Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Shards To A Whole: The Last Ride of the Four Musketeers

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

Chapter 335: The Last Ride of the Four Musketeers

It's a series of endings.

Last day as an Agent.

Last day of the year. (That wasn't intentional, but it feels very right.)

Tim signs his name to a 445B2. His last piece of paperwork. (Well, his last piece as an Agent. There'll be tons when he gets downstairs.)

They head out to lunch; last time he straps his gun on to head out.

And while he knows this won't be his last meal with Tony, Ziva, Draga, and Gibbs, it is his last working one. Last one where they're all talking shop about the most recent case. No. That too, will happen again. Talking shop is part of down time. Last time he's part of talking shop, last time he's in charge of part of the case.

When they get back, he heads to HR. They take his current ID and shred it. (He was kind of hoping to keep it. It feels really, really odd to say goodbye to all of the marks of Special Agent Tim McGee.) He stands against the white background, smiles, and they shoot a new picture of him.

Five minutes later, he's holding a new id. Like Abby's it's designed to clip onto his clothing. (No, he doesn't have to have it on at all times, but they don't let you in the building if you don't scan in first.) He touches the picture and the words beneath it. Timothy McGee Director of Cybercrime.

He feels a thrill at that. A rush of heat and pride. But there's some sorrow there, too. Special Agent Tim McGee is gone. He's a memory now, and that's worth a bit of sad.

Back upstairs, he shows off the new ID, and they're all properly oohing and ahhing. But that's really only about three minutes of showing off followed by… packing up. He guesses that's the part that comes next.

After all, he didn't drag a stack of cardboard boxes into work today just for kicks.

So he gets to it.

He untacks the last picture and lays it on top of all the rest of his stuff. Surprising that it only took up three boxes. It feels like it should be more. Like… Like twelve years should matter more. Like they should take up more space.

But it's only three boxes.

He'll take them down on Monday. When he officially starts. (He's not going down to Cybercrime today. Today he's making sure Jenner has the time to do the same thing he's doing up here, saying goodbye.) For right now, he's got them tucked under the empty desk behind his.

He pats the desk one last time, fingers lingering over the smooth surface, and for a second he's almost wondering if they'll stick, if somehow Tony might have done one last run with the superglue. Keep him here that much longer. He almost wishes Tony had.

But they don't stick.

He didn't turn. "All yours, Draga."

"Thanks, McGee."

Then next bit is harder. He notices he's going slower and slower the closer he gets to Leon's office.

He's got the new ID, which means it's time to say goodbye to the old one.

"Mr. McGee," Vance says as he heads in.

Tim shakes his head. He knows that all the department heads are called by their title, Mr., Ms., Dr. but… nope. That's just wrong.

"That feels really odd. They're going to be calling me Boss or McGee, so, just McGee, please." That's when it hit that if Vance is calling him Mr. McGee, that means he outranks Jethro, and that's just… That's all of his heartstrings vibrating in a chorus of resounding NO!

Vance seems amused by that. Tim's not sure if he's amused by seeing the shades of Gibbs in him, or just recognizing how this kind of career jump feels. "Okay, McGee. You've got something for me?"

"Yes." He wears both his badge and his service pistol on his belt, and he took them both off. "One Sig Sauer P-228, serial number," he reads it off the gun, "and one service badge, number…" he rattles off his digits. Those he doesn't need to read, he knows them as well as his Social Security number. But they aren't his. Not anymore.

"Ready for Monday?" Vance asks with his amused smile.

"I think so, sir. Got a few plans in mind."

"Kind of plans I'm going to like hearing about?" Vance's eyebrow crooks up slightly.

"I certainly hope so. But, either way, they're going to happen."

Vance smiles at that. Tim realizes he's pleased to hear that it doesn't matter if he approves of the plans or not, they're going forward.

Vance stands and shakes his hand. "Congratulations, Mr. McGee." Tim knows that this is intentional, a mark of his new status, so he doesn't mention the Mr. again.

"Thank you, Director."

He heads down to the lab, and none of Abby's LabRats look even remotely surprised to see them head for the ballistics lab to talk privately.

"All wrapped up?" she asks.

"Yeah." He hands over his new ID.

"Ohh… Good picture." He hadn't looked at it enough to notice that, so he does.

"Yeah." It is a pretty good picture. Of course, he hadn't had his ID redone since 2012, so he looks a lot different in this shot.

