Disclaimer: Neither NCIS nor its characters belong to me. This is written for fun, not for profit.


It had been three weeks since his last movie reference, three weeks since his last prank, three weeks since his last civil conversation with his so-called team.

It had been three weeks since his Probie's arrest.

The Probester had been innocent; Tony would stake his life on it and hadn't been shy about saying so. When not even his own team would listen, though, that had hurt. "DiNozzo, the evidence is clear-cut; Abs triple-checked everything. Do you think I want McGee to be guilty?" "Ooh, so you have a gut feeling now, Tony? Tell me why we should trust your gut over Gibbs'." "Tony DiNozzo! Are you trying to say I'd let Timmy get framed?"

And now that his MCR team along with McGee's former Cybercrimes team had been hustled into Director Vance's office, Tony DiNozzo felt reasonably sure he knew what would happen next. A quick wink from Paul Ostrowski in Cybercrimes confirmed his theory.

Sure enough, the toothpick man was already speaking, "…and thanks to the CCU's dogged perseverance and…unanticipated initiative," Tony made sure to stare blandly ahead, "Special Agent McGee has been cleared of all wrongdoing."

Tony allowed himself a whoop of joy at the news, then turned and glad-handed the computer geeks who all looked wiped but happy. From the corner of his eye he saw Gibbs and Ziva's backs stiffen in awkward syncopation.

"I plan on sending out an e-mail this afternoon to advise the entire office of this latest development, but considering your relationship to Agent McGee, I felt all of you deserved to be notified in person."

How big of him. Tony expected Gibbs to make some comment in that vein, but instead the former Marine merely gave a sharp nod. Tony would have loved to have seen the expression on Gibbs' face just so he could gauge what was going on in that man's mind, but since the younger man was standing well behind the rest of his so-called team and with McGee's computer ninjas, he was stuck with a rearview of Gibbs' bad haircut instead. Well, there had to be cameras in the director's office even if he couldn't see them, so he was reasonably sure his new bestest buddies in Cybercrimes would be willing to help him out later – if not for himself, then for the McBoss himself.

"Very well, unless you have any questions--"

"Ooh, I do," Tony interrupted in affectedly enthusiastic tones, his arm in the air until Vance's glacial gaze turned in his direction. "Has the Probie already been released, or--"

"He is being processed for release. And before you ask, arrangements have been made for Agent McGee to be picked up and returned home."

"If you'd've let us know, sir, any one of us would have picked him up." Tony waved his hand between himself and the members of the CCU, who were nodding and murmuring their assent. He carefully excluded his so-called teammates from the gesture; McGee wasn't in any state to deal with those two right now, much less their driving. He continued, "Since his last trip on the agency's dime ended with him being locked up in jail for crimes he didn't commit, I wouldn't think he'd be in a hurry to see the inside of another agency car. Who knows where his next agency-approved trip will take him?"

The Director's unflappable façade shifted, and now he looked constipated. "Any other questions?" he bit out.

Tony glanced over at the geeks, er, techs. They weren't making any waves (though they seemed to enjoy watching), so he would step up to the plate and be a man…again. "Well, I'm thinking that the time McGee was incarcerated will changed to paid administrative leave, only…see … since he was stuck in jail for 24/7, he should be paid for being on the job 24/7 as well. And since he was in jail through no fault of his own, McGee should probably get a few months of paid leave out of this. Prison changes a man."

The vaguely annoyed expression curdled into a sneer, as Vance "helpfully" began to explain, "All personnel matters are considered privileged information, so unless you suddenly have a law degree nobody knows about and are now Agent McGee's attorney or have been promoted into his direct supervisor and I have amnesia--"

"DiNozzo has a point, Leon," Gibbs unexpectedly interrupted. This was the first time Tony had heard his boss use those words in the past three weeks.

"We'll discuss this later," Vance countered. "Now if that is all--"

"Actually, that isn't all," Tony continued with his faux good humor.

"DiNozzo." Gibbs' warning lacked heat, and his voice cracked.

"No, bo--, Agent Gibbs." He internally cursed at nearly sliding back into his former role. Just because McGee had been vindicated, that hadn't changed the last three weeks between Tony and the rest of the team. Tony took a breath and continued, his sunny mask probably not quite as convincing this time. "I had another question. Seeing as how certain NCIS employees and foreign operatives who shall remain nameless," he could not help but hiss that, "took it upon themselves to explain to McGee's sister how he was guilty beyond a doubt, I was wondering whether anyone's going to explain to Sarah McGee that NCIS got it wrong. We wouldn't want her to think her criminal brother busted himself out of jail, would we?"

"Agent DiNozzo, you've made your point," Vance snapped at the same time Gibbs promised, "I'll talk with her."

Tony didn't see any reason why he should acknowledge his supervisor or, God forbid, thank him; considering the role Gibbs and Ziva played in convincing Sarah McGee of her brother's guilt, unconvincing her was the very, very least either of them could do. So instead he confronted the Director. "I haven't even begun to make my point!" The agent then stuffed his hands into his trouser pockets. "You know, I could stand here and quote from any of a dozen movies. I could make a big dramatic scene. Or I could smile and say, 'I told you so,' which I have to say is looking pretty tempting just about now. But why bother? This whole situation goes way past any of that, and if you didn't get it by now, you're never going to." He shook his head and moved away. "I am so out of here!"

"Agent DiNozzo, I haven't dismissed you!"

The Very Special Agent rolled his eyes. "Yeah, but a minute ago you wanted me to shut up and go away, so I'm just giving you your wish. Call me a slow learner." He flashed an insincere grin. "You can thank me later."

Anthony DiNozzo didn't wait for a response from either Vance or Gibbs. A few strides further, and he was out of the office entirely, slamming the door behind him. He ignored the open-mouthed secretary and continued his path through the reception area, down the steps, and to his desk. He also ignored the TAD du jour who was asking him whether they had a case.

Tony stooped to grab his pack, flung open his desk drawer, took his gun and holstered it, hesitated, then claimed his badge as well and shoved it into his pocket. He didn't have any time to lose. After all, someone would have to pick up the Probie once he told the official driver to shove it.

He glided over to the elevator and punched the button. As he waited, his cell phone chimed. "Right on cue." He looked at the text message and grinned, closed his cell phone, then walked into the suddenly open, and (thank God) empty, elevator. He turned towards the front of the elevator just in time to see Gibbs and David descending down the staircase into the bullpen. Tony pretended he didn't care and hadn't noticed their slumped shoulders and glittering eyes. He flashed a smile he didn't feel and gave a jaunty wave.

"Semper fi."