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Help, I Need Somebody

by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 041 Word Count: 76064
Rating: MATURE
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Other (See Author's Note)
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Ensemble
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, Angst/Drama, Episode Related, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee
Episode(s): 3-12 Boxed In
Summary: My version of where Tony might have ended up after the crappy treatment he received in Boxed In. This is a bit dark, but I have to go with the muse and this is what she provided. The thought woke me up crying, as a matter of fact. Triple Kleenex warning...

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12

Help, I Need Somebody 12/?

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"Is it okay if I do?" Tim offered hesitantly.

"Of course. Go ahead."

Tim took a deep breath, not sure how to begin, but Abby's calming presence and a reassuring pat on the hand from Ducky bolstered his confidence.

"Okay... first, you need to understand that none of us... correction; *almost* none of us were aware how much we were hurting Tony that night. I said some things that, in hindsight, were pretty cruel, but at the time... I thought of it as teasing. See Tony and I... we tease each other a lot. It wasn't easy being on the receiving end at first, since I've gotten that kinda stuff pretty much all my life. I didn't understand that Tony was ragging on me for a reason. I finally got it when I stepped out of my first solo interrogation. I realized that the suspect hadn't rattled me and I had the information I went in there to get... and I suddenly knew I had Tony to thank. What initially felt like harassment had thickened my skin... taught me to speak up instead of ducking my head and keeping my mouth shut. If I hadn't learned that I was capable of pro-active instead of passive self-defense... I wouldn't still have my job."

"I'm sure that's not the case. You obviously have a lot going for you..."

"He's right." Gibbs interjected. "When Tim came to us he was a rabbit; shy, quiet and really unsure of himself. I almost started calling him Timid, just to see if I could raise his emotional temperature a little... but I knew that when a boss does it, a technique like that can backfire way too easy. Tony came through and kicked the kid in the butt, though. He started acting as if Tim had legally changed his name to Probie, meaning every time Tony wanted his attention, Tim got a reminder that he was a probationary agent who had a long way to go... and something to prove to himself and me. All I could do was sit back and hope that because they were closer to being on the same level, Tim would take it as a challenge, not an attack, like it might seem if it was coming out of my mouth. I wanted him to take all the potential I saw in him and make something of it. He's done that... just like I knew he could."

Tim grinned, but he was fighting back tears.

"So what am I now, boss?"

"Badger... working your way up to grizzly bear."

Tim swallowed hard, took a minute or two to regain his composure and looked back to Lewiston, continuing the story he had been leading up to and praying his gratitude was clear enough in his eyes that Gibbs had read it before he pulled his gaze away.

"Anyway, like I was saying, that night I thought we were teasing, as usual... until I really looked at Tony's face. I could tell he was hurt and confused, but then he shut down and the look was gone. That made *me* confused. I wanted to ask him what was going on, but he never gave me a chance. He grabbed his coat and his bag, told Ziva he was canceling on her offer to make dinner for him and he left. I looked at her and she was studying a paper on her desk with this... nasty, spiteful smirk on her face. I thought about the night before and the pieces started coming together. At the party, she told me that Tony turned down an invitation... but she never invited him at all."

"Was anyone else told the same thing?"

Abby and Jimmy raised their hands. "Agent McGee, how do you know your suspicion is true?"

"The morning we found out that Tony checked himself into Bethesda, Gibbs confronted her and she admitted it. She called Tony a child and said children don't belong at adult parties. I think Gibbs wanted to rip her a new one, but the hospital called and Tony became the priority, so it never happened."

Turning a calculating gaze briefly on Ziva, Lewiston studied the flushed, seething woman, wondering how much longer she would last under the onslaught of accusations and animosity, and what she might do when she decided not to suffer in silence any longer. Smiling grimly, she virtually dared him to direct a question at her, giving her an excuse to erupt, but instead he turned his eyes to the only other young lady in the room.

"Miss Sciuto?"

"Call me Abby."

"Okay. Thank you, Abby. Do you want to share your thoughts on what happened that night?"

"The party or after?"

"Either one."

"I'd love to... but I can't. I'm still too mad and when I get mad, sometimes I say things I shouldn't... things that could get me fired."

"Nothing you say will ever be used against you, Abs, I promise you that." Gibbs pledged.

"He's right." Lewiston added. "Anything revealed in this room stays here as far as I'm concerned."

"Okay...When I found out what she did I wanted to rip her face off and send it through a paper shredder and then dice up the pieces and go feed 'em to the tigers at the National Zoo."

To his credit, Lewiston evinced only mild shock and his smile was genuine, if a bit pained.

"Good grief. If you're that creative and imaginative in your work it's no wonder every agency in Washington would give their right arm to steal you away from NCIS."

Abby lit up.

"They would? Wait, how do you know?"

"I did a little phone research before I came over today."

"Well? Gimme! Who said it and what're they offering?"

Gibbs, McGee and Ducky chimed in almost simultaneously.

" " "Abby!" " "

"Chill, guys. I didn't say I was packing my bags, but once in a while a girl likes to know she's wanted."

"I ever hear you even *thought* of going over to the FBI and believe me, you'll be wanted... in four states and Canada." Gibbs growled. Lewiston laughed, but, diplomatically, made it a quiet one. Ducky repressed his urge to chuckle at the predictable family squabble and tried to get things back on track.

"Children! Can we please return to the subject at hand? Abby, dear, I think you were getting around to talking about the night after the party?"

