Forcing The Memory

Tim sighed. The room was sickeningly sterile, and if he had to stand these fumes one more second he was really going to burst. As that thought passed, the door flung itself open, bringing a blessed wave of fresh air. The strange woman ran back in, eyes blurry. She ran to him and grabbed his had, gripping it tightly. Ziva and Tony ran in, trying to hold her back. Obviously, they had little success. He recoiled from her touch; it was unfamiliar and too intimate for two strangers. She held back a sob as she noticed his obvious confusion.

"Tim," she said, her voice husky with tears. "Do you have any clue who I am?"

He took a breath, thinking.

"You're Abby," he said slowly. She jumped up, smiling. Her happiness was practically radiant, and Tony breathed a sigh of relief; maybe it was just a momentary side-affect of the coma.

"I told you, Tony! He couldn't forget me!" she cried, giddy. She started squealing, hugging Ziva, who returned the hug with obvious relief. Tim interrupted the little moment with a cautious, polite statement.

"Yeah, that's what Tony said your name was. I take it you're a friend of his?"

Abby looked crestfallen. She turned, retreating from the room before the stranger in the bad noticed the tears streaming down her face.

Tim looked incredulously at Ziva and Tony, who both looked down slightly. Tim sighed, confused and a bit worried.

"What aren't you telling me, you guys?"

Tony sighed, bringing a hand to his face as he turned to look out the window, refusing to say any more. Ziva coughed quietly before enlightening Tim, who was growing more uneasy by the moment.

"You do not remember Abby, do you, Tim?" she asked for the last time. He shook his head.

"Should I?" he asked. The look on her face made him almost afraid of the answer.

"Yes, McGee, you really should," she sighed. "Tell me what you can remember, starting from the time you joined NCIS."

Tim looked taken aback. How much of his memory was missing? He sighed, beginning to talk.

He remembered Tony, Ziva, Ducky, Gibbs, Palmer. He remembered Jenny, and Vance. And he remembered Kate. His voice choked up a bit as he grew to that certain tale. At Ziva's encouraging nod, he explained how she became a member of the team as well.

He spoke of the different cases they'd had, pausing to add details to prove to them that he remembered. As he watched their faces get more and more sullen, he finally snapped at them in frustration.

"What!" he yelled. "I've gotten everything right! My memory is fine,"

Ziva looked down as Tony stormed out, calling over his shoulder, "I'm getting Ducky and Gibbs; maybe they can talk the sense back into him,"

Ziva squinted at Tim, who made a face in return. She chuckled.

"Glad to see your sense of humor hasn't been kicked out of you as well,"

"And I'm glad to see that your use of English Idioms didn't get any better while I was out," he said with a smile. "The expression is 'knocked out of you',"

She smiled wistfully. "Well, I will try to improve, yes?"

He laughed. An unsettling silence fell upon them both as they both started thinking. Two minutes passed easily before Tim finally spoke.

"Who is she, Ziva?" he asked.

Ziva looked up, surprised. She ran to her backpack in the corner of the room, and pulled out her cell phone. She opened it, clicking and clacking until she found what she wanted. She tossed it into his lap.

"This was the day before the accident, McGee," she whispered.

They were in the lab, but for the first time in his memory, he wasn't alone in the room. The bizarre woman who had been there earlier was with him, smiling with him, hand on his shoulder. They were grinning, mutual laughter in their eyes as Ziva had taken the picture. He remembered that afternoon . . . but not this woman. He met Ziva's eyes, and shook his head.

"Damn it, McGee," she muttered. "Abby will kill you for forgetting her when you're back to normal,"

"Normal?" he asked, a little frustrated. Save for a few physical injuries, he hadn't changed at all!

"Yes, McGee, normal!" she snapped back. "You are not yourself without Abby; you are not used to her hugs and the laughing and teasing. You are not yourself,"

"No, Ziva," he muttered. "It's you guys who are acting unusual. Just because I don't know a stranger doesn't mean I've automatically changed myself,"

Ziva glared at him angrily; how was she supposed to make him remember when he was too busy thinking he was right? A spark lit up her eyes as an idea came to her. She grabbed her phone from where it was still lying on Tim's stomach, and dialed rapidly. Speaking quietly and quickly, she snapped the phone with a satisfied look on her face.

"What?" he asked, cautious. He wasn't used to the smug look on Ziva's face.

"I have proof," she said with a smile. "Of your and Abby's friendship,"

Tim sighed. "Give it up, Ziva, I don't know that lady!"

Ziva patiently let him rant as she sat down in the chair Abby had vacated earlier. After Tim grew tired of carrying the weight of a one-sided conversation, he looked to her to respond. She grinned before speaking.

"I have a story for you, McGee, and you have to promise to listen to the whole thing before discarding the idea. If, after our conversation, your view has not changed, I will let the subject rest. Deal?"

"It's a deal," he said, reaching out his hand. They shook briefly, before Ziva opened up.

"When I came to NCIS, you were the first to accept me. I was grateful to have at least one friend in the country. The rest of the team followed suit gradually, but Abby was the hardest nut to fracture-"

"Crack, Ziva,"

"Anyway," she continued. "When she finally acknowledged me as a friend, we began to grow closer. After a few months, we became good friends, and we began to spend time together. You and she were best friends, of course, so it didn't bother me that you two spent so much time together. But, during one case, I noticed something . . ."

She trailed off, lost in thought. Tim waved his hand in front of her face, and she flicked it away with a smack of her hand before continuing.

"Do you remember when your sister was accused of murder?"

Tim's eyes grew dark at the memory, but he nodded.

"Well, Abby was the one who cleared her name. Days after that, she went on and on about how amazing of a big brother you were. Hell, even Ducky grew tired of her raving on and on. I came down for an Autopsy report, and there she was, sitting next to the body of a Petty Officer, Andy Thompson, telling him about you. She talked about you for an hour to that dead man, Tim, telling him all her memories of the two of you. Yet you mean to tell me that you don't even have one memory of her?"

Ziva took a breath, and looked at Tim. He was frowning, and he looked to her with darkness in his eyes.

"Sorry, Ziva. But I just don't remember,"

AN: Thanks for all the amazing reviews! Tell me how you like this chapter- I kind of rushed it a bit so i hope you like it!!