"Uncle Tim, can you tell me a story."
Tim looks down at Amanda Lee/Langer and sighs as he picks her up. "You bet sweetheart. Who do you want a story about?"
"Can it be about anything?"
Tim looks over at Brent Langer, Amanda's guardian since Michelle's death who shrugs in acceptance.
"As long as your daddy doesn't mind."
"Can it be about gold teddy bears and you and Aunty Ziva and Daddy and Michi?"
Tim swallows and Brent knows the other man is thinking about the circumstances that brought Amanda into their lives.
"Go on Tim. Give her a happy story about Michelle." Brent says softly and Tim picks up the little girl heading for the living room.
Tim starts to sit down when Amanda looks over at Brent who is holding out a small golden bear. Tim smiles remembering another little girl with a golden brown bear and bright green eyes. He clears his throat and begins.
"Well, once upon a time ...oh dear, are the bears all gold?"
Amanda nods her head. "Uh huh...and you and Daddy have to rescue Michi and Ziva."
Tim smiles, "We do? Are we rescuing them from the bears or from someone else?"
"Someone elses...bears are good bears, like Goldilocks only she doesn't run away."
Tim thinks for several minutes, takes a sip of water and then begins again.
"Once upon a time, a long time ago. There were two golden bears. One was named Just Paws or JP and the other one Ted Deen or TD."
Brent chuckles at the abbreviations of their other teammates' names. He'd read Tim's books, the LJ Tibbs series and often wondered how he'd survived the heckling that he had to have incurred by using the names in such an obvious way. For him now to use Jimmy and Tony as the two golden bears says a lot for Tim's sense of humor as well as his feelings for his teammates.
"Now JP and TD lived deep in a green forest, far away from civilization. They weren't used to companions other than the forest creatures like deer and squirrels and raccoons. They went fishing in the nearby pond saying hello to the fruit bat Anas Setea and the silver tipped fox who was generally grumpy if he didn't get his morning drink."
By now, Brent is laughing as he listens to the droll comparisons of their friends names and the animals in the kingdom. Gibbs is of course the silver fox and Abby the bat, with Tony and Jimmy as the two bears.
"Drake the Mallard has just seen two fish jumping in the pond and is about to go diving after them when two young ladies, Michelle and Ziva come dashing across it. Drake flaps his wings in frustration as those two fish would have fed him for days and he quacks his displeasure as he settles back on the pond waiting patiently for the water to settle down."
Tim looks at the little girl in his arms. Amanda is asleep, her breathing soft and even. Brent starts to pick her up when Tim shakes his head.
"Let her dream for a bit."
"Why don't you tell Ziva how you really feel about her Tim? Gibbs rules not withstanding, you two would make a nice couple."
Tim sighs and stares at the picture of the team as it is now. Tony, Ziva, Tim and Brent with Gibbs standing proudly in the background. Abby, Ducky, Jimmy and Jordan Hampton round out the rest of the photo. Jordan had joined Ducky's staff just weeks before Victoria Mallard had passed away and the others all know that she's been a help that none of them could have expected.
Michelle's badge and picture are on the mantel. Brent picks up the badge wondering not for the first time if he was doing the right thing. Michelle had almost killed him, hell he'd thought for certain he was dead when he'd heard Gibbs whisper, "Stay down, and don't die."
The bullet had hit him hard, the shock of it still giving him a few nightmares, as it knocked him ass over teakettle into one of the computers and he'd blacked out and from what the others have told him, he probably had died for a few seconds. Long enough for Michelle to get Gibbs to his side. She hadn't counted on Gibbs or Brent's own presence of mind. He'd wondered about going alone with her and had kept his own phone open, not to Gibbs but to McGee. The one person left on Gibbs' MCRT that he could trust.
Tim had immediately sent a 911 call out as well as calling Vance letting him know what had happened. Vance had intercepted the ambulance at the gate, telling the guards to let the ambulance in and to tell the ambulance crew to turn off the sirens, so as not to alert anyone else as to what was going on. He'd had to let the rest of the scenario play out; they needed Michelle to believe that Langer was dead so that she would tip her hand that much sooner. None of them had counted on Amanda's presence in Michelle's life.
Tim had made discreet inquiries as to what would and could be done with the little girl if Michelle were arrested. Treason charges would have kept her away from the child for at least 25 years if not longer. Tim then started checking with child services. He wasn't sure if any of the team would want to adopt Amanda, but figured that he could at least see if it was a viable option.
Brent had stayed in seclusion at Bethesda for days, recovering from the bullet wound. He'd then moved in with Ducky for a few weeks, staying out of sight of any of the team, just so that they wouldn't inadvertently tip their hand to Michelle.
