- Character Bashing
Tony placed another closed file on the done pile on his desk and sat back with a sigh.
He didn’t think he would be here again. Sitting at his desk. Alone. Having these thoughts. Well, at this points they aren’t just thoughts anymore, are they? This time, they are plans — plans in motion.
Last time he had gone through this was after the whole debacle with Maddie Tyler, after rescuing her and Gibbs from the sinking car. Did anybody come and check on him after he dove into the freezing water to save them? After he performed CPR on two people? He ran that crime scene in soaking clothes despite his scarred and damaged lungs, and simmering anger. And did anyone care? No, of course not.
Or the time before that was when Gibbs had returned from his little Siesta in Mexico. It’s probably best not to dwell on any of that, honestly.
Tony looked up as the elevator dinged, opening to reveal Jimmy Palmer with Dr. Brad Pitt — no relation — in tow. “Palmer, to what do I owe the honor…of you dragging my pulmonologist into this ever so lovely orange office?”
“I knew you wouldn’t let anyone check you out despite the fact that you seem to be more injured than when you left, Tony. There’s no way I’m letting you go home without someone looking you over,” Jimmy replied as they approached his desk. As he made his way around the desk he got a better look at his friend and didn’t like what he was seeing. “How are you getting any of this done? You must be in so much pain, and I know you don’t take any painkillers — no matter what gets prescribed to you — and that’s your dominant hand.”
“Don’t bother Palmer, you know he’ll just say something witty to distract you so you forget you were in the middle of reprimanding him anyway.” Dr. Pitt was already taking out his gear, moving around the desk to get better access to his patient without making him move around too much.
Addressing his patient now, “You do seem to be in more pain than what I had read from your charts before coming here, Tony. Want to update me on what’s changed? And what is up with this wall color?”
“Well, Brad, it’s like this: the interior decorator is a sadist,” Tony told him seriously. Brad snorted in response while Palmer just nodded in agreement. “After the Kidon assassin went and kicked my ass — but I managed to kill him — the director of my own agency threw me under the bus and dragged me across an ocean, into another country. In said country, he allowed a foreign government to interrogate me in order to make themselves feel better about their agent going rogue — and me getting one over on their head guy. Then, my former partner then knocked me to the ground and pulled a gun on me, aggravating my prior injury — the very one from the Kidon assassin, for those keeping score at home.
“So yeah, I’m hurting pretty bad right now and can’t really move the right side at all, but I promise, Brad, I was going to call you in the morning for a once over before I got on another plane.”
Brad finished removing Tony’s shirt and sling so he could get a visual of the newly re-injured area and almost let out an audible growl. “Tony, you are not allowed on a plane without at least an X-ray of your shoulder and arm. I’m pretty sure your collarbone is fractured, and I don’t like the coloring of this area over here. We need to make sure the circulation hasn’t been affected at all.”
“And what do you mean ‘before you got on another plane,’ Tony?” Palmer asked from his chair on the side.
“I was going to call you once I returned home, Palmer, but now is as good a time as any.” Tony took a deep breath when Brad motioned for it and then continued, “I’ve been contemplating leaving the DC office, asking for a transfer off of Gibbs team for a few years now. Mostly since Gibbs came back from Mexico. There’s always been one thing or another that’s had me holding back, kept me from deciding it wasn’t the right time to leave, but now? Well, now I just can’t trust that anyone has my six anymore. I have no faith left in Gibbs anymore. McGee lost his ability to stand up to anyone that isn’t me and! He only does that at inappropriate times. Times that would definitely qualify as insubordination. Times that could get me killed.
“This latest mess is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, Jimmy. I’m sorry I’m leaving you here alone, but I just can’t take it anymore. I can’t come to work, stressing out that I might not make it home alive because the people that I’m working with think it’s not worth it to watch my back.” Tony sat back when Brad released him and just looked sadly at his coworker, hoping for forgiveness and understanding.
“God, Tony, of course. I understand and you have to know that I only wish the best for you. When Gibbs was gone, I couldn’t believe the crap that those three were pulling on you.
