Gibbs finished his report and read it through carefully. He had his pride after all and it wouldn't do to have it sent back for a spelling mistake or grammatical error. Satisfied that everything was in order he signed it with a flourish and rose to his feet, making the short journey across the bullpen to drop his handiwork on DiNozzo's desk.
"I'm done." He announced.
"As am I," Ziva rose to her feet in her turn and plucked her report out of her printer, slipping it into a folder, as she came around Gibbs and passed the report to her temporary team lead. "It was like 'old times' as Ducky would say."
"DiNozzo," Gibbs looked at the small frown furrowing the younger man's brow as he concentrated intently on the screen. "It's been a long day. Finish it up."
"I just want to get this right." Tony retorted.
"You already did." Gibbs said quietly.
Tony looked up sharply, his face softening into a pleased smile as he caught the sincerity in the ex-marine's expression. He knew without needing to check that his Boss' sentiments would be reflected in his report. He nodded, in acceptance of the well-earned approval.
"You about done McGeek?" Tony tipped back in his chair as he looked across at the junior Agent. "It's time for wine, women and song, although not necessary in that order."
"I just need a little longer," McGee responded, not taking his eyes off the screen as he typed. "There."
Printing off his report he signed it neatly and slipped it in a file before standing up and holding the file out to his Boss. Gibbs looked down at the folder and up at the face of the youngest member of his team, before jerking his head sharply in DiNozzo's direction. As Tim shrugged and dropped the folder on Tony's desk the Italian appeared not to notice anything amiss.
"You want to take those reports up to the Director? He'll need to brief you about tomorrow," Gibbs tipped his head on one side as he surveyed his protégé, before he turned his attention to his two other team members. "Ziva, call it a night. Not you, McGee."
"Boss," Tony looked from Gibbs to McGee and back again. "It's fine. Everything's cool. You don't need to .."
Gibbs didn't even pretend to be surprised. Of course, DiNozzo had noticed. Just as he would have noticed every other dammed time, which is why the ex-marine wasn't about to let this lie. He had let DiNozzo talk him out of giving the junior Agent a formal reprimand last time when McGee had tricked him into going with that Deputy in Stillwater. Now he figured it was past time to deliver an object lesson.
"Yeah," Gibbs tone left no room for argument. "I do. "
"Tomorrow?" McGee put in as his eyes tracked DiNozzo double timing it up the stairs towards Vance's office. "What's happening tomorrow?"
He stepped right up into the younger man's personal space, causing McGee to take a step backward and look a bit nervous. It was rare that he felt the need to give any of his team a serious dressing down but when he did he wanted to be sure that they were left in no doubt of the error of their ways.
"I'm out tomorrow at a security conference," Gibbs gave a thin smile. "You know what that means, McGee?"
McGee swallowed hard. He was very much afraid that he did know exactly what that would mean, but he clung to a faint hope that he could be wrong. The new Director didn't seem to have exactly warmed to DiNozzo and his more unorthodox methods. Maybe that would be enough to convince Vance not to let the Senior Field Agent take control of the team.
"We're being taken off rotation?" He hazarded, only to see Gibbs eyes narrow and his expression darken in a way that suggested McGee had better re-think that supposition or else. Hastily back tracking the computer expert corrected himself. "Um, it means Tony's in charge, Boss."
"Dammed straight it does," Gibbs affirmed. "And you will follow every single order he gives you to the letter. Or I will want to know the reason why. Do I make myself absolutely clear Special Agent McGee?"
"Oh come on, Boss," McGee's sense of injustice overcame his normal reticence. "You know how insufferable Tony can be when he's left in charge. You can't seriously want me to obey his every whim whilst he struts about like .."
"A peacock, McGee?" Gibbs raised a dangerous brow.
"I was going to say like he owns the place. But whatever fits," McGee was far from happy. How petty could the former Homicide Detective get? Telling tales to Gibbs? "I can't believe Tony told you about that."
"Tony hasn't said squat to me," Gibbs corrected. "Although, he would be well within his rights to write you up for insubordination, given the way you have been acting towards him recently, passing over the chain of command, being disrespectful towards a superior officer, challenging orders in the field. Would you try any of that crap with me?"
"Aw, c'mon Boss," Tim pleaded his case. "Tony pushes the boundaries all the time."
Gibbs thought about pointing out that DiNozzo rarely overstepped the mark. That he knew when to suck it up and do his job and he knew when to use his personality to get witnesses on side or suspects off balance. But Gibbs knew a much better way to deal with this. It wasn't as if McGee was the first high flying NCIS Agent to think DiNozzo wasn't entirely senior field Agent material, never mind worthy of leading his own team.
"DiNozzo's earned the right." Gibbs countered flatly. "I'm still wondering what makes you think that you can flout his authority."
"Because he makes it so easy." McGee answered without thinking.
"Is that so?" Gibbs countered. "Well, I'm going to make things easy for you. All day tomorrow you will follow his orders to the letter. Whatever he wants, whatever he needs, you will do exactly as he says. If I hear one word different you'll be off my team so fast your head will spin. Are we clear, McGee?"
"Yes Boss," McGee agreed miserably. "Um, you're not actually going to tell Tony about this are you?"
If DiNozzo didn't know he was under orders from Gibbs he might get buy with simply seeming unusually co-operative. If the senior field Agent knew he was under orders from Gibbs the man would probably be beside himself thinking up pointless errands for him to run, or embarrassing activities for him to undertake.
He could only begin to imagine the kind of torture DiNozzo could put him through.
"Nope," Gibbs assured him blandly. McGee's almost sagged in relief until he realised his Boss' focus had shifted upwards to a point somewhere behind his left shoulder. "I don't need to."
A sinking feeling in his stomach already sure what he would see, McGee turned slowly, looking up to see DiNozzo leaning against the railing outside of MTAC, his arms crossed in front of his chest. As McGee met his eyes Tony simply lifted one of his brows. It was obvious that he had heard.
"I am so dead." McGee decided.