a/n - As promised, the next chapter of Slave. I'm almost finished with HNY also, so expect that in the next day or two. It's hard to write steamy with a 5yo that likes to come up and figure out the words on the screen, so I can only work on that at night after everybody is in bed. I'm bouncing between gen and all the way up to M rated stuff and cranking out high word counts (12k so far this month) so you should have something to read pretty often on at least one of my profiles. Tomorrow you'll get story 3 from the AALCSLD series.

Gibbs and Kort arrived back to find DiNozzo and David with guns drawn, prowling between the windows. "What's wrong?"

Tony gave one last look out the front window before holstering his gun. "Had the same car pass by twice. Too dark to get a plate, though. Any chance you were made?"

Kort wasn't taking any chances. "Take McGee upstairs, I'll take the first shift."

Gibbs looked around before nodding. "Yeah, okay, thanks." He turned to Ziva. "Did McGee eat?"

"No." Ziva shook her head, letting her annoyance show. "He absolutely refused to eat. I do not understand it. It has been hours since lunch."

"Don't worry about it, Ziva. I promised him that we'd eat together when I got back." To prove his point, Gibbs walked past her to get McGee and the leftovers.


Tim didn't relax until he heard the familiar voice out in the living room. Taking a few deep breaths, he set his reading aside to wait for Gibbs. When he arrived, it was all Tim could do to wait until Gibbs walked through the kitchen door before burrowing himself against the other man.

"Is it over?"

"One down and on his way South." Gibbs tightened his arms around McGee as he reviewed the plan. One attacker vanished tonight with a witness that would talk, but people would doubt. Nevertheless it would make them jumpy. Tomorrow, when several more of their group disappeared, the remaining men would begin to turn on each other, wondering how someone was targeting them so effectively. It wasn't foolproof, but the more they could take out before the operation, the greater their chances of success.

"Good." Tim's stomach growled and Gibbs pulled back to look him in the eye. "Did you eat anything while I was away, boy?"

Tim looked pleased with himself. "No Master."

Gibbs felt the need to adjust himself at McGee's words. "Good boy. Now, heat up those leftovers and take them upstairs for us." Tim scurried to comply and Gibbs turned to see two sets of disapproving eyes watching them.

"You two, living room, now."

Tony jumped in it the second they were in the living room, Ziva a few seconds later.

"Boss, what the hell was that all about?"

"Was that entirely necessary, Gibbs?"

"Yes, it was necessary." Gibbs glared at both of them. "In just a few days he's going to have to play the perfect slave. What happens if we don't pull it off? Think about that, both of you and if you can't handle it, tell me now so I can bring someone else in."

Kort was leaning against the wall with his own slice of pizza, blocking the team from McGee as he made his way upstairs with the pizza and beers. "I've got a couple of guys we can use for back-up."

"No." Tony might not be comfortable with what was happening, but he sure the hell wasn't going to walk away from backing up Gibbs. "We can handle it."

Gibbs had seen the look on Tim's face as he slipped up the stairs. "I want more than that, DiNozzo. Don't you ever make Tim feel ashamed about what's happened or what he has to do now. You got me?"

"Yeah, I got it." Tony had seen the look on Tim's face, too, and felt instantly guilty. He walked over to the staircase and shouted. "Hey, McGee, man I'm sorry. I really put my foot in it."

There was no answer and Tony shrugged as he turned away. Gibbs glared at him before giving Kort a meaningful look and going up the stairs. Kort waited until he heard the door close upstairs. "A properly trained sub does not speak without his Master's permission."

Tony let his head drop as he groaned. He was two for two and didn't have a clue what he was doing.


The fact that Tim was sitting on the edge of the bed, bowed head in his hands, was enough to tell Gibbs that the team's reactions had thrown him completely out of their scene. Gibbs sat next to him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and pulling him close. "It's okay."

"No, it's not." Tim burrowed closer as the fear and terror of what had happened finally came to the surface. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Tim McGee was a very reserved man, even his tears that first night had been silent, but Gibbs knew how necessary and cleansing this moment was as he tightened his grip and rode out the storm. "It's not your fault, it's mine. I shouldn't have set our first scene here and I shouldn't have been so casual about it. Tomorrow," He waited until Tim was looking up at him and used his thumbs to wipe Tim's face dry. "Tomorrow, we will be in a proper place and do it right, okay?"


