Rating: PG-13, T
Category: General, Family
Character: Surprise character/Gibbs
Summary: If only he could see. If only she could be heard. Someone is keeping a watchful eye over four empty desks in the bullpen. Set post 'Twisted Sister' but pre 'Blowback'.
Spoilers: Tiny references to 'Shalom', 'Witch Hunt', 'Twisted Sister', 'Blowback' and I borrowed a few items from 'Bury your dead'.
Disclaimer: NCIS characters belong to Bellisario, CBS and Paramount. No copyright infringement intended.
The squad room was empty. Well, technically, the four desks belonging to the MCRT section of the squad room were empty. It was quiet... peaceful. She knew it wouldn’t last long though.
She always liked this part of the day. The serenity, stillness of the squad room at 06.00 was a welcome contrast to the highly charged atmosphere that was usually invoked from around 07.00.
This was the time when she gathered her thoughts and prepared herself for the ‘incoming’. She wondered what she would need to help out with today. She didn’t mind helping. It was her role... to keep him... and them... on the straight and narrow.
The mezzanine was a great vantage point. She could see everything from up here. Not that she needed a good vantage point. No one noticed her watching.
She glanced down at the open plan squad room and the four empty desks of the Major Case Response Team. Gibbs, team leader, had the biggest desk. She supposed he needed it... to manage all the paperwork from his three agents. Although she knew he really preferred a more simple set up. She scanned the desks in turn. McGee had the desk to his left on the opposite side of the open plan office, Officer David had the one to his right and DiNozzo’s, was diagonally opposite.
It had been different not so long ago, DiNozzo had been the one in charge. He’d been the one with the big desk. There had been no Gibbs but there had been a new addition, Special Agent Michelle Lee. She was okay.
But, he’d finally come back. She had been pleased. She knew he couldn’t have stayed away for long... although she’d been surprised it had taken him four months. Sometimes he was just too stubborn... too focussed on his own pain to see what was right in front of him.
A bit like Officer David... Ziva... too focussed. He’d not spoken to her much about Ziva. But she knew that she held a place in his heart... just like Kate had done... just like she did.
She leaned against Ziva’s desk.
Ziva was special. When she had arrived at NCIS and finally been allowed to take the desk that had previously belonged to Kate but now most definitely belonged to her, she had operated the ‘clear desk policy’ down to the last paperclip. When she had been able to spy into the open drawers back then, there were pens, pencils, paperclips, post-it notes... a standard issue stapler... nothing personal. It felt cold... closed... unwelcoming.
But now, she still kept her desk tidy, clean, immaculate even... no visible flaws... on the desktop anyway... but look in the drawers and you would find a couple of books, some scrunchies, a pair of running shoes and several clean tops. Not as cold, and all practical items... but all personal to her.
She liked Ziva. She liked her a lot.
She had been the one that Gibbs had come back to help. Not DiNozzo... not McGee... not Abby and not Ducky. She knew the reason for that.
She wondered whether he would have come back if McGee had been the one in trouble back then. McGee had been in trouble recently. Withholding evidence... harbouring a suspect... his sister... he should have known better. But when Tim had said that he couldn’t take that chance... not even with him... his boss, well that had been hard for Jethro to take.
He had talked to her about that a lot... and she had listened.
McGee... Tim... he was sorting things out now. She placed a hand on his chair and squeezed gently.
His desk was looking more confident... more like Special Agent Timothy McGee’s desk. It wasn’t a mixture of Gibbs, DiNozzo, Ziva and Kate with a smidgen of McGee. It was definitely a McGee desk. He was finding his own style, the others were relying on him... using his talents... needing his expertise more and more.
He was finally becoming the agent that she knew Jethro had seen possible when he’d first met him at Norfolk. He’d come a long way since Norfolk. It had taken time but she knew that Tim now trusted his boss implicitly.
He wouldn’t be getting in any further trouble any time soon... unlike DiNozzo.
DiNozzo was heading for trouble... no doubt about that. She was worried about him.
His desktop was clear, spotless... always had been... at least it always had been from his second day of working for Gibbs anyway. She knew how much he had wanted to please his boss that first week and how much it had hurt DiNozzo when he’d realised he’d disappointed him. She hadn’t understood then how one person could bestow so much respect on another without knowing them that well.
She understood now.
