Disclaimer : If you recognize it, I still don't own it.
Author's Note : As always, thank you to all the readers, favoriters, people who sent PMs and followers. Extra thanks to Snow-Glory, AgentD.6, Precious Pup, Crawcolady, puppypants, Clamanter, angelscatie, Maunzeli, starfire25, scousemuz1k, and Guest S for taking the time to leave reviews. Truly do appreciate the time you take to leave your thoughts.
Have gotten a few requests for some stories including the baby and to bring back Bruce Wayne from Gone. I'd love to write stories to fill every request that people have shared with me, unfortunately time (and idea-wise), I just can't get to it all. Will do my best to fulfill as many as I can in the future.
If you missed the first part of the epilogue, that was posted a few days ago.
Last chapter, hope you all enjoy it.
Friday, September 21, 2007 – 7:08am - Bullpen – NCIS Headquarters, Washington, DC –
Sliding into his desk chair, Tony DiNozzo turned on his computer and nodded his greeting to the already present Ziva David. Her attention absorbed in finalizing a report for their most recent case, she didn't bother returning the gesture. When he saw Regina Zavoral's blonde head appear over the divider behind the assassin's desk, the senior field agent breathed a sigh of relief that Ziva hadn't noticed they'd arrived at the same time.
While he leaned back in his chair, waiting for his computer to finish its boot process, Tony reminisced about the previous night at Zavoral's apartment. Their torrid, on again-off again romance was definitely on-again, leaving him exhausted as he readied for what should be a long day and an even longer weekend.
Regina waved at him over the partition before disappearing into her space. As the second most recent member of Steve Barrows' team, Zavoral had come a long way from the milquetoast case agent that showed up during the Abram-Lewis case. After she'd finally passed her firearms qualifiers and found a comfortable spot on a supportive team, she'd flourished as an effective and resilient field agent. Even though she was still only a probie, it was difficult for Tony to picture her as one when she took to bossing around the newest member of her team, Neil Conway.
That was the funny thing about Barrows, his team could be comprised of solely probies and he'd still get as good of results out of them as a team of seasoned veterans.
Gibbs probably could too, if only he had the patience of Barrows.
"Hello, Tony, it appears you had a good night, yes?" Ziva asked, pulling Tony out of his thoughts. Gesturing to the bags under DiNozzo's eyes and his not-so-impeccable suit, David smiled knowingly.
"And what makes you say that, Zee-vah?" Tony grinned, coyly.
"You always have a poofy smile when you have a good night," she explained, flicking her eyes back to her computer.
"Goofy, and yes and no. I had a good night, but I never look goofy," DiNozzo laughed, smoothing his suit jacket. "What about you?"
"I have finally completed that book about Abraham Lincoln's presidency. It was remarkably interesting, though I cannot believe how long it took me to complete."
Vaguely remembering a conversation about the book from eons ago, Tony snorted while he checked his e-mail to see if any hits came though overnight on his BOLO for the petty officer who supplemented his military paycheck by dealing drugs. When he noticed an e-mail from Homeland Security Agent Alex Kopalski, DiNozzo raised his eyebrows at the subject matter.
"Heya T-Bone. Just wanted to let you know we picked up Andrew Newman this morning. He tried to sneak into Canada with a fake passport. Hard to believe, we can finally close this case out now. Too many months and wasted man hours for this. Hope Conway isn't giving you too much shit over there. Next round of drinks is on you. – Alex."
Tony re-read the e-mail, shaking his head at the unfortunate nickname he'd somehow earned at Neil Conway's party to celebrate his official transfer to NCIS. DiNozzo always thought there'd been a steak involved somewhere in between all the shots, but no one seemed to remember anything other than the abysmal moniker. He still couldn't show his face at the Homeland Security office without someone yelling "T-Bone" as soon as he was noticed.
"You guys are never going to believe who just got arrested," DiNozzo stated loud enough to draw Regina's attention over the divider.
