Friday, March 8, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 27

McGee centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 27: Gibbs' Team

Gibbs expects certain things to happen with his team. Tim and Abby, he'd been waiting for that for years, and he was honestly surprised that it took them that long to get 'round to it. Tony and Ziva, he's got a feeling where that's going, and it worries him.

And whatever the hell that's going on with Tony and Tim has him boggled. Tim dating Abby should not be sending Tony into a sulk. But something happened, and now the two of them aren't working together properly.

So it's got to get fixed.

He's in the car with Tim, driving to question a suspect. "What's going on with you and DiNozzo?"

Tim shrugs. "He saw something he shouldn't have, and it's got him rattled."

"Unrattle him."

"I can't. It's all about him on this one."

"This is why you tell your partner about what is going on in your life."

Tim sighs. "You're my boss. You're pretty much Abby's dad, and for that matter, mine. So, no, I was not going to tell Tony before I told you. It would have been disrespectful." Gibbs digests that, feeling very proud of Tim at that moment. But, he's got to get this back on track.

"You told Ziva and Palmer."

"I asked Palmer for advice, and Ziva caught me. Otherwise she would have found out after you, too."

Gibbs thinks about that, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. "Is that why Tony's sulking? You went behind his back, and he was last to know?"

"No. Literally, he saw something he shouldn't have. I told you Friday night, then went home, Abby was over. We had plans with Tony, Ziva, and the Palmers for Saturday, and we were going to tell him then. I had the door locked, but he broke in and then walked into my room when he should have turned around. And if he had just turned around when he heard what was up, I assume he'd be fine with this. But he walked into my room and saw, so he's rattled."

Gibbs can see from the way Tim is looking at him that he hopes that's enough to get the idea across that fixing this is outside of his hands. Gibbs thinks about it. If Tony saw something that really freaked him out, it's possible that Tim might not be able to fix this. His eyes scanning the road in front of them, he slips the car into the next lane of traffic which looks like it's moving a little bit faster.

"You should get a chain on your door."

"Already installed it. And one at Abby's. And on my bedroom door, too." Gibbs nods at that, appreciating the thoroughness. "Though, honestly, I don't think he's walking in again anytime soon, and I hope, for that matter, you and Fornell aren't, either."

Gibbs smiles.

Diane and sex.
"You know nothing happened with Diane, right? I'm not going to screw your ex-wife, and I'm never fooling around on Abby."

Gibbs gets that exasperated look. "McGee, do you think I might know what Diane looks like in the morning after having sex?"


He gives Tim the leave it alone look.

"So we never have to talk about that again?"

Gibbs nods. "If you can't fix this thing with DiNozzo, what can?"

Tim has that especially frustrated look he gets when he runs into something he doesn't know how to even being dealing with. "I don't know. We talked a few times, but I think that might have made it worse. You could try talking to him. He's got an idea of himself, and he saw something to challenge that, and doesn't know how to deal with it."

Not sex.
Gibbs' look is questioning. Unfortunately if he's going to fix this he's got to find out what actually happened, and right now, he really doesn't want to know. Tim can see his first idea of what might be going on and shakes his head. "No, not like he saw Abby naked and suddenly he's madly jealous. Nothing like that."

"What then? I need you two working together."

"Fine. Okay." Tim's blushing from his forehead all the way down his neck but he sounds more exasperated than embarrassed. "He basically found out he doesn't have the biggest dick, and he can't handle it." Gibbs' eyes go wide, that wasn't on the list of things he thought might have been going on, and Tim has the satisfaction of seeing him utterly dumbstruck. "Not literally, well, maybe he did, I don't know, and I don't want to know. But I'm using it as a metaphor, 'cause honestly, you don't need to know what precisely he saw."

If anything Gibbs' eyes get wider, but then it seems to click, and he settles further back into the car seat. He nods, getting a plan together for dealing with this.

"You gonna talk to him?" Tim asks.


Tim takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, opens them slowly and turns to face Gibbs. "Look, if the words 'doing freaky things to Abby' come up, before you kill me, I'd like you to remember, Tony thinks it's freaky, not me or Abby, and it's with Abby not to her."

