McGee stood in his apartment door, glancing at the machine. A small, inner war had been brewing inside his head since the first time he stepped into MTAC. He knew he'd get in trouble, he did before, but a part of him didn't care. And besides, it was because he wanted to this time. This time, it was his choice.
"Screw it," he said quietly. "I'm doing it." he stalked across his apartment, seventeen steps to the bedroom, and snatched a second bag from his closet. He exited the room, walking toward the machine, cramming both machine and components into the bag.
He tossed the bag over his shoulder, did a final sweep of the apartment, and stepped out to go to work…
Ding: Jimmy looked up at the sound of the elevator opening. He had had thought it was Ducky, the older man running late because of his mother, but was surprised when Agent McGee entered the morgue. Tim glanced around, almost like he was hiding something, before whispering, "Is Ducky here?"
"No. Why are we whispering?" Palmer whispered back.
"How would you feel…?" McGee trailed off, looking over his shoulder again. He pulled off his bag, Jimmy trying very hard not to flinch backwards, and opened it. He flashed the contents at Palmer, smiling.
"Why did you bring that?"
"I thought, you know, we could hook it up in MTAC." McGee's smile grew wider. "We could… you know?"
And Jimmy did know. He and McGee had joked about a few times over the years. But to do it now, with Vance out of town…
"Tonight, after everyone leaves."
"But the case…"
"Already wrapped up. I've got paperwork all day. So, are you game?"
"Yeah," Jimmy said nodding.
"Good, see you tonight." Tim zipped up his bag, slinging it over his shoulder as he started toward the door. He stooped in the archway, "Oh, and Palmer, don't tell anyone."
By the end of the day McGee was so excited he could hardly contain himself. He kept glancing at his watch, then MTAC, then at his bag, then at his watch again, then at MTAC, then at his bag until Tony said, "You got McAnts in your pants, McGoo."
"What? No," Tim replied locking eyes with Tony. "Why? Did Jimmy say something?"
"No," Tony said giving McGee a peculiar look. "What's in the bag, McGee?"
"Nothing, nobody, why?"
"Are you concealing a body, McGee?" Ziva asked cocking an eyebrow.
"What? No," McGee exclaimed shaking his head. "W…why would I conceal a body?"
"You're getting a little defensive, McTimmy."
Tim scoffed. "I'm not defensive. M…maybe you're the defensive one," Tim retorted. A confused look on his face, Tony shared a glance with Ziva, but before he could comment Gibbs returned from his coffee run.
"I got all your paperwork?" Gibbs asked glancing at his agents.
"Yeah," Tony replied still eyeing McGee cautiously.
"Good, go home."
"YES!" McGee shouted freezing when everyone looked his way. "I mean, yeah. Such a, such a good work day we had. Doing paperwork and stuff. Yeah.
"And…and now we're going home, to our homes, where we live…" Gibbs didn't responded verbally, but his face conveyed one question: what the hell is wrong with you? "Good night Tony, Ziva," McGee said to his co-workers as he they started collecting their stuff.
"Are you not coming, too, McGee?" Ziva asked curiously.
"I've got some paperwork to do."
"Do you want help…"
"No!" he shouted again, Tony dropping his bag in surprise. "I mean, I got it. It's just a few adjustments. Nothing big. Should only take about an hour. Enjoy the rest of your night." As Ziva and Tony started toward the elevator he called," Bye guys!"
"McGee, you okay?" Gibbs asked sitting at his desk.
"What? Yeah I'm fine," McGee replied hurriedly, meeting Gibbs' blue eyes. "So, uh, boss, you, uh, leaving soon?"
"After I finish with your paperwork," Gibbs responded slowly, looking down at the three reports.
"Oh, okay," McGee said nodding. Somewhere, in the distance, McGee heard an elevator ding. He glanced up, noticing Jimmy lurking in the background. When he caught Palmer's eyes, Jimmy shrugged, silently asking 'what should I do?"
McGee tried to make subtle 'shooing' motions. He mouthed, I will call you. Gibbs glanced up, both freezing, and he glanced Jimmy's way. "Palmer, what are you doing up here?"
"I was, uh, just looking for Dr. Mallard," Jimmy said slowly, trying to sound casual but swinging his arms in the most non casual way possible. "Have you, uh, seen him?"
"He went home an hour ago, Palmer," Gibbs pointed out raising his eyebrows.
"Then that explains why I haven't found him, yet," Jimmy pointed out, chuckling awkwardly. "I'm just gonna…" he flashed McGee one final look before disappearing back toward the back elevators. Gibbs watched him go for a second before shaking his head and returning to his work.
McGee checked his watch, glancing down at his bag again, only to look up to see Gibbs staring at him. "Hi, boss. How's the paperwork coming?"
"Fine," Gibbs said slowly.
"Good, great, fantastic," McGee responded nodding his head again.
