"I found out this morning that it was a false positive. I'm not pregnant."
As Tim slipped into the stairwell as quietly as his racing heart and rising anger allowed, he quickly came to a dead stop with his back against the wall, forcing himself to calm down.
Hurting for both these kids, Gibbs quietly listened for the tell-tale sounds of pounding feet on the stairs. Hearing none, he realized Tim had stopped just inside the stairwell door, probably struggling to pull himself together. Well, he'd give him that. Turning back to Abby, he found her quietly crying, tears flowing down her face.
"You didn't tell him?" she whispered in an accusing tone.
"I told him." Gibbs corrected her quietly.
"Then what was that?" Abby exclaimed.
"Abby, calm down. We'll talk about this later. After work." Gibbs said as he continued to look at her with the Gibbs stare that told her to get her mind back on the job.
"Okay." she quietly conceded, knowing she needed to do as he directed. She needed to get her mind off of what wasn't meant to be.
Gibbs watched her pull herself together; nodding his satisfaction when she smiled at him, kissed his cheek, and turned back to her work. As he headed out of the lab, he passed the elevator and quietly opened the stairwell door, fully expecting to find Tim sitting there pulling his own self together. Surprisingly enough, the stairwell was empty.
Taking himself back to his desk, hoping Tim had done the same thing, he was once again surprised to find no sign of him. In fact, Tim's computer had been shut down and his backpack was missing, too. He probably left me a note, at least. Gibbs thought as he quickly checked his desk, his phone and his email. Sure enough, there was an email waiting for him from his wayward agent.
Had to get away. If you need to write me up for it; I understand.
I put in for some time off, hoping you'll understand.
Yeah, Gibbs understood. What he didn't understand is where his Senior Field Agent was at the moment. Looking over at Ziva's desk, he was disturbed to find that she wasn't there either. Looking carefully, he did notice a note on both desks. On closer inspection, both notes said. "Lunch" on them. Doubtful of the timing, he dug out his cell phone and called Tony.
"Boss?" came Tony's cautious answer which immediately raised the red flag for Gibbs.
"Tony, McGee with you?" Gibbs went straight for the jugular.
"Uh, yeah, Boss, that's right." Tony said cryptically.
"Where are you?" Gibbs demanded.
"Right outside, bench." Ton continued to be quiet, cryptic and hopeful, obviously, that Gibbs would come get involved. Obviously, something was wrong, worse than Gibbs thought.
"You keep him there, I'll be right out." Gibbs directed.
"Sure." Tony said as he quickly ended the call.
A short three minutes later had Gibbs walking toward his entire missing team. Ziva stood next to Tim as she steadfastly looked at him, maybe trying to get him to open up, but with no success. He did offer her a slight nod as she squeezed his arm and left his side to walk back to where Tony was standing, closer to the bench. Seeing Gibbs, she kept walking until she'd reached him as he came closer.
"Gibbs, I cannot get him to talk to me, but something is definately wrong." she told him with concern.
"It's okay, Ziva. I'll talk to him. You and Tony go ahead and go to lunch. Why don't you try to get Abby to go with you?" Gibbs suggested.
"I will see if she wants to go with us." Ziva replied.
"No, Ziva. This time. don't take no for an answer." Gibbs directed calmly but with enough twist in his tone that it was obviously a request and not an order.
"Of course, Gibbs." Ziva said with a look of determination before she turned to Tony and together, they headed back inside to get Abby for lumch.
Tim's back remained ram-rod straight and obviously tense. As he looked out over the water, his eyes never moved and for that matter, no part of his body did either. If Gibbs hadn't known him, he could've passed for a statue.
Wanting to minimize this situation for the time being and let things settle down so his agent could think about things from a calm perspective, Gibbs decided to give him an easy out.
"Tim. I got your email and your request for time off. You're right, I do undestand. I want you to go hang out at my place until I get home. You need to be left in peace and no one will look for you at my house. I want a chance to talk to you after work tonight."
Tim turned and looked at his boss in shock.
Gibbs smiled. "Yeah, I know. But I also know that this isn't over for you and you need to talk about it. I'm willing to listen. Tonight. Now. Go on, go to my place and relax. Make yourself at home. Just lock the door." Gibbs directed with a pat to his agent's shoulder, before he turned and headed back inside before Tim could object.
Six that night found Abby cornering Gibbs, determined to talk to him. "Gibbs, it's after work, Talk to me, please!"
"Abby, It's like I told you. I did tell him." Gibbs told her as he walked out to his car.
Walking beside him, Abby was quick to keep up with him so she could keep talking with him. "Then what was that earlier today and why did he take the rest of the day off?" Abby demanded. "Is that why he's taking the rest of the week off, too?"
