Tim McGee forced himself not to slam the front door as he left Gibbs' house. The door with its glass inset was a piece of art, it wasn't its fault that it belonged to the most obstinate, narrow minded man on the planet.
He'd been shocked and then thrilled when the woman he'd loved as a sister and had mourned since her death three years before had come back to them, very much alive. Not only was he happy for Ziva herself, but also for Tony, Gibbs and the rest of their NCIS family.
However, along with joy, her return brought days of chaos, confusion and danger, with bullets flying, nearly destroying Gibbs and his home and leaving him missing or out of contact for longer than Tim wanted to think about.
His problem now was not really with Ziva although he'd love to hear what she'd said to Gibbs, as his chosen dad had not been himself since her arrival. His problem was with Gibbs, who seemed to have tossed his personal relationships out the window, as grandfather to Morgan, Johnny and Tali and his paternal relationships with Tim and Tony.
It wasn't that Tim resented Gibbs' attention to Ziva. He was overjoyed to know she was alive. And while he wished Gibbs hadn't been hurt while helping Ziva, he was thankful he'd been able to help and that they'd been successful. Nor was he that selfish or thin-skinned. He had a wife, siblings and children, he knew how to share and that parents are capable of loving more than one child.
With Ziva's arrival, although Tim hadn't known at first, events had moved so fast there was hardly time to think of anything other than finding and busting the terrorist who was doing her best to kill Gibbs and whoever he was with, which yes, turned out to be Ziva. But they'd prevailed, Gibbs and Ziva survived and she'd eventually left to reunite with Tali and Tony.
That's when Tim stepped in to provide support for his dad, his boss. Over the years, he and Gibbs had found common ground and grown closer, to the point that Tim's boss was 'Dad' outside of work as well as 'Poppy' to his children and his wife's 'other' father.
What McGee ran into was a solid wall of resistance. Leroy Jethro Gibbs wasn't dealing with anything but work these days, not acknowledging any relationships outside of work or that they'd ever existed. No way. His mannerisms reminded Tim of the Gibbs he'd first met nearly two decades ago. Hard-assed, impatient, blunt to the point of rudeness, focused only on work, living up to the old nickname Tony created a decade ago, 'functional mute', intolerant of any human interaction that didn't involve a criminal case, although to be honest McGee had no idea if the man was seeing anyone outside work.
During the early hours of Ziva's return, when Tim learned of Ziva's survival he'd also learned of Bishop's deception, her secret-keeping, that she'd known of Ziva's status for several months. Deeply disturbed by her choosing to keep the secret of a woman she'd never met and to his knowledge had little information about, he waited to talk with Gibbs.
When his boss was unavailable, McGee went to the Director. Withholding information was a big deal, could be seen as 'obstruction of justice', especially in this situation where Gibbs, Ziva or any of them might have been seriously injured or killed because of Bishop's 'secret'. It was costing Gibbs, or his insurance company, thousands of dollars to repair his home. It wasn't just personal, it was protocol and they were criminal investigators first before being friends or family. Tim wrestled with the decision, finally discussing it with a trusted colleague, who was as appalled as he was. With that, he went to the director who was livid, asking pointed questions about Bishop's behavior.
McGee found himself asking the man to let Gibbs handle it. At that point he didn't know whether Gibbs knew or not. With Gibbs' current behavior and attitude, Tim felt that the team was teetering on the edge of a dangerous abyss. Considering the history of the MCRT, it certainly wasn't the first time. However, Special Agent McGee followed his instincts, his gut, updating Director Vance.
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After his dad's house had been repaired, there'd been no further violence and Tim thought Jethro had had some time to recover from the shock as well as the violence, Tim took the twins over one evening to say hello. They missed their Poppy, Gibbs' grandfatherly name, and asked for him frequently. Ziva had been gone for a few weeks, Gibbs' young friend Phineas was safely and happily living with his foster parents and work seemed to be going all right.
Tim did have some concerns about the team but tonight he'd really just hoped to bring some cheer to his dad and his children. He'd sent a text asking if it was convenient but hadn't received a reply. Checking the security cameras he'd re-installed at the house after the shooting, everything looked peaceful and the light was on in the basement. Tim smirked, his cell was probably upstairs where even Gibbs' super-hearing might not have caught it.
Arriving at the house, he and the twins walked up the sturdy ramp he and Dad built for Dee's access. Tim knocked once and then used his key to open the door. Leaving the kids sitting at the kitchen table to finish the drawings they'd brought for Poppy, he poked his head into the basement where he spotted the man sanding a large piece of wood.
"Hey, Dad. I sent a text, guess you didn't see it. The kids are here with me, they'd like to say hello."
The man didn't look up but shook his head, "No."
"You got a hearing problem? Unless you have something about work to discuss, leave."
Deciding not to argue, Tim knew an apology would make things worse. "All right, we'll go."
As he turned to go, the older man said, "How did you get in?"
"I used the key you had made for us."
