Franjo Rodin stepped out of the shadows as he heard approaching footsteps. "Martin, you fool, what happened?

"How should I know? I did my part, exactly what you paid me to do. If there was a screw-up it wasn't on my end and I want the rest of my money." The cash from this score was a nice bonus to balance out the measly pension the CIA would provide him, and Gregory Martin had a warm beach already picked out.

"Well, it sure wasn't me."

"I do not care which of you has betrayed me. You will both die for it." Petar Cvetko joined them in the shadows of the warehouse, raising his pistol. Two quick shots from the silenced weapon and two bodies dropped to the ground.

In a nearby surveillance van, Fornell stared at the video feed. The last thing he had expected was for them to turn on each other. The team he sent out could only mop up and arrest Cvetko and the rest of his men. Afterward, Fornell took a screen shot of the shooting and sent it to Gibbs along with the message that the arrests had been made.


Leon Vance spoke to the Joint Chiefs often enough, but this was the first time he'd been in front of the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. As he expected, there was quite an uproar when he'd announced the discovery of a plan to sell stolen American rockets to a Chechen arms dealer. Eventually the committee chairman called for a recess to restore order. One senator used the chaos to slip out the door. Vance watched him slip away, then raised his arm up, near his face.

"Hawke is on his way out."

In the hallway, the marble floors were being polished by a janitor with sparkling green eyes. "Got him." DiNozzo shadowed him until Hawke reached the elevator. From there, the senator was under the watch of the exotic beauty operating the elevator.

Ziva covertly watched the sweating man as he tugged at his collar, loosening his tie before the elevator reached his destination. When the elevator opened, he stumbled out. As soon as he rounded the corner, Ziva spoke into her own wrist. "Coming to you, Gibbs."

Hands shaking, Hawke struggled to unlock his door. Once he was inside, he didn't even bother to turn on the light as he rushed into the inner office. He pulled out a briefcase and dumped the contents before pulling open the top desk drawer. Several files were tossed into the briefcase before he started to panic.

"Come on, come on, where is it?" He pulled the drawer all the way out and dropped it onto the desk to better dig through, still not noticing the man in the corner.

"Looking for this?" Gibbs stepped out of the shadows, a ledger in his hand.

Hawke's eyes flickered towards the door as he debated his chances. The arrival of a janitor and an elevator attendant, both armed, seemed to seal his fate and he raised his arms in surrender. Just as the handcuffs went on, Vance arrived with the SecNav, several high ranking officers and the committee chairman.


Sated and sleepy, the room phone brought McGee back to reality. With Kort next to him, he quietly answered. John was on the other end and came straight to the point. Turn on the news.

The remote was on the nightstand and seconds later, they were watching the breaking news on ZNN as a well known senator was led out in cuffs by a familiar team. He heard John's voice still on the phone. They're talking about him selling weapons to terrorists, was he part of it?

"Yeah, he was."

Is it over?

"I'm not sure, but it's getting close."

Kort had been listening to both sides of the conversation and took the phone from Tim. "This is when it gets dangerous because they've got nothing left to lose."

I understand. We'll be adding extra security tonight just to be safe.

When the call ended, Tim looked over at the clock before laying his head back down on Trent's chest. "I'm supposed to call Gibbs in six hours. We could be back in DC tomorrow."

"Six hours?" Kort rolled them so that Tim was under him. "That's just enough time to show you how much I've learned."


"I hear congratulations are in order." Marshall Wallace arrived along with Dalton and John Phillips. Ever since the call from John, they'd been expecting a visit so the two agents had cleaned up and dressed in some of the clothes that had been delivered.

"Thank you sir." Tim received a hand shake from Wallace and a hug from his old college buddy. "We couldn't have done it without your assistance."

"It felt good, a lot more satisfying than writing a check. Now, how about a celebratory dinner?"

Right on cue, a stream of food carts arrived and uniformed waiters quickly set up the table to serve four and the Head Sommelier presented his choice of wines.

From the Poached Oysters in a Vermouth Sauce to the Roasted Loin of Lamb with Mint Aioli and Tempura Zucchini Flowers, it was a feast to be remembered. Even though there were few details McGee felt comfortable in telling, Wallace and Phillips hung onto every word they were told about the two agents' adventures.