Gibbs massages his temples and sighs. This might not be why he wrote rule number twelve in the first place, but it's certainly proving to be yet another excellent reason for it. Rule Number 12A: Do not walk in on your partner having sex.

But McGee is staring at him, looking a bit worried, so he's got to get the man in his car calmed down, and then he can get the next one taken care of. "Tim, you make her cry, I might kill ya. You break her heart, and I will. But I'm not going to do anything to you for something you both want to do."

"I told him that. But... look, no matter what he says, I'm not hurting her."

Gibbs is suddenly feeling very old and very unhappy to have to get that far into Tim and Abby's private life. "I didn't want to know this."

"Yeah, well, talking to you about this wasn't on my list of dearest hopes, either." Gibbs looks at Tim as he says that and smiles, liking that response very much.

Hours later, he's in the car with Tony.

Usually Tony is the easier of the two them to deal with. A few quick words, the occasional slap upside the head, and Tony's good to go. But right now Tim seems pretty firmly wrapped in a blanket of confident, I'm in the right, and Tony doesn't look like he knows what to do with himself.

"What's going on with you and McGee?"

Tony continues to stare out the window, not answering.

"Come on, out with it. I need you two working together."

"Talking about it won't fix it."

"Why not?" Okay, sure, Gibbs is in favor of not talking issues to death and just letting them fade away. But this is his team, and his boys don't work that way. They need to talk, get things out, deal with them, and then move on.

Tony shakes his head.

Time for the big guns. "Fornell and I didn't talk for five years." Which was exactly as long as they needed to not talk about it to let it fade into an annoying chapter of their mutual history that they can both occasionally poke each other with.

"Whoa, Boss, McGee's not sleeping with... or... wait... Where the hell are you going with this?"

"Tobias slept with mine, and that hits you hard, hits your idea of being a man."

"Oh God, you talked to McGee first." Tony sounds disgusted at that.

Gibbs looks says, 'Well, that's obvious, now, isn't it?"

"Look, he's got this crazy idea..."

Gibbs' look shifted to, Really? Crazy?

"Okay, maybe it's not totally insane, but that doesn't mean it's right."

"Then get over it."

"I'm trying."

"Try harder. I don't want my team going to hell, and you're going to regret spending years not getting along with McGee over something as silly as sex."

"It's not sex, really. It's... I don't know... It's what sex represents? What if Tim's not the guy you think he is?"

Good Lord, what the hell did Tony walk in on? He worked vice for God's sake, nothing's new to... Oh... And Gibbs suddenly gets it. Tony worked vice. Tony worked homicide. Tony's seen everything, broken up domestic disputes, and like most cops probably beaten the hell out of a few guys when their wives or girlfriends wouldn't press charges. He's seen everything at least once, everything done by bad guys to hurt women. But Tim's a computer guy who likes to get dressed up, pretend to be someone else, and play games. Hell, it's possible that Tim doesn't even get the idea that for some people things like this aren't a game. Gibbs can see it: Tim and Abby were playing. For them, whatever Tony walked in on was just a game: fun, innocent (or at least as innocent as whatever they were doing can get) and a little (or maybe not so little) kinky. For Tim this is some sort of indecipherable issue where Tony's just being really weird. For Tony this is something he used to arrest scumbags for.

Then Gibbs gets the next level of it. Tony's already had one partner who seemed like a decent guy but was screwing around behind his back.


Gibbs makes sure he's got eye contact with Tony when he says, "Tim's exactly the man I think he is."

"Are you sure about that?" And he can see that Tony is deadly serious in the question and desperately wants Gibbs' answer to erase his own doubts.

Gibbs stops the car. Right now he's got to have enough certainty to wipe out the memory of Tony's last partner and enough conviction to override however many years Tony might have in his head of seeing guys who do things like whatever they were doing as perverts.

"Yeah, Tony. He is. No matter what he's doing with Abby, he's still a decent, honorable, hardworking, trustworthy man. He's still a damn good agent. He still has my back and yours. He is still the man who will take a bullet for you, or put one in someone else for you. He's still our family."