Gibbs shook his head, holding out his hand, and Tim silently took it off his key ring and put it in his hand.
As he walked up the stairs, Gibbs said, "The name's Gibbs."
Three Weeks Later
Once again, Tim McGee forced himself not to slam the front door as he left Gibbs' house, thinking of the movie "Groundhog Day" where events repeated themselves, although this was certainly no comedy. At least this time, perhaps as more of an effort to get McGee to shut up and go away than to actually follow through on his words, he'd promised he'd speak with their misguided and increasingly untrustworthy teammate, Eleanor Bishop.
The case they'd finally closed this week would have been, should have been, closed two weeks ago had Bishop mentioned the information she'd learned from a witness but didn't mention to anyone else. She'd ignored it, apparently believing it was inconsequential. Once they had the information, it took them less than four hours to obtain an arrest warrant, detain their suspect and get him to lockup. They didn't need a confession, from what Bishop finally told them they had enough physical evidence for a conviction. During the time between when Bishop should have said something and when she finally did, three more homes and two businesses had been torched by a Navy Petty Officer. While that was bad enough, they were all damn lucky nobody had been hurt or worse, killed while she sat on the information.
This was not the first time this had happened. By McGee's count, this was at least the 4th time that Bishop withheld what turned out to be crucial information and/or evidence, including the information about Ziva's survival. He'd remonstrated with her, she'd had additional training, he'd written her up, he'd done everything he was allowed to do as the Senior Field Agent but it hadn't made any difference. Along with her obstinacy, once she realized that Gibbs wasn't backing McGee, she'd stopped listening. On one other occasion, besides Ziva's status, Tim had gone to the director as the information she'd withheld had involved security and Gibbs wasn't available.
Now, at a loss, frustrated and beginning to wonder if he was wrong, Tim did not want to go back to the director. Instead, he went to two people he trusted implicitly. One was his best friend and former SFA, Tony DiNozzo. DiNozzo and McGee had trained Bishop together. Tony knew her pretty well and when he heard what she'd been up to, he agreed with Tim's reasoning.
Tim had been very careful to stick to the facts, to remove the emotion from the discussion. While he was relieved at his friend's agreement with his stance, he also understood DiNozzo's last words, "Look, this is Boss at his worst. Almost his worst. No one's going to make him boot her off the team. For one thing, he chose her for his team, so pride is involved. There's no way he's going to give anyone the satisfaction of saying he was wrong. And, you know, he's also kept information to himself, although as the SSA, that's a bit different. I agree with you that this is likely the result of her PTS, but that's not something he'll ever discuss. An even bigger piece of the Gibbs' puzzle is that although he may have told you and me that he wanted us as his SFAs, that did not mean he was ever going to listen to either of us. From what I can tell, the two of you have been on some sort of Boss-SFA honeymoon for the past few years. It looks like that's over now, Tim, sorry."
Tim sighed, he'd been afraid that was the case. He'd thought as close as they'd been personally that things would be different or at least that their work relationship would have gone sour first. Obviously he was wrong. "Thanks for being candid with me, Tony. I'm thinking I got extra time because of Dee's problems, the wedding and then Paraguay, maybe all the way back to Somalia."
"Yeah, that makes sense. That's two or three times he recognized that you needed help and extended it, felt guilty about Somalia and a little paternal with the wedding and pregnancy. Then you two were comrades in misery, he wasn't Boss for all those weeks, even after your return. When did you first notice it?"
"In him? In late September when Ziva returned, although not until she'd gone again."
Tony snorted in derision, "His golden girl returned."
"That's another conversation, not ready for it yet."
"Okay. So, other than not asking questions, is there anything I can do to help?"
A deep sigh, "Keep in touch! It really helps, especially when we can both have a good laugh about something."
"I can do that. I'll even let you watch my tap-dancing video again."
"Wow, thanks man!"
That was disheartening and Tim hoped, prayed, that Tony and Ziva would be able to work through their problems. He knew committed relationships weren't easy, he and Dee had certainly had their ups and downs, although they were in a good place now.
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The next person Tim talked with was Special Agent Rick Carter, who'd been one of his mentors since he'd first transferred to Gibbs' team, discreetly providing training for the probationary agent. As a squad room denizen and leader of his own team, Rick knew quite a bit about what was going on. He also agreed with Tim's opinions and echoed Tony's comments about Gibbs so closely that Tim wondered if he'd actually spoken with Tony. However, although Tony liked Rick, he'd been so embarrassed when he'd learned how much training, help and encouragement Probie McGee had been given by Special Agent Carter and Special Agent Jim O'Brien, another trusted colleague, that he was still uncomfortable with them.
What Tim found even sadder about the current situation was that Gibbs continued to be estranged from the grandbabies he'd been so proud of, as well as Dee and him. Where once they considered themselves chosen 'father and son', they were now strangers outside of work and their professional relationship became increasingly strained.
At least Gibbs had promised to talk with Bishop. That was something.