As they were finishing the white chocolate mousse dessert, Dalton returned, escorting the tailor with another rack of clothing. Before Tim could say anything, Wallace held his hand up. "I understand that you will be returning to your real lives soon, consider these a gift."

"That's very generous, sir, but my boss is quite strict about such things."

"Is he part of the retrieval team that coming for you?"

Kort snorted at the question. "I guarantee you, Papa Bear will be the first one through the door to make sure I took proper care of his cub." Next to him, McGee rolled his eyes, knowing he was right.

Wallace seemed pleased. "Good. I'll bring it up with him personally."


Smiling, Gibbs looked at the rest of his team. "What do you say we go get McGee?"

"Yes." It had been a long night of interrogations and paperwork and Tony pumped his arm as he stood. "I don't like the idea that he's had to rely on Trent Kort. So, where are they?"

Rather than saying anything, Gibbs just headed for the elevator as the other two rushed to catch up. They went straight to a waiting cargo plane at the airfield across from the Yard. It was only the pilot's announcement that they would arrive at Nellis Air Base at 0900 local time that gave them any clue at all.


"Good morning."

Tim smiled at the gentle words and burrowed further down in the bedding. "How soon do we have to get up?" Kort pulled him closer.

"Their plane lands in about an hour. Then it's back to reality."

Something in Kort's voice caused McGee to open his eyes to watch him. "You okay?"

"Our realities are very different, Tim. I will certainly understand... well, as the old saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

Kort made to climb out of the bed, but Tim wouldn't let go. "I'm not ashamed of us, Trent. I may not want to have DiNozzo digging around in my personal life, but I don't have any regrets about what's happened."


"Yeah." Tim tugged him back down. "Now, I've got two weeks of vacation scheduled for the first of next month, if you're interested."

"Well, I never did get to watch you play blackjack." Grinning, Trent reached under the blankets. There was a lot they could do in fifty-five minutes and he really liked the idea of how much he knew about Tim. More than DiNozzo could ever dream about.


"You've got to be kidding me." From Nellis Air Force Base it had been a short ride to downtown Las Vegas and the airman pulled into a parking lot right on the strip. "How in the heck did Probie end up here? It must have been Kort's idea."

"We'll know soon enough, DiNozzo." Gibbs strode through the doors, only to be greeted by a distinguished looking older man, flanked by what appeared to be bodyguards.

"Identification, please."

Gibbs raised an eyebrow even as he pulled out his agency ID and badge. Instead of the cursory glance usually received, it was carefully examined before being photographed, along with Gibbs. It wasn't until the taller of the bodyguards received a responding message on his smartphone that they were allowed further inside.

"My apologies, Agent Gibbs, considering the targets your men were after, we have been very cautious."

"Understood." If the thought of a gambling mogul protecting McGee and Kort amused Gibbs, he hid it well. Once they were all inside the large elevator, Tony risked a glance at Ziva, to see his amazement mirrored on her face as well.

After all their time on the run, Gibbs wasn't sure how he expected McGee when he first saw him, but casually drinking espresso and reading the morning paper in a penthouse suite wasn't on the list. Tim looked up as they walked in and saluted Gibbs with his cup.

"Good morning, Gibbs, how was your flight?" When he saw their stunned expressions, Tim waved over at the buffet laid out on the side table. "Help yourselves, there's plenty."

Tony didn't argue and Ziva was only a few seconds behind him while Gibbs ignored the food to come closer to his newly rescued lamb. He looked the young man over carefully. There was a quiet confidence, one that had only simmered below the surface before. Sitting there in well tailored clothes, sipping at his drink, McGee could have passed for a highly paid executive or anything else he put his mind to. While Gibbs marveled at the change, Kort came out of the bedroom, buttoning his cuffs.

"Gibbs, I see you made it."

Eyes narrowing, Gibbs studied the smirking face. "So did you."

Kort sat down, snagging a pastry off Tim's plate, much to the team's shock. "That was our bargain. I made sure McGee survived and you'd let me live." He turned his attention to McGee and smiled approvingly at what he was wearing while Tim fought the urge to roll his eyes. He really hadn't had a choice, all the other clothes, including the suit he'd bought at the pawn shop, were neatly packed away while he was in the shower.

