So I finally wrote the beginning of the story and got it up. Hoorah! Hope you guys enjoy it like the rest of the series so far.

Story #8 in the McGee Keeper series and no I do not own anything. Unfortunately. :(


Proof

CHAPTER 1

Monday morning came and Tony was up in Jenny's office, Tim was over by Ziva's desk, showing her something and just passing time by talking to her. Gibbs was trying to do some work, distract himself.

It wasn't long before Tony walked into the bullpen after leaving the office, answering his cell when it rang.

"Now, call him and leave me alone."

Both Tim and Ziva looked up at Tony's tone. "Problems, Tony?" Ziva asked.

Gibbs answered his desk phone, listening to both conversations, and watched Tony start grabbing his gun and pack. It didn't take a genius to figure out who had been on the phone.

"Wrong number, Ziva."

Tim frowned as he watched Tony. "There a reason you're gearing up?"

"What's my motto, McGee?"

"You'll never date a woman that eats more than you do."

Tony laughed. "Well, yeah. That's true. But; Always be prepared. That batsignal may fly at any moment."

"We're on our way." He hung up after listening to what they had before grabbing his own gear, and made sure he didn't forget his coffee. Couldn't let that happen. "Grab your gear. We're heading out."

Both Tim and Ziva looked at Tony. "How did you know?"

"Well…it's a gift, McGee. I choose not to question it."

They started heading out. "Where we going Boss?" McGee asked.

"Ask DiNozzo. All I got was a wrong number."


They pulled up to the sight and while Ziva and Tony headed off to the vehicle, taking pictures, he and Tim stayed behind at the truck. He not only wanted to spend more time with Tim, but he also had to save the team from as much awkwardness as possible.

The team was trying to get back in sync but there were factors that were holding them back. The fact that he was back, to Tony not being the boss. And that led to many moments in the past week since he's been back of Tony giving orders before realizing that he wasn't the boss any longer. There was also Gibbs' memory that was still fuzzy, he called Ziva Kate. He mentally groaned just remembering that slip, the look on Tony and Tim's face when he said it. Luckily Ziva hadn't been around to hear him call her their dead teammate.

Gibbs hadn't expected things to just spring back into how things were before he left, but he also wasn't expecting this. And he wasn't just thinking about the team. Tim and Gibbs' relationship was…complicated was the best description. They were just…there.

Which was another factor to the team not in sync yet. The team had a big displeasure to him and Tim getting back together. Abby was ecstatic, grinning at them whenever she saw them standing close. And close meant at least five feet apart. Palmer just nodded and minded his own business. Ducky…he was still mad at Gibbs for leaving in the first place, quitting and leaving everyone behind, especially Tim as he had watched the way the younger man had crumbled. Gibbs himself cringed every time he thought back to that broken look in Tim's eyes when he asked if he was leaving again.

Tony and Ziva, they were the ones who weren't happy about it. Well, they were more caution than displeased. They obviously were going to support Tim in whatever he did, but that didn't stop them from watching, waiting on the sidelines and ready to step forward if anything happened.

So he sent them to the vehicle while he worked with Tim. But now, he was trying to find something and he couldn't find it. Tim spoke up from the doors of the truck, reading off what he had so far.

"Boss, vehicles' registered to a Navy Lieutenant Anne Sullivan. She's a computer programmer for base housing. Reported UA this morning. First time in her career."

"Witnesses?"

"Uh, 911 call. Two motorists reported a man driving her vehicle, a bloody woman screaming in the back. I'm assuming that's our missing Lieutenant."

He frowned, looking in another storage area. Where the hell were they? "Assuming?"

"Well, Fredericksburg PD has descriptions of both the woman and her abductor. They're sending them to NCIS as we speak."

Gibbs sighed as he slumped back. Another thing that wasn't going so well with his return. Couldn't even find his notepads. He needed them. "That's a good job, Tim." Normally he didn't call Tim by his first name at work, but he did now. His head hung, he didn't care showing this kind of feeling of…something…in front of Tim.

"…Can I help you find something, Boss? Maybe…"

"My notepads," he admitted.

He saw Tim out of the corner of his eye lean into the truck and open a drawer, patting it. "Right back here. We reorganized the supplies. Tony felt this way was more efficient."

