A/N: Sorry I disappear for awhile. As I said I've had some medical issues which caused a bit of depression. I'm trying to move forward but still struggling a bit. I do intend to finish this story, I just can't promise any posting schedule. This was originally beta'd but I went back and made some changes afterwards so any errors are mine. Enjoy.
Tony swore he could hear a pin drop the moment he stopped talking, it was so quiet. The group was staring, wide eyed and opened mouth, at Tim who seemed to be trying to melt into the chair he was sitting in.
It was Ziva who broke the silence first. She shook her head and then spoke. "Witches? Spells? Magic? Tony, I understand you have had a trying day, but these things simply do not exist and cannot happen."
"I know it sounds crazy. Believe me, I saw it happen, kind of, and I still can't believe it, but how else do you explain it? You saw the fingerprint results. I guarantee the DNA test will be the same. This is Timothy McGee. Just in miniature form."
"But it is impossible! It can not happen. " Ziva slammed her hand on the desk to emphasize her point. Tim jumped in surprise and leaned closer to Tony. Ziva threw the boy an apologetic look but continued, "This is real life, not one of your movies. There must be another explanation." Ziva was a smart woman but Tony knew why this was hard for her to believe. Her world was based on logic and fact, not science fiction.
"Actually, Ziva, there are witches in the world. Though today they go by the term Wiccan and they tend to be more earth lovers rather than people killers." Abby said with a thoughtful look on her face.
"Wait, you have friends that are witches? How did we not know this, Boss?" Tony turned to Gibbs who just gave him a look. "More importantly," Tony continued, "can you contact them? Maybe they can help us with turning McGee back into an adult."
Abby looked apologetic as she said, "Sorry Tony, she's on a retreat right now with her coven. Monday is the summer solstice. She should be back by Wednesday though. I can contact her then."
"Believe it or not I understand the Wiccan religion Abigail, but I did not believe that any of their practices were anything more than just an expression of their faith. I'm still having trouble believing how this came to be, though the evidence presented is hard to refute." Ziva said.
Abby leaned over and patted Ziva's shoulder. "I know Ziva. Sometimes it's easier to ignore logic and just go with it."
Ziva looked around the table. "And you all believe this? Even you Ducky? You are a man of science." she asked incredulously.
"I am also a man who knows when to believe what I see. I have seen the fingerprint evidence. And the boy. Once you know what you are looking for, the resemblance is quite striking. As hard as it is to imagine, I think I do believe, Ziva." Ducky answered quietly.
"Gibbs?" Ziva asked.
"Look at him Ziva. Look at his eyes." Gibbs said in answer.
"Forensics doesn't lie, Ziva. I know it's hard to believe, but come on, look at him!" Abby exclaimed.
Ziva turned to the boy and studied him. "I do see some resemblance to McGee" Ziva said hesitantly. The boy smiled shyly back at her. She sighed and addressed the rest of the table. "I still find this very hard to believe, but for now, I suppose I must." Everyone at the table seemed to relax.
"Got any other witchy friends you're not telling us about?" Tony asked Abby.
"None of my friends are 'witchy,' Tony, they just have different beliefs than you or I. And yes, I might know some more people in the occult world."
"Great. Maybe we can have McGee turned back by tonight!" Tony exclaimed excitedly.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Tony, hold your horses. Just because I know some people who think they have an in with the Dark Prince doesn't mean they actually know anything about what happened to Tim." Abby said logically.
"Wow, did you just say the Dark Prince? Is there something you're not telling us Abby?" Tony asked, a look bordering on fear flashing across his face.
"Tony, just because my friends believe they worship the devil doesn't mean I do. I'm catholic, remember. But I believe in freedom of worship and if drinking the blood of a goat and chanting in Latin makes someone happy, then more power to them."
"They don't actually drink goat blood do they? I mean, come on, that's just gross," Tony replied with a shudder.
"What about the two men?" Ducky interrupted. "Can we try to find them? You mentioned one of them said they would look into what happened. Maybe they can give us more answers."
"I don't think they want to be found. Besides, all we have to go on is a description." After a look from Gibbs, Tony continued, "I'll go start talking to a sketch artist."
