Monday's were Ziva's morning to provide breakfast and, following in Tony's footsteps, she did not make the usual stop. The weekend provided her a chance to spend time in the kitchen and the smiles when she unveiled a plate of homemade muffins were worth the two hours she'd devoted to the task on Sunday afternoon. "Good morning, Gibbs, did you have a good weekend."

"Sure did. McGee came over and we got most of the first floor painted."

Tony leaned over to snag a second muffin. "Oh, man, Probie. An entire weekend of Navaho White, you have my sympathy."

"I managed." When Tim didn't contradict Tony, Gibbs quickly looked up to catch the smirk on the younger man's face. Curious, he decided not to correct him.

After they were done eating, Tony and Ziva left with the updated sketches for the cold case, hoping they would help somebody's memory. Tim started running new searches on reported crimes in the area spanning several weeks before and after the murder of George Kuhn. With the rest of the team working, Gibbs went downstairs to check in with Abby.

"Hey, Abs, find anything new?"

"The physical evidence just arrived like an hour ago, Gibbs. I haven't even gotten past the foreplay yet." Abby was munching on the muffin Ziva and Tony had dropped off. "I hear you painted the house this weekend."

"Yeah, it needed it." He wasn't sure what reason McGee had for not mentioning the color change, but it seemed to amuse the other man so he was willing to wait.

Abby shook her head as she popped the last piece of muffin in her mouth. "You need to learn to live a little, Gibbs, instead of spending the weekend alone with a paint brush."

"I wasn't alone, McGee came over and helped, even brought the dog with him."

"Really? That's great." She looked a little too pleased, but Gibbs didn't think about it too much before heading to the top floor to review the plans for the upcoming week with Director Vance.


Cold cases and paperwork kept them steadily busy for the rest of the day and Gibbs promptly released the team at the normal end of shift. He had no reason to keep them longer and since he now knew that Monday nights were open studio time for McGee, he was more than willing to let them go. That also freed up Gibbs for an errand of his own.

It had been purely an investigator's instinct that caused him to notice the name of the meat shop printed on the bacon package, but now he knew. McGee's next crop of tomatoes should be ripe either Tuesday or Wednesday and he wanted to be ready for them. With two pounds of bacon safely tucked in his refrigerator, along with a smoked dog bone, Gibbs' next stop was to pick up the new wiring needed for the lights.

The next morning they hit the ground running with the report of a murdered sailor. It didn't take long to determine that a sailor's uniform does not a sailor make. After a brief lesson to teach some local LEO's the difference between real dog tags and the fake ones from a vending machine, the team split up. Gibbs and McGee took the truck back to the Yard, while DiNozzo and David took the sedan to meet up with the detective Mike had worked with on the Kuhn case.

"So, you starting a new painting?"

Tim smiled as he leaned back in the seat, enjoying the rare relaxing drive with Gibbs behind the wheel. "Actually, I'm working on one I started a few weeks ago, but last night it finally started coming together."

"It wasn't, before?" Gibbs glanced over for a moment before returning his attention to the road.

"I changed one of the background elements."

"And now it's right?"

Tim thought back. He'd been mostly pleased with the large seascape from a technical aspect, but it didn't speak to him on a personal level – not until he blocked out the schooner in the distance and replaced it with a familiar sailboat, named for a special little girl. "And now it's perfect, or at least getting close."

The rest of Tuesday was spent providing support for another team's op, after a long day of watching little activity, they were glad to leave work behind. Gibbs stopped at home long enough to grab the package from the meat market before heading over to McGee's. He thought about calling, but didn't actually pull out his phone until he parked next to the silver Porsche.

Upstairs, Tim was just putting dinner in the oven when his phone rang. Not even looking at the caller ID, he juggled the phone as he slid the baking sheet onto the rack. "Yeah, McGee."

~Hey, you home? All right if I stop by?~

"Umm, yeah, sure." There was a knock at the door as he spoke and wondering how he'd gotten so popular, Tim opened the door to find Gibbs standing there, still on the phone with him. He couldn't help but laugh as he disconnected the call. "Made good time."

"I brought bacon." Gibbs held the package up, laughing as the four-legged Jethro scrambled to his feet, happily barking. "Yep, I brought you something too, boy."

Tail wagging, Jethro retreated to his corner with his bone as McGee broke the bad news. "Tomatoes aren't ripe yet." When he saw the look on Gibbs' face, he offered a consolation prize. "One more day should do it, but I've got food in the oven and there's plenty."