Gibbs grabbed his notepad, getting out of the truck to look at what Tim had so far. "You don't say." He leaned against Tim as he copied what he had so far, enjoying how Tim didn't pull away.

After that night they made love, things had become tense. Tim treated him like he was ready to disappear right before his eyes, like what little was left of their relationship was a fragile piece of glass and the slightest shift would just shatter it. So they didn't move forward and they didn't move back. They were just…there.

Tim didn't move back into their house, he continued living with Ziva, splitting the rent like he has since he stayed at her place for more than a month. It was hard, he hated it and took to sleeping on the couch to avoid the cold empty bed, but he didn't say anything about it because he knew that they weren't ready to live together again yet. Too much between them.

"Well, you know," Tim said, looking at him and back at the truck, "I could put them back the way it was before you quit." Gibbs looked at him. "Retired."

Not even bothering to say anything about Tim's slip, which he doubted was accidental as he had seen the annoyance and irritation in his eyes when he corrected himself, he went back to the notes. "Well, that depends, McGee. Is it more efficient?"

"Seems to be."

"Then leave 'em where they are."

Tim nodded, and they were silent until Gibbs was done and they headed over to the vehicle, joining Tony and Ziva.

"The traces of blood are all from skin contact. A more serious wound would've left pools of it." She turned to Tony, annoyance in her voice. "Enough criminal investigating for you, Tony?"

He really didn't want to listen to what Tony had to say to that one. So he walked up to them and handed Tony a slip of paper. "Lieutenant Sullivan's address. She lives in Culpeper."

"Take McGee," Tony ordered, holding out the slip of paper to Ziva and Gibbs smirked as he listened. "If you leave now, you can avoid traffic. Anything unusual, you call me." Tony seemed to realize what he did, again, and looked around with an anxious laugh. "I mean, you know, you do…you… Whatever you want them to do, Boss."

Smirking, he jerked his head to motion them to get going. He was slightly amused with the situation but again knew it was not helping them get back into rhythm. Though he was so proud of Tony. He had stepped up to the plate when the time called for it and led the team when he was gone.

Gibbs watched them go before turning his attention to the vehicle. He took a picture of the rear window that had the bloody hand smear. Tim came up behind him after talking on his phone.

"Tow truck should be here any minute now, Boss."

"You find the other shoe yet, McGee?"

Tim frowned, his lips pouting in confusion and Gibbs had to control himself to not flat out kiss the man at a scene. Plus, he wasn't so sure if it would be welcomed as they hadn't kissed since that night at his house. "There was only one in the vehicle."

"You ever see a woman try to walk with one high heel on?" He shook his head as images reminded him. "Not pretty." He started walking away, seeing if he would find anything and did. "Hey, look at this."

There was a blood smear on the concrete and both crouching down near it, Gibbs took a picture of it. "Blood smears on the pavement," he informed. "If she was carried, they'd be drops. And what looks like a strand of nylon thread, maybe from a stocking."

"She could've fallen and scraped her knee."

Nodding and again privately bursting with pride, he ordered, "Mark it," before getting up, went past the tape, and into the grass. Tim caught up with him after marking the first blood smear. "Okay. You're looking for help, which way would you go?"

After he took another photo of the blood, and Tim marked it, Tim looked around where they were. "Well, Waverly's football team was away, so the lot was empty all weekend… She should've headed towards campus, but she didn't; she went in the opposite direction." Gibbs nodded and stood. "She was forced."

"That's good thinking, Tim. Come on." They kept moving, marked and photographed the blood. They continued on till they reached the road. He saw the tire marks but didn't say anything as he photographed the shoe and blood after Tim marked it. "Like I said, the other shoe. Okay, now, tell me where she went."

He watched Tim look around before his eyes landed on the tire marks Gibbs had seen. "There was another car. Judging by these tire tracks, they left in a hurry."

"Match the tires, we might even find out the make and model."

They looked at each other and Gibbs gave a small smile at Tim's words. "Good to have you back, Boss." Yeah, it was good to be back.


They were back at NCIS and in their bullpen. Ziva was down in Abby's lab while Tony, Tim, and he stood in front of the monitor with Tim in the middle. Tim clicked the clicker and pulled up the sketch. "This is a police sketch artists' rendering of what the witnesses saw late yesterday afternoon. And this is a photo of Lieutenant Sullivan for comparison."

