughters are always on me to figure out how to sweet talk you into liking me. Though they have also informed me that it will be impossible cause you are a brick wall." Upon seeing her eyes roll he said, "Their words not mine." With his most innocent look.

He waited for her response, joking aside he was trying to be serious. He wanted to know if he was welcome.

"Okay, how about you come back one week from today, next Friday night. Come for seven and we will watch Puss and Boots and I can check on your stitches. I would say that they should be good to come out in one to two weeks. If you want I can remove them for you?" Internally he cheered, point for DiNozzo.

"You are an angel. Alright, I will see you then and I can bring the junk food, okay? Are you sure about the stitches, I mean there are a lot, it will be time consuming and off the clock?"

"Tony, er Mr. DiNozzo, err Tony. Okay, I think I will just call you Tony, I mean I've stitched you up so Mr. DiNozzo seems kinda formal. I think it's just your name, the way it sounds that makes me feel like we are really close friends, which we aren't. That sounded really harsh. I just mean that the name Tony sounds like a nickname." She finished her rant looking flustered.

He laughed out loud, "Well Tony is a nickname, but my full name carries bad memories. And if you want you can call me Aidan, it has a more serious nature to it."

"Is that your middle name?"


"Well, what relation does it have to you?"

"None whatsoever, it simply sounded more formal, has a nice ring to it. I could totally be an Aidan."

She dissolved into laughter. "Well, I think that is a great idea…Aidan." She giggled a little bit more.

She doesn't realize that she has essentially given me a pet name thus upping our closeness factor. Not that he would ever tell her that. To be honest he thought it was cute and he really didn't see Nala as a woman he planned on engaging in anything beyond friendship. There were two reasons for this. The first one being that he saw her like her daughters, as one more little girl for him to take under his wing. And second, if he saw her as more then he would have walked away- he didn't want a relationship, he was still really hurt by the last woman he liked…Ziva.

He winced a little. See right there, that wince, evidence that he was not good at this whole relationship thing. Geesh, if he didn't know that he needed someone to love him he would have given up on this whole relationship deal ages ago, accepting his dad's words that he was worthless and useless and thus clearly not deserving of someone. But, despite the brainwashing he knew that he needed to find love.

It was one of the most ridiculous things he believed in, and he certainly would never tell his co-workers about his feelings, but he continued to believe in it. And with days like he had been having lately, when the family that he had found in his team acted like his biological family, well it was the only thing he was only holding onto. By this time he had made it down the steps and towards the door. Nala had carefully checked to make sure the road was clear for her daughter noting in surprise that she hadn't come upstairs once. She then stated that the little one either turned on some cartoons or fell asleep. He wished her a good day and she told him to be careful and that was that. He was headed back to work.

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Nala shut the door behind him. She settled herself in a sofa, feeling muscles loosen that she did not realize were so taut.

Well, that was interesting. I was not expecting a scenario of that sort.

Somehow this overgrown child had found a spot in her heart. Suddenly a thought came to mind, wouldn't his co-workers have forced him to visit a hospital, or even his boss upon him getting hurt? This then forced her to realize that he must have masked his pain somehow. They hadn't even realized they hurt him. The guy clearly had a high pain tolerance.

She was surprised at the sheer frustration in his voice, Tony was a very laid back man, always joking with her daughters. She was also taken aback by his apology. She hadn't thought he was the apologetic kind of person. You always tell yourself never to judge a book by its cover she thought to herself and here you just have. What do you even know about this guy, hmm?

Her first thoughts upon his arriving at her door were not necessarily the pleasant kind. She had him registered as a cocky, fairly arrogant ladies man. She took her turn to internally grimace. Why was she letting him hang out with her daughters…oh that's right, she had somehow gotten backed into the corner. Somewhere along the way she had forgotten who was the parent.

Aside from her parenting, apparently her children were better judges of character then her. But, then again a girl has to be careful, and she had every right to be cautious and judge him, simply because he is a strange man. She felt slightly mollified. Friday's movie night would be an enlightening experience.

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Tony was about a half hour late, but seeing as he was still on cold cases after his injury he wasn't too worried. He made his way through security and found himself back in his cubicle. He saw Tim look over at Ziva and none too secretly hand her a twenty dollar bill. Real funny he thought to himself sarcastically. I mean really, he knew that he played pranks on them, and this wasn't that mean at all as far as pranks go. Really he was just getting sensitive. Man up Tony. He told himself.

His thoughts were interrupted. "Tony, you know a quickie is supposed to be quick. You've been gone for almost an hour and a half."

"Ziva, Don't forget it takes time to actually get a girl, and Tony is getting older."

"Hey McGee, harsh words there, I'm not that old." Tony had come up with a couple nasty zingers to hurl Tim's way but he really did not want to put himself at their level. Although, it was getting harder by the day."

He heard Gibbs' firm steps coming up and he internally told himself not to flinch at the head smack coming his way. For the past month he had found himself cringing at every smack. It had never been an issue before, it was actually comforting usually to get one. It was like a sign of affection from his gruff boss. But at the moment he was really not feeling any amicable feelings towards the guy…at all. And the smacks upside the head just pissed him off as well as set off his flinching factor. As a kid he learned real fast to move when in danger of getting hit or kicked. He had fast reflexes especially when it came to self-defence and he was having a hard time turning them off around Gibbs. He was worried that one day he might dodge and backhand the man.

Sure enough the smack came, followed by a short sentence about the fact that he didn't care what Tony did on his break but he didn't want it cutting into work time.

The rest of the day was slow. Tony found the cold cases interesting. Sure some of them held no new leads, but he loved solving crimes, and the idea of an uncrack-able case motivated him. He was tired and in pain though from the stitches and he couldn't wait for the day to end. He was quiet but he tried to keep up the light banter. He let their slightly harsh jokes roll over his shoulders. Emphasis on the slightly part he told himself and stop being a girl. You give some and you take some. He would just look forward to his Friday night with the girls. That made him smile on the inside. He was curious about this movie she had planned. He had never heard of it, he didn't usually go to the theater, he had enough movies and a nice enough set up at his house.

The weekend was slow and he slept through most of it. The week had started off slow also. Finally it was Tuesday night, his weekly hang out with Tawnie. Tony made his way to her home; upon entering he gave Keira a soft pat. The little girl hugged his legs still mindful of his owie. Kid had good memory he thought to himself. He looked over at Tawnie, she looked real happy to see him and that made his heart go all soft and gooey. Change was evident in her. No it wasn't about outward appearances, he didn't want her to become a preppy Barbie doll. It was about little mannerisms and the inner confidence and happiness that comes with acceptance.

He thought back to their first meeting several months ago…

whew, one chapter down, I hope you guys liked it hehe and I have a decent amount of this written, but I am totally looking for a beta, someone who wants to review look over my stuff :), cause I don't think I have time to reread and reread for corrections myself, and I could use an extra set of eyes. I work full-time soo updating will hopefully be on a decent basis, but I apologize for any slowness :(.

I am looking for feedback or reviews to see if I should try and continue this (I have a lot more written, but not sure if you guys want it haha). Oh and warning I am a whump fan, so expect Tony pain hahahaha (evil laugh insert here).