"Abby, it's none of your business when someone else takes time off. As far as his reaction to what he overheard in your lab; that's something you'll have to talk to him about; when he's ready to talk to you." Gibbs directed.
"Abby!You both have a lot to think about and digest. Give it time. Give him some space. He'll talk to you when he's ready." Gibbs insisted. "Go home and get some rest, be back here on time in the morning". Gibbs directed.
"Gibbs!" Abby pushed demandingly. "I need to talk to him. I need to put this to rights between us."
Gibbs sighed and dug out his phone. Hitting the speed dial for TIm, he waited to hear his agent pick up the phone.
"Boss?" Tim's cautious voice answered.
"Hey, McGee. you up to talking to Abby?" Gibbs got right to the point.
Knowing that Abby was pushing her way into this, Tim wanted to take care of it right away. He needed this put to rest.
"Sure, Boss." Tim replied.
Handing Abby the phone as he set it on speakerphone, Gibbs waited and determindly listened to both sides, needing to know exactly what was going on with both of them. If he was gonna be able to talk to Tim about this, he'd need to know what was said between them and this way, Tim wouldn't have to repeat anything.
"Timmy." Abby said in concern.
"Abby, I asked you a long time ago not to call me that anymore. " Tim said with obvious aggravation.
"You're right. I'm sorry. Are you okay?" the lab rat kept going through her questions, wanting to get them all out before she was shut down.
"Yeah. Abby I'm fine. You?" Tim conceded. There was no point in dragging this out.
"I'm good. I was just worried about you after the way you took off this morning." Abby explained.
"You took me by surprise, Abby. I'm fine now. Don't worry bout me." Tim pushed her to accept what he was saying.
"Tim! We need to talk about this!" she pushed.
"No. Abby, we don't. I need this to be put to rest, please. Don't push me." Tim
"Tim!" Abby continued to push.
Gibbs had heard enough. He raised his eyebrows at her in his typical message sending method and she conceded.
"All right, Tim. You promise you're okay?"
"Yes, Abby. You?" Tim had to make sure even though he didn't want to talk about it, he did care that she was okay.
"Yeah. disappointed but okay." Abby admitted.
Silence on the other end of the phone gave Gibbs pause for concern. Abby obiously felt the same way because she was the first to something while Gibbs had waited for Tim to speak.
"Yeah. Abby. I'm hear. Listen, I've gotta go now, got something in the oven I need to take care of, all right? I'll talk to you later." Tim said.
"Oh. Okay." Abby gave up. "Take care, Tim." as Abby dejectedly hung up, she handed Gibbs the phone and started to walk away toward her own car.
"Abby!" Gibbs called her back as he put his phone in his pocket.
"Gibbs, you were right, he needs time. I"ll leave him alone." Abby finally admitted as she turned back to look at him.
He walked up to her, looked her in the eye and kissed her on the cheeck. "Good girl." he told her before he turned and headed back to his own car.
When he got home, he immediately smelled dinner on the table, which was a shock to Gibs. Walking into his kitchen, he found steaks and baked potatos steaming and ready to be eaten. Suddenly speechless, Gibbs could only stare at his agent.
"What? You told me to make myself at home." Tim defended his actions.
"This is great, McGee! I had no idea you would think to make dinner, like this." Gibbs acknowledged gratefully.
"It's the least I could do, Boss." Tim conceded.
"For what?" Gibbs asked.
"For you helping me through all this crap. For you putting up with it all, and for you still not letting me quit on myself." Tim admitted with gratitude.
"Glad you understand that last part so well, son. Now. did you mean what you said to Abby a few minutes ago?" Gibbs pushed, wanting to get this out of the way.
"About me being okay? Yeah. I am now. But, if you don't mind, I still would like the time off." Tim said hopefully.
"So long as you understand that it's not a license to dwell on this." Gibbs directed.
"No, it's not, it's time I need to think and breathe without having to dwell on it." Tim explained.
"What happens when you come back to work?" Gibbs needed to know."
"Hopefully, everything will be back to normal." Tim admitted.
"So, this time off is because you can't be at work right now?" Gibbs asked.
"Yeah." Tim sighed in frustration.
"There's nothing wrong with being this honest with yourself. You need the time to get your head back in the game, that's fine. Just don't use it to build up an exuse to leave."
Tim looked everything but surprised.
"You were thinking about it." Gibbs acknowledged with his usual incredible perception.
"Yeah. I was." Tim admitted quietly.
"McGee, you're right, you need this time to get your head on straight. This needs to stop. You figure out how to make this work, or you go ahead and transfer." Gibbs demanded obviously getting pissed.
"Yes, Boss." Tim said dejectedly.
"Doesn't mean I won't listen if you still need to talk. But, either way, figure this out once and for all."