"I'd say that's a pretty good match."

"You think, DiNozzo?" Tim glanced at Tony, feeling for the man. "The driver, McGee."

He pressed the clicker again. "Fredericksburg PD put a BOLO on him last night."

"Any hits?" both Gibbs and Tony asked and Tim glanced between the two. This had been going on for the past week since Gibbs had gotten back, and it was pretty awkward.

Tony apologized. "Sorry. Boss…" he cleared his throat, "continue…if you want to, of course."

If the situation wasn't so awkward and he wasn't in the middle of the two, he would have laughed. But he just continued and answered their question. "No hits yet, but the local LEOs did match the likeness to a mug shot. Justin Farris. Arrested for car theft five years ago. Currently lives with his mother. Claims she hasn't seen him since yesterday."

"Our Lieutenant had around 16 profiles on people at her apartment."

Gibbs moved from side to side as if to get rid of some restlessness and brushed against Tim. Tim nearly leaned back against him, he missed Gibbs' touch just as much as the man missed his, he's seen the looks Gibbs threw his way through the workdays and even the occasional subtle brush and lean against him. But he refrained as they were in the middle of the bullpen. "Without photographs or names. I'm still waiting on the why." Then he looked to Tony.

Tony paused while Tim looked between them. "Me too, Boss. I'm just saying, Farris might be one of them. Our Rosetta Stone, if you will."

"Fine him. That's good work, Tim." Gibbs was about to leave but paused beside Tony. "Not bad either, Tony."

They watched him leave, no doubt headed to Abby's lab. "Is it me or does he seem a little more…?"

"Human?"

Tim cracked a small smile. "Well, I was going to say mellow, but yeah."

"Yeah… I think it's the moustache…lulling us into a false sense of security."

Ugh, he hated that damn moustache. It wasn't Gibbs, it wasn't Jethro. He knew that people could change, he's changed since Jethro left. He was able to hide his emotions more. But that moustache wasn't Jethro and it was one of the things on the list of what was wrong with the team and holding them back.


Ziva was down in Abby's lab and Abby was laying out the profiles in order. "Well, that's all of them."

"It appears one of them is missing."

Gibbs decided to enter just then and Ziva was sure Abby thought it was Gibbs' "specials powers" that he had that made him show up when she had news. "Missing what?"

"One of the profiles," Abby informed. "Alpha Bravo, one-zero-one-six."

"Targets?"

Ziva continued to look down at the profiles, hoping something would stick out. "The binder they were kept in listed them as potential targets."

"The Alpha Bravo designations. That's how we labeled pre-planned artillery targets in the Corps."

"Maybe she was planning on dropping bombs on them," Abby put out but Ziva did not think so.

"What else was missing from the lieutenant's place?"

Ziva shook her head. "I'm more concerned with what was left, Gibbs. Money, jewelry. It's not your typical burglary."

"This means they knew what they were looking for." He picked up one of the profiles. "What can you tell me about these?"

"She's profiling men," Ziva said. "All information gathered was taken from public records."

"Yeah, I can see that. Why?"

Ziva didn't see Abby's raised hand. "Well, that's an excellent question. I was wondering that myself."

"Abby."

"All of these were printed on the same printer. You want to know how I know?"

"New models embed micro codes in the print." Ziva and Abby stared at the man who was tech illiterate. "It helps I.D. hardware to counterfeit money and documents."

"Wow. Good guess. It also means that the information they represent is on her computer."

"Show me."

"I'd love to." Abby led Gibbs to the smashed computer with Ziva following. She could tell that Abby was frustrated a bit with the damage done to the computer. "But I can't. Not yet. Bad guys smash up real good. I'm still trying to recover the hard drives."

"How long?"

"Did I mention bad guys smash up real good? Like really, really good? Probably days."

"We don't have days, Abs. Get McGee to help you."

Ziva stepped aside when he started to walk away but Abby stopped him by grabbing his arm and pulling him. "Wait. There's more. I ran the fingerprints from the SUV. I matched all of them except three to a partial handprint."

"And?"