"Good boy. Now, let's eat and get some sleep. We're going to have a busy day tomorrow."


Tony felt even worse when he heard the muffled sobs coming from the upstairs bedroom. He turned to see Kort staring at him. "What?"

"You're going to have to either shut up or learn to understand the scene. I'm not in the mood to teach you, so I suggest you talk to Miss Sciuto – or, perhaps Doctor Mallard."


Ziva would have found the cracking of Tony's voice hysterical, but she was just as shocked. "You can't be serious."

Tony took one look at Kort and knew he was very serious. He muttered as he covered his eyes. "I did not need to know that. Are you and I the only ones without whips and chains in the bedroom?" Suddenly worried, he peeked at her through his fingers. "Don't answer that."

She didn't, but it was because something else had caught her attention. "The car is back."

Kort looked out the window and saw the black sedan pull to the curb several houses down, only its running lights on. He nodded to DiNozzo and David and the three of them slipped out the back door and through the neighbor's yard to approach the car. Separating, Tony and Ziva each headed for a door while Kort crept past the next car on the street to stand in front and drew down on the driver through the windshield.

There was a muffled scream and Tony banged on the driver's side window. "Larry, you idiot, what in the hell do you think you're doing?" without waiting for an answer, he opened the door and roughly dragged the other agent out, forcing him to his knees.

"There was something weird going on."

"I believe you were told several times to stay out of it, Larry. Maybe we should just let Agent Kort here handle you from now on."

Kort seemed to be seriously weighing his options as he stepped closer, bumping the side of Adams' face with the barrel of his weapon. "Don't think you people have had a suicide at your agency for a while. I do have some cyanide in my car, but he looks more like a hanging kind of guy to me. What do you think, DiNozzo?"

"I think," Tony wrinkled his nose as the front of Adams' pants darkened. "We're going to have to hose him off before we do anything."


"Here, your wife brought you clothes." Vance dumped an overstuffed duffel bag onto the table in the interrogation room. "You have a choice between immediate termination with complete loss of benefits or a six month posting in Bahrain. Judging by the amount of clothes she sent, I'm assuming your wife is pushing for Bahrain."

"Sir, you can't do this."

"Really? Try me." Vance planted his fists on the table and leaned into Adams. "Your little stunt threatened to expose a major, multi-agency operation to stop what could be the largest terrorist attack since 9-11, not to mention risk the lives of some of your fellow agents. What do you have to say for yourself?"

"I didn't know."

"Your re-certifications and annual evaluations are consistently the lowest in the agency, Adams, not to mention that you have more complaints and black marks in your file than any agent I've ever dealt with. Why in the hell would I ever trust you with something this critical? The real question is how have you managed to hang on as long as you have. Tell you what, I'll give you a third option. How about immediate transfer to the CIA? I'll let Kort's handlers decide how to make an example of you." Vance was breathing hard as he straightened up.


"What was that, Larry?"

"I'll take the Bahrain assignment – Sir."

The hesitation with the 'sir' didn't help Leon's mood and he marched to the door, throwing it open. "Balboa, take him down to the showers to clean up and make sure he doesn't screw anything else up."


After a few quiet words with Kort, Gibbs returned to the bed. "It's okay, it was Adams out there. The idiot. At least Vance is shipping him out so he won't bother you again."

"Be nice to not have him hovering around anymore."

There was something in Tim's tone that set off Gibbs' gut. "He give you problems before this?"

"Kinda." Tim didn't look up as he explained. "Always going on about how he'd eventually get my spot on your team. He's an idiot and usually I just laugh him off, but..."

"But right now you're feeling vulnerable." Gibbs finished for him before telling him what he never knew about Adams. "He's been hanging onto his field agent status by a thread for years. The only reason he's on Balboa's team is because Vance is still pissed at Balboa for dropping Jackie's Christmas present last year. While you, Mr. Gemcity, used your connections to get the store to deliver a replacement before they closed on Christmas Eve."

"Oh, yeah. I'd forgotten about that. Signed and dated Swarovski Annual Edition Crystal Snowflake Ornament, only one thousand imported from Austria every year." A smile tugged at the corner of Tim's mouth. "It was the last one left on the Eastern seaboard and Vance gave our team two days off for New Years."

"Sure did." Gibbs was pleased to see Tim drift off to sleep with that happy memory.