After the Stakeout

Summary: Gibbs deals with the kids after Stakeout (5x12). Warning: spanking of adults. Don't like? Don't read. Major spoiler warning for Stakeout.

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just play with 'em.

A/N: This is NOT part of my main discipline fic series. There's actually an overarching plot arc that I'm working on there, and this doesn't fit. I'll work in a thought-out response to this episode at some point in the series. This is just because... hell... how could I not?!

Warning: This story deals with the non-sexual spanking of adults. If you have a problem with that, click on that 'back' button now. You've been warned.

Gibbs opened the door to the conference room, ushering a subdued Ziva out. She sniffled, wiping her nose on her sleeve, clearly embarrassed by her tears, and averted her eyes from the others, who had surely heard her crying out in pain. He'd been hard on her. Her raccoon-eyes stunt with the binoculars had started a practical-jokes war that had distracted everyone on the team for much longer than he was prepared to tolerate. Her so-called effort to cover for DiNozzo hadn't actually violated his inflexible position about team members not lying to him, but he found her failure to stand by her team-mate almost as objectionable. And she'd been inexcusably rude to Det. Sparr for no reason other than her adolescent feuding/flirting with Tony.

He surveyed the collection of people arrayed against both walls of the corridor.

There was Tony, who had risen to Ziva's bait and escalated the pranks into an all-out war. And who had gone behind Gibbs's back to follow up on the homicide and gone AWOL to talk to Sparr about it. It had turned out that his instincts had been right, but he still should have gone to Gibbs about it instead of sneaking around. DiNozzo really needed to develop the confidence to say 'Boss, my gut is telling me...'; it's not like Gibbs was unsympathetic to that kind of intuitive manoeuvre. And there was the brawl with McGee, which alone would have earned him an unpleasant few minutes with Gibbs.

There was McGee, who should have anticipated that someone savvy enough to steal a high-tech radar system would be able to pull off that trick with the broadcast signal. And whose smart-ass comments about 'Gibbs-proofing' his explanation had crossed the line between levity and disrespect, especially considering that he was already in the dog-house. And there was the fist-fight with DiNozzo; like Tony, Tim was going to find that the lesson that 'You. Don't. Strike. Other. Agents. Ever.' was not going to be one that he'd want to repeat.

There was Abby, looking miserable and a bit shell-shocked. She was used to getting away with pushing at his buttons, and had gotten a kicked-puppy expression when she'd realised that he was going to make sure that she got the message that a time-sensitive national security crisis was not the time for button-pushing. Wasting time building an evidence-jar pyramid when she knew that Gibbs was waiting for results on the prints. Wasting time making herself sick and too uncoordinated to do her job, when she knew that Ducky had summoned her for a reason. Going along with McGee's Gibbs parody. He'd go easier on her than he would on the others, since her actions hadn't been that far off from what he usually tolerated from her. But she needed a reminder that actions have consequences.

There was Jardine, still looking like she didn't entirely believe that this was really happening. She was clutching her own ruler, and he'd seen her swabbing it down with alcohol wipes; for all he knew, she'd probably boiled the damn thing at some point. She'd somehow been convinced to go along with the prank war, helping DiNozzo screw with Ziva's head. He'd go easier on her as well, since she'd been only a minor participant, but he wanted her to know that, when she was working with his team, the same rules applied to her.

And there was Ducky. He'd told the ME that he didn't have to join the assembly of miscreants waiting for his attention. He'd lied to Abby and mislead Gibbs, and used NCIS resources under false pretences. But most of that could be excused on the basis of doctor-patient confidentiality, and the fact that he'd been acting on instructions from the Director; as far as Gibbs was concerned, the situation was the same as it had been for Tony with that fiasco with the Frog and his daughter, and it was really Jenny who needed a reminder about Rule #1. And he'd gone along with Tony's efforts to keep Gibbs in the dark about his interest in the homicide. Gibbs couldn't fault him for using unofficial channels to get the autopsy report, or for doing a favour for Tony, but he shouldn't have done it behind Gibbs's back. Even so, Gibbs would have been satisfied with something less dramatic and a lot less public than this. But Ducky's sense of honour had him leaning against the wall next to McGee, patiently awaiting his turn like the others.

In fact, the only notable absence was Palmer. That had to be the truest measure of how much of an all-around mess the case had been; only the autopsy gremlin had managed not to screw up.

The anxiety in the narrow space was almost palpable. Gibbs could feel the nervous eyes on him and he could almost hear the unspoken mental debates between the desire to get it over with and the desire to postpone the inevitable as long as possible. He rested his hand casually against the doorjamb, and watched the eyes inexorably drawn to his belt that swung briefly, pendulum-like, before coming to rest against the metal frame. He understood their apprehension. With Jenny out of the country, it was Gibbs who, in a few hours, would be meeting with SecNav to explain his decision to use the radar system as bait. And even though the case had been resolved in a way that made it clear that his actions hadn't, in fact, endangered national security, he was fairly certain that the conversation would end with him offering the man that same belt.

With a heavy sigh that made it clear that this was not a part of the job that he enjoyed, he gestured toward the open doorway.

'Who's next?'

A/N: The reference above is, of course, to the 'Never screw over your partner' version of Rule #1, which we get in Season 4 (I think it's in Blowback), and not the 'Always wear gloves at a crime scene' version of Rule #1, which we get in Yankee White.