"And I can say, with certainty, that the woman in the back of the SUV was—"

"Lieutenant Anne Sullivan," Gibbs interrupted. "McGee already figured it out."

Ziva hid a smile at Abby's surprised look before she grabbed Gibbs again so that he couldn't try to leave again. "Okay, but did he tell you this?" She typed furiously fast. "The partial handprint that I couldn't match was a super-defined index finger. Which means it's not Sullivan's. It's a bad guy's. I'm running it now."

"His name is Justin Farris." And Gibbs started walking away and Ziva smiled as she knew who had found it out. Abby too.

"McGee!"

"Yep," he confirmed before leaving the lab.

"Is it just me or does he seem a little…"

"Snitchy?"

Abby looked at her and she immediately knew she had that one wrong. "That's close enough. It's got to be that damn moustache."

Ziva softly chuckled. Gibbs certainly was different, and the moustache was one of the things.

She was not so thrilled about Tim and Gibbs getting back together, not like Abby was. She had trusted Gibbs to take care of Tim's big loving heart and he had broken it and some. Yes he was not aware of it, but still. He was responsible for the pain that Tim had gone through for the months of his absence.

Thankfully, Tim did not move back in with Gibbs. He was still living with her and they still had their dog piles. And that was one thing that was different about Gibbs. Back then, he would have never let it happen, but last Thursday, Tim had come to them suggesting that he invite Gibbs. Gibbs had to see how close the team had gotten while he had been away and how they had helped him. So they agreed and surprisingly when they followed them to bed, he had just raised an eyebrow before lying down and holding Tim.

The next morning had been interesting and Tony had been lucky to wake before Gibbs or he would have received a very hard head-slap.

~Flashback~

Ziva woke with a snort, stretching and yawning as her head continued to rest on Abby's stomach. She stretched all the way down to her toes and fingers, and she froze when she felt her fingers brush others in Tony's hair. Looking, she saw that Gibbs' hand also was in Tony's hair.

Her eyes narrowed at Gibbs as he was tucked behind Tim, his head in his hair, his arm around his waist, but his hand in Tony's hair. Tim and Gibbs were the only two that were still in the position they started out in, mostly due to the grip Gibbs had on Tim, but even so…Gibbs' hand was in Tony's hair.

She looked to see how the rest of them moved, she thought Tony was so lucky that Gibbs wasn't awake. Tony's read rest on Tim's thigh like a pillow and one arm was thrown over both Tim and Gibbs' thighs as if to hold them still while the other was reached over and his hand was resting on Abby's hip.

Deciding to think about it later, she whispered quietly, "Abby, time to get up."

"Five more minutes."

Ziva smirked at the Goth's grumble. "Now Abby."

"Fine," she sighed. She didn't move for a few seconds before she quietly giggled. "Um, I can't exactly get up with Tim on my hand and Tony holding my hip."

Ziva jostled Tony who grumbled and tried to bury his face more into Tim's thigh. "Go away."

"Time to get up."

"Don't wanna."

"Well, you're lying on McGee, so I'd get up before Gibbs does."

Tony huffed. "Fine," he whispered but didn't get up. They watched his brows furrow as he took on an adorable confused look. "Ziva, I can't get up with your hand in my hair."

Both girls chuckled before Ziva softly told Tony, "My hand isn't in your hair."

"…Abby?"

"Nope."

"…McGee?" And they giggled at how worried and high his voice got.

"Nope."

"…Oh."

They girls continued to giggle, trying to cover it up, and it wasn't long before Gibbs' hand slid from Tony's hair and smoothly slid around Tim. Tony quickly got up before Gibbs' hand decided to go back to his head and both Ziva and Abby followed. The three stood there and watched at how Tim instinctively turned into Gibbs, who easily wrapped his own arms around him.

Gibbs tightened his arms around Tim and seemed to fall deeper into sleep. Abby beamed while Tony and Ziva grudgingly admitted that they looked peaceful for the first time since Boss was back, but that didn't mean they still thought it was such a great idea.

~End Flashback~


Tim wasn't one to usually go looking through things that he had no business looking through, especially when they had a case. But this was really not his fault. Sure, he opened the file and looked, but it popped up in the first place.

When Director Shepard started, Gibbs had told him to monitor things, mainly the team's files. Mostly to make sure that they were ready in case the woman tried to shake things up and split them up. So…really, it was Gibbs fault.

