Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Monday Morning

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

Chapter 341: Monday Morning

On Monday, first day of the twenty-four hour shifts, Tim knows he's heading in early and leaving late.

He got in at 04:00, three quarters asleep, but determined to fake awake. He's the Boss, so sure, he doesn't have to work every shift, but he's at least got to be willing to show up for them on occasion.

He's not surprised to see that Ngyn chose a 22:00 to 06:00 shift. When he gets in at four, it's just her and Connon, and everything is awfully quiet.

He heads to the coffee machine, grabs a cup, pops in a Black Death Kcup. (Of course they make Kcups, and as Boss he's thinking that he might begin to appreciate the wonder that is super dark, ultra-caffeinated coffee. It wanders through his sleepy mind that Abby may be pregnant again, and if she is, this week's coffee might be his last caffeine for quite a while… Oh well, he'll buy some toothpicks to prop his eyelids open if necessary.) He winces as he drinks, the stuff tastes awful, but it's got a kick, so his heart speeds up and the sleepiness vanishes.

"Report?" he says, cup in hand, looking at his two overnight techs.

"All quiet, Boss," Connon replies. "My notes on the new job system are in your inbox."

Tim nods. "Ngyn?"

She nods back at him. "Wrapping up Trevet's case so he's free for paperwork database construction."


"You need me; I'm in my office."

They both nod, and get back to what they were doing.

For the first hour, he's working on waking up, and reading through Jenner's files on… pretty much everything. He's got a good idea of how to be a Team Leader, and obviously, he's got some ideas on tap for how to change NCIS Cybercrime operations to streamline things, but there's got to be more to the job of Director of Cybercrime than that.

And there is.

His field teams work pretty much on their own most of the time. As adjuncts to the in-the-Field-Teams, (he really needs some new terms for this) they usually work in house on local issues. And for that, they've got almost complete autonomy. Each Team Leader is in charge of that.

It's bigger issues where they all work with him. Terrorism is one of NCIS's big concerns, and when they are working on Cybercrime Terror issues, the whole department works together, under him. Apparently, for those sorts of cases, Jenner did use a system similar to what he's setting up for the run of the mill cases. Whoever was best at it, no matter where they were, got set on the job.

(Though the travel vouchers seem to show that he was actually sending techs to… here apparently… to do the work. Tim's not loving that. Traveling is a waste of time and money unless there's an actual, physical computer in play, and if there is, the techs should go to it.)

In the second hour, when he's feeling a bit more alert, he heads over to Ngyn's cubicle. Like last time, she's bopping away, fingers moving fast, and once again, she's on paperwork, wrap up for Trevet's case from the looks of it.


She jerks a little at that, and looks back at him, "Hi." She's got that nervous, am I in trouble? look on her face.

"So…" He's not entirely sure how to get into this. "I'm wondering… Is it that you prefer to work alone because you're shy, or because you're quite a bit better than the other techs down here and don't like explaining what you're doing and why?" He's fairly sure both of those things are true about her, but he's also sure that this group needs to be able to work as a team, which means she can't be constantly hiding out.

Ngyn blushes scarlet from her forehead to her throat, but doesn't say anything.

"Whichever, or both, it's okay." He's talking quietly. Connon's also got earbuds in, and is on the other side of the conference area, but he doesn't want a shot of him listening in. "I've got first-hand experience in both."

"You're shy?" she doesn't look like she believes that.

"My wife's referred to me as the nervous, little introvert on occasion."

Her eyebrows shoot up at that and she looks like she might want to laugh. He nods and smiles.

"So, I really do get it. But I also get that no matter how good you are, and you are good, this isn't going to be a place for Lone Ranger work styles. We're going to be working with each other here."

She's looks pleased at the praise and nervous about the Lone Ranger bit.

"So, what can we do to make this work for you? I want you to stay. I don't want you having a nervous breakdown because working here is so uncomfortable for you. How can we get you teamed up but still alone enough that you don't feel overwhelmed?"

She thinks about it. "This…" she looks around indicating that she's here pretty much on her own, "helps. And, it's easier to do it online. Just words on a screen."

Tim nods at that, agreeing. "Yeah, it is. Love chat boxes."

She nods, looking eager.

"As long as you've got this shift, it probably will be a lot of email and chat box work."

She looks reassured by that.

"But there will still be times when the other best person for the job is in this room with you and you will need to physically talk to them, or times when you and whoever will need to schedule things so you're in the same place at the same time so you can brainstorm together. So, can you go over and actually talk to someone about a job? You've got great skills; you've got lots of ideas; I'm sure that if you lead a team on a job, that job will be well done. But you've got to step up and talk."

