2 weeks later...

"Timothy, you have your inhaler and pain medication?" Ducky sat at the kitchen table nursing a cup of earl grey tea.

"Sure do, Ducky. I'll be fine. I've got everything I need and will be back before curfew." Tim grinned broadly at the genteel M.E. and reached over to pour him another cup of tea before they left. "I'll be fine. We're just going out for a couple of hours for dinner and then I'll be back because I'm not sure how much more I could take without falling asleep."

"Ahh, the exhaustion. I remember young Anthony going through this stage. Although you feel better, young man, I feel it's my duty as both your physician and your friend to feel concerned. Your body is still healing and your lungs still have some congestion there. Now, that being said I want you enjoy your evening, but if things become too much then you must come home right away."

"Don't worry, Ducky. I won't let him push himself. It's just dinner." Abby bounded in looking stunning in a black, floor length maxi dress. "I'll keep my eye on him."

Tim giggled at the wink she sent his way and shook his head. "Wow, all of a sudden I feel like a fifteen year old going out on his first date."

"As well you should. It's only because we care, Timothy. Why else would we make such a fuss?" Tim frowned at Ducky serious tone and moved to stand next to the man so he could put his hand on the M.E's shoulder.

"I know, Duck and I appreciate everything that you have done. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you." Tim sat down and looked Ducky square in the eyes. "Thank you. You've been a big support and I really am grateful."

"I know you are, dear boy. Now, Abigail is standing there waiting so what say you two go out and enjoy your meal. Just..."

"Let you know if something's wrong. Come home if tired and don't overdo it." Tim and Abby said in perfect unison. This made Ducky chuckle to himself and even managed to draw a smile out of Gibbs who had been leaning silently against the counter nursing his mug of coffee.


"Yeah, Boss?"

"You just remember what I told you last night." Gibbs calmly instructed his youngest agent whom he'd come to worry and care about a lot more in the last three months than he'd ever done before.

Tim smiled as he thought back to his boss' words of advice:

"McGee, just don't make the mistake of giving her an inch, anymore. Abby doesn't stop at that first mile. When you give her an inch, she takes the whole damn state!"

"I will Boss, and thank you." Tim replied with a smile of gratitude towards the man who'd he'd become closer to over the last three months than he'd ever thought possible.

Gibbs nodded his acceptance of Tim's thanks before turning his attention to Abby.

"Abbs, you behave yourself and remember your date is still recovering." He instructed her and raised his eyebrows at her.

Abby couldn't help but smile back at him. "I promise to behave, Gibbs. I'll take good care of him."

"We're holdin' you to that! Now, go on, both of ya!" Gibbs directed and as they said their goodbyes and turned to refill his cup before moving into the living room with Ducky so that they could watch the news.

"Ok, Abby. What's the plan?" Tim asked as Abby slipped her arm though his. "I mean, you do have a plan...right?"

"Of course. I plan to have a nice dinner with my boyfriend and our friends and then I plan to come back home with you and snuggle up with a movie. How does that sound?"

Tim cocked his head slightly. "Uh-huh, and there's nothing else on the agenda?"

"You know me."

"You know, that's what worries me." Tim laughed loudly when Abby playfully punched his arm. "Hey! Okay, I know that this is so we can play matchmaker and what you saw on the stairs was, shall we say interesting. But don't force the issue. We've gotta let them work it out and from what you saw, they're doing a pretty good job without our help."

"Don't worry. Seriously, I'm not up to anything bad." With a twinkle in her eye, she reached down to open Tim's car door but was stopped when he got in there first. She climbed in and offered a warm smile of thanks before settling in and waiting for Tim to get in the car. She frowned when Tim coughed and used the inhaler.

"You alright? We can always..."

"I'm fine, Abby. Trust me, this is a whole lot better than it was and Ducky's finally letting me out so I'm not gonna let a little cough spoil the night." Tim said firmly.

"I know but..."