"Are you sure…?"
"I'm fine," McGee interrupted realizing how ridiculous he looked nodding his head. He stopped at once. "So, uh, how you been, boss?" Gibbs stared at McGee over his glasses, eyebrows raised again. "Me too, boss. Me, too."
"McGee," Gibbs said sharply.
"Stop hanging around DiNozzo."
"I can do that."
The bullpen lapsed into silence, McGee absentmindedly tapping his legs with his hands, looking around, whistling. He cut off when he noticed Gibbs glaring at him. "Sorry boss." He crossed his arms, patting his arm with his left hand while staring at his watch on his right.
Thirty-five grueling minutes later, Gibbs stood up. "Leaving already?" McGee said hurriedly.
"No, McGee, I'm hitting the head. Would you like to follow me inside?"
"Nope, not particularly," McGee replied shaking his head.
"Okay," Gibbs said before walking away.
"Shit," McGee whispered the moment Gibbs was out of hearing range. Or he thought he was out of hearing range. Who really knew what Gibbs' hearing range was?
After Gibbs did his business and returned, McGee had to wait twenty more minutes before his boss stood up and collected his stuff. "Get your paperwork done, McGee?" Gibbs asked, Tim knowing he knew something was up.
"Yep, just a, just a few more corrections," McGee replied trying very hard not to nod.
"Uh, huh," Gibbs responded nodding. "Good night, McGee."
"Good night, boss," Tim called tracking Gibbs' moves with his eyes. Once the older man was gone, the elevator doors closing, Tim grabbed his phone and dialed the morgue.
"It's time," he said and hung up.
Palmer was in stealth mode, the Mission Impossible theme song running through his head. He stopped at the top of the fourth floor steps, peering in through the tiny window in the door, before slowly pushing it open. He looked around his eyes peeled, and then stepped into the room.
"McGee," he called softly. "You up here?"
"Right here, Palmer," McGee said coming up from behind Palmer. Jimmy jumped, spinning around and waving his hands in a poor imitation of a karate move. "What the hell Palmer?"
"I'm sorry. You scared me," Jimmy hissed.
"Palmer, everyone is gone. You don't have to be quiet."
"Everyone McGee?" a voice said from the shadows. Tim nearly dropped his bag, turning on his heel to see Tony stepping into the light.
"Damn it, DiNozzo. You almost gave me a heart attack," McGee snapped clutching his bag tightly to his chest.
"No, McGoo that would be the Cheetos and video games." Tony deadpanned crossing his arms.
"What are you doing?" McGee asked trying to sound casual but failing miserably.
Tony opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and said "That's not important." He then looked at the bag and asked, "So, you gonna tell me what's in the bag?"
"No," McGee replied scoffing.
"Hey boss," Tony said backing away suddenly. Jimmy noticed how McGee's grip went slack on his bag as he spun around, DiNozzo taking the opportunity to snatch the bag from Tim. Gibbs was nowhere to be found.
"DiNozzo, give it back," Tim growled trying to take the bag back.
"Just let me see what's inside," DiNozzo said backing away, unzipping the zipper. He glanced inside, rolling his eyes as he said, "Are you kidding me?" despite the fact that he was trying to act cool, Jimmy could sense DiNozzo wanted in.
So, he asked, "You wanna join us?"
"What? Palmer, no," McGee snapped glaring Jimmy's way.
"I could easily tell the boss…" Tony trailed off, raising his eyebrows in a very 'Gibbs like' way. McGee pondered his decision, before taking a breath and saying, "Fine, you can join us."
"Sweet." Or that's what Jimmy thought Tony said. "So," DiNozzo continued, "where we doing this? Vance's office?" McGee didn't verbally respond, but both his and Jimmy's eyes went to MTAC.
Tony eyes lit up. "No," he whispered.
"Yes," McGee and Palmer said together.
"What are we waiting for?" each guy shared one final look, before scrambling up the stairs. In the struggle to be first, Jimmy managed to get elbow in the face. Thirty seconds later, Jimmy traipsing behind McGee and DiNozzo, all three managed to make it outside MTAC.
"So, who's scanning their eye?" Jimmy asked the two guys who actually had clearance.
"Rock, paper, scissors," Tony suggested meeting McGee's eyes.
"Loser scans?" McGee asked. DiNozzo nodded shoving the bag at Jimmy.
First game was tied: Scissors-scissor. Second game tied again: Rock-rock. The third game ended with rock-paper, Tony whispered, "Damn it. Best two-out-of-three?" he asked hopefully. McGee just pointed at the scanner.
"Fine," Tony muttered, stepping forward, and letting the laser scan his eye. As the door opened, McGee snatched his bag from Jimmy and entered MTAC first. Besides the giant silver MTAC, the room was dark.
