A/N: Okay guys, here it is, the final 'final' final chapter. Hope it was worth the wait. ;) Thanks for all the reviews so far. Also, special thanks to Precious Pup for the awesome reviews. I blame you for at least three chapters. :p
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Abby snuck quietly over to the flimsy partition set up between the elevator and Gibbs' team's desks. Neither Ziva nor McGee had noticed her. She grinned, this was so fun! She was about to spook McGee when she realized that they were talking about Tony. Well, a little eavesdropping couldn't hurt, right? Besides, it was her duty to Tony – she had to stick up for him because that's what he'd do for her. She leant back, crouching slightly so that they wouldn't see her head over the partition, and listened carefully.
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"Honestly, McGee, I don't see what your problem is. Tony is annoying. He went to your house, ate your food, made a mess, and wouldn't shut up. That is annoying."
"But, Ziva, this was different. He was serious. And the way Abby and Gibbs acted, it was anything but normal!" McGee's voiced raised an octave – this 'Tony Thing' was really, really starting to get to him.
He never, in a million years, thought he would be wishing this, but he wished that Tony would just go back to his normal, juvenile self. The stupid pranks, sexist attitude, stupid nicknames, and incessant movie references – he wanted all that back, because that Tony he understood. That Tony was just an over-grown frat-boy with rich parents that craved attention and acted out to get it. He was the class clown and trouble maker. It wasn't that McGee liked that person, but he understood him – well, sort of.
He was used to the Clown Tony. He just wasn't sure what to do with this new mature-ish Tony. Tony could never behave maturely like a normal person, but he was being Tony-mature-ish. For example, Tony was right on time this morning. He strode into the bullpen nodded a cheerful 'good morning' to both McGee and Ziva before sitting down and going through his e-mail. Quietly.
Okay, sure, Tony had rubber banded McGee's desk drawer shut when he'd left for the head, and still used those annoying movie references, but he'd helped Ziva with her cross word puzzle and even brought Gibbs a cup of coffee.
Besides, the drawer thing hadn't really hurt and Tim had practically dared him to try and pull some kind of prank in the presence of the All-Mighty-Gibbs. Relatively speaking, that was a pretty tame prank considering McGee's own stupidity. Tony should have tried to teach him a serious lesson. Tried to reassert his superiority and maintain the 'fear factor'. That's what the old Tony would have done. But this Tony didn't. If anything he seemed kind of – proud. It was like pod-person-Tony.
Okay, that last thought was definitely worrisome. Tony. Was. Getting. To. Him. He felt like screaming and running away. He could hide in his closet until the real Tony came back. Yeah, that's a great idea, Tim, he thought with a sarcastic huff.
He looked over at Ziva. He couldn't believe she hadn't said something about Tony's strange behavior.
"That wasn't the only time, Ziva," McGee insisted. "Tony talked to me Friday night, too."
Ziva laughed. "That's all Tony does, is talk! How is that unusual?" She leaned back in her chair, using her letter opener to clean her nails.
"Okay, yes, Tony does talk a lot, but not like this. This was serious! He stayed in the office with me almost four hours after Gibbs let us go! And he said that he and Gibbs were partners!"
Ziva laughed even harder.
"Please, McGee" she gasped, "I did not know Tony was gay, but I assure you that he and Gibbs are NOT partners. Maybe he just has a squish on you."
"Squish? You mean crush, Ziva. And Tony isn't gay. I meant partners like you and me are partners."
Ziva let out a derisive snort.
"That I do not believe. Tony is just having a huge head."
McGee sighed. He didn't blame her. After all, that's how he had reacted, but now he wasn't sure.
"It's big head, Ziva. And you may be right, but you can't say that he hasn't been acting weird all morning." Ha, he had her with that one. Tony had been really weird all morning.
