Chapter One

I do not own NCIS nor do I make money off it. Two things: first there is this little magic review button at the end of the chapter. It is calling out to you saying press me. Second before I get flames threw the aforementioned magic review button yes I know McGee gets seasick, but take it from someone who has worked on ships when you are that focused on a task your brain will not have time to notice the conflicting impute. Also, this is a follow up to the story Proper Tea. You do not have to read it for this story to make sense, but it will fill in some blanks.

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Tony looked over at McGee and smiled probie looked tired and warn out. He needed to know why, so he sauntered over to his friends' desk and began to quiz him on the previous night's activities, completely missing the warning sins. On and on he prattled on asking if he finely lost his virginity or had he passed up some blond bombshell for a night of online gaming. Unfortunately for him Tim was in no mood to put up with his friends pestering about his love life especially today of all days, so he did something so unexpected and out of character that it silenced the entire bullpen; he blew up at Tony.

"Tony can you get it through that infantile brain of yours that unlike you I do not sleep with every thing that moves" he roared.

"Tim I…" Tony tried stunned.

"Your what having fun humiliating me, enjoying flaunting that you are better with women then me. Well guess what it is not fun for me nor do I enjoy your mocking," Tim snapped his voice reverberating threw out the silent squad room.

"I am sorry Tim I didn't mean to make you feel like that," Tony said gently not wanting to upset his friend father. He did not have the same prohibitions about saying sorry that his boss did and he definitely did not mean too make his best friend feel that way.

"Ya sure whatever Tony," he replyed sullenly before sitting back down at his desk and started pounding the bloody hell out of his keyboard. Tony sat back down at in his chair totally confused by the sudden mood swing.

Gibbs had been just as surprised as everyone else when he heard McGee start to yell at his senior agent. The kid was so even tempered that it was not any wonder that silence rained. It simply did not occurred to most people that he could blow up like that. After he recovered from the initial shock Gibbs decided to let this drama play out. He knew there was a reason for the blown fuse and he would take the younger man into his conference room latter and try get him to open up. The up side was maybe DiNozzo would learn to read his probie a bit better. After five and a half years of working McGee the older man could still be completely clueless as to the younger's body language.

Watching Tim sit down he decided it was time to get on with work. Head slapping Tony for instigating the fight, he barked out the order to gear up, as the sound of the bullpen slowly returned. A fire had swept threw the barracks at Norfolk Navel Base killing dozens of recruits. The Norfolk team had simply been overwhelmed by the number of bodies, so the major response team from HQ had been requested to head the investigation.

The drive there was unusually quiet. Tony and Ziva talked to each other unwilling to bother Tim who was in the back sulking. The usually good natured computer geek was for some reason holding on to the fight with Tony and neither of them knew how to handle it.

Mentally going through the young mans file Gibbs thought he had an idea of what had set the young man off and wished that McGee could bring himself to confide in his boss. He could not blame his youngest agent though there was a time when he himself had not been that forth coming either. There would still be an elevator talk and maybe he could talk the kid into opening up to his co-workers. He hoped that if and when that happened the team would understand. The kid was just too important to lose to such rifts.

The pallor was noticeable the moment they had arrived at the base. It hung over the place like a sickness, subduing the team even father. The first hint of the tragedy was the flag that was at half mast, cheerfully fluttering in the wind, in stark contrast to the events that occurred. The look in people eyes was hard to bear a grim haunted look held sway there. The base had lost many of their own in one senseless act, and it was a vile pill to swallow. As they got out of the van they were met by the base commander his hansom features marred by grief and tears he could not shed. The man introduced himself as Commander Steven Cambell. Shacking hands with Gibbs he told the team they had any and all resources they needed.

After checking with the fire control crews to see if it was alright to enter the burned out building Gibbs set his team to their respective tasks while keeping a grim eye on McGee. It was an eerie feeling walking down the barracks the people in the bunks seemed like they were sleeping except that many were burned beyond recognition. The only way they would be able to determine who people were was through a bunk plan and dental records.

McGee's mind was in turmoil the crime scene was very similar to the one he had been shown years earlier. The barracks' were covered in a thick oil smoke, the burn tracks the same, and even the day was the same. A couindence nothing more this was a military base no way it was the same guy. He was reading too much in the evidence it was nothing more then a consdance a small part of his mind yelled at him. Tell that to Gibbs the more rational part barked back. There was only one way to make sure, slipping out the door he began to stalk the perimeter of the building praying that he would not find what he was looking for. So focused on his he did not notice his team following him.

They had become concerned when he had gone sheet white and went after him. Turning the corner that they had seen him disappear around they were surprised to see he had just stopped. From were they were standing they could not see what he was looking at.

