Thought Process

He looked down at the folder … the orders … his orders.

"NCIS Rota … Spain?" he said.

Spain. Senoritas. Balmy Spanish nights. Tequila. Dancing. Guitars. The Med. Morocco. Sandy beaches. Food. Wine. Romance. Conquistadors. Bullfights. El Cid. Don Juan. Cannes is right next door. The Riviera within driving distance. Spain!

"I … I don't know what to say," he said.

"You have been whining like a little … snitch … all week long," Ziva accused.

Oh yeah, and like you've just been heaven to work with since Gibbs got back. You thought, 'Oh, Gibbs is back … my hero has returned.' And now you can go back to bitch-slapping me and working your way into second in command. Gibbs has always liked you better anyway, right? What did you do, save his life or something? You've gotten farther into his good graces in a year than I've been able to do in four. But you're pissed because I was left in charge and you didn't think I could handle it. But I did handle it, and you know it, and excuse me for being just a little bit disappointed that Gibbs walked back in without so much as a thank-you, and you and McGee are all smiles. Just excuse the hell out of me for that, Zeeee-va.

"The term is 'bitch'," he said.

"Is there a reason why you always have to drive?" Ziva asked, angrily.

Because I want to live.

"I could say it's because I'm the senior field agent," he said, "but mostly it's because I want to live."

"Gibbs lets me drive," Ziva said, with a glance sideways.

Yeah, well, your driving skills and Gibbs' driving skills are about on par with each other, so it's not really all that surprising now, is it. And really … does that pouting thing work for you ever? 'Gibbs lets me drive. Gibbs lets me drive.' One more comment about what Gibbs does that I don't do and I swear to God – yours and mine – I'll pop you one. I don't really care what Gibbs lets you do. As you've pointed out many times, I'm not Gibbs. But you know, I've still got a covert op that the Director has had me working on for months that you know nothing about, and I've also got an offer on the table from that same Director to run my own team in Spain. And wouldn't you just kill to be in Spain right now? So, let me say it again, I really don't care what Gibbs lets you do.

"I have more to live for," he said.

"That's good work, Tim," Gibbs said, as he headed for his desk.

Yeah, Tim, good work. Great work. Stellar work. Salt of the earth you are. World's best used-to-be-a-Probie. Nothing you can't do. Outstanding job, there Timmy.

Gibbs stopped. "Not bad either, Tony."

About frickin' time.

He leaned, just a little menacingly, against the desk.

"You don't think I rate my own team?" he said.

"You wouldn't be here now if you did, would you, DiNozzo," McGee replied.

You smug little Probie twit. You're so damn glad to have Gibbs back, aren't you? Couldn't wait to stop answering to me. You don't think Sheppard would give me my own team? That Jenny would give me my own team? You'd never be able to call her Jenny. Hell, you're still scared of Ziva. And your new attitude … your new wardrobe … your improved crime scene abilities … you get those by yourself, there PROBIE? Yeah … I didn't help you at all on that score, did I? No … you did that all on your own. Nice try PROBIE, but you're so far off base on this one that you're not even in the city the ballpark is in.

"Yeah, maybe you're right," he said. "If Gibbs asks, I went out for coffee."

"Ducky wants to see you," he said.

"About what?" Gibbs asked.

Gee Boss, I don't know. Maybe he wants to figure out why you've basically ignored him since you've been back. Maybe he's just a little bit scared that you have no recollection of him. Maybe he's hoping that you'll apologize for jerking everyone's chain with the whole 'I'm leaving … I'm back … I'm leaving … I'm back' thing. Maybe he just misses his friend and hopes that there will be a spark of that when you walk into autopsy. I don't know, Boss.

"Something about profiling Lt. Sullivan's profile," he said. "Maybe you should ask him."

"We could be missing something," Ziva said, as she continued stretching and then bent at the waist, showing off an attractive backside.

What the hell? What's with the stretching? Are you warming up for something? If I were working kinks out of my neck or shoulder or something, you'd accuse me of begging for a neck massage, although that would probably be fairly accurate, and a neck massage would be nice right now, by the way, should that idea pop into your head. But what the heck is the thing with the stretching, and if you pop that little wireless mouse at me one more time, you're going to need all that flexibility.

"Believe me," he said, leering just a little. "Not from this angle."

"My career has been on the fast track my entire life," Jenny admitted. "And between you and me, sometimes I wish I had taken it a little slower."

"So, you're not disappointed?" he asked.

Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed. Don't be disappointed.

"No," the Director said with a smile. "Actually, I'm feeling a bit proud at the moment."

He had his hand on the doorknob.

You know this isn't the time to ask. Don't do it. Just turn the knob and walk out the door. Don't press your luck. You've gotten more positive reinforcement in the past couple of days than you've had in your entire life. Don't mess with that. Just turn the knob and leave. Turn the knob and leave. TURN THE KNOB AND …

"Listen," he said. "This wouldn't be the right time to bring up the possibility of a performance award or …"

Jenny smiled. "Good night, Tony."

Hey … can't shoot a guy for trying.