"Newman," Ziva smirked. "I was included on the e-mail as well, T-Bone."
Tony cringed, knowing that he'd never live the nickname down. Over the partition behind Ziva's desk, Regina giggled uncontrollably.
Maybe the ATF was hiring.
"So that's the last one of those guys, right?" Tony asked, trying to avoid the subject.
"Yeah," Zavoral volunteered, "don't you remember? Abram and Lewis are doing life for the bombings in some supermax somewhere? Conway nabbed Harrison a couple months back out in Albuquerque when she tried to charter that flight to Brazil. It was right before he transferred over here. He still talks about it, all the time."
"He's reliving the glory days," Tony nodded.
"Tony, Neil's only thirty-six. Too young for glory days if you ask me."
"Are most days not glorious?" Ziva questioned.
"No, Zee-vah, glory days. Like the best days of your life. Standing on the thirty yard line, everyone in the crowd screaming your name while you throw the football to the wide receiver to score a touchdown just before the clock runs out," Tony grinned, remembering his last game of his college football career.
Enthralled, Zavoral smiled wistfully at the retelling of a familiar story. Her head disappeared from the divider as she headed back behind her desk to start her workday.
"Every moment is - ," Ziva started.
When a harried Tim McGee rushed into the bullpen, she paused and shot him a concerned look. With his six-month old daughter strapped to his chest in a baby carrier, the junior agent fought to maintain his hold on his backpack and an overpacked diaper bag. He glanced between his teammates and shook his head when he dropped the bag to the floor. Tony hopped out from behind his desk, retrieving the bag from the floor and placing it on Tim's chair.
When he noticed the color coded sticky notes plastered across the junior agent's desk, DiNozzo frowned.
While McGee had recovered quite uneventful from the serious head injury he'd incurred on the Abram-Lewis case, he still continued to struggle with his memory. Although the doctors had originally speculated that it would return without consequence, Tim had finally accepted that he'd never regain his full capacity. Continuously finding new ways to adapt to his new way of life as a forgetful agent and new father, McGee had given everyone a set of notepads with specific requests to jot down his orders. As Tony stared at the paper rainbow, he realized that his well-played threat on the director was probably the only reason Tim had managed to keep his job.
Tony blinked slowly, just thankful that the team was still intact despite everything they'd endured.
"Hey there, McSquirt, how's it going?"
"Really, Tony, come on," McGee fretted, rubbing his hand on his daughter's stomach as he dropped his backpack behind his desk.
"I wasn't talking to you, Tim. Was I, little lady?" DiNozzo nodded, waving at McGee's daughter. When Tony stuck his tongue out at her, she laughed heartily, her tiny giggles ringing through the bullpen. DiNozzo and McGee grinned at each other over her head.
"Have you guys seen Elise yet?" Tim asked, sliding into his chair. "She was supposed to meet me here to pick up Molly."
"She is not here yet, perhaps she is stuck in traffic again?" Ziva stated.
Since Elise and Tim had opted to forgo daycare, their split schedules left many midnight and early morning rendez-vous in the bullpen with barely enough time for anything more than a kiss and a hand-off. Mercifully, the team had accepted Molly as the unofficial fifth member, shuffling her away to Abby's lab on the odd night that Tim had to bring her to work. Since Tim saw less time in the field due to his injury, Gibbs didn't seem to mind Molly's presence too much.
With a frustrated sigh, Tim took stock of his notes and carefully checked for any new additions.
"You know, McShoeless Josephine over there," Tony grinned, pointing to Molly's socked left foot.
"Oh, shoot, not again. Elise's going to kill me," Tim lamented, glancing down. "That's the third one this month. I don't know what she does. Do you - ?"
"Black or brown?" DiNozzo asked, sliding over to the filing cabinet.
"What?" McGee asked, dropping a pile of single shoes out of the diaper bag onto his desk. Tony reached into the bottom drawer of the cabinet and pulled out two packages of girl's shoes.