"Tony?" She wrinkled her nose in confusion. "Tony has been acting like Tony all morning. He rubber-banded your drawer shut! Besides, Gibbs has been much stranger. He has been extremely cranky. He didn't even cheer up when Tony brought him coffee."
"What's strange is that Tony brought him coffee like it was no big deal!"
McGee and Ziva glared at each other.
It was at this point that Abby felt she should interrupt. If she didn't, she wasn't sure who she was going to strangle first. At least McGee was starting to notice some things. Maybe there was hope for him yet. But Ziva – well, they'd deal with Ziva later. Today was Operation-Make-McGee-Finally-Get-It. Tony had wanted to call it McGetit like Ian MacEttic from the classic film Hills of My Fathers which starred – well to be honest, she'd already stopped listening. Anyway, she needed to get McGee down to the lab.
She cleared her throat.
McGee and Ziva kept glaring.
Abby rolled her eyes and coughed, loudly.
Ziva looked up first. She smiled.
"Oh, hi Abby, can we help you?" she asked politely.
"No. I mean, you can't. But McGee can. McGee, I need you to help me with – um, I need you to help me…with evidence! I need you to help me with some evidence for a case that's from a team that's not yours." McGee looked at her strangely.
"Okay, sure Abby. Whatever you need." He got up slowly, still watching her suspiciously.
What, it's not like this is the first time I've asked him for help with something, he can't know something's up. Abby worried. Oh well, all she had to do was get him in the elevator and push the button for her lab. Then Tony was gonna handle it. Yeah, Tony and the Boss-man.
"So, Abbs, what's up?" McGee asked her as soon as the elevator doors shut.
Crap, she thought, what do I say now? I'm so not a good liar!
"Uh, I'm not talking to you, McGee. Just go to my lab." With that she turned away from a really really perplexed McGee, and waited impatiently for the elevator to make it to the first-level basement.
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McGee was miserable. First Tony and now Abby. It just wasn't fair – the next thing he knew Gibbs would start carrying around a lollipop and playing children's games. Nevertheless he followed the silent Strange Abby to her lab. As they approached, he heard voices. Tony and Gibbs' to be precise. Arguing. No, not arguing, bantering. Tony and Gibbs were bantering – with each other, good naturedly, well sort of. They both sounded frustrated, but not like they were going to start lopping off the other's head.
"No, Gibbs, don't-!" Tony's warning was cut off by a light clatter. "Crap, Abby's going to be pissed. I can't believe you just broke her-"
"Shut up, DiNozzo, and find me glue."
"Glue? I don't know, Gibbs." McGee could imagine Tony's skeptical look. "I don't think glue's gonna work."
"Well, what exactly do you suggest we try, Brains?"
Tim gasped – did he hear what he thought he heard? Based on Abby's amused snort he did. Gibbs just called Tony names. Shaking his head, he sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. This was just getting too freaky. At least it wasn't Friday, like the mov- Oh no! I did NOT just make a movie reference in my head. Ahh! Between staving off an acute panic attack and managing his almost clinical curiosity, McGee noticed that they were walking very slowly now.
"You're just not gonna let that go, are you? And, I swear, if you don't stop head-slapping me so hard, I'm going to come to work tomorrow wearing a football helmet." Tony sounded…amused?
"You do and I'll bring my baseball bat."
"Oh, c'mon Boss. How 'bout a tennis racket?" Tony wheedled.
"Stow it, DiNozzo. Help me fix this." Demanding. That was normal. Gibbs was always demanding. Breathe, Tim, just breathe, McGee told himself, there's got to be a rational explanation for all of this.
"Ok, Boss, I got it." McGee and Abby had made it to the door, but neither actually entered the lab. Peeking around the doorframe, they could see Tony fiddling with something small at the table in the middle of the room. "Here go, Boss." Tony handed whatever it was he was working on down to Gibbs who, apparently was on the floor just behind the table. Since the table had a cabinet underneath it, McGee couldn't see what Tony and Gibbs were working on. He was about to die of curiosity, but he didn't dare interrupt them. Abby didn't interrupt either, but for a different reason, it seemed. She was grinning.