Tony sighs and seems to relax a little. "What if I'm not the guy I think I am?" Gibbs feels mildly surprised to see there was more under that top layer and settles in, sure they aren't going anywhere for a while, because he's got the feeling this one is going to go deep.

"You are. No matter what Tim's doing, you're still the guy you think you are. No matter what you're doing, he's still himself. Measuring yourself against him won't help."

"I know." Tony flashes him a limp smile. "He's smarter than I am. Fine. That was never a big deal. And he's better with computers. Great. He can compute all he wants. These days you need a geek on the team to do the job right. But I'm supposed to be better with women. But I'm alone, and he's got a girl who adores him. I'm supposed to be more experienced... and then I see him... Just... ugh... I just never expected him to be doing something like that."

"I felt the same way about Fornell romancing my wife." Gibbs smiles drily.

"Yeah, but it bit Fornell in the ass a few years later."

Gibbs smiles at Tony again. They don't say anything for a moment, and Gibbs is thinking this might be done so he reaches for the keys.

"McGee says you're Ziva's partner."

Gibbs nods, dropping his hand.

"He says you're cool with him and Abby."

Gibbs nods again. Because he is. Has been since they were dating the first time. DiNozzo sat McGee down and explained rule twelve to him, after he broke up with Abby. Gibbs never said anything about it to McGee, because he didn't want to scare Tim off of Abby.

That Tim will treat Abby the way she deserves to be treated is something Gibbs is certain of. That Tim would grow up enough to be able to handle Abby; that he hadn't been certain of, though it looks like that has indeed come true. But that he'd ever hurt her, no that had never been something Gibbs worried about.

"He's not sure you'd be cool with me and Ziva."

Gibbs sighs. It's easy to forget how much McGee sees about the world around him. And he thinks he sees more of what Tim missed about why Tony's in a funk.

"I'm not sure if I am."

"What, McGee's good enough to be your son-in-law, but I'm not?"

Oh yeah. Not just sex, but favorite son status as well. How did McGee manage to hit all of Tony's insecurities in one move? Gibbs spends a moment looking for how to say this so it won't sound like a comparison between Tim and Tony.

"It's not about you. Ziva needs this job. She has to protect people. She has to find the bad guys and hunt them down. You don't. You want to do it. But she has to do it. And I do, too. That's why she's my partner. In a few years they'll make me retire, and while you'll end up in charge of the team, she'll be the one who keeps it going. She gets in early, stays late, and rarely rests while we're on the hunt.

"And you're lonely right now. I get that. Been there. Done that. Got three ex-wives to show for it. But she might not be the person who can give you the attention you want. She's married to the job right now, which means she can't be married to you."

"Who's talking married?"

Gibbs decides to not bring up DiNozzo's son-in-law comment. "I am. And here's the re-written version of rule number twelve for you concerning Ziva, and, if she ever asks, for her concerning you. If you aren't willing to marry her, do not date her. You know her more than well enough at this point to figure out if it's an option, and if it's not, don't date her. You two fool around, and it doesn't work out, it will kill our team."

"So, you're worried about Ziva blowing this, not me?"

"No, Tony, it's not about anyone blowing anything. She just might not be the answer to the question you're asking."

"And that's not an issue for McGee and Abby?"

"No, it's not. Give it a few years and they'll have little McGees running around a house in the 'burbs."

"They will, won't they? Tiny baby McGees in pig tails and black diapers."

"Yeah. Three years, they'll force me to retire, and when that happens Vance already has McGee pegged to take over DC Cybercrime. He's hoping to get him to turn it into the main NCIS cybercrime unit and then shut down Okinawa. Norfolk is closing down and consolidating with us in the next two years, so Abby'll have lab help soon. They'll have regular hours. McGee'll have desk job. Abby won't be dreading the day you show up at the end of a hunt without him."

"Living the dream."


"I want the dream."

"Then you've got to find someone who can dream it with you. Or you've got to change your version to fit hers."


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