"Right. Well, I'd been helping as much as I could that day, from back here in the office, so I knew the trouble they were in, but even before I found out how Ziva lied to us, I was way more worried about Tony than I was about her. It wasn't that long ago that he was framed for murder, you know, and I knew he had to be thinking about the time he spent in that cell, not sure if he'd ever get out, and he goes on what was supposed to be a pretty simple mission and there he is, locked up all over again. When they finally did get back I was so relieved that I hugged him before I realized he was hurt. I *still* feel guilty for that, along with about a million other things. Anyway, he yelped when I hugged him and I could tell he was really hurt. Unlike some people, I know Tony and he would never say it was worse than it was just to get sympathy. If anything, he downplays how sick he is or how much pain he's in so he can get back to work faster."

"*If* that were true, I'm sure you've interpreted it incorrectly. DiNozzo is simply afraid he'll be replaced with someone competent if he stays away from work for too long." Ziva snarked, arms crossed over her chest.

A glare overtook Abby's face that was worthy of Gibbs before his first cup of coffee and a growl sounded deep in her throat that a full-grown male lion would have been proud to claim. Tim instantly latched onto her bicep and the others, including Lewiston, rose and moved to support him in his effort to save her from an attempted murder charge.

"Abby, don't. She wants you to do it... don't let her win."

"He's right, Abs." Gibbs added quietly. "She's baiting you, girl. Every time you jump for it, it makes her happier. I know you don't want her happy..."

The doctor crouched on Abby's left, leaving physical restraint to the rest of the men and employing his specialty, words and simple common sense, to help calm the young woman down. Leaning close to her ear, he whispered to her, hoping he could get through.

"Okay, Abby, I need you to try and listen to me. You know she wouldn't have to behave like that if her own self-esteem was as strong as yours is. I suspect she doesn't really like herself very much, so she has to drag others down in order to feel powerful. Don't let her do that to you. Look at the friends that rushed to your side just now to make sure you wouldn't get in trouble. Do you see anyone doing that for her? You have choices here, Abby. Think about it... then make a decision. What happens next is up to you."

A moment later, Abby stopped straining forward against the hands wrapped around her arms and shoulders.

"You can let go now, guys."

Warily, she was released. Gibbs and Ducky expected her to go straight for Ziva's throat, but instead all she did was turn to the man still hunkered down beside her and gently touch his hand, which was braced on the arm of the chair to help him keep his balance. "Thank you."

"Anytime." He replied, grinning at her as he rose again to his full height. The smile vanished, however, as he turned to face Ziva. "Miss David. You're free to go."

"Excuse me?"

"This discussion is intended to help me learn more about Agent DiNozzo and the people he's closest to. It's obvious you don't belong in that category, so you really don't belong here. In addition, I only have another half hour to learn as much as I can today and your hostile, malicious attitude is a distraction none of us need. Please leave."

Color rose into Ziva's cheeks again and she turned her shocked expression on her boss.

"Gibbs..."

"He makes sense. Out."

Indignant and grim-faced, Ziva rose to her feet stiffly and moved toward the door. She paused for a moment when Gibbs addressed her again, then stalked out, slamming the door.

"Do you have work to do until the rest of us finish here or do I need to find something to keep you busy?"

"I need nothing from you."

The boom of Ziva's exit echoed through the conference room and the outer office for several seconds. When the group recovered, they all resumed their seats and continued the meeting.

"Abby, did you have anything else to add?"

"Not much. Just that I feel so guilty for not realizing how bad Tony was feeling that night. Sometimes, I get wrapped up in my own little world and I don't pay attention to other people as much as I should. All I could do was talk about the party and how great it was... now all I want is a chance to say how sorry I am."

"When he tells me he's ready to talk about forgiveness, I promise you I'll try to get you that opportunity, but it has to be up to him."

"I understand."

"Okay. In the last... twenty minutes or so, is there anything else any of you want me to know? I guess we should start with the stories of anyone else that was here in the office the night after the party. Nobody? Okay, let's just talk about Tony in general terms, then."

"You mean... like Tim did?" Jimmy asked.

"Exactly."

"Then... I'll go."

"Great. I'm sorry, your name is..."

"Jimmy Palmer. I assist Dr. Mallard. Tony calls me Autopsy Gremlin... but I'm not sure if he knows that *I* know that." Jimmy admitted with a shy grin.

"You don't mind the name?"

"No. Not really. I kind of did, until Dr. Mallard explained that Tony was pretty close to the man I replaced and the nickname is a way of welcoming me into the family, but keeping me at a distance at the same time, so he won't be hurt if I leave too."

"That makes perfect sense."

"Tony... he acts like he knows exactly how cool he is... but he has no clue. The things I consider cool about him would never cross... I mean he just can't see... sorry. This is hard. It feels like we're talking behind his back..."

Ducky reached over and patted Jimmy's hand while Tim gripped his shoulder lightly from the other side. The slight young man smiled again, took a deep breath and shot his friends brief, grateful looks.

"Are you alright to continue? You don't have to." Lewiston offered.

"I'm okay. So... what I was trying to say..."

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DIRECTOR SHEPPARD'S OFFICE:

"Ziva, calm down and switch back to English, would you please? You know my Arabic isn't that strong."

"You said I would fit in easily... that they would accept me and trust that I was one of them within a week or two. That promise has been falling apart for some time and you have chosen to ignore the problem. Now... I expect you to do something about it."

"I can't *force* them to like you, Ziva! Especially when you keep planting landmines for the favored child to step on."

"Yes, well, I expected that when he finally did, they would see DiNozzo for the fraud he is and the field would be clear for me. Instead, the rest of them have rallied around that... weakling and built a wall to keep me out. My coming here was *your* idea, love and I've decided that I like this country very much. Fix this."

"I'll do what I can, but as I said..."

"It is what I say that counts..." Ziva purred, taking Sheppard's face in her hands and placing a quick kiss on her barely open mouth. "... or don't you like that game anymore? Perhaps I shall have to find a new playmate..."

"No! No... I'll make things better for you, I swear. Just... don't leave me."

"Good girl. Very good girl."

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TBC....

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