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Help Thy Friends

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"Ellie... I miss my buddy."

"I miss him too." She stands and reaches her hand down to Nick in order to help him up. "Come on, here you go. Uhh - let's get you some coffee." Nick puts his right arm around her as he rises, slouching in, the scent of alcohol wafting from his clothes and skin. "Wow. How many did you HAVE?" Bishop asks.

"How many d'ya wanna have?" Torres slurs.

"Okay. Not what I meant - just get in there." She sighs, opening her apartment door and gently shoving her partner inside before closing the door behind them both.

Ellie brings Nick over to her comfy armchair - not the MOST comfortable one, though, because she needs to help him sober up before letting him fall asleep. Walking into her kitchen she puts on a pot of coffee and glances back at Nick before taking out her cellphone and dialing.

"Bishop." There is an instant gruff response over the phone.

"Hey, Gibbs. I talked to Torres. He's... dealing with some stuff, but he's gonna be fine. So you don't need to stop by his place tonight."

She expects some sort of reprimand or reproof, a bosslike command to put Torres on the line, but all Gibbs says is "Okay. See you both tomorrow bright and early."

Bishop nods, dipping and jerking her chin even though he cannot see it. "Got it."

Her eyes fasten on Torres as he groans and stands, walking slowly into the kitchen and leaning his hands on the island. Gibbs' voice adds in a firm but caring tone, "Bishop. Take care of him, okay?"

"I will." Bishop ends the call and gets Nick a glass of water. He accepts it and swigs it down. "How're you feeling?" She asks him.

Torres rolls his eyes. "C'mon, Bishop! Really?" he squawks.

She presses her lips together and blinks, looking down. "...Sorry." After what he had told her outside and his current inebriated state, how could he possibly be feeling? She had asked a stupid question.

Torres looks at his partner with apologetic eyes. He should not have spoken to Ellie that way. "It's all right," he says quieter. "Besides, I shouldn't be talking since I'm the one stinking up your place."

Bishop looks at Torres and his slightly bloodshot, still watery eyes. She shakes her head and pours him a cup of coffee from the now-finished pot. "You're fine, Nick," she assured him. "Might feel better if you take a shower, though."

Torres raises his eyebrows. "Is that a suggestion or an offer, Bishop?"

She laughs and turns around to get a second coffee mug out of the cupboard, her blonde tresses rippling down her back and obscuring her face. Ellie turns back to give herself some caffeine, and finds herself face-to-face with her fellow agent. "Nick...," She vocalizes, her voice barely a breath. He is standing incredibly close, and despite the smell of alcohol permeating the room around him, there is also the warmth of his body and the scent of Nick underneath. That warm, slightly sweet smell of work and something else - a freshness, a cleanliness. He certainly does take care of himself physically, she thinks unwittingly. Mentally and emotionally, well, clearly that's another story. She can't blame him, though - after Kasim died she had gone down a mentally and morally destructive path that only ended with the death of Chen.

"Ellie," Nick murmurs now, snapping her thoughts back to him and the present moment. His voice is almost a purr. She will never, ever admit to him that she finds his voice sexy. Ever. "Thank you," he continues, taking her by surprise.

"Uhm, sure, Nick. But what are you thanking me for?"

"For this," Nick says, spreading out his arms from their current place beside Ellie's waist. "For always having my back, asking whether or not I'm okay and caring about the answer. Not that the others don't care, but you aren't pushy about it either. I just..." Torres shrugs, scrunching up his lips. "I don't get that a lot of times, you know? I piss people off because I shove stuff away, and I-I know that's why Gibbs is angry with me, so -"

"Wait." Bishop backs up into the counter behind her, shaking her head and blinking. "You think Gibbs is angry about that? No, he cares about you, Nick. I told you that. And... you know what? Come on. Let's sit down " She takes his arm and leans into it as they leave the kitchen and sit down together on her couch.

Ellie leans forward to look closely at her fellow agent and friend. "Gibbs isn't angry with you. Disappointed that ya got arrested, sure, but he's mostly worried. He wants you to figure your stuff out and get past it." Bishop laces her fingers together and taps her palms against each other. "You know, I think one reason that Gibbs worries about you is because you're a lot alike."

Nick Torres lets out a snort. "Really, Bishop? Come on. I'm flattered, but I know I screwed up. Gibbs would never get into a fight like that. And can you see Reeves doing it? Or McGee? ...Man, before tonight I thought Palmer was the biggest pacifist, like, EVER. And I got him into a fight."

"Know who else has the power to get other people to fight like that?" Bishop taps her nose. "Gibbs."

He waves her off. "Ahhh you're just saying that I'm like him because we're both badasses with ruggedly handsome features."

"Pfft, please. You look nothing like Gibbs." Leaning over and nudging him, Ellie adds "But you are pretty badass." Torres grins. "If you tell anyone else I said this, I will profusely deny it."

"Yeah, all right, Bishop. Your secret is safe with me."