Author's Note:

All Errors Are My Own:( Sorry! I own nothing too!

EDITED 02/01/2014


Prolog: Try

"…How it all turned to lies
Sometimes I think that it's better
to never ask why

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You gotta get up and try and try and try
You gotta get up and try and try and try
You gotta get up and try and try and try

Oh, oh, oh

Funny how the heart can be deceiving
More than just a couple times
Why do we fall in love so easy
Even when it's not right

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You gotta get up and try and try and try
You gotta get up and try and try and try
You gotta get up and try and try and try…"

~ "Try" – Pink

Gibbs looked at the woman in front of him. She was of average height with milk chocolate brown hair. She had naturally light tan skin that reflected her mixed heritage of a Swedish father and Middle Eastern mother. She certainly was a beautiful woman like her mother from what he could recollect when he'd briefly met the Senator and his wife years ago.

"Five bullets to the chest," Gibbs finally said after studying her for a few minutes, "That will put anyone in a navy hospital for a while."

Poppy Noor smiled, "At least the pain killers were good."

"Stay here and don't move," Gibbs told her as he stood up and took her record. He had several things to discuss with the director before he accepted another member on his team.


Poppy watched him walk away with anxiety. She was scared that he was questioning her clearance to be back in the field. An operation led by Director Jenny Shepard had left her with five bullets in the chest out in the middle of the Afghan dessert. Six months spent undercover in Afghanistan, two months of which she'd spent being tortured and another five months she'd spent in a naval hospital. In total, it had amounted to a failed operation that Shepard still blamed her for and a mountain of paperwork. Most of all, being stuck on Gibbs' team felt like a punishment. She was right under Shepard's nose to be monitored and supervised in case she finally cracked. Poppy was also sure that if she put a toe out of line, Shepard would ship her ass back to the psych ward. The only thing that had saved her ass so far was that she was a damn good agent that NCIS wasn't ready to return to the CIA.

Crossing her arms over her chest, Poppy closed her eyes and tried to push away the anxiety that was flooding her veins. She felt like something was going to happen. Living in the dessert had been survival of the fittest and she'd long learned to trust the feelings her instincts gave her. Keeping her eyes closed, Poppy took two deep breaths reminding herself that she was safe in Washington DC. She wasn't in the dessert looking for a marine that sold off fellow female soldiers to the sex trade after torturing them for American secrets. She was safe in the four walls of a government building.

Turning and opening her eyes, she met the one face she'd been dreading seeing since she'd agreed to work with Gibbs' team.


"She's not ready!" Gibbs argued to Jenny Shepard as he stood in her office, "She's only had a week of clearance to even set foot in the office."

"Poppy Noor was given field clearance in Germany," Jenny argued back, "Check the report. She's ready."

"You're sticking her on my team to cover your ass. Don't think I don't see it."

"Protecting my ass? What the hell are you talking about Gibbs?"

"You should have pulled Noor off that suicide mission you sent her long before she was captured. I've read the report. She should have been extracted when she first contacted you about feeling threatened by Jonathan Heritage. You're lucky as hell she wasn't killed."

"She had a mission to complete and she wasn't in any danger," Jenny said with a wave of her hand, "A mission that she failed to carry out by the way! Jonathan Heritage is still at large and wanted. Her mission was to gather information and build a case against him."

"Until you decided that you wanted to send her to Afghanistan and take out Heritage in person! You sent her in as a sleeper agent to kill Heritage the first chance that she got."

"Noor was never in any danger!" Jenny defended loudly trying to speak over Gibbs.

"She wasn't in any danger until Heritage captured her after you refused to extract her when she contacted you stating that Heritage had made her cover! Was she in danger when that son of a bitch tortured her for two months than shot her five times in the chest? Noor shouldn't even be alive at this very moment. Is that why she's on my team? You're covering your ass and making sure that she's stable after everything that has happened to her? If she cracks she's right under your nose and you can sweep her off to the psych ward with minimal press and without the CIA knowing? That's a great idea," Gibbs snapped sarcastically, "Let's just not forget her husband is on my team too, Shepard."

Jenny sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, "I put her on your team because I was hoping you might be able to help her Gibbs. She's been through a lot and…she needs to be in a place with a stable environment."

Gibbs rolled his eyes and snorted, "She can be on my team, but just for the record, I want you to acknowledge that it is your fault that were in this boat. An experienced agent like you should have known the minute Noor contacted you stating that she was made you should have pulled her. You got greedy and wanted Heritage and the ring involved with the sex trade and secret selling. Wouldn't that just look fantastic on your record for Washington to see?"

Gibbs didn't wait for a reply before exiting the office to return to his team.