"Come on. It's just dinner and you know as well as I do that I'm gonna be needing this for a few weeks yet. Stop worrying, okay?"

"Okay. If you're sure." Abby looked him over and noticed that despite the past few weeks taking its' toll, Tim had started to gain back some of the weight he'd lost and the sickly pallor that had haunted him had lifted.

"I'm sure."

"Then let's go!" Abby said cheerfully as they set off.

As they were driving along listening to the radio, Tim was suddenly struck by something about Abby's matchmaking; something that could bring the boss down on them all like a ton of bricks.

"Um, Abby. I was just thinking. I really do think this is a good idea and I know you said you have no ulterior motive. But let's face it, what we are doing tonight is playing matchmaker and we need to be careful."

"Of what?" Abby said cheerfully but cocked her head with interest at what he was saying.

"Rule 12."

"But, we have permission to break Rule 12."

"I know and it's only because we don't work together out in the field. But we're helping Tony and Ziva break it and doing what we are doing will be helping them break it." Tim said honestly as he laid his cards on the table.

"Are you saying, were aiding and abetting our friends, Agent McGee?" Abby chuckled "I really don't think they need that much of a shove in the right direction; just something to break up that sexual tension between them."

"ABBY! Ugh! Okay, enough with that kind of talk. Jeez, I do not want to be hearing about my team's sexual tension!"

Abby giggled with mirth at Tim's exclamation and placed her hand on his knee. "Don't worry, Timmy. Gibbs can't yell at us for this. As far as he's concerned, Tony and Ziva are just there to run interference for us. You know, make sure we're okay and all that."

"I still can't believe they bought that. I mean, as if we need someone to babysit us tonight. We're adults."

"I know, and we don't. But I had to say something and that was the first thing that came to mind. And if they bought it, it means they still think we need it. I guess they're still worried that I'm gonna hurt you again. But, relax, we've got tomorrow night just for us...the real first date revisited. Don't worry, I've got it all worked out." Abby grinned broadly and saw the last of the tension seep out of Tim.

"I hope so, Abby. I really do hope so." Tim replied with a smile and pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant.

"And Timmy, thank you for giving me this second chance."

"You're welcome, Abby. I really hope this is just the first of many wonderful dates for us."

"Me too, Tim. Me too."

"So, Tony. Tell me again why we are both here?" Ziva glanced at Tony and cocked her head with confusion.

"To eat?"

"I understand that, but I think, Abby has alternative reasons; yes?"

"How do you?...You know what, never mind. Yeah, she does but Probie can't know about them."

"I have my ways. So spill the peas." Tony's eyebrows shot up into his hairline at the mistake and he couldn't help but shake his head.

"Beans. It's spill the beans." He said but stepped back at Ziva's scowl. "Alright, Abby collared me in her lab one day..."


"Hey, Abbs. I've got some stuff I need you to run for me." Tony walked up to the table and placed the evidence down.

"Thanks. I've just got something to run for Gibbs, but I'll do it as soon as I'm done with that."

"Sure, no problem. I better be getting back but I'll be down later." Tony turned and started to walk away but stopped when he heard the door lock. "Come on, Abbs. The boss'll kill me if I'm not back soon."

"I just need to ask you a question."

Tony rubbed his eyes with frustration and bit his tongue to stop the sharp retort escaping his mouth. He settled for "Shoot" and turned to look at her.

"Well, you know how me and Tim have decided to give it another go."

"Everyone knows that. You just remember we're watchin' you."

"I'm not gonna hurt him. I promise. We've decided to go out this Saturday and I was wondering whether you and Ziva would come to run interference for us. I mean after everything that happened we just need a buffer." Abby leaned back against the table and gazed at Tony.

"Interference? Why, Probie said you two have been doing alright recently." Tony countered with interest.

"Oh, we have but I just want someone there because you know, it all started with the first date and we'll feel better knowing you were there. Just this first time, Tony. Please?"

"I'll ask Zee. Why do you need both of us?"

