Another story from NCIS fanfiction archive. I wrote this after having to program with a migraine at work. I actually programmed better, not that that says much. Set season 3.
McGee took a deep breath and scrubbed his forehead wearily with his hands. He had taken as many painkillers as he thought his kidneys could handle but this headache was still irking him. Tony and Ziva's constant bantering wasn't helping. Maybe he could sneak down to the lab for a while, so long as Abby didn't have that music on.
He shoved back his chair and lurched towards the elevator.
"Where're you going, Probie?" he heard Tony's teasing voice from behind.
"Abby," he mumbled absently.
"Abby's gone to lunch," Tony called after him as the elevator door slid shut.
'Good,' he thought, 'no music.'
Whatever deity was looking after him today must have been putting in some overtime: the lab was blissfully silent. He collapsed gratefully on a stool and looked up at the screen. Abby's search was complete but fruitless. There was another search waiting to start. He might as well make himself useful. He tapped slowly on the keyboard resting his chin on his other hand. The hand felt cold: he could use a cold hand.
Hitting the return key, he moved his cold hand to his forehead. It helped numb the pain a little. He could really do with a lie down somewhere. He tried laying his head on the desk but he was so dizzy, he was worried he'd fall off the stool. There was no one around. Did he dare risk lying on the floor?
He looked under the bench. There was room enough. If Abby was at lunch it meant there couldn't be much urgent going on. It might even be a long lunch. Furtively he slid off the stool and stretched out on the ground under the bench.
He groaned with relief and closed his eyes, folding his hands over his stomach which was growling with unease. The dizziness was still spinning him around but he knew he wasn't going anywhere. If he could go home he would but he couldn't trust himself to make it to the bus stop, not to mention stand up on the bus or remember to get off again. No, his best bet was to just rest for half an hour and hope his body would recuperate.
He listened to the humming and beeping noises in the lab coupled with the sound of his own breathing: In, out, in, out, he could even get a bit of syncopated rhythm going with the machines. All was peaceful with the world and he felt himself spinning off into darkness.
Slowly he became aware of voices. He must have fallen asleep at some time because his head was turned to one side. The headache seemed to have subsided; it's amazing what massive doses of analgesics can do, given time. He was still dizzy, but as long as he kept his eyes shut he could maintain the illusion that he was fine.
The voices were getting closer: Abby and Gibbs. First there was guilt, but the guilt only made him feel nauseous. Then he realised they didn't know where he was. If he just kept quiet, which was a fairly easy target given how bad he felt, they might just go away.
"Where the hell is McGee?" he heard Gibbs yell across the lab in frustration.
"Tony said he came up here an hour ago," replied Abby.
An hour! He didn't feel an hour's worth of sleep better than before. He felt Abby's feet close by and heard her voice, "Well, he's been here because he's started a new run."
Then the foot got too close and nudged him. Damn.
He opened his eyes to slits but it wasn't enough to stop his brain overdosing on the light. He could see Abby's face with her pigtails standing up. Hold on, that can't be right, she must be hanging her head upside down. Gravity only worked one way. He was a bit too disorientated to work out which way from the picture he was endeavouring to process but he was sure it was only one.
"What?" he mumbled non-communicatively. He felt much more awake with his eyes shut, when his brain didn't have to process both visual and audio information.
"Why are you lying under my bench?"
"Headache," he hoped she was aiming for monosyllabic answers because that's all she was going to get.
"You look like crap, McGee."
"McGee!" that was Gibbs. "Did you say McGee? Where the hell is he?"
He opened his eyes again and saw Abby's head flip back up out of view but not fast enough. Suddenly Gibbs' irate face filled his visual field. He braced himself for a Gibbs' tirade: this was going to hurt his head no matter how many painkillers were circulating. Then he saw Gibbs' face soften.
"McGee? You OK?"
"Headache," he managed gulping as a wave of nausea threatened. It wasn't strictly true, the headache component had been banished but the residual nausea, stomach pains and dizziness remained and he wasn't really up to a detailed description.
He closed his eyes as Gibbs expression took on one of concern.