"In a minute DiNozzo. Anyone got anything else?" Gibbs looked around the room.
"Who will be taking care of Timothy until we can find more answers?" Ducky asked curiously, gesturing to the boy.
"Gibbs of course," Abby answered.
"He's my partner. I'll watch him," Tony shot back and Ziva barked a laugh. "What? You don't think I can watch a little boy?"
"Tony, we all know your history with children. You don't get along with them very well."
"Yeah, but this is McGee. My partner, my Probie. Besides, I think he likes me." Tony smiled down at Tim, getting a smile in return.
"No DiNozzo, he's a four year old boy," Gibbs said gently, obviously trying to appeal to Tony's logical side.
Tony was abashed. He knew Gibbs was right. In a way, it really wasn't his partner sitting next to him, but in the short time the two had been together, he'd grown rather attached to the kid. Of course, if Gibbs wanted to watch the boy, he knew Tim would be in the best care.
"Right Boss. I know that." Ziva smirked at him. He glared back at her.
"And you've been doing good with him so far," Gibbs continued, taking Tony by surprise. "He'll stay with you, if it's okay with Tim."
"I w-want to s-stay with Tony," Tim answered quietly. Tony smiled, glad the boy felt the same way he did. He saw Gibbs and Ducky smile as well. Abby looked surprised and Ziva rolled her eyes.
"Tony, take Tim and the two of you get sketches of the men you encountered. Ziva, research. Look for any other remotely strange reports that might lead us to the identity of those men. Ducky, go with Tony. Tell him everything he'll need to know about caring for Tim."
"I'm going to go check on Jethro. He's probably been in McGee's apartment all day. Then I'll see if any of my friends are available, but honestly with the summer solstice right around the corner, I don't know if I'll get a hold of anyone." Abby stated, a frown gracing her face.
"Thanks Abs. Let me know when the DNA test is done. Another confirmation won't hurt."
A chorus of "On it Boss" and "Yes Gibbs" echoed throughout the room.
Tony stood, Tim quickly following, grasping his hand. As he passed Gibbs to leave the conference room, the older man put a hand on his shoulder.
"You need any help with Tim you call me. Anytime."
Tony had to call the duty sketch artist to come in and draw for him. A few hours later and there were two decent pictures of the men to be sent out for a BOLO. Tim had been surprisingly helpful when giving descriptions of the men. He was very observant. He'd noticed details like the necklace the shorter man had worn and the eye color of both men.
By the time they were done with the sketch artist and had talked with Ducky, it was early evening. Gibbs and Ziva were at their desks in the bullpen, when Tony entered with Tim. Ziva spoke without looking up from her computer. "I sent out a BOLO with the sketches from the artist. I got a hit right away. The FBI already had sketches in the database of the two men. They've been in the system since 2005. Sam and Dean Winchester. Brothers. Father and mother are deceased. They move around the country, never staying in one place very long. By the time officials become aware of their presence, the men have moved on. Wanted list includes: credit card fraud; grave desecration, assault and battery, breaking and entering, robbery, and murder. Dean Winchester was declared dead in 2005 but was found to be still living in 2006. The men have been captured a few times but each time managed to escape, usually in a violent manner. They have essentially fallen off the radar since 2007 with no official sightings though many crimes have been attributed to them based on MO. Doesn't look good for us, Gibbs."
"Too bad Dean didn't stay dead," Tony muttered darkly.
"You hungry Tim?" Gibbs asked the boy, opting to ignore Tony's words.
"Y-yes." The boy answered. Gibbs gave Tony a glare and guilt flared through DiNozzo's gut. It had been a few hours, since they had left Gibbs house where Tim had last eaten. Tony had gone longer without food but didn't even think that Tim might be hungry. He began to worry that maybe he might have gotten in over his head with taking care of Tim.
"On it Boss." Tony gave Gibbs a lopsided, apologetic grin. Abby entered the bullpen then.
"I tried calling a few of my friends. All of them are out for the weekend. I'll try again on Monday." She said.
Gibbs nodded. "Everyone go home. We've done enough today,"
"Wait! What about McGee?" Abby said.
