February 2…Groundhog Day…Punxsutawney Phil… the announcer's voice fades and the alarm goes off…

Beep-beep-beep…It was a day like any other day. At 04:00 he rolled out of bed, stepped into the shower and started to visualize his day. The coffee was done by the time he was finished showering and dressing. He ate his solitary breakfast of toast and coffee, pouring the excess coffee into a thermos carafe to take with him on the drive into the city.

Once at the Navy Yard he parked the car, grabbed his thermos and headed for the elevators silently musing about the team he has assembled. The MCRT, or Gibblets, as Abby likes to call them are the top agents in the country. This team of three special agents has all been hand picked by him, with the exception of Ziva who had been assigned to him by Jenny Shepherd.

His first stop as always is autopsy; making sure that Ducky's computers are up and running and starting a pot of hot water so that Ducky can make tea when he gets in. Abby's lab is next. He may not know what all the equipment does, but he can still turn on the lights and power so that her "babies" will be warming up when she comes in.

He stops briefly at the squad room, smiling when he sees his youngest male agent already powering up the computers. Tim McGee might be a computer geek, but he's also turned into a fine field agent, one that Gibbs knows will have his back no matter what the day might bring. The shy young man offers up a smile and Gibbs returns it, before heading on up to Vance's office to find out what the Director of NCIS might have planned for his team that day.

"Cold cases for the moment Gibbs. Tell your team to enjoy the peace and quiet while they can."

Gibbs doesn't bother replying as he heads downstairs. By now, Tony and Ziva have both arrived and he quietly tells the team to work the cold cases that they have each been assigned. Two hours later, Gibbs looks around the room. Tony is silently singing to himself as he reads his case file; he's wearing headphones and every now and then raps out a beat on his desk with his pen.

Ziva exchanges a wry glance with her boss; no matter how many times the older man has head slapped his senior agent, he hasn't been able to prevent Tony from listening to his music while working on a cold case. At least this time he's wearing headphones and his pen is hitting his pad of paper not the wood on the desk which irritates the others on the team to no end.

Tim in the meantime has put on a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. Gibbs has never seen Tim in glasses before and is slightly surprised at the attraction he feels when he sees how the glasses accentuate Tim's good looks. He stands up and crosses over to the younger man's desk. Tim looks up and Gibbs quietly points to the glasses.

Tim takes them off, rubbing his eyes slightly. "I asked my doctor the last time I went in about some headaches that I've been having. He suggested wearing glasses with a slight magnification in them when the print gets too small. It won't prevent me from getting glasses in the future, but this way I'm not straining my eyes as much."

The other two agents have been listening in and before Tony can open his mouth to start teasing Tim about wearing glasses, Gibbs pivots towards him and glares at him. Tony gulps reflexively and buries his head again in his case-file. Tim sighs knowing that it's just a matter of time before Tony corners him and starts teasing him.

Gibbs gives him a gentle head smack and Tim looks up at him silently questioning the slap. "If the headaches get too bad go to Ducky."

Tim smiles at him, "I know boss, who do you think told me about the glasses?"

Gibbs feels a smile quirking and heads for the elevator, telling the team to keep working and, "Tony, don't even think about teasing McGee."

Ziva waits until the elevator doors close before she crosses over to Tim's desk. "Why did you not tell us about the glasses McGee?"

"You're not serious? Tony calls me every McNickname he can come up with. I don't need to give him more ammunition."

"Hey! I resemble that remark McFourEyes!" Tony says as he puts a hand over his heart.

Tim sighs and looks up at Ziva who gives a slight giggle at the "I rest my case," expression on his face.

Downstairs Gibbs enters autopsy and Jimmy just points to the office before making an excuse to leave. Gibbs shakes his head at how he seems to still intimidate that particular young man even after all these years. Ducky looks up from a report he'd been reading and smiles when he sees his best friend enter the office.

"Well, hello Jethro, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?"

"You didn't tell me Duck."