She closes her eyes and bites her lip. It feels a little bizarre to see it from the other side, because obviously, Tim knows what it's like to be on the closed-eyes-and-biting-lip side of the equation. Then she nods.

He smiles. "Good. Okay, I'll let you get back to it."

She nods again.

At 07:00, when Connon leaves, and his next shift starts heading in, he starts to see his change in dress code coming into play. (Tim's planning on shifting his own wardrobe, some, lead by example and all. He's still debating exactly what that'll mean; he wants to make sure the rest of them know it's okay to be whatever form of possible counter culture they may, or may not, be, but at the same time he's the Director of Cybercrime… Either way, today it's a moot point, he's going to wait for a morning where he's awake enough to actually know what he's putting on.) Manner and Hepple are still in office casual. That's probably what they're genuinely comfortable in. But, he's also seeing more jeans, more t-shirts, some flannel button downs, a knit cap and Dr. Who scarf, and several members of both sexes with non-standard nail polish. Two of the male Minions apparently decided shaving was overrated.

From the looks of it, this is the group that most closely matches him. Middle aged, kids at home, spouses they want to see regularly, so they're trying to pretty much match in school hours, 08:00 to 17:00, 09:00 to 18:00, something like that.

He heads out, chats with everyone for a minute or two, checking in on how the new jobs are going, and notices that this is starting to look more and more like a place where actual computer people work.

He smiles at that.

12:00. You up for some lunch? When he gets yesses back from the team upstairs, he heads up to see what they've been doing for the last week.

16:00, the next wave of Minions begins heading in. He's guessing the ones who opt to start around now are his children of the night. He sees one outfit Abby would envy, a nose ring, more jeans and t-shirts, but not a single twinset or polo shirt in sight.

He's also noticing this is the shift his younger workers are on. That makes some sense to him. The part of the crew with no kids is showing up now.

He's got a feeling these are the guys who aren't really even moving before 17:00 if they get to set their own schedules. Patil, for example, certainly looks perkier rolling in at 18:00, ripped jeans, combat boots, a black t-shirt and black leather jacket, than he's ever seen him before.

And as they all head in, one more thing hits him, if he can get this job scheduling thing actually working for all of Cybercrime, it won't matter anymore when anyone is in the office, because he'll have the whole crew, worldwide, working, which means someone will always be available.

That feels pretty good.

So, one more cup of Black Death in his system, he heads back to his computer to read over the notes he's gotten from the Minions who've already taken a stab at his new system, and begins to make changes.

On Monday morning, Gibbs whacks his alarm clock three minutes before it went off. He's done this every morning for the last three years. (Since he started sleeping in his bed again.) He's not even sure, why, beyond habit, that he still sets the damn thing every night, but he does.

Hit the head, brush teeth, put on jammies, set alarm, and go to sleep. That's how every day ends for him.
And, like usual, in full-on habit mode, he's starting off his morning.

Whack alarm, lay in bed for two minutes, get up, hit the head, wander downstairs, heat water, put coffee in the French press, make coffee, stand around kitchen staring into space. (He's not good for much beyond cursing pre-coffee.) drink some coffee, start to feel vaguely human, debate making breakfast for himself, (he used to go visit Elaine three out of four days, but back when he decided he was going to get into better shape, he cut that down to two out of five, and these days at least one of those mornings will be Sunday) apply frying pan to heat, and eggs to frying pan, oatmeal into the microwave, eat breakfast, drink more coffee.

Then exercise.

When he decided that he was going to get into better shape, the plan was start hitting the gym until he could find his abs again. He rapidly came to the conclusion that that was a huge waste of time. (Not the exercising, the getting there and back bit.) So, he'd eat breakfast, and then do his workout at home. (He even installed a chin-up bar in the doorway of the spare bedroom.) He does hit the gym some evenings, and with the kids at Bootcamp, but until he ripped his knee out, he was doing his Marine calisthenics routine every morning at home, followed by a three mile jog.

And then he ripped his knee up.

And then came physical therapy, which he's been doing every morning instead. Then Jimmy and Ziva added the stretching stuff, which, okay, it's hard. It's really hard. It's way harder than anything that doesn't involve moving fast or heavy weights has any business being. But he's doing it. Even though it's hard (and he thinks the positions look dumb as hell, if not a bit beyond that) because his knee does seem to be doing better for it, and his range of motion is getting better, and Jimmy's 'once you get running again' you'll injure yourself less often and you'll go faster, and there's absolutely nothing in your life that benefits from tight hips, back, glutes, or thighs, all makes a distressing amount of sense.

