Diclaimer:I don't own NCIS. My bank account will prove that.
A/N:Here it is - the last chapter! I hope everyone's enjoyed reading my story. Just to let you know, the name Sarah means 'princess' in Hebrew.
The next couple of days seemed like a dream to Tim. He went home for Sarah's funeral, but he barely remembered anything from it. He knew that Abby, Gibbs, Tony, Ziva, Ducky, and Palmer all attended both the visiting hours and the funeral itself, but he couldn't recall anything they said or did. He tried to not dwell on how Sarah looked as she laid in her coffin, or that his mom wept uncontrollably for the entire duration of the funeral. Family and friends from all over the country had come in for the service. Some of them Tim had met before, some of them he hadn't, and he knew he wouldn't remember who they were now. His childhood home felt strange and empty without Sarah there. Life was quiet and very empty. Before he knew it, his week of paid leave had ended and he returned back to his apartment in D.C.
He had boarded Jethro at a kennel just before the funeral. Abby had volunteered to dog-sit, but that meant she wouldn't be able to attend the funeral. Tim needed her now more than ever, so instead she helped him find the best kennel for Jethro to stay at. For someone who had a strange obsession with death and coffins, Abby was so quiet and reserved at the funeral it was uncomfortable for Tim. After losing Kate a few years earlier, and Director Shepherd just a few months earlier, they were both done with funerals. Even though Abby wasn't her usual bouncy self, just having her around made him feel a little better.
Without Jethro, Tim's apartment was lifeless and… clean? He sniffed the air and could pick out the smell of Pine-Sol and Windex, with just a touch of something else. Was that vanilla? He walked into his room, and sure enough, a partially burned vanilla candle was sitting on his nightstand.
"Must have been Abby's doing," Tim mused to himself.
He flopped back on his bed. Since Sarah's death, he had only a few precious moments to himself. It was relaxing just to be alone, although that's when all of the terrible thoughts entered his mind. He knew her death couldn't have been prevented by him, or by anyone else. But he still worried. What if he had an aneurysm too? He had read in a medical journal online that they were hereditary, and even though they were more common in females, they still happened in males as well. He was still in the age bracket where they were the most common too. What if his parents ended up losing their daughter and their son?
Tim rolled over to his side and held his pillow against his body as if he was spooning it. He closed his eyes and felt the tears start to come. It just wasn't fair. Sarah still had so much left in her life. She would never finish her Master's. She would never get married, have kids, or have a career she loved. All of her dreams died with her.
He heard a soft knock at the door. Wiping his eyes, he sat up and looked at himself in the mirror.
"Well, I don't look like I've been crying, at least not too much," he thought.
He opened the door and wasn't entirely too surprised to see Abby standing there.
"Hi Timmy," she whispered. "I know you're supposed to bring food and stuff after someone, well, you know, but you weren't here, and now you are, and I figured you didn't have any groceries, so here." She thrust the casserole dish she had been holding into his hands.
"Abby you really didn't have to do this," Tim told her.
"I wanted to make sure you had something to eat. It's vegetable lasagna. Ziva helped me too."
"Oh, well thanks. And tell Ziva thank you also," he replied. "I take it you cleaned my apartment too?"
"Yeah, I thought it was a good time to get it really clean since Jethro wasn't around," she said.
Tim lifted the corner of the foil covering the dish and peeked at the lasagna. He wasn't really the biggest fan of veggie lasagna, but since Abby made it for him he'd give it a shot.
"Smells good," he told her as he glanced at the clock on the wall. "It's about dinnertime. Would you like some?"
"Well, it's your food, and I don't want to take any away from you, but if you want the company, I'll stick around," Abby replied.
"Don't be ridiculous! You're not taking it away from me. You're the one who made it. Come on, have just a little bit."
"Alright, but just a little piece," she conceded.
