Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or the characters portrayed on television. The story is mine.

A/N: Betaed by the fantastic NCISmom.

Summary: Tim and Ziva's actions during Hiatus inspire a different reaction from Tony than was seen in cannon. This story is AU and some characters will be OOC.

Problems and Decisions

Tony and Tim stared at Ziva and then at each other when Ziva left early. They were in the middle of an active investigation and she just walked out without any explanation. DiNozzo knew that she would have never done that when Gibbs was here. He sighed; he wasn't surprised really, disappointed but not surprised. This incident was only one in a long line of disrespectful and disobedient behavior originally directed at him by his two teammates. Tim had changed his tune after a talk with Tony and the Director.

The new team leader shook his head not understanding how things had gotten so bad. Gibbs had chosen him to be his Senior Field Agent. If Tony wasn't doing the job, Gibbs would have kicked him to the curb. Did Ziva not understand that about Gibbs? What of the profiles she had completed about Team Gibbs for Ari? Did she think the information was false? Tony snorted; apparently she could be willfully blind if it suited her view of the world and her view was that she was superior to Tony simply because she was Mossad.

Sadness and anger replaced his normally calm expression. Tony could feel Tim staring at him. He turned to look the junior agent in the eye. A little silent communication let the angry lead agent know that Tim would back him 100 percent. The junior agent felt that he owned a debt to Tony, especially after the way he'd first acted after Gibbs left.


The team had just finished up a case and was working on the associated paperwork. Ziva packed up her stuff, handed Tony her paperwork and left without waiting to see if it was correct. Tony noticed Tim looking in his direction when he sighed in aggravation. He opened his file drawer to pull some pieces of paper out.

Tony stood up looking at Tim. "McGee, with me."

"Why? We don't have a new case."

Tony stalked over to Tim and loomed over him. "We can have a talk here or in private. Your choice," the lead agent said in a quiet but deadly voice.

Tim cringed a little at the look in Tony's eyes. Not surprising, considering how angry Tony was at the moment. The last time the lead agent had been this angry was during a particularly difficult case when a man had killed his own son. Tony and Gibbs sparred before doing the paperwork on the case and he remembered it being brutal; both men had needed an outlet for their anger. Later, Tony had recalled the deer in the headlight look McGee was sporting after the two older men finished. At the time the Italian had wondered why his skills were such a shock to Tim.

Tony waited long enough to see that McGee was getting up to follow him before heading for the elevator.

Once the elevator doors shut, Tony hit the emergency stop before turning to look at Tim. "I'm going to get to the point. You and Ziva already have two formal reprimands in your files, one for failing to do your paperwork properly, which is part of your job, and the second for your disrespect. Why is it suddenly okay to do these things to your Lead Agent? You would never have acted like this with Gibbs."

Tim's expression was a mixture of anger, petulance and rebellious as he answered angrily, "That's just it, you're not Gibbs, Tony and you should stop acting like you're in charge. Ziva and I don't have to take orders from you."

Tony backed McGee into the elevator wall, anger radiating from every fiber of his being. "You definitely need to review the command structure of NCIS. If the Lead Agent is unavailable for whatever reason, the Senior Field Agent is automatically in charge of the team. Gibbs retired, quit, whatever you want to call it. Therefore, I became temporary Lead Agent pending the director's decision to approve a permanent promotion or find a new team leader. She officially promoted me to Lead Agent, so I am in charge. That is how NCIS works."

"Why would the director leave you in charge? You only have a degree in Phys. Ed. You're an immature womanizer who shouldn't be in charge of a team," Tim sneered.

DiNozzo stepped back to peer at the angry younger man. "That sounds like something Ziva would say. Have you been taking lessons from her?"

Tim defiantly stared at the Senior Agent. "So what if I have?"