"What about McGee, Abbs?" Gibbs asked.
"We all know this is Timmy but what about Monday when he's supposed to report to work? What do we do then?"
"Everyone meet at my house tomorrow, 1000. We'll devise a plan then. For now, go home. Tony, don't forget." Gibbs gave Tony a knowing look. Tony suspected the team leader was only just barely comfortable with letting him take care of Tim. He suspected the older man would be expecting a few phone calls throughout the night. Tony made it a personal goal not to have to call Gibbs.
Tony turned toward Tim and clapped the boy on the shoulder. "All right little man, let's get some grub. What are you in the mood for? Italian? Chinese? Oh, I know! There's this nice little Thai place downtown –"
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs shouted.
"Just kidding Boss. I will go home and make this young man a nice wholesome meal." Or he'd stop at the deli on the way home and get some baked chicken and pasta. And broccoli. Kids were supposed to eat their vegetables right? Tony figured that was something a four or five year old could eat. Yeah, he was definitely going to have to sit down with Gibbs tomorrow and go over some of this stuff. Who knew taking care of a kid involved so much work?
"If you would like, I can come and cook for you. Just for tonight though. Don't get any ideas." Ziva had approached and was now pointing her finger at Tony as she delivered this message.
"Really? You'd cook for me." Tony gave her his most charming smile.
She chuckled. "Not for you, Tony. For Tim. I don't know if he would survive if you tried to cook for him."
"Hey. I can cook!" Tony exclaimed. Tim was laughing at the exchange between the two.
"What part of go home aren't you people understanding?" Gibbs questioned in frustration.
"On it Boss!"
"I will be over shortly." Ziva informed Tony. She gave Tim a wide smile then turned and left.
"She's not as nice as she seem." Tony told Tim. The boy just smiled at him. Damn, he hoped his team didn't turn Tim on him!
"Welcome to my home Buddy," Tony said as he led Tim through the door of his apartment. The boy looked around the room with curiosity. It was a standard two bedroom apartment. The living room opened to an eat-in kitchen. The two bedrooms were off to one side with a bathroom between the two. It was a small apartment but Tony thought it would be big enough for the two of them.
"Where will I sleep?" Tim asked Tony.
"I have a guest bed in here. Like it?" Tony asked.
"It's okay." Tim answered.
"Okay? Look there's a bed. And a window." Tony looked at the almost empty room. The bed was the only piece of furniture, sitting in the middle of the room, against the opposite wall. "Looks like I forgot to decorate this room. I don't get a lot of visitors that sleep in here. I mean, I have visitors, but they usually -." Tony stopped talking before he said too much to the boy. Tim was looking at him with a confused expression. How had that conversation got so off topic?
"Maybe we can go get some stuff to decorate tomorrow. How does that sound?"
A little while later Ziva arrived with a bag of groceries. She cooked a simple baked chicken with a side of asparagus for Tony and Tim. The little boy ate a surprising amount, even some of the asparagus.
Tony cleared the table, surprised when Ziva stood up and helped clean the dishes they had used.
"Are you a domestic goddess in disguise, Ziva?" Tony asked her.
"No Tony. I simply know how to clean up a mess I make. Unlike some people I know," she said giving him a pointed look, before directing her gaze over her shoulder at Tim. "Why don't you come here and help dry the dishes?"
Tim readily agreed and Tony drug a chair over next to Ziva for the boy to stand on and had given him an old towel from one of his drawers
"T-Thank you for d-dinner, Ziva," Tim said as he stood next to her, drying the dishes she handed to him as Tony stood on the other side of Tim, helping the boy with the dishes so he didn't drop any. He smiled, glad to see that Tim was opening up to his teammates.
"You are very welcome, Tim. When we are done, I brought a special surprise. It's over on the counter." Ziva indicated the bag on the counter next to the fridge with a nod of her head.
"Dessert!" Tony said, taking a step towards the bag.
"Ah, ah, ah" Ziva retorted as she reached behind Tim and smacked Tony.
"Ow!" He cried out.