Ducky closes the file and turns to face Gibbs more fully. "To what are you referring Jethro?"

"Tim...Needing glasses."

Ducky hides a smile at the concern in Gibbs' eyes. "He doesn't need them all the time Jethro. He only needs them on occasion and then not a full prescription strength. Eventually he will need them, but for now a cheap pair of magnifying glasses will help him with the cold case files you've been assigned."

Gibbs toys with a paperweight on Ducky's desk and the M. E. knows that his friend is troubled by something.

"What else is wrong Jethro?"

Gibbs doesn't answer right away and Ducky stands up, putting his hands on Gibbs shoulders so that he can look his friend in the eyes. Blue eyes which seldom try to hide from him, avert their gaze to find a focus on the wall behind Ducky's back.

"You find him attractive and that bothers you."

"Well, yeah Duck, shouldn't it bother you too? I mean, this is McGee we're talking about here."

Ducky gazes at him and Gibbs can't help looking down into the older man's deep blue eyes. "What bothers you more Jethro? The fact that he is so much younger or the fact that he is a male?"

"I...both."

Sighing deeply Ducky stares at Gibbs who uncharacteristically slumps on the desk, still toying with the paperweight. Without warning Gibbs stands up and strides out of the room. His cell phone rings and he's answering it as he punches the elevator button.

"Yeah, Gibbs. Got it." He turns to Ducky who bustles over while reaching for his own cell phone. "Get Palmer, we got a case."

An hour later, Gibbs is yelling for Ducky as he puts a hand over the wound in Tim's left shoulder. Tim had pushed Gibbs out of the way when one of their suspects had bolted for his vehicle and driven straight at Gibbs, firing wildly as he did so. Tim had taken a bullet to the shoulder as he pushed Gibbs out of the incoming path of the car. Tony and Ziva had shot the tires on the vehicle, making the driver careen into a copse of trees. When the driver/suspect didn't immediately emerge from the car, the two agents cautiously walked up to it. There was no response to their telling the driver to put his hands where they could see them and as they opened the car door, they could tell that the suspect had been knocked out by the impact, not only from the tree but the airbag deploying as well.

Gibbs keeps a hand on the bullet wound, telling Tim he isn't allowed to die. As Ducky kneels beside them, Gibbs asks,

"How bad is he Duck?"

"For pity's sake Jethro, let me examine the poor boy!"

In the meantime, Tony and Ziva have cuffed their suspects and Jimmy has called for an ambulance. When the EMT's run over to where the others are huddled around Tim, Ducky tells them that he's stable but that he has a possible broken rib or two as well as the bullet wound in his shoulder. Nodding, the lead EMT continues to check Tim over while his partner brings out the gurney. As they gently put McGee into the back of the ambulance, the driver looks at Gibbs who nods at the unspoken question.

The local Leo's offer to bring the suspects into town so that Tony and Ziva can follow their teammate. Nodding their thanks, the two NCIS agents climb into their sedan and drive towards the city with Ducky and Jimmy following close behind in their van.

Once at the hospital Ducky finds the doctor that will be helping with Tim and isn't too surprised when the doctor says they want to keep Tim overnight for observation.

"The bullet wound was a through and through and he has some bruised ribs but nothing broken. He got damn lucky."

Inside the room, Tim is arguing with Gibbs about staying in the hospital.

"Boss, I'm fine. I got winged that's it."

"You lost a fair amount of blood McGee; they want to make sure that it didn't nick an artery."

Tim pales at the implication. "It came that close?"

Ducky comes in just then and gives him a gentle smile, "It could have Timothy, and they want to make sure that it didn't."

Before Tim can say anything else there's a knocking at the door and Tony, Ziva and Jimmy all step inside. Behind them, sipping on a Caf-Pow Abby makes her entrance and is about to hug Tim but a quick glare from Gibbs keeps her from doing so.

"Keep it quick people, McGee needs his sleep."

