Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any recognizable characters. I make no profit.
A/N: Ok so I am not overly happy with this. It is my first attempt at angst and I conclude that I am not very good at it. I meant this as family/friendship but I guess you could take it as slash if you wanted to. Please review because I'd like to know how I did with angst. Much appreciative, Ange.
It was just like when Kate had died, except this helpful little grieving device his mind had dreamed up was more real and believable, and so much more heartbreaking than the one he had imagined then.
"McGee!" Abby yelled with a smile as she shot across her lab and stopped just short of flinging herself into his arms, "come have a look at this."
She turned on her heel quickly and walked to her computer, clicking a few buttons and bringing up an image on screen that was obviously meant for her wall, "it was Tony's favourite print of mine. I wanna hang it up again, what do you think?"
"It-it's great Abby," Tim ignored the choking sensation in his throat as he looked between Abby and the computer screen and then towards the door as it opened, "do you have the evidence."
"Of course," Tony and Abby echoed in unison, voices equally annoyed that he would think they hadn't, "on the bench in the main lab. Are you ok?"
The mimicking tones had turned softer and McGee couldn't take it anymore, "nnn," he managed to get out before he had to flee from Abby's lab and run to press the buttons on the elevator before his co-worker and his – for lack of a better word – hallucination tried to run after him, "hurry up!"
"Probie!" Tony caught up to him and clapped a hand gently onto his shoulder before he could escape into the confines of the elevator, "didn't think you were the type to yell at appliances."
"I can't do this Tony, not now," McGee walked into the elevator and shrugged off Tony's hand, scrubbing his own over his face and then trying to smooth out his crinkled tie, "tell me what I'm supposed to do."
McGee wiped the back of his hand over his eyes as the elevator made its descent down to autopsy, a place he knew he was sure to be alone, save for any hallucinations he cooked up and of course Tony, who was remaining suspiciously quiet as he leaned against the side of the elevator with his arms crossed, eyeing McGee with more concern than he had ever seen mustered in the senior agent.
"I can't do that Probie," he said quietly as the elevator pinged and they both stepped into the sterilised and empty room, "you have to handle this one on your own."
Tim was suddenly overcome with a flash of rage as Tony took up his leaning stance in the doorway, watching as his young friend smashed his fist down into a tray of autopsy tools and sent them flying all over the place.
"That's bullshit!" Tim ranted as he kicked the tray that had held the tools, sending the clashing noises sprawling all over the place, "that's bullshit! You helped me last time, why is it different now! You can't just abandon me like that!"
"I'm right here Probie," Tony said quietly again, moving from his place at the door and pulling firmly on an autopsy tray, the door opening and a slab covered in a sheet emerging, "isn't this what you came for."
The statement was true, but the fact that he was saying it as a statement at all was making Tim even madder than before, "no Tony! I'm here because I get my jollies out of seeing dead people! Better yet if they're my dead friends!"
"Come on, McGee," Tony was still speaking quietly and looking at McGee, hand gently tugging at the sheet that was covering the body that they were both there to pay respects to, "I can't be around to help you through these things forever."
As the sheet was pulled back revealing the head of his fallen co-worker, McGee wasn't mad anymore. His colleague had laid down their life for him, smiled until the very end, snapped at him when he began to tear up and mutter that it was his fault, and died holding his hand and his arm, telling him how much they really appreciated him staying with them.
"I know," McGee said with a slightly thick voice, "but you didn't have to leave so soon."
Tony smiled back at him as the elevator gave a ping from behind, registering in the deep recesses of his mind as he looked between Tony's face and that of his hallucinations, "that's DiNozzo's for you, hey? Always leave at the most inconvenient times."
McGee gave a clipped laugh, then let his cheeks tinge pink again as he let a tear fall before he wiped the back of his hand over his eyes, "thanks for always staying around long enough to get me through the worst of things. You saved my life."
"No, I didn't," Tony gave a small chuckle as he moved his hand from the sheet and took a step back, "all of you here gave me a family, Probie. You saved mine."
"McGee?" Tim turned towards Abby's voice and let her wind her arms around him as he took in her tear stained face, black make-up smudged all through the tear tracks as she broke into fresh sobs, "why'd he have to leave us."
"He didn't choose to," Tim choked out a little, turning back to look at his hallucination as he moved forwards to touch Abby's hair and then pulled back and gave a sad smile.
"You're the go to guy now so, take care of them," hallucination Tony gave a last sad smile as he looked at the entwined Tim and Abby, then down at his unmarred face, "a movie reference escapes me now…read a good one at my funeral McGee."
"Sure thing Tony," McGee said quietly, unnoticed by Abby as she continued to sniffle into his shoulder. Tony waved and gave his trademark grin before the doors to autopsy opened again and Tim turned away.
"Timothy? Abigail? What are you doing here?" Ducky asked loudly in the silence of the room, hugging Abby as she moved to him and left McGee to cover the body again.
"Nothing Ducky," McGee nodded to the old medical examiner as he closed the draw and turned to look at his hallucination that had seemingly disappeared, "we were… doing nothing."