"Okay. Enjoy your dinner, Boss." Tim said as he slipped out of the kitchen and headed for the door.
"McGee!" Gibbs called.
Tim headed back into the kitchen, putting his coat on as he went. "Boss?" he asked when he was eye to eye with the man again.
"Where the hell you goin'? "
"Home." the answer came like it shouldn't have had to be asked.
"Why? Didn't you cook enough for the both of us?" Gibbs asked dryly.
"Wel,, yeah, but..." Tim hedged.
"Just because I want you to give yourself a kick in the ass and get your head on straight doesn't mean I'm kicking you out of the house, McGee. Take your coat off and sit down! Dinner's gettin' cold." Gibbs told him with a grin.
"You'll figure it out. I have faith in you." Gibbs offered.
One week later:
Everyone on the team was at their desk even before 7 that morning, each ready to face the day. The week without McGee had been thankfully, quiet. Then again, that had only served to keep them reminded of his absence, as they remained at their desks doing paper work and cold cases. His absence had been less than comforable for them. No one had said anything about it, somehow knowing that the subject was off limits.
Abby had bounced back to her normal self by the end of the week, with just a hint of a problem that seemed to be bothering her. After Tony and Ziva had taken her out every night after work, things between them had returned to normal and all was well with the team. Now, all they needed was their Probie back and they could only hope that would go just as smoothly.
Tim had been thr first to arrive that morning. He'd wanted it to be that way, wanting to be settled into his workstation before the rest of them came in. Gibbs had been the next one in and had immediately stopped at Tim's desk to look him over. He hadn't seen him since that night Tim had cooked dinner after work. They hadn't even spoken since then and Gibbs was concerned. Did Tim feel pushed away? There was a time when the young man would have come and talked with Gibbs about anything.
"McGee." Gibbs quietly greeted his agent, relieved the others hadn't arrived yet.
"Boss." Tim greeted back.
"Everything okay?" the older man asked.
"Everything's fine, Boss." Tim promised.
"You sure?" Gibbs pushed.
"I'm sure. Boss. Thanks."
"You talk to Abby yet?" bringing up the most important elephant in the room. Gibbs waitied impatiently for the answer.
"No. Not yet." Tim admitted.
"I suggest you do that before it's time to start work." Gibbs told him in that tone that made it anything but a suggestion.
"On it, Boss." Tim said as he headed to the back elevator.
"McGee?" Gibbs called after him.
"Boss?" Tim turned to look at him.
"Welcome Back!" Gibbs offered.
"Thanks, Boss." Tim smiled and headed down to see Abby.
When he got to the lab, he walked in quietly, not wanting to disturb her. Abby felt a presence behind her and turned around quickly. Immediately, she picked up the remote to her music player and hit the button that brought silence to the room.
"McGee." she said cautiously,
"Abby. How are you?" Tim asked just as cautiously.
"I'm fine. You?" she was hurt that he hadn't called or even emailed her in the entire week he'd been out. He must really be pissed at her and just wasnt' being honest about it.
"Abby, can we just stop dancing around each other and get to the point? "I'm sorry if you're upset wtih me for some reason. I can tell you are. Whatever the reason, I'm sorry." Tim genuinely offered.
"McGee, you didn't call me or email me for an entire week. So either you lied when you said you were okay or you lied by omission when you said you were okay but didn't tell me you were pissed at me!"
"What? Wait a minute! Just because I took the week off to get my head back on straight and figure some things out for myself, you assume I did it because I was pissed at you?" Tim asked incredulously.
"No! your silence led me to that conclusion." Abby defended herself.
"Abby, you need to rework your theory! I'm sorry if my not contacting anyone here for the week hurt you, but it wasn't about you." Tim explained.
"So, you're not pissed at me?" Abby asked doubtfully.
"No, Abby. What's done is done. We both need a completely clean slate." Tim answred her honestly from his heart. Gibbs' words rang in Tim's head:
This needs to stop. You figure out how to make this work, or you go ahead and transfer
"What are you thinking about?" Abby asked in concern.
"Something Gibbs said to me last week before my week off started." Tim admitted.
As he repeated Gibbs' words to her, Abby took them in and let them sink in. She was just as much to blame, if not more than Tim had been, why would Gibbs have said that to him and not to her? Well, no matter, it did apply to both of them and she knew it. What's more, Tim needed to know that she knew it.
"Don't worry, McGee. I accept the responsibility and what he said to you goes for me too. I know it does. I promise it'll be okay. We'll be fine working together. I promise."
"I know, Abby. I know. But, thank you." Tim said as he kissed her cheek and headed out, needing to get back to his desk.
Abby smiled. She had her friend back and he wasn't going anywhere.
All was right with the world, once again.