"Got it. Next step."
"Right, it says to fit the red basket looking thing into the second slot in the middle of the blue banana shaped thing." What in the world? McGee glanced at Abby. She was trying really hard not to laugh.
"Argh, DiNozzo, that's not exactly helpful." Tony sighed.
"Here, let me." Tony squatted down behind the table to help Gibbs. After a few minutes of quiet tinkering and muttered curses there were twin exclamations of triumph. DiNozzo just elaborated a little more, as per usual.
"Ha! We got it, Boss. Yeah! C'mon, pound!" Silence. "Um, Boss, pound. See you make a fist and-"
"Ow! Hey, Probie, get your butt in here. You're green."
McGee jumped. How did Tony know he was there? If it had been Gibbs, he would have been less than surprised, but Tony?
Abby trounced past him. "I want the purple!"
"Sorry, Abbs. No purple. There's black though. Gibbs wants to be blue, so that means I'm red."
"C'mon, McGee, or were you waiting for an invitation?" At Gibbs' bark, McGee quickly walked over to the table.
His boss and co-workers were sitting cris-cross apple-sauce around a game-board, looking for all the world like his family on game night.
And that's when it hit him. This, their team, was Tony and Gibbs' family.
And so did Gibbs.
Thinking back, McGee realized that Gibbs and DiNozzo interacted much like a father and son would, but Gibbs didn't have a son and Tony hadn't spoken to his own father in years.
Tim was flabbergasted. How could he have missed something like this? And Tony – that's what Tony had been trying to tell him. It all made sense now. It still was a little strange and a little new, but he thought he could get the hang of it.
Abby tugged on his sleeve, trying to get him to join them on the floor. Actually, trying to get him to join them. That's what this was all about, they were a family and they wanted him, Timothy McGee to be a part of it too. Tim was shocked and awed and really, really floored. Stunned.
He sat mechanically, and accepted the blue game piece that Tony handed him. Suddenly, he became aware that nobody was saying anything; they were all watching him expectantly. I must look really, really stupid right now.
But he pushed past the embarrassment. He knew what they were now, and what they were doing. He needed to let them know that he knew. Carefully, slowly, and meaningfully, he looked at each of them in turn.
"Thank you", He couldn't remember ever saying those two words and meaning them more than he did now.
Abby squealed and leaned over for a hug. Gibbs clapped him lightly on the shoulder in a fatherly gesture. DiNozzo flashed him a 1,000 Megawatt smile. A real smile, not the phony ones Tony usually gave. Tim thought he could tell the difference now.
"Okay, if you three are done with the mushy stuff, let's start the game. I'm so gonna beat you all. That's right, Probie. I am the master, watch and learn" Tony delivered one of his cheesiest smiles with the challenge as he rolled the three dice.
"Tony, it's – it's -" McGee tried to point out.
"Yeah", Gibbs agreed, interrupting, "and he damn near got himself killed putting it together."
"Gibbs! I told you to be nice!" Abby scolded.
"But, guys, it's Mouse Trap." McGee finally managed to get out.
"I know," Tony grumbled. "Next time we are playing Clue"
"I'm sure Ziva will appreciate that, Tony." Abby said, laughing at his expression.
Tony didn't think he could handle going through this all over again – and especially not with Ziva. Still- Gibbs said he'd handle her so everything would be okay. He relaxed and glanced over at his Boss.
Gibbs caught his look and snorted.
"Oh, no, you don't. I'm not talking to Ziva."
"But, Boss , you said –"
"Stow it. It's your roll"
Tony sighed resignedly. How the hell was he supposed to explain this to Ziva. Still, if he lived through it, it would so be worth it. They were family after all, she just didn't know it yet.
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A/N: So, what'd you think? Anyone want a sequel? Thanks for reading, and please review!