Anthony DiNozzo followed Ziva David and Tim McGee as he looked at the attractive brunette standing at Gibbs' desk. She was thin but curvy with supple hips and a narrow waist that made her look like Bar Refaeli. Her polished black suit included a tight pencil skirt could make any man's blood run hot and her heels made her look like she'd stepped out of a James Bond flick. Blue eyes widened when she spotted them walking towards her but she quickly recovered and a mask of indifference covered her face.

"I'm DiNozzo, very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo," Tony charmed as he pushed his way past Ziva and McGee to the attractive brunette and offering a hand.

She reached out and shook his hand with a sly smile, "Poppy Noor."

"It's very nice to meet you Miss Noor," Tony grinned, "Is there anything we can get you or help you with?"

"I'm waiting for your boss. I'm fine, thank you."

"What are you doing here?" a voice blurted out and all three turned to look at an agitated McGee, who stood glaring at Poppy.

"I was assigned to your team. Besides, I haven't seen you over a year. It's nice to see you. You look good," Poppy smiled at him.

"You two know each other?" Tony asked confused as he looked between them.

"She's my cheating soon-to-be ex-wife," McGee replied with a look of annoyance, "I've got to go talk to Abby about the evidence we found. Don't be here when I get back, Noor."

Poppy stiffened at his words and didn't bother to acknowledge them as Ziva dealt her a nasty look and went to her desk. Tony stood there continuing to look dazed.

"Didn't see that coming," he said before going to his own desk and sitting down.

"Welcome to the team Noor," Gibbs' said as he walked into the bullpen, "I just spoke to the director and you've been cleared for field duty. There's a desk on the other side of the cubical wall. Take your stuff and go sit over there until I say otherwise. Tony, get McGee and go find our missing witness. "

"On it boss," DiNozzo said hopping up and walking away quickly.

"Yes, sir," Poppy replied taking her bag with her. Walking to the other side of the cubical wall, Poppy sat down at the isolated desk hoped that this wasn't some kind of punishment on both Gibbs and Jenny's part. Working with Tim would already be a punishment enough. Working in solitary confinement would only make it ten times worse. Leaning back, Poppy rested the back of her head on the chair and closed her eyes…

Sixteen year old Poppy Noor smiled as she looked around the museum. Art had always fascinated her and the fact that the museum was mostly empty made it even better. Most students wanted to be out enjoying their spring break, but not her. Escaping to this place had always been her favorite pastime as a child. Being the daughter of a Senator brought along plenty of challenges, but in the art museum, she could escape to a whole different world. Walking around the exhibit of Monet's Lilies, Poppy smiled seeing Tim McGee staring at one of the paintings. He was a sweet guy in her English class. He was a little on the nerdy side, but was he cute in her opinion. He was staring at her favorite painting out of the two hundred and fifty paintings that Monet had done in his life about the lilies. Something about the paintings filled Poppy with a sense of calm at she rarely experienced. However, Tim looked tense and confused. His expression was annoyed and he looked bored.

"It's called Blue Water Lilies," she said coming to stand next to him, "It's on loan from some museum in Paris. Monet painted from 1916 to 1919."

Tim turned to look at her holding a brochure, "You seem to know a lot about Monet."

"He's my favorite," she smiled, "Something about the lilies…it just takes you to another world."

"My mom and sister wanted to come. I'm more of math and science person myself."

"Math and science are easy. There is only ever one correct answer. In art, there is no right answer. Everything can be both right and wrong. You're not supposed to read everything out of the brochure. Just enjoy looking and experiencing the picture. Here give me the brochure," Poppy said taking it from his hands, "Now, just stand here and imagine yourself standing in France. You're standing on the edge of the lake gazing at the lilies. Is there a breeze?"

"Do you do this to every guy you sit next to in an English class?" Tim asked looking skeptical.

"Only the ones who look lost. Where are your sister and mother?"

"I don't know."

"So...you have nowhere pressing to be," Poppy smiled, "Now, is it summer?"

McGee took a deep breath and stared back at the painting, "I guess."

"Close your eyes," she said softly, "You're standing under a willow trees. The sunlight is breaking through the branches and leaves softly. The gardens are in full bloom and you can smell the summer in the air. The fresh cut grass is under your bare feet, ticking in between your toes. You can see the water moving gently with the wind. The only sounds around you is pure nature. The leaves are rustling as the grass moves with the wind and the long branches of the tree dance around you. The birds are high in the sky singing and the sounds fill your entire being. It's just you in the garden. Now, look down at the lake and open your eyes Timothy."

McGee slowly opened his eyes and looked at the painting, "They're beautiful."

"That's why I like the lilies," Poppy smiled, "They are very beautiful."

"Yes...they are," he said looking at her with a shy smile as a dark hair girl came running.

"Mommy says it time to go Tim," Sarah smiled, "Who's your girlfriend?"