“I think that once you’re out of here, McGee will finally feel the full wrath of Gibbs because you’ll no longer be here to protect him. Let’s see how he deals with that.” A wicked smile appeared on Palmer’s face, almost scaring Tony and Brad a bit. “I wonder if he thinks he’ll be moved up to Senior Field Agent once you’re gone. Does he think he’ll be able to hack it? Does he even know how much the other teams loathe him and Ziva?”
Cynthia, the director’s completely amazing secretary, strolled into view and added in her two cents without breaking her stride. “He’ll fall flat on his face, the arrogant twit. Most of the admin staff can’t stand him and his snotty attitude. After his book came out, he put on such airs that we all declared him persona non grata, he just hasn’t realized it yet. Let’s see how he fares without any help from us. I don’t think he knows that Tony did most of the SFA work when he was leading the team. It’s too bad Shepard protected him from all the write ups Tony and the other team leads did. Or maybe it was Abby ‘editing’ the system, who knows.” By this time she had reached the top of the stairs to the mezzanine level and was walking in the door to her office area.
Tony waved away any concerns he could see on both men’s faces. “Cynthia knows all, and also keeps all to herself. Notice that directors may come and go, but Cynthia remains.” Turning to Palmer he said seriously, “If you have any issues after I am gone, go directly to her and she will take care of you. I’m serious Palmer. If anyone figures out that you know anything, they are going to make life hell for you.”
“All right, Tony, I will.”
Brad put away his things and turned to Palmer hoping for some assistance. “Do you have an X-ray machine downstairs? Can we use that to speed this up?”
“Yeah, sure, why not?”
“Um, before we do that, let’s take care of everything up here first. I’d rather we just left from down there if we can, thanks. I’ve already got my friend Cam packing up my apartment and getting things moved out to my new job. I was here clearing out any paperwork and personal items from my desk.
“If you could put that pile of folders over on Gibbs desk, that would be great, Jimmy. And then this box needs to go in his bottom drawer. Thanks so much.”
“Wait, who is Cam? And what job?”
“He’s fraternity brother, just a different chapter.” At Jimmy’s confused look, Tony explained, “He went to a different school. Works some fancy job in Colorado, it’s all hush-hush, top secret and all that. And don’t worry, Palmer, I mentioned my fears about Abby or Gibbs screwing up my chances of actually keeping my new position, and he’s somehow made sure that wouldn’t happen. Apparently he has connections that are better than theirs.”
“Yeah, and the best part is there’s this guy who works with him that’s just as good at undercover work as me. Cam says we aren’t allowed at the same poker table ever. I’m pretty sure that’s a challenge if I ever heard one.”
“You haven’t even started there yet and you’re already planning on causing trouble, Tony.”
“Only the best kind, Palmer, only the best kind.”
After a quick heads up from Cynthia, Brad made sure to be out of sight when a surprise visitor arrived.
Tony was relaxing in a chair while the x-ray film developed when Dr. Mallard walked into the morgue. “Why, Anthony, what are you doing here at this late hour? Are you needing my services?”
“Ah, no, Ducky, I’m just waiting on Palmer. What are you doing here so late?”
“Oh, I’m just here to pick up the package I forgot here earlier. Mother’s perfume. I had purchased on my lunch break, you see. She would be most upset to run out of it. I felt it would be best to avoid such a thing.” Ducky spotted Brad and Palmer heading towards them with the film in hand. “Dr. Pitt? Whatever is he doing here?”
Ducky takes a better look and then blinks down at Tony. “X-rays, my boy? Did you receive a new injury? Why wasn’t I informed? Why is Gibbs not here?”
As he reached for the phone, Tony stayed his hand and spoke. “Why would I call you, Ducky, you haven’t been my doctor of record in quite a few years. And why would Gibbs be here?” He was too tired to keep up any pretenses at this point, to hold forth any manners with someone who joined in with the jokes at his expense.