Plate full, Tony joined them at the table. "Man, I want to be a fly on the wall when you try to explain your expense account to the Director. He's going to skin you alive when he sees the bill for this place."

"Don't worry, Agent DiNozzo. My hotel was happy to provide assistance to Timothy and Trent. Besides, this is only a drop in the bucket in comparison to the help he gave us."

"Sounds like you've been busy, McGee." Gibbs had a lot of questions, but the arrival of several bellhops sidetracked him as they loaded a stack of suitcases onto a luggage cart. "Unless you bought that many clothes with your own money, McGee, they're not coming with you."

Marshall Wallace had been waiting for that opening. "Agent Gibbs, a word please." He swept his hand towards the balcony, not waiting to see if the senior agent would follow him.

Back inside, Tony shifted his chair to better watch the show, even though the voices didn't carry back inside.


Wallace stood at the balcony rail, his natural stance told Gibbs the man had a military background. "I've seen the best and the worst of people over the years, Agent Gibbs. You've got a good man there."

"Yes, I do."

"I work very hard at keeping the riff-raft and the criminals out of my hotel. I have a reputation for running the cleanest place on the strip."

"Then you understand how it would look if my man walked out of here with those full suitcases."

There was no indication that Wallace heard Gibbs at all. "The first thing Timothy did was to uncover a massive embezzlement scheme by my own manager, to the tune of over eight million dollars."

Gibbs let out a low whistle, no wonder McGee had caught the man's attention.

Smiling, Wallace turned to face Gibbs. "He might say that it was necessary to protect what he was working on, but the hundreds of my employees who almost lost their retirement funds probably wouldn't see it that way."


"He was smart enough to scrape together enough money to buy one set of clothes so he would fit the part before he even walked in here, did you know that?"

"No, I didn't."

"That's what usually trips you feds up, you don't look the part when you walk into a place. Let me tell you something, Agent Gibbs. I buried my boy after September 11th, at least what little they were able to find of him." Wallace paused as he swallowed hard. "I looked into your background, so I know you understand how hard that is as a parent. This week I got a chance to help prevent another family from going through that and that felt very good. At the same time, I also got to know a young man that reminds me a great deal of my son."

Wallace looked very serious. "I couldn't protect my son, and I'll probably never have another chance to help Timothy, so allow me the knowledge that the next time you send him undercover, he will look the part and maybe, just maybe, that will keep him alive. From one father to another, please let me do this for him."


Tony managed to corner Kort while the other man was refilling his coffee. "McGee is nothing like you, Kort. I hope you didn't try to corrupt him, because if you did..."

"Don't worry, DiNozzo. Your junior partner is just as innocent and virginal as when we started." Trent couldn't quite keep the smirk off his face, which just made Tony glare even harder at him.

Gibbs chose that moment to come back in. "All right, McGee, you can keep the clothes."

"And the computer." When Gibbs turned around, Wallace smiled. "After all, we don't want someone to find traces of his searches on that hard drive. Consider it another donation to your agency."

Gibbs rolled his eyes. "Fine, and the computer."


It was another forty-eight hours before McGee was able to fall into his own bed, exhausted. As he rolled over, he felt something hard under his pillow. Cautiously lifting it, he found a small plastic replica of the casino attached to a copy of two tickets back to Vegas. Smiling, he climbed out of bed and opened the window. A familiar figure was sitting in a car and waved before pulling out onto the street.

a/n - This was written as a Secret Santa gift, so it had to have a definite end, otherwise I could have gone on forever :) The sequel starts with someone watching Kort pull out of McGee's parking lot, so there won't be any real gap between the two. I haven't decided if it will be one big story or an entire universe, but I have a great deal roughed out, including how the P2P case affects them, how they're outed to various team members, etc. I'm having a lot of fun with this paring. It will never be my OTP, but it's a solid second. Since my recepient never even bothered to read the story, all the wonderful comments here have meant a lot, so thank you.

I'll see everyone here Monday for the next chapter of Slave of my Heart.