"Hey probie, what are you doing? You are kind of scaring us here," Tony called out. The fear turned to panic when they watched him drop to his knees. "Hey kid snap out of it," he said reaching Tim first.

"Yes McGee come back to us," said Ziva as she lightly smacked his cheeks. They were vaguely aware of Gibbs bellowing for Ducky. A bitter smell brought him back. Tim crinkled his nose at the phial of smelling salts the ME held out before him and stood up pulling away from them.

"Hey, what is going on McGee," Gibbs ask grabbing the mans arm.

"It's the same guy boss," he whispered hoarsely.

"Are you sure my boy," Ducky asked fearing the answer.

"Yes I am sure the picture is the same," he said showing them what had brought him to his knees.

"Would somebody please tell me what is going on," Tony demanded looking at the small card on the ground. It seemed to be tribal in origin the real stuff not the crap people got here in North America. It looked like it had come from the South Pacific.

"Just before I went to FLECT I was caught up in an arson investigation and that picture is the guys calling card. I had to check for it, the burn pattern in this fire is very similar to the one I was involved in. I had to find out if they were the same." He started to babble in a vain hope to stave off the evitable question.

"Are you sure it is not the same guy McGee," Ziva interrupted, "and not a copy cat?"

"The card was never relished to the public, and too many other details are exactly the same. How the fire spread, how it burned, and I suspect that the autopsy will show most when to smoke inhalation long before the fire reached them. It makes sense, most of the victims were still in their racks and the few that realized something was wrong and tried to get out only made it a few steps before falling." McGee said softly.

"McGee how is it that you know all this? You had not started your training yet and you seem know many details of the case," Ziva asked.

"I was on of the last people to see many of the victims alive," he said silently remembering the bouquet of roses he had brought backstage and of the pictures he had been shown after. Even Ducky looked interested while he knew the story the details had been left vague. "That and one of the dead was my wife."

Gibbs knew he was a widower from the mans file, but there was no explanation as to what happed. Now he knew why, the case was on going. He hurt for his youngest agent, many years as an investigator taught him how to read between the lines, and the message was that he had been interrogated. Gibbs just hoped that he had not been kept from being there for his wife's passing.

Tony and Ziva had been thrown for a complete loop. Their happy go lucky teammate had a MOAS, and for the second time that day they were unsure how to talk to him. Shoulders slumped, head hanging; he could not meet their gazes fearing what he would see there.

"Look at me probie," Tony demanded. Raising his eyes instead of the pity he feared Tim was met with anger. "Why would you not tell us? Are we not worthy of you McGeek?"

"Its nnnot tthattt," he stammered out.

"Then what? I thought you were my friend. I thought you trusted me. Why would you lie to me," Tony yelled.

"Oh like you are just the fountain of information DiNozzo. All you ever do is deflect questions away from yourself and now you can't figure out why someone will not open up to you," Tim snarled back. "All you have ever done is made me feel worthless and hate myself. If you really want to know why I don't tell anybody that I was married, then I will tell you. After I convince people that a loser like me can talk someone in to marrying me they begin to pity me, and that is something I just can not handle. She was the love of my life and I want to remember her like that not dieing in a hospital bed."

"Is that you feel Tim," Tony asked in horror.

"All my life people like you have made fun of me and it hurts. Natasha was one of the few people willing to see beyond what I look like and want to get to know me," Tim whispered the fight draining out leaving only despair.

"Today is the anniversary of your wife's death," Ducky said the first to make the connation.

"Ya it is," he replied to gasps.

"Timothy look at me," he continued when he had his gaze. "You are not a loser; you are a strong intelligent member of this team. You have never let the nitwits win before why start now?"

This brought a wry smile to the young mans face. "Tony I… it was wrong of me to lose it like that. Please just give me time. I will tell you when I am ready too. Forgive me?"

"You're something else kid," he said relived at the olive branch. It would take time, but they would be fine he hoped. "I promise to be more careful in what I say to you. I had no idea that you felt that way."

"I will as well McGee. We are a team and should treat you with more respect then we have in the past," Ziva added softly. She cared for those around her a lot more then people gave her credit for, and just thinking that she help make her friend feel that bad hurt.

"Ziva take over bag and tag from McGee. I will finish interviewing witness. McGee I need you to get on the horn with the LEO's involved with the other case. I need to know what they know. Also, I want you to put together a timeline in your own words of what happened that night. Tony continue with photographs," with a course of yes bosses they were off. He could have not been more proud of them. Dispute all that just happened they still managed to pull together. Catching up to his young agent he touched the mans arm. "Are you alright Tim? Can you handle this?"

"Ya boss I can," he replied. It was all the reassurance Gibbs needed.