They ate mostly in silence, except for little bits of awkward small talk. Tim had learned to dread one question more than others: How are you doing? He was never sure what the appropriate response was. If he answered honestly and said he was doing lousy, then he would either receive pity from people, or he would be judged because shouldn't he be more concerned about how his parents were doing? After all, they did lose their only daughter. Never mind that he had lost his only sister. If he said that he was doing fine, then it seemed like he didn't care about Sarah that much, which was the furthest thing from the truth.
"Penny for your thoughts," Abby interrupted Tim's musings.
"It's nothing," he muttered.
"Then why are you frowning?" she asked.
Tim hadn't realized that he had been relaying his thoughts into his facial expressions. He relaxed his face.
"I'm not frowning."
"Not anymore you're not, but you've been making the most awful faces this whole meal!" Abby argued. A dejected look crossed her face. "Is it the lasagna?"
"Oh no, that's not it at all," Tim replied, which actually wasn't far from the truth. Even though it was meatless, the lasagna was pretty tasty. "I'm just thinking."
"I can see that. About what?" she pressed on.
God, she just didn't know when to quit sometimes. He sighed and said, "About Sarah. Well, more specifically about people asking me how I'm doing."
"And people being concerned about your well-being makes you upset?"
"No," he exclaimed. "That's not it at all. I just don't know what to say to people anymore."
"The truth?" Abby suggested.
"I don't need their pity, thanks."
"But Tim, people are genuinely worried about you. You've been through a lot, especially in the last few months. And I know you're all Special Agent-like and you know that your job is risky and sometimes people will get killed, but your sister died getting a cup of coffee, and that wasn't supposed to happen. You're only human, what if you've reached your breaking point? How am I supposed to know if you're okay if I don't ask?" she babbled on.
Tim caught himself smiling. Halfway through her rant, Abby had changed from talking about 'people' to 'I'.
"Here's a hint," he told her. "If I smile a little bit every day, then I'm probably doing okay. And it's nice to know that you're so concerned."
"It's not just me though, Timmy! Even Tony has been worried about you. He doesn't show it very well, but I know it's there. And I get so scared that sometimes you can't handle everything that's happened to you, and what if then one day you're gone too!"
Tim set down his fork and took Abby's hand in his. "Abby," he began. "I promise you, I'm not going anywhere, not by my choice or anyone else's. Yes, I miss Sarah, and I will always miss her, but I swear to you, I'm not going to kill myself."
Abby narrowed her eyes. "Promise?"
"Pinky promise," he reassured her.
A huge smile came onto Abby's face. She flung herself into his arms. "You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that!"
"I think I have an idea," Tim softly spoke into her ear as he wrapped his arms around her slender body. He had forgotten what this was like. For once, when Abby hugged him, he felt needed by her. He placed a tender kiss on her neck.
"Mmm," she purred. She pulled back enough so that she could give Tim a kiss on the mouth. It was a slow and leisurely kiss, but full of excitement. He kissed her back as she ran her fingers through his hair.
As they broke apart, Abby smiled and told him, "We should do that again sometime."
He chuckled and replied, "Anytime you want."
She snuggled against his chest. This was one of the best feelings in the world, he decided.
"Hey, I need to pick up Jethro from the kennel. Want to come with me?" he asked.
She immediately perked up. "Would I? Of course!"
He figured that would be her response. He grabbed his keys and Jethro's leash and together the two of them headed for the door. Abby placed her hand in his as they walked to the car, and Tim knew his healing process had begun at last.
A/N: I wrote this story to help me deal with my grief after losing two of my grandparents in about a two week time period at the end of this past summer. I actually had an aunt who died of a brain aneurysm, so this story is very close to my heart. Unfortunately, last night my Papa passed away, so I may be taking a break from writing. I was only able to publish this story because I had reached a point where I was detached from the emotions I felt while writing it. Those emotions are all back now, but I decided to publish the last chapter of this because I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. I'm sure I'll write again, and I may write things but not publish them for awhile. So don't give up on me just yet; I will be back someday!