Disclaimer - I do not own NCIS.

Warning - Contains spanking, don't like, don't read - Step away from the story now!

Abby stood in the middle of the lab and sighed. Apart from the broken glass and the frazzled remnants of paperwork, the lab didn't look too bad. She walked slowly to the cupboard and opened the door.

"Bert! You're okay!" she beamed, as she hugged the stuffed animal, which immediately responded with its usual sound.

"Well at least someone survived unscathed!" the voice came from the doorway.

"Hey McGee," Abby replied quietly, "have you come to help me clean up?"

"As per Gibbs orders," he said with a small smile.

The two exchanged silent glances for a moment.

"You okay Tim? Wasn't that the first..."

"First...uh...yeah...are...uh...you okay?"

She nodded and smiled gently. Tim swallowed hard and walked slowly to join her and ruffled the top of Bert's head.

"I feel kinda strange though."

Abby furrowed her brow, "Strange as in, 'my butt feels like the optimum temperature for a barbecue' or, a different kind of strange?"

Tim huffed, "Well, the first part obviously, but I never thought that...I...uh...what I mean is that...Gibbs...I never..."

She slapped him upside the head. Hard.

"Find the words McGee!" she snapped.

"Ow!...he was...nice! There, I said it!"

Abby rolled her eyes and sat down on the high lab seat. She immediately jumped back up, thinking better of it. She scowled as he continued.

"You know, I...uh...didn't expect him to be so...uh...un-Gibbs like. Sure, it hurt like hell, and I was expecting it too, but...afterwards...he...uh...well...was...uhm...nice."

"Of course, he was nice McGee! Although he tells everyone that the second 'b' is for bastard, deep down, he's like a...cuddly Grandfather!"

Tim raised an eyebrow at the analogy, "A...cuddly...Grandfather?"

"Well maybe not a Grandfather, but someone, who you respect, who gives a damn to make sure you remember to stay on the straight and narrow, sorta!"

He winced as he shuffled from one foot to another.

"I felt like a little kid again Abbs. It was, weird!"

"McGee, let me explain this to you, and this time, listen carefully, because I really don't want you pretending you didn't hear me, like the whole dihydrocarbonate thing, okay?"

Tim narrowed his eyes and stuck out his bottom lip.

"Gibbs, cares McGee! He's not like any other boss who'd quite happily fill in a whole bunch of paperwork, to stick in your file, that only ever sees the light of day when you go for promotion, and doesn't really care that you actually learn from your mistakes."

"But..." he tried to interrupt.

Abby stood tall, her hands getting more and more animated,

"Put it this way, next time, Timmy, when you're at the crossroads of making a bad decision or a good one, what'll you be thinking huh?"

Tim screwed up his face in confusion.

"If you're like the rest of the team, your first thought isn't going to be some piece of paper that's going to haunt you is it? You're not going to want to face Gibbs. He's the only one you can trust, not to brush things under the carpet, because he'll make you face up to what you've done and make it that you sure as hell learn from it."

"I guess you're right Abbs. I just don't know if I can handle the fact that I disappointed him," he replied mournfully.

She slapped the back of his head once more and he yelped.

"What was that for?" he squeaked rubbing the back of his head.

"D'uh, with Gibbs, it's all over! Now I bet you he told you that he wouldn't mention it again huh?"

He grimaced as he nodded in agreement.

"Well, you've taken your whippin' McGee and it's all done and forgiven and like two tow trucks on the Highway, you and Gibbs, move on!"

Tim sighed and then began to smile gently.

"What's so funny?"

His smile grew a little wider.

"He did say I was important to him."

Abby growled and lightly swatted him on the arm,

"You always were McGee! Didn't you know that? God, it's just a bummer that you had to come to realise that through getting your six burned!"

He rubbed his rear end and winced,

"Well, if nothing else, I also learned that I will not be getting involved in any of your stupid ideas again Abby. I don't want to end up...you know...uh..."

She smiled sheepishly at him and sighed,

"You know McGee, you're important to me too! You, Tony, Ziva, Ducky and even dorky Palmer, we're all like family. Gibbs understands that, and that's why he gets pissed when either one of us screws up. We've got to protect our little family McGee!"

"You make us sound like the Mafia!"

Abby giggled and threw her arms around him and hugged him hard,

"Not the Mafia McGee, just one big happy NCIS family!"

She broke the embrace quickly, her eyes wide with concern.

"Just don't tell Gibbs I called him a cuddly Grandfather...right?"

Tim smiled, "It's a deal Abby, as long as you keep us both out of trouble...right?"

Abby grinned and put her arms around Tim once more,

"No problem McGee, after all, I've got some smarts you know!"

The clearing up continued and both Abby and Tim were glad to see the end of the day and the prospect of feeling a little less uncomfortable the following day.

Tim McGee's stride was almost back to normal as he entered the bullpen the following morning. He sucked in a breath and almost stopped in his tracks as he eyed the Director at Gibbs desk and silently cursed the empty desks of Tony and Ziva who were not able to provide a suitable distraction.

"Morning, boss. Director." he said sheepishly, as he sat down carefully at his desk.

Gibbs lifted his head and nodded curtly as he always did. Jen, on the other hand, spun round and folded her arms.

"Special Agent McGee! I trust you've recovered after yesterday?"

"I...uh...have Director...uh...yes...thank you."

She raised an eyebrow and he gulped.

"I suppose I should probably commend your commitment to solving our cold cases McGee, even if it did cost the Agency in repairs to the Lab!"

He smiled weakly, and coughed nervously, and then stuck his head in his screen.

Jen turned her attention back to Gibbs and leaned in close, so that she could speak quietly without Tim hearing.

"You still insist this was a cold case accident Jethro, and not some cover up, that you've dealt with, behind my back?"

He looked her straight in the eye, and titled his head slightly, "Do you think I would deliberately mislead you...Director?"

She narrowed her eyes, searching for a shred of evidence of deceit.

"Of course you wouldn't Jethro..."

He grinned at her, and then signed the report before handing it to her. The smile was still on his face, when she flicked through the report and then turned her eyes to his once more,

"...I do not need to remind you, of all people, of how serious the consequences are for that!"

Gibbs scowled. Jennifer Shepherd, however, did not leave room for a response and quickly turned on her heel and headed for the elevator. There was no evidence of Gibbs deceit, but, she knew her former boss well enough to know exactly how he had probably handled things. She had screwed up when she was his Probie and had first hand experience. Her gut knew that there was something definitely hinky about the whole incident.

As she ascended the stairs, she caught sight of McGee squirming unconsciously in his chair and she instantly smiled. When she reached the top of the stairs she tore Gibbs report in half and tossed it into Cynthia's trash can. There was one thing she had learned since becoming Director, and that was to choose the battles she would have with Gibbs. There had been enough fireworks for everyone to let this one fizzle out.

Gibbs sighed heavily and glanced over at McGee, who was already busy typing away on his keyboard. He smiled as he noticed a calmer Tim McGee than the one he had dealt with the previous day. Having already seen Abby, and been reassured that she too, was over the incident, he took in a deep breath and took a large gulp of hot coffee.

Although, he was never sure how long it was going to last, for the first time in over twenty four hours, Jethro Gibbs' gut was calm once more.