“What are you talking about, lad? I’ve always stood by you! You’re speaking nonsense. I’m going to get Gibbs in here, and –”
“No, Dr. Mallard, I’m going to have to insist that you don’t. Maybe it’s time you listened instead,” Jimmy spoke up. He took the cellphone out of his superiors hand and pushed him into a chair facing Tony. “Go ahead Tony, let it out. This might be the last chance you get for a while.”
“Just listen, Ducky, please,” pleaded Tony. “When Gibbs went on his little retirement vacation, even though I understood that he needed it, none of you were there to back me up or support me here. You were so wrapped up in your own anger that you left me with three spoiled brats who did their best to leave me without backup, without support, and in danger all the time. Not to mention at the mercy of a crazy director who was all too happy to use me to her own ends.
“Then, when his holiness does come back, you revel in the fact that he’s treating me like crap and think it’s my due to just take it. If any of you did defend me to him it certainly wasn’t within my hearing. And when the undercover op came to light, did I get any support from you? Nope! Instead I get vilified, punished like a child because I was following orders as a good agent should. I was doing what I was supposed to and all of you were making me pay for it day in and day out. Coming to work was an exercise in misery.”
Ducky couldn’t believe what he was hearing, angry at what he thought was the whining of a child not getting his way — or at least that’s what Tony thought was floating through Ducky’s head from what he could see written on his face and body language. “I know you just think this is whining, so let’s move to when Maddie Tyler came to visit. I had to dive into freezing water to rescue Gibbs from yet another stupid plan of his where he runs off without telling anyone where he’s going or what he’s doing — something, I might add, he would crucify any of the rest of us for doing — and not one of you thinks to check on me, or thank me, or do anything to help. All you do is whine about me taking over and that I’m not Gibbs.
“No fucking shit, I’m not Gibbs. I don’t want to be Gibbs, thank you very much. In case you’ve forgotten, I have scarred lungs, Dr. Mallard. I spent the rest of that evening with Brad here making sure there were no side effects and getting some heavy antibiotics to stave off not one but two infections that started because of that rescue.”
Jimmy and Brad were both getting worried as Tony was getting pretty pale. They were both sure that Ducky wouldn’t wait for them to get out of the building before calling Gibbs and ruining any plans for Tony to be safely out of DC before the shit hit the proverbial fan.
“And this injury you’re so worried about? This extra injury here is courtesy of your friend Ziva because she’s upset that I rooted out that her buddy Rivkin was a rogue agent, didn’t get out of town when I told him to, was at her apartment when I went to speak to her, and then went and died when I defended myself against him. She’d rather I be dead — in fact that’s exactly what she said when she pulled the gun on me. That woman has been a problem since she’s joined the MCRT — a move that has never made sense to me, legally or professionally — but that’s a soapbox I won’t be getting onto tonight.”
Looking up at the other two men in the room, he waited for their judgment on the film they were holding and did his best to ignore the elder doctor. “You can proceed Tony, but I want to speak to whomever as soon as I can to make sure they know what they need to,” Brad told him, doing his best to be circumspect.
Tony nodded, then pulled out a burner phone to send Cam a text about needing immediate evac out of there since he didn’t think he was going to be able to escape DC without Gibbs barring his way or an intervention of some kind. Surprisingly, he received an immediate reply. Apparently, Cam thought it might be the case from all the stories he had heard, so there was a car waiting for him at the gate along with the plate number and the names of the marines. He passed the phone to Jimmy so he could read it and then started gathering his things.
“Jimmy, if you wouldn’t mind?” he asked gesturing towards Ducky, silently asking the second part of the question. It was a sad state of affairs that it had come to this.
“No problem, Tony.” Jimmy knew that Tony would find a way to get in touch with him. Hopefully, he’d be able to withstand the interrogation from Gibbs and all.
“And Palmer, don’t let them railroad you; you don’t owe any of them a goddamn thing. It’s not like you have any answers to give them in the first place anyway.”
“Take care of yourself, DiNozzo, watch your six,” Jimmy replied, giving him a hug.
Jimmy settled into the chair across from Dr. Mallard for the long night he knew it was going to be.