"Black or brown?"
"Uh, brown, it matches right?"
Tony shook his head at Molly's purple outfit and tossed the black shoes into Tim's outstretched hands. Before McGee started wrestling with his daughter's shoes, he nodded his thanks to his senior agent. DiNozzo stared at the filing cabinet drawing, a stockpile of baby items that Tim seemed to forget quite frequently.
He'd learned a few weeks after McGee's return to work that missing items left the forgetful agent overwhelmed and stressed out. To help prevent another meltdown like the one that Tim had his first day back on the job, DiNozzo kept his filing cabinet well-stocked with things he thought his junior agent might need.
Sliding back to his desk, DiNozzo started to comb through a few recent hits on his BOLO to determine just how far their drug dealing petty officer could have gotten from DC with a twelve hour headstart. When he noticed a few hits that came from as far as Sioux Falls, he shook his head.
At least police departments did still check their BOLOs from time to time.
Across the bullpen, McGee started working on something on his computer, his fingers tapping his keyboard with the same frantic energy he always had. To match her father's work, Molly smacked her hands on Tim's desk, laughing hysterically as she did so. When he caught a break in his typing, he nuzzled the top of her head and spun around in his chair, making her laugh even harder.
Jethro Gibbs swooped into the bullpen, coffee cup in hand. When he noticed Molly at McGee's desk, he smiled and waved at her. DiNozzo had been shocked at his boss' early acceptance of the baby when she made her debut one month early while they were on a case in West Virginia. Surprisingly, the team leader had left DiNozzo and Ziva behind to personally drive Tim to the hospital. He'd not complained during the two weeks of unplanned paternity leave. When the youngest agent had needed to bring Molly to work while they finished up a case, Gibbs had always been first to grab her when she fussed, leaving his agents to work uninterrupted.
"Boss, got a hit on the BOLO," DiNozzo announced. "PO Adams was just seen entering a motel in Georgetown, 827 K St, SW."
"Ziva, go pick him. Take McGee with you," he ordered.
Almost shocked at the order to head into the field, an unlikely scene as of late for McGee, he shot out of his desk and grabbed for his gear. When he realized his daughter was still strapped to his chest, his features tightened and he gestured towards his computer, figuring there was almost always a lead for him to run down.
That seemed to always be the excuse that Gibbs gave him.
"Uh, boss?" McGee protested.
"I'll make sure Molly gets to her mother, Tim," the team leader nodded, motioning for the baby.
"But - ," he started again.
"I could always have Ziva babysit."
When the Israeli glanced up at her spot from behind her desk, both hands clutching her Sig and back-up gun, she nodded her assent. Tim's face noticeably paled and he shook his head, abandoning his protest. McGee plucked Molly out of her carrier with a parent's expertise. Hugging his daughter tightly, he murmured something inaudible to her and kissed her nose. He dropped the carrier onto his desk, grabbed his gear and passed the baby to Gibbs.
Molly glanced wide-eyed between her father and Gibbs before babbling incoherently.
"Is that so?" he crooned.
"Elise should be here soon, boss. Won't happen again," Tim promised, trailing Ziva to the elevator.
Gibbs shook his head, knowing that McGee had made the same promise only a few weeks ago. With Elise's hectic schedule at the hospital, he figured they'd be seeing Molly frequently. As long as it didn't affect their cases or their close rate, the team leader seemingly welcomed the tiny distraction as a team mascot.
Suddenly, Gibbs sniffed the air loudly, his face contorting into disgust. He started out of the bullpen, pausing at McGee's desk to pull a diaper from the bag.
"Good golly, Miss Molly," he muttered, whisking the baby away.
Laughing at the thought of his boss changing a diaper, Tony turned back to his computer to run a check on the petty officer's finances. All he had to do was track down the supplier and their case against Adams would be relatively iron-clad.
