This is a missing scene from my recently completed story, Worthy, which is a total Tiva fic, but this particular oneshot has a lot more to do with Tony and McGee than with Tony and Ziva. Hence why it's in the Tony and McGee section.
You probably won't understand the premise here unless you've read Worthy, but if you want to read anyway, go for it!
Angelina is about fourteen months old in this, which means it takes place somewhere between chapters 9 and 10.
McGee hears Angelina before he sees her.
She is yapping happily, carrying on like there's no tomorrow. When he looks up from his computer screen, he finds Tony hauling her into the bullpen. The child's brunette locks are messy, her jacket unzipped. As always, McGee's first thought is that she looks so much like Ziva, it's uncanny. Then his eyes land on Ziva's empty desk and his heart seizes a bit and he has to think about something else.
"Morning," he says casually.
Tony dumps his backpack behind his desk. "What time is it? I'm not that late, am I?"
Glancing at the clock, McGee says flatly, "Only by about forty minutes."
"This kid woke up cranky," Tony says, patting Angelina's belly. She chortles. If she ever was in a bad mood, she's definitely not now. "Didn't you? Hey, let's show Uncle Timmy your lobster butt."
McGee lifts his eyebrows. "Her what?"
He gets his answer in the form of Tony turning the baby around so he can see the smiling cartoon lobster on the seat of her pants. McGee stares at it for a minute, then returns his gaze to the senior field agent, who seems very amused by the outfit. "Why would you put her in that?"
"Better question," Gibbs says, appearing from out of nowhere. Both agents jump. "Why is she here?"
Tony grimaces and replaces Angelina on his hip. "Uh, okay, Boss, I'm sorry, but the daycare is closed today and I couldn't get a sitter…"
Blocking out the stuttered explanation, McGee watches Tony's hands. One of them is supporting Angelina's bottom, and the other attempts to smooth her hair down, albeit unsuccessfully. Those hands are callused and rough and stained with mistakes from the past, but they certainly take good care of the little girl.
There was a time when McGee couldn't picture Tony as a father, but now, when he has stepped so easily into the role of single parent, it seems completely natural.
More than that, though, it's impressive. Extremely impressive.
McGee doubts his own capacity to do it.
For the first part of the morning, McGee catches up on paperwork and Tony tries to, but he has to keep chasing down Angelina when she wanders off. He eventually spreads a blanket on the ground, sits the baby on it, pulls up some kids' show on his phone, and hands it to her. She seems to like this arrangement, because she stays put for quite a while.
Then, around ten, Gibbs gets a call about a dead sailor. After telling them to grab their gear, he remembers Angelina and scowls at Tony. "DiNozzo," he barks. "What're we doing with her?"
"Uh." He rubs his neck nervously. "Well, I don't-"
"McGee," Gibbs interrupts. "Take her to Abby and meet us outside."
Why me? McGee wonders, but Tony has already retrieved his phone and kissed his daughter and is following Gibbs to the elevator. Angelina, now without her electronic babysitter, cocks her head expectantly at McGee.
"Okay," he mumbles. He bends over to hesitantly slip his hands beneath her armpits. It's been a while since he handled her; last time, she was so tiny he had to support her head. Now she squirms, ready to get down and walk. "Okay, uh… blanket." He grabs it and sticks it in her pudgy hand. "There you go."
This is another thing he doesn't understand: Tony is always talking to her, acting as if there's an actual conversation taking place despite the fact that Angelina can barely reply. How does that even work? McGee can't think of a single thing to say as he heads for Abby's lab.
Maybe, he thinks, he has inherited this ignorance about interacting with children from his father.
The blare of techno music drowns out his footsteps when he steps into the lab. Abby doesn't notice him, not even when he yells her name. Angelina claps her hands over her ears. McGee hurries to the stereo and turns it off.
"Hey!" Abby yells. "What the-" She spins around. As soon as she sees Angelina, the annoyance leaves her face and she quickly crosses the room. "Well, hi there, big girl!"
"We're heading out to a crime scene. Can you watch her?"
"Of course!" Abby takes the baby. "Your daddy hasn't invited me over since your birthday party! We'll have to change that, won't we?"
She's doing it, too. The talking thing. McGee begins backing away. "I think Tony has a bag for her upstairs… I forgot to bring it down, sorry-"
"I'll go get it," Abby interrupts before grabbing Angelina's hand and waving it around. "Say goodbye to Uncle Timmy!"
"Bye bye," Angelina says.
"Bye bye," he repeats out of obligation.
The words roll awkwardly off of his tongue.
At six o'clock, Angelina is getting tired and hungry. Tony hasn't fed her since his lunch break; now, he keeps handing her Ritz crackers, but they don't hold her over for long. About the eighth time she starts screaming, Gibbs slams down a file he's reading and orders Tony to take her home.
McGee observes the bags under Tony's eyes and feels something like pity. Life is never easy with this job, and he imagines that being left alone to raise a child has multiplied Tony's stress by a thousand.
"The daycare is open tomorrow, Boss," Tony says. "So I'll be here sans kid."
His expression softening, Gibbs nods.
"See you guys." He starts to walk away, his arms loaded with a backpack and a diaper bag and Angelina.
She twists around, looks right at McGee, and yells, "Buh-bye, Unc Ti'y!"
Something about hearing his name- well, a variation of it- said so enthusiastically in that high-pitched voice gets to him. Of their own accord, his lips curl upward.
"Bye, Angelina," he calls back, and, this time, the second time around, it doesn't even feel that strange.
Tony sends a grin over his shoulder. Gibbs actually chuckles to himself.
For whatever reason- maybe because joy is so lacking around here lately- McGee has yet to stop smiling.