Tony and Ziva exchange concerned glances. Gibbs seldom stops the team from sitting with a fallen team mate but the exhaustion on Tim's face was palpable in the starkness of the hospital room. Ducky looks around the room. To the M.E. the young people just want to ascertain for themselves that their comrade is going to be all right. Nodding to Jimmy to keep the others in line, he gently takes Gibbs by the arm.

"Come Jethro, if we are going to stay for any length of time, I need to partake in a nice cup of tea. Shall we see if the cafeteria has any Earl Grey?"

Gibbs stares at all the others, daring them to keep Tim awake any longer than necessary. Jimmy clears his throat, "Don't worry Agent Gibbs, I'll make sure that they don't disturb him for long."

Gibbs nods and escorts Ducky down the hallway. As they enter the cafeteria, Ducky looks at his quiet companion. Ducky sighs in sorrow at the lack of Earl Grey but brightens at the fresh lemon slices that a cafeteria worker brings out. He waits patiently for Gibbs to fill his own cup with coffee before leading him to a table in the corner.

"You need to tell him Jethro. He needs to hear those words as much as you need to say them. Tell him Jethro, or next time it may be too late."

"He's so young, Duck."

Ducky studies the man sitting across from him. A sudden flash of insight makes Ducky inhale. "How old was Shannon, Jethro?"

"Just a few years older than Tim is now." Gibbs admits, knowing that his friend is asking how old his first wife had been when she died.

"Is this why you won't tell him? Oh Jethro, you need to let go your fear old friend. Timothy deserves to know how you feel about him."

"I can't Duck. He deserves better."

"Better than what Jethro? Surely you don't liken yourself to those witches who've toyed with his heart over the years, our own dear Abigail not withstanding."

"At least Abby's closer in age to him." Gibbs mutters thinking about their obvious age difference.

"Stop it Jethro! You need to talk to Timothy about this. I think you might be pleasantly surprised if you did."

Gibbs says nothing more and the older man sighs as he finishes the last of his tea. He knows that Gibbs is a particularly private man and nevermore so than when it comes to his personal feelings. He also knows that unless someone intervenes, his friend may never find true happiness again.

They head back to Tim's room as soon as Gibbs refills his cup and find that true to his word, Jimmy has sent the others into the hallway. Abby's pouting as she turns to face Gibbs.

"Jimmy said we needed to leave."

"Good for Palmer. I warned all of you not to stay too long. McGee needs his sleep if he's going to be able to come back to work."

Gibbs pushes the door open and finds Jimmy standing just inside, ready to take on the next offender.

"Just me Palmer; how's he doing?"

"Oh, he's going to be fine Agent Gibbs, providing the others go home and let him get some sleep."

Jimmy's exasperation is starting to show and Gibbs hides a smile behind his newly filled coffee cup. It's not often that Jimmy can impress the agent, but he has been doing better at the crime scenes and is a lot more confident since obtaining his medical degree. Standing up not just to Tony and Ziva but Abby is no easy task and for the young man to do so when Tim needs it most is enough for Gibbs to give a rare,

"Good job Palmer. Go home now and take them with you."

"Yes sir Agent Gibbs."

Gibbs settles into a nearby chair, not looking up when Ducky finally enters the room. The two older men watch as Tim settles into a fitful sleep. Once he's certain that Tim is sleeping Gibbs asks,

"They gone now Duck?"

"Yes, Jethro. I've asked Jimmy to make sure that they all make it safely back to their vehicles." He tries to hand the sedan's keys to Gibbs who shakes his head. Ducky sighs and studies the man who still hasn't told Tim how he feels about him.

"Take it and get yourself a good night's sleep Duck. You can come relieve me in the morning."

"Don't think that I won't Jethro Gibbs! And Jethro, if you won't tell him how you feel, at least try to get some sleep won't you?"

Ducky drives home and gets ready for bed. He chuckles softly as he falls asleep; his mother has just told him,

"Never fear Donald, I'll make sure that Matthew finds his path."