Title: The Things We Accept

Disclaimer: These characters belong to Donald Bellisario, and I hope he won't mind that I've borrowed them once again. The story is not connected to any particular episode or storyline from NCIS.

Warning: This story contains the disciplinary spanking of adults. If that's not your thing, it would be best if you didn't read it, or at least that you refrain from telling me about your displeasure.

"What the hell were you thinking, McGee?" Ziva demanded in a loud whisper.

"I don't know." Tim replied miserably. "It seemed like it made sense at the time."

"Really? A baseball?" Ziva wouldn't relent.

"Tony did it with a rock once." Tim protested.

"Not when someone was in the house!" Tony retorted, as though that made it more acceptable.

"Well I didn't know someone was in the house when I did it!" Tim sounded a bit indignant.

Despite her genuine anger, Jenny couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for Tim as she surreptitiously watched the other two agents berate him. She knew that each one of them had done something in the past that wasn't quite above board if it had seemed beneficial to an investigation, or just simpler than the officially sanctioned alternative. It was sheer luck that sometimes you got away with it, and sometimes you didn't. This time Tim had taken a gamble, and lost spectacularly. Jenny could tell how badly Tim felt, and she knew that he didn't need his teammates pointing out to him what an idiotic thing he had done, or acting self-righteous about it. Of course, from her past experience as an agent she also knew that that was what teammates did – in a crisis they would risk their own lives to protect each other, but once the danger had passed there was no shortage of good-natured mockery.

Unfortunately for Tim, Jenny was no longer anyone's teammate. She was the agency director, and she'd gotten quite an earful from Colonel Wallace Austin, the base commander at Quantico, after Tim decided that the best way to gain entrance to a house without a warrant was with an "errant" baseball. Tim could not have predicted that the house would be occupied by its less-than-savory tenant and his girlfriend, who just happened to be Colonel Austin's teenage daughter. Still, Tim had done something stupid and risky, and now he'd have to face the music.

"Well, McCurveball, you certainly picked the right house to break into. How long did it take till Jailbait was on her cell phone to Daddy?" Tony taunted.

Tim groaned in agony and let his head fall to the desk. "Gibbs is going to kill me!"

"Oh, he's not the only one."

At the sound of their director's voice, a startled Tony and Ziva broke their huddle around Tim's desk, and all three agents turned to face her.

Jenny knew that she didn't instill the kind of fear into them that Gibbs could, but she did wield enough official power that her unexpected presence caused anxiety, especially for Tim. He looked stricken at the realization that she'd been listening to their conversation, and likely already knew everything that he'd done.

"On your feet, McGee. Apparently we have some issues to discuss."

Tim scrambled to stand up. "Director, what happened at the house today…"

Jenny cut him off sharply. "You and I will have this conversation in private, in my office." She turned and strode away, not waiting to see if Tim was following, though she knew that he would be. As she headed upstairs, she pushed aside all feelings of sympathy, and focused on being the stern director that was required under the circumstances.