Disclaimer: Obviously not mine

The Presence of an Absence

Grief tears his heart,

and drives him to and fro,

In all the raging impotence of woe.
Homer ("Smyrns of Chios")

"I'm not trying to take her place."

They're on their third replacement since Keller, which makes this woman the fourth , and they have all of them said it. To him, to Abby, to Ducky and Gibbs, and on one memorable occasion even to Tony. It's as if the words have become they're mantra and McGee thinks if he has to hear it one more time he might finally believe it's okay to hit girls.

She's not trying to take her place, she says, and beyond the repetitive quality of the comment there remains the fact that she and every other Agent who's been assigned to the team in the last three and a half years is lying out right. They wouldn't even be talking to her if she weren't Kate's replacement, assigned once again by the Director to fill the empty slot on their roster.

And Tony's taking it no better than he ever has; watching the woman with hungry hateful eyes as she works beside them, beside him, in the place that belongs to Kate and Kate alone.

It doesn't help matters that the woman keeps hitting on him, flaunting the fact that he always smiles and flirts back. Flaunting what she thinks is some kind of victory or conquest.

Yet Tony is just being Tony, pretending all is well until it isn't anymore, waiting for the perfect moment to shatter whatever ego the woman might have. There's something cruel in the Senior Agent now that was never there before, something that wants to hurt and maim, to spread his pain across the landscape.

And sometimes it's even worse than that.

Too often now he's heard Tony say that if she doesn't back off, if she doesn't stop and just leave him alone he's going to kill her.

Mcgee doesn't really think he will but he's told Abby to warn her off just the same. It's hard to predict what Tony will or will not do anymore and the murder of their replacement Agent would be a hell of a mess to cover up.