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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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13

Help, I Need Somebody 13/?

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Just as Jimmy was really beginning to feel confident in speaking his mind, the door opened, startling him, and his words stumbled to a halt. Gibbs and Lewiston both looked up, frowning at the interruption and upset for Jimmy.

"Director." Gibbs greeted her sourly. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"You can end this unauthorized meeting immediately."

Gibbs rose and moved to stand close to her, grasping her elbow firmly.

"Outside." He told her, turning back to speak to the group, and Palmer specifically, "Go on, Jimmy. Finish what you were saying. I'll be right back." before guiding Sheppard forcefully out into the main office and closing the door.

"Don't you dare get angry, Gibbs. I'm within my rights..."

"As what, constant pain in my backside?"

"Gibbs."

Abruptly, Gibbs allowed the anger and frustration to leave his expression and replaced it with a mask showing deep weariness he didn't really feel.

"I'm sorry, okay? For that crack and for the scene in your office earlier. Since Tony... I'm just really concerned about him and I'll do everything in my power to help him get better. That's what this is about. You understand that, right?"

Sheppard's eyes widened and she gaped for a moment, unable to believe what she'd just heard. Jethro Gibbs had never said he was sorry for anything or to anyone, most especially not her. Luckily it didn't take her long to recover from the kick in the teeth he'd given her.

"I do."

"Thank you. Now I need to get back before our lunch hour is over..."

"Don't worry about that. Unless and until you get a case, feel free to keep this going. Stick with it as long as it takes."

"You mean that?"

"Absolutely. I'm not the unyielding harpy you obviously think I am, Agent Gibbs. I can be as sympathetic as the next person. Just keep me in the loop from now on and I'll bend over backwards to get you what you need."

"I appreciate it."

"I hope so. Now get back in there. Your team is waiting."

Gibbs nodded, favored her with a sweet smile and turned away to re-enter the room. The moment the door was once again closed behind him, however, the smile shifted and became a victorious, fiendish smirk. McGee's own grin was uncertain as he watched Gibbs settle back into his seat.

"Boss?"

"She's so off-balance a light breeze could knock her on her ass."

"What'd you say?"

"I apologized for yelling at her in her office."

"Apologized... but you never... wow. That must've freaked her out. I bet she was humming the 'Twilight Zone' theme all the way back up the stairs."

The room erupted in various levels of laughter. Gibbs even contributed a little himself.

"Entirely possible, McGee. Whatever else it did, it got her to reverse her decision. Unless we get a case, we can stay right here. Long as that's okay with your schedule, doc?"

"That's fine. This is going so well I wasn't looking forward to leaving without giving everyone a chance to speak. Mr. Palmer, I believe you were in the middle of a thought before we got so rudely interrupted."

"Well... all I was saying is that Tony... he doesn't understand himself really. He shows the world this... smooth, ultra-hip, sarcastic ladies man, but if you look in his eyes long enough... you see how hard he's fighting to make himself believe it so everyone else will too. I'm sure he doesn't think anybody's noticed this, but I can almost always tell when that fight is harder than usual for him."

"How?"

"When he wears his shades indoors. It's like his walls are weakening... and he has to add an extra layer of protection to keep people out."

Ducky nodded and hmmmed, contemplating Jimmy's words, then spoke slowly, his tone telegraphing the revelation he was coming to.

"You know... that could well be his problem with small children and animals. He's always assumed they simply don't like him... but they could be responding negatively to his self-protection and artifice. There was a young boy we were watching over not so long ago... he consistently stuck to Jethro's side and avoided Tony. I can see now why he might have instinctively chosen one over the other. The child could easily have interpreted Tony's reticence as lying. On the other hand, Jethro's self-confidence and candor would have engendered trust."

Lewiston raised an eyebrow.

"Very astute, doctor. Children and animals do seem to have emotional x-ray vision. May I tell Tony your theory? It could be a strong catalyst for the changes he's trying to make."

"Of course. Anything to help."

"Would you like to speak next?"

"I would, actually. My thoughts, however, are more about all of us as a group rather than strictly about Anthony."

"That's fine. As I said, the better I understand all of you, the better I understand Tony. Go ahead."