Tony rubbed a hand down his face before responding. "Time to think for yourself, Tim! Never looked up the required classes for a Phys Ed Degree have you? Lots of anatomy, physiology, psychology and education classes are required. I was in the same classes as many med students. You really need to look up the requirements to becoming a Senior Field Agent. You have to have a Master's Degree! Besides, you worked with Gibbs. Would he put up with an agent who couldn't meet his high standards, never mind making that agent his Senior Field Agent?"

As DiNozzo talked; Tim's expression morphed from defiant and angry, to acknowledgement, and then to petulant and mutinous. Tony hoped that the younger man's views were wavering slightly, maybe McGee was salvageable. He really didn't want to kick the junior agent off the team, so he continued to push his point home. "No he wouldn't. I've seen more agents leave Gibbs' team since I started than I have fingers. So that must mean I'm capable of being the Lead Agent. I had planned on making you my Senior Field Agent, but I'm not so sure I can now. Your recent behavior makes me hesitate to trust you to watch my six."

Tim interrupted indignantly. "How can you say that Tony? I would never…"

Tony cut him off waving a hand dismissively. "…argue with the Lead Agent? Turn in shoddy half done work? Debate with yourself on defying an order? Go to a book signing or giving an interview on Agency time when you were supposed to be working on a case? Newsflash McGee, you've done all of that and more. I've requested files of agents who are ready to be a Senior Field Agent and are waiting for an opening or current Senior Field Agents who want to transfer to DC."

"You have a choice here McGee. Straighten up and act like the agent I know you can become, or you can continue the way you're going and you can forget being a Senior Field Agent on any team or anywhere else when you find yourself kicked off the MCRT. Nobody wants an agent who can't follow the chain of command." Tony turned around hitting the emergency stop button allowing the elevator doors to reopen. He paused in the open door turning his head to look at McGee addiing, "You also need to decide if you're an author or an agent. No more Thom E. Gemcity on agency time or you'll be fired." With that, Tony walked off.


Coincidentally, Special Agent Tim McGee was thinking of the same conversation-better to call it what it was, a dressing down-the same time as Tony. That conversation forced Timothy to consider his behavior since Gibbs had left and he had felt ashamed of himself. His former Boss would have kicked his ass. Tony had trained him, protected him from Gibbs' temper, helping to build his confidence as an agent. How had he repaid the Senior Agent? By turning on him when Gibbs was gone. McGee resolved then and there to work hard and be the agent he had been before Gibbs left.

One of the first things he did was look up the requirements for a Phys Ed Degree. He was dumbstruck by the number and difficulty of most of the classes. The computer genius next did some digging and discovered that his teammate had graduated from Ohio State with a double major; Phys Ed and Criminology. The next thing he discovered was that Tony had a Master's in Criminology. McGee felt like a worm. He'd broken one of Gibbs' rules and assumed that what you saw was what you got when it came to DiNozzo. McGee's resolve to do better strengthened with each revelation.

Tim treated the new Lead Agent with respect, even calling him Boss, doing all of his paperwork and following orders. Tim only questioned the older man in private when he didn't understand an order. In return, Tony began passing some of the Senior Field Agent paperwork and responsibilities to the Junior Agent. His shame and guilt had increased when he realized how much work a Senior Field Agent actually did and Tony had been Gibbs' Senior Field Agent for years. What was worse in the young man's mind was that DiNozzo was still doing it along with the paperwork required of a Team Lead. They were lucky the Lead Agent hadn't snapped under the pressure. He was happy to see Tony smile at him more and even silently rejoiced when he was called Probie again.

Ziva had noticed Tim's change in attitude and cornered him in the break room one day to question him on it. When Tim explained his reasons for his change of heart she had scoffed. "I cannot believe that you are willingly following Tony. He's an immature buffoon."