"Not until we are done." When Tony sneaked a hand towards the bag again, Ziva said. "Do not make me get a paperclip, Tony." That made him freeze and shoot a glare at her. She just chuckled. Tim was shifting his head back and forth between the two, trying to follow the conversation.
"What's a paperclip and why are you afraid of them Tony?" the boy asked him. Ziva laughed aloud at the question.
"It's a little piece of metal that holds paper together. And I'm only afraid of them when they are held by crazy ninjas."
"What's a ninja?" the boy asked.
"Someone you don't want to mess with Tim." Tony answered.
"Are you a ninja, Ziva?"
"No Tim. Just very good at what I do."
"Okay." Tim finished drying the plate he had in front of him. He carefully shifted it over to Tony. Once Tony put the dish away, Tim dropped his towel on the counter and yelled "Dessert!" Both Tony and Ziva laughed.
"Okay. We can have dessert now." Ziva said. She dried her hands on Tim's towel, tossed it back on the counter, and headed towards the bag.
Ziva pulled out a package of rolled pastries filled with jam. Tony grabbed three small plates and Ziva placed a pastry on each one before handing the plates over to Tim and Tony. Tony took a bite of one and was amazed at how rich the dessert was.
"Wow. What is this? It's amazing." Tony asked.
"It's Rugelach. A traditional Jewish desert. These are store bought. They are okay. Homemade is much better. Do you like them?" she asked the boy. Tim just nodded, his mouth full of the pastry; jam smeared all over his cheeks and mouth.
"I will make some for you another time, Tim."
Tony watched in amusement as Tim crammed the last of the pastry he had into his mouth, then rushed over to hug Ziva's leg. Tony saw the surprised expression on Ziva's face before it was quickly replaced by a soft smile. She knelt down and gave Tim a proper hug. "I have to go now Tim. I will see you tomorrow." She told the boy before giving him a squeeze and standing back up. Ziva waived goodbye to Tony before leaving the apartment.
"Thanks Ziva!" Tony called after her. She had a tendency to leave abruptly when her business was done.
"Well buddy, let's get you cleaned up then ready for bed." Tony decided he didn't want to attempt a bath yet. He'd save that for tomorrow after he was able to get a few more supplies for the boy. And maybe after he spoke with Gibbs. Instead, Tony led Tim into the bathroom and stripped him down to his brand new underwear. He then carefully gave the boy a sponge bath. Tony found out Tim was incredibly ticklish when he brushed the washcloth over the boy's stomach and on his sides. Tim wrenched his body away from the washcloth, a fit of giggles erupting from the boy.
"Oh no you don't. Get back here!" Tony exclaimed, then proceeded to chase Tim around the bathroom until the boy backed himself up against the tub. Tony completed his ministrations, made a bit harder with Tim's constant twisting and turning, trying to escape from the washcloth; by the end, both man and boy were laughing.
Eventually, Tony was able to finish and Tim was relatively clean. Tony opened one of the spare toothbrushes he kept in case he had a "guest" over for Tim to use. The toothbrush was a bit big for Tim's small mouth but Tony figured it was better than not brushing the kid's teeth at all. He was pretty sure they made kids' toothbrushes. He'd never had reason to pay attention before but he thought he remembered the brightly colored and smaller brushes next to the adult ones.
The only clothes Tony had for the boy were the ones the lady at the store had picked out, none of which made for decent sleepwear. So Tony sacrificed one of his less liked t-shirts for Tim to use as a nightgown. The shirt fit a little better than McGee's oversized shirt had, but the boy still swam in it. Nightgown – just one more thing Tony added to the growing list in his head of things to get for the boy.
Tony tucked Tim into the spare bed, ruffling the boy's hair before he left, closing the bedroom door halfway. All things considered, the day had actually gone well. As Tony got ready for bed, he smiled, proud that he'd managed to take care of the boy without any major incidences. And that he hadn't needed to call Gibbs. It had actually been a surprisingly easy day.
The smile was barely on his face for a millisecond when it slipped off and turned to a frown. He recalled how people always spoke of how hard it was raising children. Had Tony gotten off easy with a calm and quiet Timothy McGee or was this the proverbial calm before the storm?