But he had been sitting at his desk running over a few things when a screen popped up to show that Tony's file had been opened and updated. He had held out for a good few minutes before the curiosity got the better of him and he opened Tony's file to see what was wrong. Plus, he wanted to know if something was wrong with his friend.

Then he saw it.

He was up for a promotion to lead his own team in Spain.

Maybe it was a mistake. No, he read it a few times before he closed it and slumped in his seat. Tony couldn't leave. Sure, he wanted his friend to succeed in his career; he deserved it, especially after the last few months. But to lead his own team, and in Spain? Without Tim there to have his six and Ziva to have his?

What the hell!

The anger came swift and strong. Why didn't Tony say anything? Did he already take it because he didn't want to work under Gibbs and was just buying his time? Waiting for the moment to tell them? Why would Tony do that?

He pushed his chair back fast and stalked to the bathroom, glad none of his team was around to see him. Tim wasn't in the mood to answer questions and reveal what Tony planned to do. The bastard! Leaving him, after everything. Leaving him, Abby, and Ziva. What kind of friend was that?

Tim's never felt so…betrayed. Needing to cool down and clear his head, he splashed some cool water on his face.

His brother. His big brother was going to leave him, just like Gibbs did. How much more loss could he take?

"McGee?"

"Yeah?" he grunted as he grabbed a paper towel to dry his face. To be honest, he wasn't really in the mood for Gibbs. His emotions were all over the place and he didn't want to talk to the man who was partly responsible for it. Most of him was scared to do anything with the relationship between Gibbs and him, but a small part of him was furious with the man. So furious he wanted to throw a punch at him.

"You alright? You've been in here a while."

Balling the paper, he threw it away. "I can't take a bathroom break?"

Gibbs raised an eyebrow at his tone and Tim nearly scowled. "Yeah, but not so long that people start to think you fell in." Jerking his head, he started to pass Gibbs, but Gibbs grabbed his arm. "Tim."

"I have work to do." And without looking back he headed back to his desk to see Tony on the phone at his own desk.

"I want agents knocking on the door of anyone," he started snapping at Tim and he didn't listen as his mind was elsewhere, "who met, knows or sneezed on Farris in the last year, Mollvaney. Probie!" Tony hissed, throwing a paperball to get his attention and Tim bristled at the name. "I need you over here." Tim continued to ignore him and Tony went back to his phone call. "Well, if they find anything, make sure that you call Gibbs, not me. Yes the moustache is real." He then hung up the phone. "You got a hearing problem?"

Tim finally looked at Tony and it pained him to think that Tony wouldn't be working there longer. And that just angered him more. "Oh, I'm sorry. Were you talking to me?"

"There's no one else in the squad room." Tony stood from his desk and walked over to Tim's.

"Well, I thought I heard you say "Probie." And since Agent Lee has been reassigned to the legal department, I wasn't exactly sure who you were referring to."

He laughed and Tim felt his anger rise. "I get it. You don't like being called Probie anymore?"

"Things change."

"Yes, I know. I used to be team leader…Pr-oh-ho-ho-bie."

Tim looked back up at Tony and wanted to get back at him for hurting him. "Temporary team leader. And that was only because Gibbs quit."

"…You don't' think I rate my own team?"

"Wouldn't be here now if you did, would you, DiNozzo?" No, he'd be in Spain. The country left a bitter taste in his mind just thinking it.

Tony stared at him for a few silent seconds where Tim felt his anger deflate before he stood and gave a humorless laugh. "Yeah. Maybe you're right." He started to walk away and Tim felt like a complete bastard. Why the hell did he hurt his friend? "If Gibbs asks, tell him I went out for coffee."

Tim sighed. "Tony, I didn't…" But Tony just continued on.

Tim looked down in shame at hurting his friend, his big brother, and nearly jumped when he felt Gibbs come up beside him and sit on the edge of his desk. "Tim…how long have I been an NCIS Special agent?"

"Almost 16 years."

"Want to take a wild guess what my first partner still calls me?"

He didn't have to. Tim had been there in the hospital after the explosion when Mike had come to see Gibbs. And he had heard him call Gibbs "Probie."