"Thank you. What you must understand, doctor, is that we are all very much a family. Perhaps the roles weren't assigned or arbitrarily thrust on us, but we all sense what our place is and we've taken it on willingly. Jethro... Jethro is father; stern and resolute when it's required, indulgent and patient when it isn't. Personally, I've never been able to choose between Dutch uncle and grandfather... I suppose I'm a bit of both. At any rate, as I never had grandchildren, Timothy, Abby and Tony fill those deficits for me. I do believe Anthony would be the oldest, a fierce protector and designated tormentor by turns, and Abby the youngest; the loving, sweet-faced child that noone can possibly deny anything to. Unfortunately, that leaves poor Timothy stuck smack in the center, filling the unenviable role of the middle child."

"The peacemaker and good kid who gets dumped on by both sides, but puts up with it because he knows that he'll get blamed if the oldest and youngest knock each other unconscious." Lewiston responded with a slightly wicked smile.

"Precisely."

Jimmy's face fell when his name wasn't mentioned. Tim opened his mouth to interject and correct Ducky's oversight, but Abby squeezed his hand in warning and shook her head. She then turned her attention to Jimmy, favoring him with a reassuring smile and silently nudging his attention back to Ducky. "When Katelyn was still with us, the four of them were closer than many actual siblings I've had the misfortune to encounter. Her loss... was devastating for us all. We still haven't quite recovered. When I was told about Tony... that he could've been yet another loss, and at his own hand... it only confirmed in my mind how powerfully connected we all are."

"I'm not sure I follow." Lewiston remarked, his brow furrowed in concentration.

"It's quite simple. Only family gets close enough to wound each other so profoundly. Being slighted and rejected by strangers or acquaintances... one can usually set that aside and go on with the business of living, but receiving the same treatment from people who are supposed to love you and to know better... that can cut to unimaginable depths. Knowing Tony, his first instinct when a *second* family dismissed him in such a heartless manner... was to finally decide that the fault lay with *him*. Merely contemplating that poor boy being so deeply hurt and then automatically blaming himself instead of the ones truly responsible..."

Unable to continue and embarrassed by tears he couldn't stop, Ducky dropped his eyes and turned in his chair so that he no longer faced Lewiston or the rest of the group. A few moments later his sorrow was tempered by a soft chuckle when three handkerchiefs were placed on the table beside him, one after the other. Lewiston smiled as Ducky chose one, quickly wiping the offending moisture away.

"Can I borrow one of those?" the doctor requested. "No blowing my nose, I promise."

Ducky laughed and passed another of the white squares to their guest. "Thank you. That was eloquent, brutally honest and extremely moving, Doctor Mallard, and I applaud you for being willing to voice your pain that openly. Very few people could manage that."

"Yes, well... the older one becomes, the less important it seems to keep one's innermost thoughts a secret."

Laughter burst out around the table.

"And the more vital it is that the younger generation see that courage and wisdom and learn from it. Well... does anyone else have a comment or a question? No? Okay, I guess we're done. Thank you all so much for doing this. The insight and information you've given me will be a huge help in my work with Tony."

Randomly, the group rose and moved toward the door, all taking a few seconds to shake Lewiston's hand and say good-bye. Abby, however, threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. After recovering from his shock, he laughed and returned the unexpected embrace. As she and Tim exited, Gibbs tossed the doctor a rueful smile.

"Not shy is she?"

"That's how she shows her appreciation. Like Ducky said... you're saving her big brother."

"I'm trying. He's doing a great deal to help himself. What I learned today can only speed and clarify the process. I really believe you'll get him back sooner than expected."

"Sounds like you haven't run into his stubborn side yet. Just don't give up on him."

"Not in my job description."

Gibbs grinned, shook Lewiston's hand firmly and walked out. Outside the conference room, Jimmy and Abby were having a heated, but sotto voce argument. She was trying to get him to talk to Ducky about his obvious omission of his assistant from the family structure. Jimmy was adamantly refusing.

"You know he wouldn't just leave you out, Jimmy. He must've had a reason..."

"It doesn't matter, Abby. I know I don't fit in... I don't really have a place with you guys and I'm okay with that."

"James." Ducky intoned darkly from just over Jimmy's shoulder. The young man turned slowly, head down, but Ducky didn't let that last long. In a flash, Jimmy's chin was tipped up and his gaze was locked into his boss'. "I didn't mean to hurt you. If I did, then I'm very sorry. I did, indeed, have a reason for not including you in my little discourse on office genealogy. You and I are colleagues... and good friends. I see you as much closer to being my equal than to being one of the brood."

"But that doesn't mean we don't care about you." Abby continued. "We do. It's just... different. Okay?"

"You mean it? We're friends?"

"I don't say what I don't mean, James. Now, shall we return downstairs and get some work done?"

"I'm right behind you, doctor."

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TBC....

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