Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any of the characters. I am just borrowing them!

AN: I do not have a Beta so all mistakes are mine.

He gently drew the sobbing woman close to him. Pressing her to his chest and wrapping his arms around her. He didn't know what else to do.

"Shush, shush, my love. It'll be okay. I'm right here. We're here. We'll always be here. Don't worry." He spoke in soft soothing tones with his cheek pressed gently to the top of her head. He knew that the words he spoke were unimportant. It was the tone that would settle her down. In a little while she would calm down enough to listen to what he was saying.

At first, she was crying so hard that she could barely breathe. She was like a rag doll in his arms. If he let go of her, she would fall. Then her hands clenched into tight fists and she started to struggle against him. Her grief had suddenly turned into anger. It wasn't him she was angry with but he would have to take the brunt of it. He didn't let her go. He knew instinctively that was the worst thing he could do, so he just held her tighter and kept murmuring softly to her.

Eventually, her breathing eased and her sobs quieted. She stopped struggling and he picked her up and walked over to the sofa. He sat down and she curled up in his lap with his arms wrapped around her. He knew that she was almost ready to speak. He thought he was ready to hear it, but when her words finally came, they tore him apart.

"Oh Tony, Gibbs…" she looked up at him, asking him to deny it; begging him to fix it; knowing that he could not. He didn't say anything. There was nothing to say. He just held her a little bit tighter.

"I can't… He… I don't know… Why?" She wasn't able to make sense of what was happening, but it didn't matter. Tony knew her better than anyone. He understood what she meant. He knew exactly how lost she felt.

Gibbs had left them.

He hadn't even told them anything. They had walked into the squad room that morning as usual, but Gibbs never did. They had been called to Vance's office and told that Gibbs had retired. They hadn't believed it. He would have told them. They sat in shock as Vance handed each of them a letter from Gibbs. They didn't open them; they just held them and looked at each other.

Eventually Vance let them leave his office and they took the letters down to autopsy to read them. They didn't discuss it, it just seemed fitting somehow.


I have to leave.

I can't explain why.

I love you and I always will.

Tony and Tim will take care of you.

Take care of them.

You will be ok.



The handwriting was definitely Gibbs'. In fact, the letter was Gibbs all over. She had no doubt that he had written it.

I have to leave. I can't explain why. The first two lines left her confused. He said that he had to leave, not that he wanted to leave. But why couldn't he explain it? Was someone forcing him to leave or was it just too hard for him to explain?

They had read each others' letters in silence. Tony spoke first. "He wasn't forced to write these. He knows the protocol." They all knew what to do if they were ever forced to write something. Gibbs had insisted that they learn and practice it. It was one of his rules and it was something that only they knew.

If they were ever taken hostage or forced to write something, they were to write in a specific way. Gibbs hadn't done it, which meant he wasn't forced to write it.

You will be ok. What about Gibbs? Would he be ok? They at least had each other. What would he do without them?

Tim got up and left without saying anything. Tony followed him. Ziva just sat there alone. She took a few deep breaths and headed back to the squad room. With Gibbs gone, Tony was in charge. He and McGee were sitting at their desks, working. She joined them and no one said anything about Gibbs for the rest of the day.

Tim left at exactly 5:00 without saying anything to them. When Tony got up a few minutes later, Ziva hurried after him, unwilling to be left alone again. She followed him to the house that all four shared. Tim's car was not there. Neither was Gibbs.

She had held it together until Tony had turned to her once they got inside. The look of pain on his face was enough to undo her. Tears started pouring down her face and he had reached out to her, taken her into his arms and comforted her as best as he knew how.

Now that she was coherent, he was ready to talk. "Listen, we will be ok." He looked her directly in the eyes and said firmly. "I promise. I promise we will be ok."

She replied with only one word, the question clear in her voice. "McGee?"

He sighed "He's just upset. He'll be home soon." He didn't really know what was going on with McGee. It was not typical of him to run away from a problem like this. He could only hope that he was right. He didn't think Ziva could stand to lose two of her partners in one day. He knew he couldn't.

It had all started out so innocently. They had grown incredibly close during Ziva's first year. When she joined them, they finally felt complete as a team. They finally felt complete as a family. Their jobs were so demanding, so unusual, so hectic, so classified, that none of them had ever managed to have a successful relationship. The weird thing was that there were plenty of partners who would love to have them; they were inevitably the ones who ended things.

They hadn't realized that the reason was that their relationship needs were already filled by their team members. They did not need, or want, outsiders. Gibbs was the one who brought them together, and he was the one who held them together through some pretty rocky times in the beginning.

Their first night together, they had all been very drunk. They were celebrating the end of a very difficult case and somehow, they had finally been able to understand their feelings and act on them. It started with Ziva. She was sitting between Tony, who had his arm draped loosely around her shoulders and McGee, whose hand was resting on her knee. They were laughing. They were so obviously comfortable and at ease in each others' company and with each others' touch that Gibbs couldn't help but grin.

Ziva caught his smile and asked "What's up Gibbs?" He answered "It just makes me happy to see you three so happy together. Sometimes, I wonder if I made the right decision by bringing you all into this."

Tony spoke up. "Hey now, Gibbs, we chose to become federal agents. We knew what we were getting into."

Gibbs' voice was cold and hard. "You really think that you chose NCIS?" He looked at each of them in turn. They all looked a little confused but he continued. "I chose you. I took you out of your other lives and pulled you into this one. Tony, you would still be a homicide detective if I hadn't recommended you. Tim, you would be sitting in front of a computer every day if I hadn't requested that you remain on my team when your rotation was up. Ziva, you were a temporary liaison between Mossad and us. You would have been back in Israel a year ago if I hadn't asked to keep you."