Tim owed Tony a huge apology.


Gibbs made his way to Autopsy after his interview with the dirtbag who turned himself in and thought he hadn't done anything wrong by leaving Lieutenant Anne Sullivan alone to die. He entered Autopsy to see Ducky speaking to a picture.

"Though you only talked to bodies."

"A lot has changed since you quit." Gibbs wanted to sigh, but he remained silent. "Fortunately, one doesn't need a body for a psychological autopsy—which is what I'm doing here on our missing Lieutenant."

He fidgeted a bit, not really knowing how to feel about what he had heard. "I heard you passed your test."

Ducky glanced at him. "Yes. The graduation ceremony was very rewarding. All my friends were there."

And didn't that hurt to hear. He stared at Ducky. "What do you got?"

"Um, well, a sampling of the Lieutenant's DVD collection—Under the Tuscan Sun, Sabrina, Ghost, Fried Green Tomatoes. What Tony would classify as chick flicks." He walked around to the other side of the table to point to the books. "Yet they contrast vividly with her choice in literature. Like our Timothy," 'My Timothy.' "she's quite the fan of the detective and the spy genres. A dissonance made even more interesting by these," he lifted the clipboard, "her fitness reports. They reveal a brilliant tactical mind with little tolerance for failure. One who is highly driven. She's well traveled, but notice this."

Gibbs looked down at the pictures of all the places she's been. "Alone," he observed.

"Yes. I imagine you know something about that."

Gibbs lifted his head to look at his friend. If he was even still his friend because that was one hell of a low blow. He came back and was trying to fix things, especially with Tim. "Are you going somewhere with this, Doctor?"

"…Yes. This woman is a highly motivated loner with an odd desire for secrecy." Ducky picked up a few profiles still in their evidence bag. "These profiles that she keeps may indicate a need to control her environment and the people in it."

"But you don't know who they are."

"Well, this isn't an exact science."

The intercom beeped before he could say anything. "Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs! Over here! Gibbs!" Waving at Abby as he walked over to be closer to the camera and to see her better. "Your new golden boy McGee, he was wrong. The partial handprint—"

Tony pushed Abby aside to interrupt. "Isn't Farris', Boss."

"Whose is it?"

"Well—"

This time Abby pushed Tony aside to interrupt. "That we don't know yet. But what that means is that—"

"Somebody else was there," Gibbs cut in.


The end of the day came and it was really late as they didn't really want to leave with a missing Lieutenant out there somewhere. Though, Tim didn't leave, neither did Abby. They were going to work on going through Lieutenant Sullivan's computer and files. It was going to be a long night.

But Tim didn't want Tony leaving after his comment. So he approached Tony's desk. "Hey Tony."

"Yeah McGee?"

Tim felt more shame at the fact that Tony wouldn't look at him. "I want to apologize."

But Tony waved him off. "Don't worry about it."

"No Tony." He grabbed Tony's shoulder and sat at the edge of his desk, leaning down to be level with him. "I was wrong. You've been there for me these past few months, and what I said was wrong. I was angry, and…it still doesn't excuse what I said."

Tony leaned back in his seat and watched him, and just when Tim was ready to squirm, Tony said, "It's alright." Tim sighed in relief. "What were you angry about? Was it Gibbs?" he asked with a whisper and leaning close.

Warmth filled him at Tony's worry and he shook his head. "No. Well, a part since I had seen him before what happened. But it was…" He shook his head again.

"Come on McGee. Tell me."

He looked at Tony. "I know."

"You know what?"

"…About your promotion."

Tony softly cursed. "How?"

"Remember when Director Shepard first started?" Tony nodded. "Well, Gibbs asked me to do something, and I guess I forgot to end it, so the change in your file popped up on my screen."

"…Tim." He raised his head at his first name. "Jenny asked me, but I haven't given her an answer yet."

"Oh."

Tony grinned easily and Tim didn't have to guess that it was due to his own relieved tone. Clearing his throat, he got up from Tony's desk and went back to his own so he could grab his things before going down to Abby's lad. He stopped though before he left the bullpen.

"Oh and Tony." Tony looked up. "I think you would do great with your own team."

Tony smiled. "Thanks…Probie."


A/N: PLEASE REVIEW! They are appreciated.