Probationary Agent Eleanor Bishop was puzzled; for her that was a rare event. The job she had been doing for years, and doing well, was to find patterns, take seemingly unconnected people or events, then fit them together and make them whole, make sense of the apparently random. Yet here she was, sitting at her desk, and it still seemed strange to think of it as hers...sitting and trying to make sense of the relationship between Anthony DiNozzo and Timothy McGee. They weren’t in the bull pen right now, they’d left a few minutes ago, bickering as they went about which was the best of the Star Wars movies. It seemed to her that they spent a good part of any given day disagreeing about things, she reached out for one of the candy bars in her top drawer, she always thought better if she had something to eat. With a brief sigh she discovered the drawer was empty, her own fault, she’d left the bag of new supplies on the kitchen counter at home.
“You okay Bishop?”
“Me? Yeah...fine, just forgot to get more...doesn’t matter.” Ellie went back to checking her emails; she didn’t want to embarrass herself by admitting to Gibbs she’d been thinking about her team mates.
Gibbs got up from his desk. “I’m heading out for coffee; you want one?”
Ellie shook her head. “No thanks, I’m good.” She turned to the screen again and tried to concentrate on the messages, it was so frustrating, you didn’t have to watch DiNozzo and McGee for long to see they worked well together, anyone could see it, but seeing wasn’t enough, she had to understand.
“You get any work done while I was gone?”
Ellie almost jumped out of her skin, she’d been forewarned that Gibbs usually operated in stealth mode but it still surprised her when he turned up seemingly out of nowhere.
“A little...the truth; not so much. Gibbs, can I ask you a question?”
“It’s a good way to learn.”
“DiNozzo and McGee, they...they work so well together it’s like...only then they start in on each other about, well anything...I don’t understand.”
“Didn’t hear a question in there.”
“They seem like chalk and cheese, how do they do it Gibbs, how do they work together?”
“You’re the analyst, you figure it out. Here, this might help.” He handed her a cup of hot chocolate, a bag of potato chips and a pack of Oreos.
Gibbs watched her put in her earphones, switch on her ipod and tear open the Oreos; he sat down and sipped his coffee. He wasn’t surprised to see a frown of concentration on her face, he’d set her a puzzle alright, how to get to the heart of the enigma that was the DiNozzo, McGee partnership. He’d been watching it evolve for ten years and he wasn’t always sure what made it work.
They’d had a bumpy ride, and there were times when Gibbs thought they might crash and burn. Through everything they’d stuck together, even when the ties that bound them had been stretched almost to breaking point; when Tony’s undercover operation for Jenny came to light and they feared he was gone, when the team was split up and Tony was sent on the high seas while Tim was consigned to the subterranean world of Cyber Crimes. They were dark days, and the team could have fractured, but they’d re-forged the ties that held them together. Even when Ziva had hurt Tony, gone home to Israel leaving him behind, blaming him for Michael Rivkin’s death, Tony hadn’t given up on her and neither had Tim. They’d worked together to find her and bring her home, Gibbs felt again the warm glow of pride he’d experienced when he saw the two of them supporting her, guiding her from the hell she’d gone through.
He took another swig of coffee; maybe Somalia held the key to the strength of their relationship, since then, whether they were bickering or not, there was an underlying thread of mutual respect, of affection. Then Ziva had walked again, and just as Tony was coming to terms with his new life, the drone had hit the Conrad and Delilah and been gravely injured. Tim had closed in on himself, Tony wasn’t having that, he’d stepped up to the plate and supported Tim, showed his friend how to support Delilah.
They’d changed over the years, grown, matured into exceptional men, first-rate agents; he was proud to know them, and considered he was fortunate to have them on his team. They still had the ability to drive him to distraction, Tony with his endless movie references, Tim eager to share every detail of his search strategies. Oh yes, he’d handed out a few head slaps when things got out of hand; but every minute of every day he trusted them with his life; they trusted each other, cared for each other. Maybe he was getting soft in his old age, Gibbs had almost used the word love, if he had he’d have been closer to the truth. Bishop had to understand it too, if she couldn’t get it, couldn’t work out what made them who they were; she would never truly be a member of the team. He glanced up in time to see Bishop taking out her earphones.
She nodded and reached for another cookie. “I was looking at it wrong, concentrating on how they work together; it’s not about the work, not most of the time, it’s more than the job.” Ellie couldn’t believe it had taken her so long to see it. Hadn’t she lived her whole life witnessing the exact same behaviour? She’d watched her siblings spend hours arguing among themselves over anything and everything; then an outsider would offer a word of criticism against one of them and they closed ranks, shoulder to shoulder they were prepared to take on the world. “They’re not just partners; they’re brothers.”
Gibbs smiled and raised his cup to her in salute. She’d done it, got to the heart of who they were; this crazy family of his didn’t suit everyone, but he was pretty sure Bishop would do fine. There’d be some gentle probie-baiting along the way, but Tony and Tim would do everything they could to help her, and he was sure before long she’d become a fully fledged member of their NCIS family.