Walking over to were he had left his backpack and pulled out the ever present laptop. He thought about just grabbing the pack as well, but changed his mind reasoning that he just need the one thing. Looking around he looked at the personnel that were milling about. They had been coming and going all day, too pay their respect to the fallen.

Focusing in on a young woman who looked lost and like she needed to do something. Tim went over to her and asked her were he could get on the internet. The feeling that she need to do something was confirmed when she jumped at the chance to help him offering to take him to the admin building.

Drawing her into conversation as they walked down the pathways he learned that she had lost her baby brother to the blaze. He just graduated high school and was so proud that he could follow in the family business. He promised her and himself the guy would be caught. The sympathy ear caused her to prattle a bit; having been there Tim knew the value of being able to just talk to someone, so he let her. The alarm bells begin to sound when she told him that a computer glitch held over the Ronald Ragen. The extra fire crews had been invaluable in controlling the fire. The timing was weird though the ship had just gotten in and all that was going to happen before she headed out again was a crew change.

The police files momentarily forgotten he begin to press her for information on the computer glitch. Apparently some chemicals that were supposed to go on board with the supplies had been diverted to a warehouse next to were the fire broke out. She trailed off realizing what she had said. Calling Gibbs he told his boss what was going on and that he was going follow up with the computer side off things. After giving him a location on the chemicals McGee hung up and began to press the sailor for more information. Being in administration she was one of the people who caught the heat for the smeg up and had been mad that no one would listen to there side of the story.

Brass was pissed that some thing like this could happen and the crew of the Ronald Ragen were pissed because they had been at sea for a year and a half and were now not allowed to go home. The computer guys seemed to be convinced that the redirections of the chemicals had come from the ship, but were pissed because they could not defiantly prove that it came from the ship. In short everyone was pissed and the admistration staff had taken the brunt of it.

When they reached their destination Tim set her to getting the techies there. Setting up shop he did not realize that they had caused such a stir until he looked up and saw Cmdr. Cambell.

"Sir I need to get on to your network. I think that your people were right the order to move the chemicals had come from the Ronald Ragen, but I do not think that it was a computer glitch. Who ever got the chemicals redirected was the person who started the fire," he said as his help started pilling in.

"Agent McGee when I put the base at your disposal I meant it," he replied.

Thanking the man Tim put his make shift team to work tracking the chemicals movement on the many surveillance videos, before plugging in to find the needle among the codes. He was vaguely aware that they had drawn a crowd and that among them was Gibbs. The fact that he had a place to start made life easier and he made quick confirmation that the order had indeed come from the Ronald Ragen in the form of a virus embedded in an e-mail. The computer geeks stopped and stared for a moment. They had a new techno God, and his name was Tim McGee.

Gibbs stood back and let Tim take charge of the hastily assembled team. He was way out of his element and taking over would at best disrupt the kids flow. Besides he was doing a great job. Gibbs could not help but, to swell a little with pride, as he watched his young team member command the people around him in a way he never would have been able too when he first joined the team.

Tim was just as demanding as his boss would have been about getting the timeline cobbled together, but it was being done a lot quicker seeing as he understood how they thought. Despite all this even his saintly patience was tested as they could not seem to find a picture of the suspect until someone exclaimed and pointed to the computer screen. It was the women who brought Tim here in the first place. She spotted it; a shadowy figure passing by the camera and around to the back of the pallet ware he could not be seen. He reappeared minutes later and appeared to be caring something.

After e-mailing the files to Abby he turned to the base commander and demanded access to the ships mainframe. From there he could track down the suspect. Access that was intently granted. Sheepishly he became fully aware that his boss was there as well. Tim had steam rolled his way through every thing up to this point and was somewhat afraid of the older mans reaction.

"If that's alright with you Boss," he said glad that for once the stammer was not there

"Well seeing as how thanks to you I have anther crime scene to deal with I guess you will have to go on your own or do I need to hold your hand? Oh and McGee good job," he said smirking at the mans aw shucks reaction.

Smiling he bolted for the ship. Not only did he have the double permission, but he had earned his mentors approval. That had meant a lot to him. Cmdr. Cambell called ahead with a Sit Rep so when he got there the caption was waiting for him. The thought that a member of his crew could have done something like that had enraged him and he had no problems giving the young man before him the access he needed.

Tim parked himself in front of the offered computer and begin honing in on the suspect. It was easier then on the base. Who ever sent the e-mail was not that smart. The person who had sent it had no idea how to cover his tracks and that is why he almost missed it. McGee assumed that this was someone who had an idea of what they were doing and instead it was someone who had used their own bloody id number to get online. This guy is a moron Tim thought as he called up a picture of the man. Turning to the assembled men he gave them a name and face to hunt.