"Director of Cybercrime? How fancy." She grins at him.

He nods. "Kind of silly really, I didn't bother to find out what the official title was." He sounds a bit off as he says that.

She wraps her arms around his neck, and kisses him gently. "You okay?"

He half-smiles, half-shakes his head, and flashes her a mostly confused look. "I should be, right?"

"Not if you aren't."

"It just feels… I don't know… Lost. It's not bad or anything… It's not scary."

She pets his face and kisses him again. "It's okay."

"Yeah, it is." He nods, as much convincing himself as her, and kisses her again, taking comfort, reassurance in touching her. The world spins, changes, the carpet gets yanked out under his feet, and his feet find new floors to inhabit, but this is true and real and there. Abby is here. Loving Abby is here. As he said in his vows, that's his bedrock, and the rest of the world can burn, as long as she's near, he'll be okay. "And it's going to be. And Monday is going to be awesome. But right now…"

"Yeah." She caresses his face, smiling softly at him, getting it. "Right now. You want to hide out down here with me a bit more?"

He nods, resting his head on her shoulder, enjoying having her pet his hair.

They'd had the 'real' celebration when it was official that Jenner had resigned and he was going to be the next Director (Really, how did he not manage to find out what the title of the job was?) of Cybercrime.

So, he's half-hoping, as he heads back up to the Bullpen, that today can sort of just fade away. Clock out at five like a normal paperwork day. Then home for a bit, get Kelly, and over to Ziva and Tony's for Shabbos.

But, half-hoping or not, he's pretty certain that when he heads back up there, there'll be some sort of big deal.

He doesn't feel like he can get out of the building today without Tony drawing attention to it.

He supposes that's appropriate. They've been a team for eleven years. Longest unchanged roster at NCIS. And today it ends. Two weeks from now, it really ends because Gibbs goes, too.

When he gets up there, Draga's got his stuff unpacked and set up. He's not sure if he spent longer with Abby than he intended to, or if Draga just doesn't have that much stuff. But for a second there's a visceral flash of get the hell out of my desk, but it fades pretty quick. It's not his desk. Not anymore.

He sees Tony flash off a quick text, but nothing else is happening, so he heads to the empty desk and… And he doesn't know what to do now. There's half an hour until quitting time. But he's done.

No one's talking to him, and Draga won't look him in the eye, so, some sort of surprise is in the works.

And two minutes of just sitting around reveals it. The elevator bongs, and Jimmy and Ducky and Abby head in, wheeling in a pretty large computer shaped cake with Congratulations McGee! on it.

He stares at Abby and Jimmy, rather shocked they managed to keep it a secret, but they both grin at him.

He smiles back, and settles in to eat some cake, drink some champagne, and listen to some stories about his various exploits.

It's not unpleasant, just, odd. He usually does a really good job of not being the center of attention, but as the cake gets handed out, along with the booze and soda for people who are still on duty, more and more people wander over. Co-workers, colleagues, Penny and Breena and the kids all make it.

And they're all paying attention to him. Telling stories about him. Even Gibbs tells the story of the first case he was on. Tony's got at least three of them. Abby adds a few. And, he thinks he's handling it gracefully, holding Kelly, laughing at his own history, taking the compliments and praise nicely, no blush is sight, but, yeah, it's just odd. He feels almost outside of himself as it happens. Like he's watching it from afar.

Vance stops down, smiling at him, adds a few of his own stories, the redacted, don't involve any illegal activities versions of those stories. They're a bit less impressive that way, still it's probably not a good idea to admit hacking Mossad or the CIA or hunting down Bodnar when there are a ton of people around.

After two hours, it wraps up. Everyone's had some cake, said congrats, wished him well in Cybercrime, and told stories of how he'd saved the day.

Turns out there's no Shabbos celebration tonight. They're heading toward the diner for dinner, and then, because babies don't like late nights, home.

But as they're getting ready to leave, waiting for the elevator, Tony says to him, "Last time this ever happens." He's smiling, but there are tears in his eyes. "You did good, Probie."

"Thanks, Tony."

"C'mere." He hugs Tim, and after a moment he feels Ziva and Gibbs snuggle in, too. The rest of the family holds back, knowing this is for them, the core team. They break apart after a minute, all of them looking shaky, discretely dealing with teary eyes.

The elevator opens and the Four Musketeers walk through those doors for the last time.


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