McGee blushed and Poppy giggled.

"I'm Poppy," she said smiling and offering Sarah her hand to shake…

"Lost in a memory?"

Poppy opened her eyes and looked at Gibbs sitting on the edge of the desk. The first time she'd run into Tim at the museum had changed her world. They'd slowly become friends and eventually started dating. She'd been twenty five when she'd married him. It scared her how miserable they'd become in five short years. Last year, when she'd been selected for an assignment that was impossible to turn down, Poppy had put the final nail in the coffin that was her marriage. Now at thirty-one, she doubted if she'd ever be as really happy as she'd been with Tim in her twenties.

"Does it matter?"

"Good memories are a coping skill they teach at navel hospitals. It helps with somethings like anxiety," Gibbs said, "Anxious?"

"Who said I was anxious?" Poppy said innocently.

"Where have you been living since you came back from Germany?" Gibbs asked curiously.

"My father had a large apartment that he left to me in his will shortly before he died. I've been staying there," Poppy answered with a familiar pang of hurt building in her chest. Senator Mark Aslin had died while she'd been in Afghanistan. It broke her heart that she'd never been able to say goodbye her dearest friend in the world.

"Noor...it's your mother's maiden name, right?"

"Yes, Agent Gibbs. She was from Jordan. Noor is Arabic for light. My father thought it would be better for me to have her last name as my last name than his. People wouldn't know that we were related and it was safer for me in school and such."

"Your father was a smart man," Gibbs acknowledged.

"I agree," Poppy said trying to again push down the hurt that his death had left in her heart.

"I will tell McGee the same thing I'm going to tell you. Whatever your marital issues are, I want you two to keep them out of my investigations and out of this office. Deal with them on your own time. Is that clear?"

"I didn't cheat on him," Poppy replied hotly.

"I don't care," Gibbs told her, "Keep your issues out of my office. Got it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Great. Now go home and I'll see you on Monday. This investigation is almost over and wrapped up. Get some sleep," Gibbs said as he stood up. He walked away without another word and Poppy grabbed her bag and left. Come Monday, it would be hell having to work with Tim and she already wanted to spend as little time as she could in the office.


"I'm not having an affair!" Poppy shouted at him as they stood in the kitchen of their house. Pictures of Poppy and another man that been dropped off earlier were scattered on the counter and floor.

"What do you call this then?" Tim shot back angrily, "Do you think I'm an idiot? Look at these Poppy! It's you with another man! You're kissing him!"

"Please, it's not what you think," she begged, "I can't tell you, but please-"

"Right! It's some assignment," McGee scoffed.

"Yes! Please-"

"Some none existent assignment that you can tell me about? That's the best you can come up with?"

"Tim, it's off the books. I've already said too much. Please trust me," Poppy begged him tearfully as the overlarge t-shirt she wore fell down one of her shoulders, "I know you have no reason to believe me, but please-"

"Do you know how crazy you sound Poppy? Do you?"

"It's not what you think! I love you, please understand-"

"I don't know who you are anymore and frankly, I don't want to know you. This isn't the Poppy I know anymore. You standing there and lying to me about these pictures doesn't help you or make me believe you! Dammit Poppy! I've trusted you! I've loved you and this is what I get?" McGee snapped angrily, "Save your lies. I'm done with you and the lying."

Poppy sobbed as he walked away from the kitchen...

McGee shot up in bed in cold sweat and looked over at the clock.

2:58 AM

He hadn't dreamt of their last fight in their kitchen in a long time. He could remember every vivid detail and it hurt to think about what had happened before that fight. Anonymous packages had started coming for months before with pictures of Poppy and another man together at dinners, getting coffee and other intimate activities. He'd confronted her on it many times but each time she denied it. There was no affair just an assignment that was off the books and she couldn't tell him about. She came up with excuse after excuse to cover for the affair.

The morning after their fight, McGee had found most of her clothes cleared out of their closet and a note on the kitchen counter stated that she had been deployed on the assignment that she'd been using as her excuse for the affair. That same day he'd asked that he be removed from any emergency contact sheets and such from her records with both the CIA and NCIS citing that they were no longer together. He'd sold their house and sold most of their furniture and belongings. He'd given her things to her father and cut off any contact from anything that reminded him of her and the pain she'd caused him. She'd briefly left him several messages months later from Germany but he'd deleted it without even listening to it.

Poppy had run off with her lover and even though it seemed like something she'd never do, McGee had learned the hard way that someone could never really know a person. Even when her father had been dying, it hadn't been enough to bring Poppy back from her lover's bed to Senator Aslin's deathbed. Laying back and staring at the ceiling, McGee willed his body and mind to fall back asleep before the long day ahead started. Working with Poppy was bound to be the most trying experience of his life.


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