The Silly Toy

A/N This is just a little something that's been knocking around in my mind for a while so on the basis that it's late, I'm still awake and need a break from Warning Signs, here you have it. As always, reviews, criticism and comments are very welcome.

Ziva walked into the bullpen with coffee for the team, it was late and it had been a long day of chasing one fruitless lead after another. She expected to come back to Gibbs annoyed about the lack of progress; she didn't expect to find Gibbs ripping McGee a new one.

"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING, MCGEE? YOU REALLY THINK THAT WAS FUNNY?"

"Uh, boss?"

"YOU EVER PULL A STUNT LIKE THAT AGAIN AND I'LL PUT MY FOOT SO FAR UP YOUR ASS.."

Gibbs looked like he might just make good on that threat right now, McGee looked shell shocked.

Ziva put the tray of coffee down on Tony's desk.

"GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SIGHT MCGEE"

McGee, without another word, turned, lifted his bag and walked as calmly as he could of the bull pen.

"What did I miss?" Ziva whispered to Tony.

"The boss went to use his pc and every time he hit a key it made an animal noise, we've had pigs squealing, horses neighing and cows mooing amongst others."

"But why was tearing into McGee?"

"Who else could do something like that Ziva?"

"DiNozzo! Get a tech up here to fix this damn thing"

"On it Boss!"

Ziva walked over to Gibbs, "It could not have been McGee that did this"

Gibbs glared at her. She swallowed and kept talking "he has been with me all day, trying to track down the stepson, he only just got back"

"Then who...?" Gibbs voice tailed off as he answered his own question "Abby"

McGee was furious, embarrassed and hurt. He had no idea why Gibbs had kicked off at him, it wasn't the first time this had happened and he was fed up with it. He could make an educated guess that whatever had pissed Gibbs off was technological in nature and therefore Abby had to be involved somewhere, probably Tony too. He hated being the fall guy for their pranks, he had only let it continue for so long because…well if he was honest, because he was too weak to make them stop. Well enough already. He wasn't going to put up with it any more.

The next day McGee didn't show up for work. Gibbs waited for an hour before calling him; it rang twice before going to voice mail. He hung up without leaving a message. He called again, and again, and again over a 2 hour period.

Ziva and Tony were looking at him surreptitiously, both afraid to speak, they were communicating through looks, facial expressions and minute hand movements.

"Ziva, call McGee, find out what's going on"

He stared at her while she dialled his number. Her call was picked up on the first ring.

"McGee, where are you?"

"I'm at home, Ziva; I'm not coming in today"

"McGee? Tim? Are you sick?"

"Yeah, sick and tired of being the scapegoat for things I know nothing about!" Tim's voice was rising, he forced himself to take a deep breath before continuing "I've had enough Ziva, I can't do it anymore" There was definite hitch in his voice and he hung up before she could reply.

Ziva replaced the handset and stared at her phone, then turning to Gibbs she relayed what Tim had just told her.

The expression that crossed Gibbs face was one she hadn't seen before, guilt? Fear? A combination of the two?

Gibbs stood up and marched to the elevator "You two find the stepson; I want him in interrogation by the time I get back"

Gibbs drove to Tim's apartment, he drove recklessly with a sense of urgency, trying to stop the feelings of guilt and shame getting too close to the surface.

He pulled up outside the apartment block and sprinted up the stairs. He could hear faint music. He pounded on the door, when he got no response he pounded again "MCGEE! Open the damn door" that did get a response, but not the one he was looking for, the music increased in volume and the door remained resolutely closed.

He stopped banging, what was he doing? Yelling at the kid wasn't going to exactly help matters. Angry at himself for not thinking first he ran back down the stairs.

Tim watched his boss leave the apartment block and drive off, he was shaking and sweating, he knew that Gibbs had probably been listening to his conversation with Ziva, and he knew that one of them would turn up at his door. He knew that standing up to his Gibbs would be tough but he was determined he wouldn't back down, not this time. Gibbs wanted a face to face? Then it would be when Tim was ready and it would be on Tim's terms. He took several deep breaths and went to change his shirt.

Gibbs drove to the nearest mall, it took him a maddeningly long time to find what he was looking for, but he refused to give up and after countless stores he found it.

Driving back to Tim's apartment he mentally head slapped himself for being so insensitive towards his youngest agent, he knew how the others bullied him and set him up as their fall guy, generally he didn't fall for it, he had been tired the day before but that was no excuse, he should have at least asked him before jumping in with both feet. He needed Tim, the team needed him, he was damned if he was going to lose him over this.

Back in front of Tim's front door he knocked, just loud enough to be heard over the music that had gone back to a reasonable volume.

"Open up Tim"

Nothing.

"Please?"

After a few seconds the door swung open. Gibbs walked inside; taking a few seconds to make sure the door was closed, allowing Tim to retreat further into the apartment.

Gibbs followed him, handing him a gift wrapped box before taking a seat opposite.

"Open it" he said when Tim gave him a questioning glance.

Tim opened the box slowly, like he expected to see a rattlesnake emerge; he gave Gibbs a confused look when he pulled out a bobble head toy.

"Whenever I got mad at Kelly for something she hadn't done, she'd sulk. I'd buy her a silly toy to make her smile. Figured if it worked with one of my kids it had a chance of working with another"

"I'm not sulking!" Tim exclaimed.

Gibbs cocked an eyebrow; Tim had the grace to look abashed then he looked up at Gibbs, a shy smile appearing on his face as the rest of Gibbs' words filtered through.

"It won't happen again Tim"

"Yeah, it will"

"Next time tell me it wasn't you"

"You won't listen" there was no malice in Tim's words and in his heart Gibbs knew he was right but he got to his feet, reached over and head slapped Tim.

"Then you make me listen"

Tim grinned as he rubbed the back of his head.

THE END