On top of it, the stretching stuff did seem to be good for keeping his weight down, too. Not as good as the running he'd been doing, but better than the nothing he was doing right after he hurt himself.

And somewhere along the line Jimmy got him to explain what he'd been doing (Marine calisthenics circa 1976) and once he stopped shuddering, he re-wrote his whole exercise routine, modified to work with his steadily (but slowly) healing knee. And it's… effective.

He doesn't know why he feels like that should be a surprise. He's seen Jimmy naked. If there's a guy who actually knows how to do this stuff, it's Jimmy. But for whatever reason, the idea that Jimmy knows how to do stuff like this refuses to settle in his mind.

So, upon finishing up breakfast, he's starting with the stretches, twisting himself into every sort of pretzel he can think of, (and a few that, without help, he couldn't have) then comes the sit ups, and the push-ups (all of his weight on his good leg, ankle of the bum one resting on the ankle of the good one.) Something called planking (once again, one legged, though this time he holds the position and switches between the legs. When his left leg gets the all-clear he's supposed to start doing that with the push-ups too.) There's some sort of tricep thing. Pull ups. More stretches. Some sort of vastly oversized rubber band is involved.

And he would tell you it's all pretty damn silly, except for the whole he's lost another three pounds this month and no longer needs to use his nipples to locate his pecs.

It's even possible that he may, at some point, in the next six months or so, if he keeps this up and doesn't eat like a maniac, locate his abs again.

Compared to what he does with himself at home, the exercises Dr. Klenn has him doing are a piece of cake.

And with any luck it's also the last time he's got to eat this particular cake.

He finishes his last squat, shows off, yet again, that he's got full range of weight bearing motion with his knee, and Klenn nods approvingly.

He puts up the MRI results on his computer and looks them over again.

"I think you're healed."


"Doesn't mean I want you running marathons any time soon. That knee is always going to be a bit weaker than the right one. So, build it up gentle and easy before jumping into anything strenuous, but you're good for back in the field."

He thought he'd feel… happier… to hear that, but it's kind of flat.

Klenn also looks surprised to hear that. Gibbs has been breathing down his neck for how to get healed up as fast as possible, and this is two weeks earlier than he thought he'd be able to do it.

"This is good news."

"Yeah. I know it is. Just… Friday's my last day. And the likelihood they'll even let me out of the building between now and then is just about non-existent."

Klenn nods, nothing he can do about that. "Then at least you're starting retirement with all of you at full strength. Maybe it is time to start training for a marathon?"

"I don't like running." And he doesn't. He likes what running can get him, speed, endurance, the ability to eat whatever he likes.

"Then try ballroom dance. Whatever you like. Your knee's ready to ease into it."

Gibbs buckles his belt and nods. The problem is, while he's got some possible big plans, he's awfully short of day to day small stuff that he wants to do.

On Monday morning, Tony was feeling a bit apprehensive.

He could say to McGee that Abby had told him she was going to do unspeakable things to him if he got out of the building and got hurt, and that would be that.

But Gibbs isn't McGee, and the threat of bodily harm from the girls if he gets hurt is unlikely to keep Gibbs in line.

So, right now, the only thing he's hoping is that Gibbs won't get cleared for duty.

It's not that he thinks Gibbs isn't ready for duty, (even at a casual glance, it's clear that he's moving the way he's supposed to be moving again) or that he really believes the superstition, but… Okay, honestly… He's talked to Ziva a little about this, and he's a bit worried that Gibbs… doesn't have death wish per se, but that he might be less careful than he should.

That's probably it. Not that he'd be chasing any sort of end, but that fear of what's coming up, not wanting to have to deal with post-retirement life might make him just a hair more reckless, or a few seconds slower, or… just that he'd do something… not stupid, not the way he was back when Tony started working with him and he really didn't care if he woke up the next day or not, but just not as careful as he should be.

He gets in and finds Gibbs already at his desk, working his way through the never-ending slog of paperwork.

Gibbs nods to him and Ziva.

"How'd the doc's appointment go?"

Gibbs looks at Tony's desk, and Tony sees the filled out Fitness Eval. "You passed! Great!" Tony thinks he even managed to sound almost convincing on that.

"For all the good it'll do me." Gibbs not only didn't buy it, but the more he's been thinking about the whole last week thing, the more grumpy he's getting. "You going to let me out of the building this week?"

Tony sighs. Bear Gibbs has come to NCIS today. "Depends, are you going to do the job like Friday's your last day, or are you going to do the job like you know there's a kidnapping coming on Monday and you've got to be here to solve it?"

Gibbs doesn't glare at him, but he doesn't answer either. Tony gets the sense that he's not sure what the answer is.