They looked at each other, realizing for the first time, how much they owed to Gibbs. But what he said next showed them that he didn't see it that way. "I hate myself for doing that to you. You could have had real lives, gotten married, had children, had jobs that didn't involve you risking your lives on a daily basis. I took all of that away from you and I never should have done that. I'm sorry."

Ziva answered for all of them. "Gibbs, you didn't take anything away from us. You gave us a family. I love you guys. I really do. You make me happy. I can't imagine my life without you." He leaned over to where she sat between Tony and Tim and kissed her gently on the cheek. When he tried to draw away, she caught his face between her hands and pulled him back to her. Then she kissed him.

Her kiss was full of passion, passion that had been held in check for too long. Gibbs responded equally passionately. The men sitting on either side of her looked from them to each other. They were in shock.

Tony took his arm from around her shoulders and Tim actually started to get up. Ziva broke off the kiss and grabbed Tim's arm. She pulled him back down and kissed him. It was just as passionate as the one she had shared with Gibbs.

Tony had felt his heart break when she kissed Gibbs and it was only hurting more now. Ziva was supposed to be kissing him, not Gibbs and not McGee. He just sat there in disbelief, unable to move.

When Ziva broke off the kiss with Tim and turned to Tony, he was already reaching out for her. He took her into his arms. He had wanted to do this for so long, now that it was finally happening, he found that he didn't care that she had just kissed Gibbs and McGee.

The rest of that night was pretty much a blur. The four of them had made their way to the bedroom, shedding their clothes along the way. It seemed to Ziva that her feet never really hit the floor along the way. All three men were kissing and caressing her while trying to walk at the same time. At one point, Tony had her pinned to wall kissing her and Gibbs had come along and scooped her up. He practically carried her the rest of the way to the bedroom. When they got there, Tim pulled off the rest of her clothes and threw her down onto the bed.

Tony was right behind her. They started kissing, picking up where they had left off in the hallway. Gibbs turned her to face him and she happily kissed him while Tony caressed her breasts and nibbled her throat. Tim crawled into bed and buried his head between her legs.

She gasped in shock and pleasure and reached out for him, but Gibbs and Tony were holding her so tightly that she couldn't move. When she realized this, she started to panic. She tried to push Gibbs away, but with Tony holding her so tightly, she couldn't get any leverage and he didn't even realize that she wanted up. Tony had started kissing her throat and neck and she tried to turn away, only to find that Gibbs was right there. He claimed her mouth again and she started to feel like she couldn't breathe.

Meanwhile, Tim interpreted her struggles as signs that she was really into what he was doing, and had slid his finger inside her. She managed to break away from Gibbs and cry out, begging them to stop. Suddenly, all three men realized that they had taken things much too fast for her. They immediately released her; ashamed of what had almost happened.

It had almost ended right then and there.

Tim and Tony both mumbled apologies and were starting to leave when Gibbs stopped them. He knew that this was something that they all wanted, needed even. And he knew that if they left now, it would destroy the team. What had almost happened, what had already happened, was not something they would be able to forget and it would hang between them for the rest of their lives. It would drive them apart. It would destroy his team. He would not let that happen.

He ordered the men to sit back down, and turned to Ziva. "Is this something you want to do?" he asked gently.

She looked down at her lap and nodded silently. Gibbs reached out and lifted her chin so that she was looking him in the face. "Is this something you want to do?" he asked again.

"Yes. This is something I want to do. I just…"

"You just got scared." Gibbs finished for her. She nodded and he continued "You got scared when you realized that you had lost control of the situation. But what you forgot was that we were here and we would never hurt you or let you get hurt."

He turned to Tony and McGee. "We should have talked about this before we started, but things just got too crazy for a minute. In this kind of relationship, there has to be an extremely high level of trust between all members. We have that. Ziva trusts us, don't you love?"

He turned to Ziva who nodded and said "You know I do. I trust you with my life. All of you."

He smiled and said "All we need to do is help each other remember that and everything will be fine. Do you want to try again?"

She didn't answer, just turned to Tim, who was closest to her and said "I love you." Then she kissed him. It was a long, slow kiss and when it was over, she repeated it with Tony and then Gibbs.

They had taken things a little slower at first, but as soon as things really started to heat up again, she felt the first stirrings of panic. Gibbs had noticed instantly that time and had whispered into her ear. "Ziva, you're alright. It's just us. We won't hurt you." When she looked into his eyes her fears vanished and he had continued, smiling. "Just relax and enjoy this, my little one."

She had relaxed and had enjoyed it immensely. When it was over, they lay exhausted piled on top of one another. Her head was on Gibbs' chest. Tony was to her right, with one arm draped low over her waist. Tim lay between her and Gibbs with his head on her stomach. They were all grinning.

"I'm going to be able to stop working out as often if we keep this up." She said laughing. "You boys are quite enough of a workout for me." Tony whispered into her ear, but loud enough for all to hear. "You were amazing, love." Tim turned his head and kissed her softly on her stomach just below her belly button and mumbled sleepily. "Mm hm, that was wonderful."

Gibbs kissed her on the forehead and got up to fix them drinks. They had had another round before bed, but it was slower, sweeter, and less frantic than the first time. Then they had gone to sleep, again piled atop one another and happier than any of them had been in a long time.

Their relationship had always been about more than sex. They truly loved each other. This was just a way for them to share their love. They had basically moved in to Gibbs' house, although they kept their own apartments too.

No one seemed to notice that they were living together. They had always carpooled to work from time to time, so it was not suspicious for them to arrive and leave work in one car. They had always flirted and joked a bit, and that had not changed. They had always been comfortable with one another. No one noticed when the relationship changed.

But now Gibbs was gone.