Tim had been one of the few allowed to visit during which time he and Brent had discussed a lot of different things. Langer had listened quietly to Tim as he'd described the pain they'd all felt about being separated by Vance while the mole hunt was going on. Tim's guilt about not being able to tell Gibbs everything due to Vance swearing him to silence. Tim's feelings about certain team members and finally Langer had confronted him about Abby.
"I knew we couldn't or wouldn't be compatible after she turned me down for like the fourth or fifth time. I'm a puppy to her; cute, pet-able, but not someone she could live with on a daily basis. You might say I'm too tame for her lifestyle."
Langer had shaken his head. Tim might be "tame" but only in the fact that he was a family oriented man. Someone that wanted to have a family and settle down. Langer wasn't sure if any of the MCRT including Gibbs knew how similar those two were. Gibbs having lost his family, Tim wanting one and neither finding that special person in the meantime to fill that empty spot. Langer had to admit, he'd missed his family during the seclusion time. His wife Cassandra Langer (Cassie) and their baby son Jonathon who had been born just before Brent had joined Gibbs' team. Ducky had suggested calling her but Brent had shaken his head.
"No, if we're to pull this off she needs to believe at least for now that I'm dead. It's like that rule Gibbs has; better to ask for forgiveness later."
Cassandra Langer had cried at the funeral; she'd beaten on Brent for several days once the truth was revealed and she'd been the first to suggest that they adopt Amanda as their own child when it was all said and done.
"She needs to know she's not alone Brent. Go talk to her, better yet let's both go talk to her and see if we can get adoption papers. You know how much I've wanted a little girl, let's see if we can bring her home."
He had and they had. Thanks to Tim they were able to get through a lot of the red tape and other paperwork that could have made it impossible to adopt Amanda. Once the wheels were set into motion it had only taken a few weeks to make Amanda his daughter. Amanda had been a bit confused about Michelle's death, but she'd accepted the Langer family's offer and had adored Jonathon Langer and Timothy McGee from the first day they'd met.
"You really need to talk to Ziva, McGee. I think you might be surprised if you did."
Tim sighed and then smiled as Amanda woke up from her impromptu nap.
"You ready for the story to begin again?"
"Uh-huh...you said that Michi and Ziva were running into the forest. I don't remember anything else though."
"You fell asleep and I didn't continue."
Cassandra walks in and Brent motions for her to come sit with him. The small family listens as Tim weaves his story about the two women running through the forest.
Michelle knew that Ziva could keep up with her and she also knew of a small cabin she'd seen just before they'd started running away.
"What are they running away from?" Cassandra whispers in Brent's ear.
"Bad guys...the bears are good bears and Tim and I have to go save the girls." Brent whispers back.
Hunters were following them, two bad brown bears who had chased them for almost a mile. Michelle and Ziva pushed away from the trees they'd been resting against and headed for the cabin. JP and TD were surprised to see the women, but offered to help them and hide them. JP then sent up a smoke signal through the chimney, letting the ranger station know that they needed assistance."
Rangers Tim and Brent were the two rangers on duty that day and Brent had just stepped outside, savoring his first cup of coffee when he saw the smoke signal and ran back inside to let Tim know what was happening. Tim immediately called up their boss, ranger Fornell to tell him where they would be and to send back up just in case.
Ranger Fornell; Tobias would like that title, Brent mused. His former boss has tried several times to get Brent back on his team, but Gibbs and Vance had made the young man an offer he couldn't refuse and he'd stayed with the MCRT once all was said and done. He'd never regretted it and now that Cassandra was pregnant again, he couldn't be happier.
The two golden bears offered Ziva and Michelle some nuts and berries to snack on before they headed out the door for their day of fishing. Michelle and Ziva rested on the chairs looking around the cabin. They hadn't thought anyone resided in the cabin but were glad they had stopped and that the golden bears were friendly. Just then they heard growling and knew that the brown bears had found them.
Tim and Brent raced through the forest and burst into the small clearing just as the bears started growling at each other.
"Stop right there." They said in unison and the brown bears were so surprised by the swiftness of the rangers that they did. The two golden bears reached up and knocked the other bears to the ground, helping Tim and Brent by holding the other bears down while the rangers arrested the brown bears by tranquilizing them.
"Thank you rangers and golden bears for saving us," said Michelle and Ziva nodded. They were still out of breath from their run through the forest. The rangers tipped their hats and dragged off the bad bears just as Fornell arrived with the ranger truck. Ziva and Michelle, JP and TD waved as the truck left, carrying the three rangers and the two bad bears.
Amanda snuggled into Tim's arms, "Thank you Uncle Tim."
"You're welcome, Amanda."
A/N:This story is not a sequel to Seven Days of NCIS due to being written before that particular crossover. However, I might try and bring the two together at a later date.