Vance studied the group seated in his office, gauging their reactions to the information he had just given them. Abby had clearly accepted it, while DiNozzo and Bishop still looked a little skeptical, but he suspected they would accept it once everything had sunk in. Gibbs was, as usual, hard to read but Vance suspected he was willing to believe what he had witnessed. He also knew he was unlikely to discuss it with anyone.
The biggest concern was McGee. The poor man was still obviously shell shocked after his experience, and he had listened to everything with an oddly blank expression on his face. Vance knew the rest of them had realized just how badly this whole incident had shaken the agent, but he also knew they would help as much as they could, lending support in their own, unique way.
Vance leaned back in his chair and tented his fingers. “Any questions?” Abby raised her hand like a schoolgirl and he barely managed to keep a straight face.
“Yes, Ms. Sciuto?”
“What do we do with the, uh, evidence?”
“I’ll handle it the disposal. Make sure you collect every last piece and bag it up for me. I’ll deal with it ASAP. Understood?”
“What are the chances of something like this happening again?” Bishop asked, and Vance noticed that McGee’s shoulders stiffened as he waited to hear the answer.
“Unlikely. Considering how many years you all have spent in law enforcement and you’ve never encountered something like this before, I think the statistics speak for themselves.” Everyone except McGee nodded, relief clear in their expression. McGee’s face remained carefully blank.
“So now what?” DiNozzo asked and Vance sighed.
“You have a case to work. If you feel you’re not up to that at the moment tell me and I’ll hand it off to another team so you all can get some rest.”
“We’re fine, Leon.” Again, everyone except McGee nodded.
“Good. Get back to work. And in the odd chance that you do see something out of the ordinary, make sure you notify me. I’ll handle it. Clear?”
“Yes, Director,” they chorused, with McGee remaining silent.
“Good. Dismissed.” They all rose from their seats and headed for the door.McGee was the last to rise and before he could leave Vance called him back.
“Agent McGee? A moment?”
He turned and walked back to the desk, avoiding Vance’s gaze. Gibbs paused and turned, silently catching Vance’s attention. Vance met his gaze and after a few moments Gibbs gave a quick nod and left.
Vance waited for McGee to say what was on his mind, and after several minutes he raised his head and addressed him, his voice lacking any of the confidence the younger man had gained over the years since Vance had first met him.
“You’ll have my resignation on your desk by the end of the day, Director.”
“And why would I want your resignation, Agent McGee?”
“I know what I did. You can’t afford to have someone so unstable in this agency. I don’t want to endanger anyone else.”
“McGee, if someone had been dosed with a psychoactive drug, completely unwittingly and unwillingly, would you blame them for any of their actions while under its influence?”
“No, sir. But this was--”
“Not all that different of a situation. You had no idea what was being done to you. You are the victim here, McGee, and you don’t need to fall on your own sword because of it.”
“But I...I’m still dealing with those feelings, Director, and...I’m not myself.”
“Nor would anyone expect you to be. Take it from someone who knows, McGee, it’s not something you just shake off. But I know you, and I am confident that you can overcome this. It will get better. I promise.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
Vance smiled. “It will. Your team won’t let you fall, McGee. Yes, they were unprepared for it this time, but in the future...expect them to be a bit over-protective.”
McGee managed a weak smile. “That’s probably true.”
“It is. Now, go home, get some rest. Call your family. It will help. And if you do need to talk to someone, my door is open. Clear?”
“Yes, sir. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Tim.”
McGee nodded and left. Vance noticed Gibbs waiting outside the door when it opened and managed a smile of his own. Of all the people who could have stumbled onto something like this, he was glad it was Gibbs’ team. They’d recover. They might even prove to be an asset in the future…
Vance pulled out his private cell phone and punched a number. After two rings, a rough voice answered.
“It’s me. That item we were seeking? It’s been taken care of. Thought you’d want to know.” Vance chuckled at the response. “Yeah, me too. You’re welcome. Until next time.” He ended the call and leaned back in his chair with a sigh. One less evil thing to worry about, but who knew how many more were out there? And would his efforts ever be enough?
Only time would tell.