Using the glowing letters for help, McGee felt his way to the control panel. He brought one of the computers to life, clicking several buttons until the lights popped on. In the onetime Palmer had actually stepped into MTAC, he had never seen it illuminated. And he to say, it was cooler with the dim lights.
Palmer stepped back as Tony and McGee started hooking up the machine. They had a hissed argument about what went where before it was ready to go.
Tim opened the tray, placing a disc in the middle, and then shut it. He backed away from the machine, shoving two controllers at Tony and Jimmy. "Let's roll." The logo for X-360 popped up. The guys took a seat in three of chairs up front, getting ready to play…
"Eat it!" Tony's head whipped around, resting on McGee. Tim was standing, his jacket discarded on the floor, his sleeves pushed up past his elbows. He hadn't blinked in what, had to be, a half an hour, and the poor twelve-year-old on the other end had just been blown up by McGee's Plasma Grenade.
"Ha-ha, that's what you get for being up so late. Stupid middle school kid." McGee cackled, catching Tony by surprise.
"Are you okay, McGee?"
"Yeah, I fine," he replied smashing his fingers across the buttons. "Are you gonna get on the Warthog or what? I need a driver."
"Okay." If Tony thought McGee was acting crazy earlier, he had not seen McProbie playing video games. It was a scary, scary thing. "Where's Jimmy?' DiNozzo opted to ask, hoping to get McGee off killing twelve-year-olds.
"I don't know."
"Man, he better have gotten my chips. I don't want your stupid Cheetos."
DiNozzo had actually thought McGee didn't hear him, his eyes glued to the screen, until Probie said, "For your information, DiNozzo. I don't even like Cheetos. I eat Funyuns. And Nutter Butters. He better get my damn Nutter Butters. I'll stab him in the eye."
"McGee, I think you should stop…"
"Shut up, DiNozzo," McGee snapped glaring at Tony. "And get on the fricking Warthog."
"Alright, alright." DiNozzo moved his guy to the vehicle, hitting buttons to make it drive. McGee used his rocket launcher to take out a group of people standing around, looking for enemies.
"Yeah, that's what you get for standing around!" McGee screamed at the screen. "Eat it you little twelve-year-olds!" Tony was trying to control the car, amidst the gun fire, but ended up losing control. He tipped it over, the vehicle landing on Tim and killing him.
"I'm sorry, Probie," Tony said hurriedly.
Tim's head slowly turned toward DiNozzo, his eyes wide, his face pure anger. "Sorry? Sorry? I was ahead." Tim pointed at the screen. "I was winning. Winning, DiNozzo."
"Okay, McGee, I think you're done," Tony said trying to snatch the controller from McGee's hand.
"Don't touch my controller," McGee snarled snatching it out of DiNozzo's reaching hand.
"I'm just trying to…"
"No, you're trying to make us lose. I don't like to lose, DiNozzo. Why don't, why don't you go join the middle school kids. You seem to want to help them."
Tony made to respond, several witty retorts rolling through his head, but before he could come up with one a gruff voice said, "Having fun?"
Both McGee and Tony stopped, eyes locked on the screen. Slowly, they turned around, Gibbs standing, not even three feet from them, arms crossed. It was a tense, quiet moment broken up by another voice saying, "Hey, McGee they were out of Nutter Butters so I…" Jimmy trailed off, freezing in the door way, his eyes wide. He dropped the bag of snacks on the floor and scurried away.
"Traitor," Tony called after him. He turned to Gibbs and said, "Boss, we were just… uh… McGee." He turned to Tim, who was glancing down at the controller. Then McGee looked up and blurted out, "He made me do it," and pointed at Tony.
"I said no, but he kept insisting. So, I agreed."
"Isn't that what happened last time?" Gibbs asked slowly.
"Yeah, and you'd think I learned my lesson. You know? Boss? Huh?" Tim was quiet for a second. Then he sighed and said, "You know I'm lying don't you?"
"And… I'm not getting my game system back, am I?"
"We should probably go," Tony said slowly, trying to ignore the disappointed look on McGee's face.
"Yeah." Tony grabbed Tim's sleeve and pulled him toward the door, which Jimmy left conveniently open. "Stupid 'autopsy gremlin'," he muttered shaking his head…
Gibbs watched his agents go before glancing back at the machine. He shook his head, wondering if he should keep it there for Leon to find or move it himself. He opted to take it apart as best he could, placing all the components back in the bag he found on the floor.
He collected McGee's forgotten jacket, slung the bag over his shoulder, and walked out of MTAC. He stopped at the foot of the stairs, watching as Tony and Tim got on the elevator bickering.
Sometimes he wondered if he were working with children instead of federal agents. With one final shake of his head, he let MTAC's door close behind him, and he started down the stairs. Ready to head home for real this time…
Blame Benny for this, he is an enabler. And that is why this is being published because he talked me into it.
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