"Listen, McGee," Gibbs started earnestly, "we have a roomful of hostages and we need to trace a signal that's being sent out of the room. Are you up to it?"
"Would it matter if I wasn't?"
Gibbs paused and looked up at Abby.
"Could you do it yourself?" he asked her.
"Well…..", she considered for a moment then her speech came fast and furious. "I can help McGee and I understand what he is saying but it's his code, so he knows what's where. Besides, he's the one who comes up with the plans because he knows what's possible with the devices. Once he's got an idea I can build on it. I could probably come up with the ideas myself but it'd be slower because, I'm like, really the forensics expert and he's the computer guy….."
"Stop Abby," Gibbs cut her off.
McGee's head was spinning from the Abby word tsunami. He heard Gibb's resigned sigh.
"Ok. McGee, we need you up."
He felt Gibb's hands slide under both arms and glide him across the floor from under the bench. The old guy was stronger than he looked. There was a pregnant pause.
"I'm not picking you up McGee," came Gibb's gruff voice.
"Oh." He opened his eyes a little to get orientated and wished he hadn't. Slowly, he rolled onto his side and made it to his hands and knees where he paused, almost retching.
"Don't you ruin my shiny clean floor," Abby warned him.
"Then get me something else to throw up into," he said through gritted teeth.
Abby scrambled about coming up with some plastic container that had probably once held someone's entrails but by the time she got back, the feeling had passed.
"I'm Ok for now," he mumbled, moving one leg so that he could push himself to stand.
He nearly passed out when he reached a vertical position and it was only the combined efforts of Gibbs and Abby plus a chair that managed to keep him conscious. After a few moments he realised he was sitting on a stool with Abby's warm body pressed against his back and her hands on his shoulders keeping him steady. He moved his feet up to rest on the stool foot rest to help keep his balance and lifted his chin from his chest where it had apparently fallen.
He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. The computer screen swum tantalisingly in front of him. He recognised bits of the code but couldn't quite remember what it did. Slowly it transformed before him. The program became alive, every line a symphony playing just for him. Carefully he tuned each note trimming, toning until everything was just right.
Nothing mattered except the code, his brain and his fingers: the conduit to his soul; which was why he didn't notice the bile until it burnt the back of his throat and roared through his surprised mouth in a sudden shock wave pounding him back to reality.
Fortunately, Abby had been paying attention, observing his every move. Not just his frantic eyes searing through the code but his shaking, sweating and pallor. She had been ready with her plastic dish and, like a well honed baseball catcher, managed to prevent all the vomit from reaching the keyboard where it would have seeped through to the electronics.
His programming screeched to a halt and he sat panting and shocked that his intimate computer orgy had been rudely sabotaged by his own body. His hair and collar were damp with sweat. He felt thoroughly disgusting. He looked around. The cold sterile lab seemed miles away from the parallel dimension he had just inhabited. Abby was wiping his forehead and asking if he was OK. He wondered if he was. Would it really matter? He had a job to do.
He felt Abby settle against his back again, steadying his shoulders and propping her doc-marten-clad foot against one of the wheels to prevent the chair from rolling across the floor. He took a deep breath and entered the code. He had nearly been at the end but it took some time to re-familiarise himself with the code and to backtrack to his place. He worked through slowly and methodically until he found it. At that point, his mind took flight. His fingers pounded, trying to reinforce the urgency with which each action was required. People's lives were in danger and like superman to the rescue, he flew across the keyboard.
There was one final stroke which he rounded off in concert virtuoso fashion and it was done. Images flashed across the screen, locations, addresses numbers scrolling and then, victory. The rampaging program came to rest on an innocuous address in an unremarkable street and stood still. It flashed rhythmically at him.
"There," he said.
Gibbs was already on the phone to Tony and Ziva.
"You did it," Abby whispered excitedly in his ear.
McGee closed his eyes and relaxed back in the stool against Abby's warm body. He could feel her breath gently caressing his neck. Slowly he titled his head to rest on her shoulder. He felt her arms hug him gently around his shoulders and her hands rubbing slowly and soothingly up and down his chest. He felt warm, safe and downright snugly. Slowly he drifted off to a sound sleep.