Disclaimer: NCIS and its characters are owned by people with a whole lot more money than myself. I just borrow them for my own amusement.

Summary: Tag to Season 4 episode 'Escaped'. The team needs to adjust to having Gibbs back for good, but first they have to put their crap away. Written for NCIS last fiction writer standing(NCIS_LFWS) on LJ.

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The Exchange
By Mamapranayama

"What?" Gibbs asked looking up from his seat at his newly reclaimed desk, seeing the faces of his three subordinates as they were torn between gaping at him and staring at the piles of stuff that sat on their former desks.

"I'm going for coffee." He stood and removed his glasses. "Have your crap put away before I get back." He ordered while he walked away from his surprised team as though it was an everyday thing for him to return from three months of supposed retirement in Mexico and come back with a mustache that rivaled Tom Selleck's.

All three turned in unison to watch as he disappeared behind the elevator doors.

Tony glanced over at his teammates. Ziva was smiling broadly as she walked around the cubicle wall to her desk, seemingly pleased that she didn't have to put anything away and looking forward to watching her friends reactions to their new demotions while McGee turned his attention back around from the elevator, still wearing that giant, shit-eating grin.

"Quit that smiling McGee." Tony smacked the younger man across the back of the head. "It's disturbing, not to mention painfully bright."

As if remembering that he had been trying to hide his over-bleached teeth since he fell asleep with his whitening tray in his mouth, he replaced his smile with an irritated scowl then headed for his old desk, sighing as he looked at the stacks of files and office supplies.

"I guess this means I'm not senior field agent anymore." McGee noted with a sigh of dejection, then his face lit up again as though something else just struck him, displaying his nearly fluorescent teeth again in a wide smile. "But I guess it also means you're not team leader anymore, Tony." He grinned towards the once again senior field agent.

"And no more campfires." Ziva added with a grin towards McGee, obviously enjoying the look of consternation growing on Tony's face.

"Well, at least I'm not a probie again, pro-bie." Tony shot back, drawing out the last word and wiping the pearly-white smile off of McGee's face.

While Tony was feeling a little torn between being overjoyed that his boss was back for good and feeling put out that he was no longer in charge of the team, he was more disheartened than anything else that everyone seemed to be relieved that he would no longer the team leader.
Had he really been that bad of a boss?

He knew he could never adequately fill Gibbs' shoes when he left, but he did his best, even when everyone kept comparing him to his former boss.'You're not Gibbs' was a common line that he had grown accustomed to and sick of all at once the last few months. The man was a tough act to follow and he knew he was doomed to fail at living up Gibbs' level of... Gibbs-ness... from the start, but he had worked his ass off to be as much like him as possible.
Apparently he failed miserably.

He began sorting through the stuff on his desk, avoiding the smirks on Ziva and McGee's faces, opening drawers and shoving stuff inside without any real consideration to organization. That was until he came across the pile of Gibbs' awards and commendations that Tony had faithfully stored in the team leader's desk during Gibbs' absence, even when he wasn't certain he would ever see his mentor again.

Despite his disappointment in his fellow teammates, he found he just couldn't be upset anymore once he saw that stack. In fact, he was pleased to see that his boss still thought of him as the one to be the keeper of his awards and accomplishments. It wasn't quite a thank-you or an atta-boy, but it was a silent testimony to Gibbs' faith in him, that he still thought of him as his right-hand man. Even if no one else believed in him, his boss did and that's all that mattered.

So, with a growing smile on his face, he carefully placed the plaques and medals neatly into the drawer that he had held them in before Gibbs' retirement and locked it up, keeping them safe until more could be added to the collection.

The End