Tony scoops up the eval, signs it, and puts it in the to-be-filed pile.

Draga came in five minutes later, coffees and treats in hand. "So, are we having a good morning?"

"Enough." Gibbs says as he takes the coffee from Draga, sounding a bit less Grizzly. "Thanks."

"No problem."

McGee heads up at lunchtime.

"Missing us already, Probie?" Tony asks.

"That's Director Probie, to you, Tony," Tim says with a sassy smile. The case that started on Thursday ran long, into early Sunday, so none of them have heard his news.

"Look at you, getting all high and mighty with your new position. Next thing we know, you're gonna want us to call you, sir."

Tim grins in response, looking forward to telling Tony what's really up. "Only you, Tony. Everyone else calls me Boss or McGee. You're in luck though, I'm feeling generous in addition to high and mighty. So, food? I'm buying."

"Sure," Tony says. Gibbs nods. "Certainly, McGee," Ziva replies. "Sounds great," comes from Draga.

So, over lunch he gets caught up on their case, and then tells them about his first week down in the basement. At first he was just talking about what he was doing, moving things around, getting Manner beaten into submission.

"I think I've got him in the right place. Probably more friction in the future, I'm yanking him way out of his comfort zone, so I can't imagine it'll all be smooth sailing from here on out, but at least right now, he's working on proving he can do the job."

"Good for you, Tim," Tony says.

"I would have paid good money to have seen his face after you told him not to call you, Sir," Ziva adds.

Tim's smiling. "It was pretty funny. What I didn't know when I said that is that…" He wants to tell them, but there is a sort of embarrassed silliness that goes with this, so he fumbles a bit getting it out. "Yeah… Um… That actually is my title. That's probably what most of them were calling Jenner. Vance, Craig, Severin, McGee. I'm the Director of Cybercrime. All of Cybercrime. I've got… um… about one hundred and fifty people under me."

They stare at him, stunned. They'd been hearing about his plans, and what he was hoping to do, and how he understood the job: ie NCIS Navy Yard Cybercrime Team Leader for months. The idea that he'd have all of Cybercrime under him had never entered into those plans.

"What?" Tony asks, first one to get his words back. "Back up. Last Monday you were heading down to whip the DC Cybercrime Team into shape, and now you run the whole department?"

Tim nods. "Vance has a sick sense of humor. He knew what I was asking for, knew what I thought the job was, and decided that it'd be fun to sit back and see how long it would take me to figure out I had an entire division under my command."

Tony's got his mouth open, and is blinking at him, but finally says, "So, you weren't kidding? You honestly are Sir to us now?"

"Yeah. I mean, no, don't you dare go calling me Sir, but… yeah." Tim nods, grinning, feeling really cocky and happy.

Draga, who's sitting next to him, breaks into a big smile, shoves him gently with his shoulder, and says, "You are so paying for lunch from now on."

Tim laughs. "I can handle that."

"Director McGee," Ziva says, also smiling warmly. "Congratulations. Are you… okay with this?"

"Yeah. I am. Been there less than a week and I've got two projects cooking to roll out to the whole agency. I mean, it's a little overwhelming, but it feels right, too. I've got… so many more options than I thought I did. Like, you know you want to draw something, and you planned on having the eight crayon pack, and then you see you've got the 124 crayon pack. That's pretty awesome."

"Feels good?" Tony asks.

"Yeah, it really does. So many options, so many ideas, and I've got the power to do most of them. Can't change my own light bulbs, but…" he's shaking his head in wonder… "It's just really cool. Feels like every day I've got more ideas of what we're doing next, and I can do them. Like, okay… This hasn't left Cybercrime yet, haven't even mentioned it to Vance, so, you're not mentioning it, either, okay?" They all nod. "Good…" and he gets talking about the paperwork program he's got them working on.

As he's wrapping that up, Tim notices that Gibbs hasn't said anything, and Tim's wondering about that, but he sees the look, gentle, proud, satisfied, and knows that Gibbs is holding whatever it is he's got for when they're alone.

When they get up to head back to work, Tony hugs him, "My Probie's all grown up. Running his own department." He pets the back of Tim's head. His voice is teasing, but there's real pleasure and pride, as well. "So, you think I need to go check and make sure Vance isn't sitting around, waiting for me to figure out that I'm taking over for him?" Tony asks with a laugh.

"Depends, Tony, when you got your new ID, did it say Team Leader or Director of NCIS?"

Tony pulls it out, looks at it, and shakes his head. "God, damnit! I really need to read more carefully. This says, President of the United States on it!"

Everyone laughs at that.


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