Tension filled both sedans on the ride back to the Navy yard. David was the unlucky passenger to endure the silence with Gibbs. Occasional glances to the Senior Agent told her that words would not be welcome at this time. It was obvious what thoughts were running through his mind, the pain of haunted memories easily visible on his face. This case had been bad enough, 3 young girls taken from the park near their own homes where their families thought they would be safe. But the fourth, the 7year old daughter of a Marine Gunny taken from the playground near her home proved to be too much—a beautiful strawberry blond little girl with a wide smile that lit up blue eyes...they should have gotten to her in time. They should have been able to save this little girl from ending up like the other three girls. They had suspects and evidence. They had the best team at NCIS working this case. Minutes, it all came down to minutes. Minutes that were lost waiting on some damn computer.

Gibbs and David arrived at the Yard first, returning to the bullpen with nothing left but the bitter taste of failure. Ziva sat at her desk staring at nothing. Her calm exterior always in place, with perhaps a small crack of regret and despair showing through with the knowledge of the life taken away from one too young to have to know such horror.

Gibbs, on the other hand, could not sit still and didn't try. Everyone in the squad room knew that the bastard who was killed during the take down had gotten off easy. His partner would have to face Gibbs, a very angry Gibbs. Right now, every one was making sure to give Gibbs a wide berth as he paced while waiting for the rest of his team to get back to the Yard with the partner—the piece of filth that harmed and killed those little girls. The only thought running through his mind was the fact that they were too late because of some computer program. "A God-damned computer program! How in the hell did they lose this girl because of a computer program? We knew the who and the how. All we needed to do was get the girl. But time had been wasted on the how to find them instead of pounding the pavement getting it done."

The ding of the elevator could be heard and Gibbs snapped around to see DiNozzo and McGee step out alone. The suspect was already in the custody of the MP's in the the holding cells. As the two men made their way to their desks, Gibbs stepped in front of the younger of the two agents causing him to flinch dropping his gear and stop in mid-step. "Boss..."

"Shut-up, all I want to hear out of your mouth is how. How the hell did you screw up this case—were you so inept that you couldn't get it right?-get the results out of the computer any faster? Aren't you supposed to be the MIT computer genius? Why else do I have you on my team?"

The words bit deeply into Tim, looking down at the floor he replied, "Boss, I'm s-sorry..."

"I don't want to hear sorry, I want to hear how the hell you screwed this up and how a young girl ended up dead!"

Heads were turned in disbelief at the words being slung loudly at the young agent. Everyone knew Gibbs would be pissed off but this was even a bit far for the Senior Agent. Never had the attacks seemed so personal. Never had they heard him question the worth of one of his own agents.

Quickly looking up, Tim's green eyes searched for understanding in the ice-cold blue eyes that he was facing. "I was worked as fast as I could, Boss. I gave you everything as..."

"EVERYTHING? You gave me everything too damn late."

"I did the best I could with what we had Boss. I'm sorry..." McGee didn't know what else to say, he didn't know what else to do but stand there and take the tirade from Gibbs. He'd been on the receiving end of Gibbs' anger before but never this severe. On a subconscious level, he was aware that everything in the room had stopped and all eyes were trained on Gibbs and himself but the only thing he could see was the udder disgust in his boss's eyes as they were focused on him. He swallowed hard and had to force himself not to look away or back up.

"If that's your best McGee, I don't need you on my team. If that was your best, it wasn't damn good enough. I'm not going to tolerate another one of your screw-ups. I need a field agent that can give me results, not some computer geek that can't get it right." The veins in Gibbs neck were stretched taut, his blue eyes were flaring with rage and his fists clenched in anger.

Above the bullpen, Director Vance gripped the railing as he listened to the Senior Agent rant. He watches as DiNozzo and David stared, pinned in place by disbelief. The rage that was expected to be directed at the one arrested for these heinous crimes was being directed at one of their own. DiNozzo flinched at the harsh words hurled at McGee. He was struck dumb with what to do, what to say. But self-preservation was running high and he stayed silent not wanting to incur the wrath of Gibbs.

"Boss, I..."

Gibbs was almost nose-to-nose with the younger agent as he yelled, "I don't want to hear another word out of your mouth, McGee. I don't want to see your sorry ass again. I don't want you anywhere near another one of my investigations. I want you out of here—NOW!" Visibly shaking, Gibbs turned on a heel and made his way to his desk.

Tim stood stock still not knowing what to do or to whom to turn. His eyes reflected the disbelief at the words said to him by the man he looked up to, the man he considered a mentor. Had he just been fired? Had he been told he really was nothing to the Senior Agent? He was so lost in thought he didn't hear Gibbs turn from his desk and stride back to his side. Picking up McGee's gear Gibbs slammed it into the younger man's chest knocking him back into DiNozzo's desk.


The squad room was stunned into silence. The room held it's collective breath not knowing what to expect next. Vance remained in place above the bullpen waiting with the rest of the room to see how this would play. He was curious as to how the young agent would respond to what was said to him. Recollections of words so similar from so long ago sounded in his mind, stuck on replay.

Regaining his balance, Tim stood and first looked at Tony and then Ziva before returning his eyes to Gibbs. Without a word, Tim walked towards the elevator but changed his mind and went to the stairwell. Once the door closed behind him, Tim stopped and drew a shaky breath not know what to do. He couldn't go back in the squad room. He found himself on autopilot—walking down the stairs and then outside to his car. He didn't even notice that it had started to rain. He stopped beside his car, numb to everything. His mind was reeling, still trying to make sense of everything that had just happened. Had he really heard Gibbs say he didn't need him on his team?

The rain changed to a downpour soaking to the core the one man it found standing all alone already drowning in his thoughts.