"You sure?" Suddenly Gibbs felt guilty about just arriving with the expectations of being fed, even as he draped his coat across the back of Tim's computer chair.

Tim wasn't upset at all. "I'm sure. It's kind of nice to not have to eat alone every night." As he spoke, McGee started picking up some papers off the counter, wadding them up to toss. Gibbs snatched one page out of his hands and began to smooth it.

"What are you throwing this away for?"

Trying not to laugh, Tim raised an eyebrow. The paper Gibbs was carefully straightening was one he'd used to work out his color plan for the seascape. Dark blue-greens of a moonlit ocean, lightened through the waves he'd roughed in and accented with foam patterns, he'd used the page closely until he was satisfied with his palette and moved onto his large canvas. He'd never considered that someone might actually want the miniature painting, especially the someone who would eventually be the recipient of the finished painting. He tried to think of what to say that wouldn't give it away.

"It's just a little practice piece, Gibbs. I'm done with it."

"This can be trimmed up and framed." Decision made, Gibbs laid it on top of his jacket before checking out what was in the oven. "Mmm, smells good."

Tim just shook his head as he handed Gibbs a bowl. "Only takes fifteen minutes to bake, so why don't you pick all the cherry ripe tomatoes and I'll make a quick salad with them." Gibbs had the bowl about half full when McGee spoke again. "Pick a half dozen basil leaves while you're at it."

Gibbs sniffed at several of the herbs before he pointed out one. "This?"

"Yep." Tim was pouring some ready made salad dressing over small pieces of soft mozzarella when Gibbs stepped back into the kitchen with his fresh harvest. A quick rinse and the tomatoes were tossed in with the mozzarella. The basil joined in after being rolled and sliced into thin ribbons.

"That looked pretty easy."

"With the hours we keep, I learned to cook quick and easy." The oven beeped and Tim pulled out the baking sheet. While it cooled a few minutes, he found two beers and opened them. Gibbs took the offered beers and the salad bowl to the breakfast bar before sitting at what he now considered 'his' seat. Tim loaded several of the pastries on each of their plates and joined him a moment later.

They were hot, but Gibbs still pulled one of the hot pastries apart to take a look inside. Shaped like a croissant, layers of sauce covered meat were in between flaky pastry. The melted cheese stretched between the torn pieces and he could smell the barbeque sauce that coated the shredded chicken. Even before it was really cool enough to comfortably eat, he popped the smaller chunk in his mouth, enjoying the flavor before cooling his mouth down with a swallow of beer. "Not bad, Tim, not bad at all."

"Thanks, I can make a batch in just twenty minutes and freeze the leftovers. Makes it handy for days we really work late." Tim chuckled as Gibbs downed the rest of his in just a few bites. "Assuming I do have leftovers."

He received an unrepentant grin in return as Gibbs continued to eat. "Well," he paused to lick his fingers. "I do believe I'll owe you another lunch or two." After making that pronouncement, Gibbs walked over to the pan sitting on top of the stove and refilled his plate.

Once dinner was done, a second round of beers was opened and McGee turned on the television to the hockey game before they settled in the living room. As the announcer rambled on about the current season, McGee looked over to Gibbs.

"Abby's going to start pestering you about your birthday soon."

"I expect her perched on my desk Monday morning. Got any suggestions how to distract her?" It was an old game; she'd try to talk him into a birthday party, while he'd continue to sidestep the issue and hope for a big case.

"You could really throw her for a loop this year."

Spotting the amused glint in Tim's eye, Gibbs leaned closer. "What have you got in mind?"

"Keep putting her off, like normal, until the day before your birthday and then invite the whole gang over. Can you imagine the shock when they walk into the house?"

Gibbs almost choked on his beer as he visualized the looks on their faces, especially Tony and Abby. "That's why you didn't tell the team we changed the colors in the house?"

"Some things are better to show than to tell." Tim waited, watching as Gibbs thought about it.

"Karen should have the cushions and curtains done in a few days." Gibbs was nodding as he talked.

Tim had already checked on the glass repairs for the lights. "Stained glass repairs will be done on Saturday."

"That still leaves us plenty of time to get everything wired and back up. Guess I'm celebrating my birthday this year." Just for the shock value, he was almost tempted to include Fornell.

Tim was happy to see the older man actually taking the time to enjoy something in his life. "We're going to need earplugs when Abby sees what we did."

On the television the referee dropped the puck and the two men settled in to watch the game.