Tim had glared at Ziva. "I was reminded of Gibbs and his demanding nature. No one lasts on his team if the agent didn't meet his standards. To be sure I asked Balboa how many agents he knew were kicked off the Gibbs' team before Kate and I joined. He knew of at least five agents that were kicked off the team after Tony joined NCIS. He couldn't remember how many there were before Tony was hired, too many to count he said. Some agents were just plain scared off by Gibbs' personality; others were tossed off because he found their skills or attitude lacking. Balboa told me that many of the agents bet I'd only last a few months with Gibbs. The only reason I'm still here is Tony. He taught me to stand up for myself, and deflected the Boss's temper when necessary."

Ziva shook her head. "So? I am sure that there were agents that bet Tony would only last a week. I still do not understand how he has lasted as long as he has, unless Gibbs formed some sort of emotional attachment to Tony. It is the only reasonable explanation."

McGee noticed Agent Balboa approaching them, obviously planning on joining in on their semi-private conversation. Balboa had mentioned to him earlier that he was glad Tim had straightened out, but that he wasn't sure how long Ziva was going to last. Tim stepped aside as the other agent began to address his co-worker. "No one placed a bet against DiNozzo because Gibbs recruited him personally. We all knew any agent recruited personally by that bastard must be something special; he had never recruited an agent before. No one was willing to bet against Gibbs and his infamous gut. As far as I've observed over the years, DiNozzo has more than lived up to Gibbs' expectations."

Ziva looked at Balboa with disdain. "Maybe no one bet against Tony because no one believed he would last more than a week."

Balboa continued angrily, "I thought Mossad Agents were supposed to be good observers. DiNozzo's an outstanding agent, and you're blind, completely blind not to see his natural talent. I expect Tony will be looking for a new team member soon. No one will want to work with you because you ignore the chain of command. Good luck McGee. Let me know if you need anything."

"Tony will do nothing, nor can he do anything. I am here at Director Sheppard's behest. If anyone will be leaving it will be Tony," Ziva stated with confidence.

Tim noticed the contemptuous look that Balboa shot towards Ziva.

McGee left right after Balboa, shaking his head. Ziva was in for a rude awakening. Tony didn't get really angry often, but when he did, no one was crazy enough to stand in his way except Gibbs and even Gibbs tread carefully around DiNozzo when he was as livid as was becoming over David's behavior.

After that conversation Miss David had started to include Tim in her disparaging remarks and put downs. Tim knew that Director Sheppard had spoken to the Liaison Officer about her attitude twice. He knew the Director had been talking to other agents about their soon to be former teammate. In her arrogance, Ziva David was oblivious to what was going on around her. Tim knew that the MCRT would be looking for a new agent as of today.

Tony was doing some thinking of his own. He had known this day was coming though he had hoped that Ziva would have come to her senses. Tim had told him about the conversation that he'd had with Ziva and Balboa. No, it wasn't Ziva anymore-it was Officer David. She was a complete stranger to him now and soon would be kicked off his team despite her belief otherwise.

Tony had tried talking to Ziva. Jenny had tried talking to her. David stubbornly continued believe that he could do nothing because Jenny would back her over him. Tony had spoken with Ziva that morning; he had given her one last chance to clean up her act.

Gibbs wouldn't have tolerated her behavior as long as Tony had, despite owing her for killing Ari. Tony had figured that out very quickly but never mentioned it. The only reason Tony had held back on taking any action against David was the knowledge that Gibbs leaving as he did threw everyone off balance; however, she'd used up her chances and Tony's remaining patience. Gibbs had trained him and it was time Tony lived up to his training and the faith that Gibbs had always had in him. It was a pity that she hadn't recognized Gibbs' "You'll do" for what it was, high praise from the demanding marine who Tony fondly called a functional mute.

It was time to see the director. Tonight he'd make a phone call. He looked at Tim who nodded, showing he understood what was about to happen. Tony headed to the director's office to talk to Jenny.


A/N: This story was written for the Fall 2013 NICS Big Bang under my other name gotulloch. If you want to see the fantastic art done by faradheia for this story PM me and I'll send you the link since I can't put it in my story for you. I hope you enjoy the story.