He'd barely had an opportunity to access the petty officer's bank account to check his transactions when Elise McGee wandered into the bullpen. Dark circles on her blanched face and hair pulled back loosely in a ponytail, Tony figured she'd just come off a particularly rough shift. Her tired eyes flicked around the bullpen while she played with the visitor's badge on her scrub top.
"Hey, Tony, how's it going?" she grinned. Despite the evident exhaustion, her happiness seemed genuine.
"Hey Elise, I'm not too bad. How're you?"
"Ready for bed," she laughed. "Is Tim around? He left me a message to pick Molly up here."
"Well, he was here. Gibbs just sent him out on an assignment and Molly's around here somewhere."
Slouching against Ziva's desk, Elise nodded. "Gibbs has her?"
"Yeah. Though if they went to visit Abby, it'll be a while."
"Don't remind me. I could barely get Abby to leave when she babysat for us a few weeks ago." She laughed again, then paused awkwardly. "Though, Tony, I don't think I've ever had a chance to thank you, have I?"
"For what?" DiNozzo started, feeling the prick of embarrassment on his weeks.
"Well, pretty much for a everything. You convinced me to tell Tim about Molly and put my family together. Even though you probably don't realize it, you helped him through his recovery. All those times you took him out to unload after a long day. I think it helped him get through the ordeal, the baby, me, more than you might think."
Tony smiled politely, barely shrugging. "Yeah, I guess."
DiNozzo dropped his gaze back to his work while Elise leaned against Ziva's desk.
"You know Tim almost quit, right?"
"What?! He never said anything."
"Do you remember that day when he first got back? He told me that he forgot his gun and couldn't remember where it was. You took the time to walk him through his morning until he realized he'd left in the safe at home. Well, he said he'd have quit NCIS after that because if he couldn't remember his gun than he shouldn't be an agent. I guess he couldn't deal with the stress of working a dangerous job with a baby on the way. I told him it took time to get better and he said that if he didn't know that you'd be there for him than he'd have turned in his badge," Elise said quietly, staring at her hands.
"Well, that's what you do for your team," Tony explained, leaning forward on his desk.
"He also told me it was your idea for the Post-Its," she shot him a tight smile. "You should've seen our apartment at first. They were everywhere. He assigned me hot pink. G-d, I hate pink. But he's relying on them less these days, his memory's getting better, he's still getting better. Even though we take it one day at a time, I think I owe a lot of it to you."
"Yeah, but - ," Tony started, pausing when Elise interrupted him.
"Just accept the thanks and we owe you an extra nice dinner at the apartment some night. Something other than the pizza we always seem to have whenever you're over."
"You don't have to - ."
"Just say you accept, Tony," Elise smiled.
"Sounds fair to me," Tony grinned, watching Gibbs arrive back in the bullpen with Molly in his arms. While he headed towards Elise, DiNozzo thought it almost sounded like his boss was singing to the baby.
"Here ya go," Gibbs said, dropping Molly into her mother's outstretched arms.
"Thanks," Elise nodded, grabbing the diaper bag from McGee's desk. "I'll leave you to your work. So Mols, new shoes again?"
Tony stood from his desk, smiling as he watched his partner's family head to the elevator. When he glanced back to Gibbs, the regular sour expression returned to his boss' face.
"DiNozzo, you find Adams' supplier yet?"
The more things changed, the more Gibbs stayed the same.
Author's Note 2.0 : And that's a wrap! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who's made this journey with me. It has been quite a ride. I really do appreciate everyone who's read, favorited and followed this story. I continue to be amazed by the support I receive from faithful readers and new ones alike.
Hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
At the moment, I have no plans for any direct sequels to this story. There may be a one-shot here or there about Molly coming to the bullpen for a case, but I'm not sure yet. I am meandering my way through a new story involving Tony going undercover with a drug cartel and Tim trying to help. No timeline for when I'll start posting. It's turning out to be longer and more involved than originally anticipated.
Limbo will be finished when I get a chance to write it.
Again, my sincerest thanks to everyone of you.
See you all around.