Debts – Sequel to Surrogate

AN: I hope you enjoy this sequel. It's the first I've ever written, so feedback is always welcome! Thank you so much and enjoy!

--

It had been 35 days, 11 hours, 14 minutes and 22 seconds since they'd lost Timothy McGee. It had been 12 minutes and 20 seconds since the last time Tony looked over at the empty desk and missed him. It had been two consecutive nights that Abby hadn't called Gibbs to help her fall asleep and three consecutive nights that Gibbs got less than three hours rest.

It had been a long haul for each of them. And no one hoped things would change more than Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He looked up from his paperwork, and took in the facial expressions around him and couldn't help but address it. He stood up and clapped his hands. "Okay people, listen up. From now on, I don't care if you want to or not, I want to see some smiles." He plastered a fake grin on his face, showing all his teeth and Tony couldn't help but smile at the mere absurdity of the suggestion. It took Ziva a few more seconds but she managed to mirror his grin.

"No offence boss, but who are we kidding here?"

Gibbs only stared back at him for a few seconds before exiting the bull pen and pushing the down button of the rear elevator.

Ziva stood up and paced over to Tony's desk. "What that really necessary?"

"Relax Ziva, it's not like I hurt his feelings. This is Gibbs we're talking about."

"Yes, that is true…but we are also talking about a man who just lost one of his team members, the least we can do to help, is do what he asks."

"Yeah? Like plaster a fake smile on my face? That would maybe work for a half hour."

"Well maybe you need to try harder."

Tony threw his hands up. "Not everyone can hide their emotions as well as you David."

"I do not hide anything…"

"You're a spy."

"I am, yes, but I have feelings. Don't you think I miss him too? It was hard on all of us in different ways, so don't begin to tell me that I don't care because I'm not sulking around work all day long." She turned around quickly and took her seat back at her desk.

Tony didn't respond and took to staring at his computer screen, giving his best attempt at avoiding any angle that might draw his eyes to the ever empty desk to his right.

--

"Abby?" Gibbs entered through the lab door to find her with her head buried in her folded arms. He tapped her shoulder and it startled her awake.

"Here sir." She threw up a mock salute and couldn't help but look relieved at who the man was standing in front of her. They embraced softly. "We got a case?"

Her voice was shaky and sad. Her music was off and anyone who knew her would say her clothing had anything but matched for the last month. "No, I just wanted to check in."

"Aww Gibbs, that's sweet. But I'm doing better." He gave her a look referring to her recent state. "Oh that? Well I was just catching a few Z's, nothing to be concerned about." Gibbs gave her another look, prodding for more of an explanation. "Okay…geez…I went out, had a few beers, and came home later than I thought I would."

Gibbs nodded. "You went out the night before last too."

"Okay, how do you know that? You know what, never mind, I don't want to know."

Gibbs continued regardless. "You haven't called me…"

"I just told you I've been doing better."

"Abs…" He began.

"Gibbs…" She continued.

The two stared at each other in silence for a few moments.

"Still no music?"

"Baby steps Gibbs…baby steps."

He conceded to ending the argument and leaned forward to kiss her forehead softly. "Baby steps."

--

When Gibbs arrived back in the bull pen he stood in between both Ziva and Tony's desks.

"Baby steps." He said simply, and headed behind his own desk, leaving the two a bit confused, but somehow comforted by his words.

The bullpen remained relatively silent till Tony watched a familiar frame pass by him and stand over Gibbs desk. "Uh boss…"

"What DiNozzo…?" He stopped himself short as he looked up to see the familiar person standing in front of him. And though it was a common occurrence over the last month or so, he once again found himself at loss for words.