Notes: Written for the NFA Challenge "And Then..." The objective was to take one of the quotes provided from a classic novel, and use it as a springboard for an NCIS fic.

Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not on the subconscious level where savage things grow.
"Carrie," Stephen King

As soon as the elevator doors opened, Tim pushed past Tony and made his way into the bullpen. He was covered in dirt and bruises, and his suit was filthy. All they were assigned to do was pick up a suspect. It shouldn't have been that hard, but it turned out to be a disaster. The suspect got away, and Tim blamed Tony.

He plopped down at his desk and started the report. Gibbs would want to know everything that had happened. As he began, Tony stormed over to his desk.

"What's the deal, Probie? You've been shooting me attitude all afternoon!"

Tim ignored Tony and kept typing. If there was one thing Tim had become a pro at, it was ignoring Tony when he berated him.

"Don't think I don't know your strategy, Probie. You're not getting rid of me by ignoring me. So what the hell is your problem?"

Tim had misspelled the word suspect for the sixth time. Tony was becoming very distracting.

"Well? I'm waiting!"

He misspelled it again, and lost his patience. He flew out of his seat and grabbed Tony by the collar.

"You want to know why I'm upset, Tony? Maybe it's because you poked fun at me the whole drive to the suspect's house. Maybe it was that you made me chase him through the woods, and maybe it's because I fell into a ravine and nearly broke my neck, and all you could do was laugh. That's all you ever do, Tony. You never ask if I'm all right, and you never help me up. You just laugh and walk away. But that's just how you are, isn't it?"

He pushed a shocked Tony away from him and started to sit down again. Tony's shock instantly turned into anger, and he reached out and grabbed Tim's arm, pulling him back up.

"Listen, Probie, I have always had your six. Always.Don't you stand there and tell me that I never have your six. It's the furthest thing from the truth."

"Like you had it today when I fell down that hill, and the suspect escaped? Yeah, Tony, way to have my six on that one." He tried to shove Tony off his arm, but Tony's grip was solid. "Let me go, Tony."

"No way. I'm not done talking yet."

"I am. Let me go, now."

"Not a chance."

McGee's rage was boiling over at this point, and he could no longer control it. He leapt over the desk and threw a punch to Tony's face, hard enough to bring the Senior Agent to his knees.

"I told you to let go!" Tim shouted, grabbing Tony by the shirt. "I'm sick of you, Tony!"

"McGee! Stand down!"

Gibbs' voice boomed over both of them. He'd seen DiNozzo go down as he stepped from the elevator. He saw the look in McGee's eyes. It was one of pure hatred and anger. When Tim didn't let his partner go, Gibbs took it upon himself to intervene. He latched onto McGee from behind and pulled him back.

"Let me go, Boss!" McGee shouted, with a rage no one had ever seen from him before. "I'm not done with him yet!"

"You're done, McGee! Stand down, now!"

McGee began to calm down as Gibbs held him back. Tony got up, wiping blood from his mouth.

"Boss - "

"DiNozzo, I want you at your desk, and do not move until further notice."

"Right, Boss."

"McGee, you and I are going to chat in Conference Room 1." He stalked toward the conference rooms, practically dragging McGee by his arm. He practically shoved his youngest agent into the room and closed and locked the door behind him.

"Sit," he ordered. McGee reluctantly did so. "Do you want to tell me what the hell happened out there, McGee?"

"It's not important."

Gibbs head slapped him, hard.

"The next thing out of your mouth had better be the truth, McGee."

"We lost the suspect today, because Tony didn't have my six when I was chasing the guy through the woods!"

"What do you mean?" Gibbs asked, interested.

"Hayes knew we were coming. He shot at me with a rifle and took off into the woods behind his house. I ran ahead of Tony to try and catch him. I'm not sure how far into the woods I ran, but I lost him when I got tripped up and fell down into a ravine. I couldn't move for a good fifteen minutes. I thought Tony was right behind me, but he wasn't. I woke up alone in the woods, and the suspect got away. I have no idea where he went."

Gibbs remained silent for a few moments. Tim was afraid Gibbs wouldn't believe his story. He was going to get suspended for sure, or fired.

"Where was DiNozzo when you got yourself out of the woods?"

"I found him at the edge of the woods, waiting with his gun drawn. He didn't even try to help, Boss. I could have died out there, and he wouldn't have known."

Gibbs fell silent again. Tim took a deep breath and leaned his elbows on the conference table. He was finally starting to come down from his rush of anger, and his body was shaking.

"Boss—I know I shouldn't have hit him, but I was just so angry—I-I don't know what came over me-"

Gibbs grabbed him by the shirt, cutting off his stammering speech.

"What I saw out there, McGee, was not just an argument. You were ready to kill him. I can't overlook that."

"I know." Tim dropped his head. "I deserve it."

"You're an excellent agent, McGee, and you're lucky I like you."

Tim raised his head to lock eyes with Gibbs.

"I'm not fired?"

"Not today, McGee." Tim sighed and started to stand, but a glare from Gibbs brought him back to his seat. "Was I finished?"

"No, sir."

"Then sit down."

"Yes, sir."

"I'm not firing you, but I am suspending you. Two days, without pay."

Tim nodded slowly in understanding. He took his badge from his pocket and set it on the table with his gun.

"You are to report to your desk when we're done, gather your things and go home. I don't want to see you until Monday at 0700. Understood?"

"Yes, Boss."

"Good. You're dismissed."

Tim silently got up and left the conference room. Gibbs followed, carrying Tim's gun and badge, which he deposited into his desk drawer. He watched Tim gather his thing and leave the bullpen quickly. He turned to DiNozzo, who was quietly typing a report.


"Yeah, Boss."

"With me. You're seeing Ducky."

"I'm fi-"

"You're not fine, let's go. Now."

Tony got up and followed Gibbs to the elevator. Gibbs pulled the stop immediately after the doors closed.

"You want to tell me about what happened today?"

"About how McClumsy lost our suspect today?"

"How about how you let him run into the woods alone."

"He was fine, Boss."

Gibbs pushed his Senior agent into the wall and held him there.

"You always have your partner's six. I don't care how competent McGee is. You let him go into a dangerous situation alone, and he could have been killed! You pull this crap again and I'll take your badge! Understood?"

"Yes, Boss."

"Good." He let Tony go and started the elevator. "When you're finished with Ducky, get your ass back upstairs. You're on desk duty the rest of the day."

"But Boss-"

"Are you really going to argue, DiNozzo?"

"No, Boss."

The elevator opened at Autopsy. DiNozzo stepped out without another word, and Gibbs let the doors closed. He had a real problem on his hands. McGee and DiNozzo always razzed each other, but he'd never seen Tim blow up like that. The kid must have had a lot of pent up rage. He'd just chosen the wrong way to let it out. His ringing cell phone brought him away from his thoughts. It was Jenny. He knew he couldn't keep this incident from her.

"Yeah, Gibbs."

"I want to see you in my office, Agent Gibbs."

"On my way," he said, closing the phone. He was going to have a lot of explaining to do if he was going to keep his team together.