That was why Tony kept all Gibbs’s medals and awards locked in his drawer, and it was also the reason Gibbs had let him. The medals and awards were the only items in Tony’s desk that actually meant anything to Tony... and they didn’t even belong to him. Oh, he had loads of personal things locked away in there... too many things. Sometimes the drawers had got stuck and she’d watched a number of times as Tony had tried, for several minutes, to prise them open to retrieve a lost chocolate bar, only to suffer the indignity of a hand smashing down on the desk in front of him, or worse, a hand whacking him across the back of the head accompanied by a gruff “Work DiNozzo!”.
She ran a hand across the top of his desk and leaned back in his chair.
His personal items were a mixed bunch... practical items like a spare knife, a couple of shirts, a toothbrush... things he might need in a hurry. Always prepared she thought. He was always prepared. But then there was also... well, there was the other stuff... the physical manifestations of the wall Tony used to protect himself from the hurt... the Mickey Mouse stapler, the American Pie Coffee mug... one of McGee’s bright blue elf mittens that had disappeared at Halloween but Tony had sworn had had nothing to do with him. He was a good liar... a very good liar... but he would need to stop lying to Gibbs soon or she feared for him.
She saw it all. She felt it all.
She feared too, for Jethro. She knew he suspected something. He hadn’t told her yet but she knew he would. She worried what his reaction might be when he found out the truth... the truth about Tony’s mission... the truth about his lies. She knew about Jethro’s rules... more than most. She was concerned that the trust and friendship Jethro and Tony had cemented over the past five and a half years of working together might be broken in an instant. She was anxious not to let that happen.
She looked at the blank reflection on the computer screen in front of her and sighed. She felt a small hand on her shoulder. It’s okay she reassured and the delicate touch was gone.
She scanned the area around her. Jethro’s desk was littered with ringed coffee stains. It was a mess. She would have to try and talk to him about that. He couldn’t punish other people and then flout the same rules himself. Lead by example Jethro. And true... although coffee stains weren’t exactly ‘restricted’ files, the principle was the same. If he insisted on being at his desk when the Janitor was trying to clean the office then he would have to face the consequences... he would have to clean his own desk.
He really needed to clean his desk. He really needed to erase those marks that had slowly started to appear when he’d returned from Mexico. He needed to sit down with a cloth and a bucket of warm, soapy water and set to work on them... every single one of them.
They all needed to be cleansed.
They were, after all, the reason he spilled his coffee.
She looked across the empty squad room at the desk to her right... immaculate, almost regimented but with a hint of warmth beginning to seep through. She stood up and moved to the desk to her left... it was radiating a renewed confidence, it felt trusting and secure. Finally she moved towards the remaining desk... alert, prepared, the strength of respect and affection it emanated for the diagonally opposing desk was blistering and she smiled.
As she turned to face the largest desk, the unease hit her... there was no mistaking where it had come from and slowly she turned back towards DiNozzo’s desk. It looked black and hazy as if a dark rain cloud had suddenly entered the building, encircling Tony’s desk and reducing visibility around it to half a metre. Despite the cloud she could still sense the deep unease... the regret... this desk was hiding more secrets than an undercover mission and a ‘misplaced’ elf mitten.
She stepped forward and the cloud vanished. The desk felt alert again, respect and affection had returned but there was no happiness... no contentment.
Jethro... when he talks... you have to listen, she pleaded, turning to face his empty desk, Please... just listen.
She tried again, willing the words to linger in the air. He was close now. If you can’t hear me... hear him. He needs you.
She knew they all needed each other... and here they all were... it was just that they didn’t see each other... they didn’t hear each other. But they were all together... the web of desks complete... all connected with their rightful owners and all connected to each other in their own special way. Some connections were unconditional, some were a little loose, some had been damaged... but not irreparably she hoped.
The familiar ‘ping’ of the elevator announced its arrival to the empty squad room and, as the doors slid back, she saw the silver-haired man, balancing two large coffees in his right hand, jacket slung over his left forearm, leave the confines of the small box and walk towards her position. She retreated.
She watched as he strode into the squad room. She watched as he glanced at the empty desks and smiled. She watched as he nudged his jacket from his arm onto the back of his chair. She watched as in one swift, well-practised movement he had set both coffees down on his desk. She watched as he switched his computer on and sat down.
She watched as he looked over to the small photograph he now kept, not quite as well hidden as before, to the right of his desk. She watched as he looked.
I know Jethro, we love you too! She said, praying she would be heard... wishing he could see.