"Me and Tim are together. You really want to play lemon?" Abby grinned at Tony and knew she had him right where she wanted him.

"Not really, no. I can't think of anything worse. Alright, I'll get her to come. Don't know how, but I'll try." He was nearly rocked off his feet by Abby throwing her arms around his neck.

"Thank you. You won't regret this."

"No worries. I really gotta get back." Tony turned to leave and was relieved when the doors opened. With a heavy feeling in his gut, he made his way up to the squad room to try and convince Ziva that this was a good idea.

*End Flashback*

"So, she wants us to, quote 'run interference'?"

"That's about the jist of it." Tony nodded his agreement and grinned "Hey, it won't be that bad. If all else fails, we've had a nice team night out. Besides, it'll be good for us to see just how much she's changed where Probie's concerned. After this, they should be fine on their own."

"Always the optimist. Here they are now." Ziva nodded towards the couple as they walked towards them hand in hand. Ziva couldn't help but smile at how easy it was for them to fall into being a couple after the horrible few weeks they'd had.

"Hey guys. You both look nice." Abby greeted with a grin and moved to hug them both. She was relieved when they both reciprocated freely; especially seeing as it had been strained between them recently.

"Why thank you, Miss Sciuto. You scrub up well yourself." Tony grinned and turned to Tim. "And what's this? Probie, you look…Hmm, you look almost human."

"Gee thanks, Tony." Tim answered with a grin as he took his teammate's jesting in stride.

"Hey!" Tony squirmed away from the elbow that connected with his ribs. "What was that for?"

"You know why. McGee, you look very nice. As do you, Abby."

"Thanks, Ziva. So, what do you think of the restaurant?" Tim glanced up at the sign in hope that the Filomena Ristorante would be a good choice on his part. After all, Tony had Italian blood flowing through his veins.

"I've been here before. It's a good choice, Probie. Good food, good wine and good company. We can't go wrong."

"Can we go in, I'm starving." Abby chimed in. She hadn't eaten since breakfast and was keen to get the festivities started. "Aww look. It's just so sweet. I love it!"

"Yeah, it is, Abby. You guys ready?" Tim replied.

At the nods that he received in return, they four of them walked into the restaurant to start what promised to be a very special night.

The meal went swimmingly and any tension that remained as a result of the 'Alex saga' seemed to melt away leaving nothing but friendly conversation over a nice meal. It was obvious that Tim was struggling though and by the time the coffees arrived, he was feeling light headed as exhaustion took hold.

"You alright there, Probie. You're looking a little green." Tony said with concern.

"Yeah. I'm good, Tony, just about ready to call it a night, though. Beginning to feel like I've been running a marathon." Tim rubbed his hand over his eyes and yawned behind the hand he placed in front of his mouth to hide behind. The yawn quickly turned into a deep hacking. Once he was finished, he pulled out the inhaler and used it to help loosed the tight feeling in his chest.

"That's not much fun. I remember having to carry one of those around with me for a couple of weeks. Maybe we should finish these and call it a night. You still have to drive home. You all right to drive, Probie?"

"Yeah, Tony, I'll be fine to drive. There's no point in you two calling it a night and those tickets need to be put to good use. You three go on ahead. I don't want to ruin it for you all." Tim said with a sigh hoping that Tony and Ziva would agree.

"You sure? I mean, I was kinda looking forward to the show." Tony replied, thankful that Tim told them to go ahead. They had all decided on going to the cirque du Soleil that was in town and Tony had been looking forward to it.

"Yeah, I'm sure. Just make sure Abby gets home okay."

"No way! I'm coming with you because I want to make sure you're tucked up safe and sound and tonight hasn't caused any problems. You guys'll be okay won't you?" Tim sighed heavily and shook his head. It was all part of the ruse to get these two alone for the night and truth be told, they had only bought two tickets...One for Tony and one for Ziva.

"We will be fine. I have never been to the circus. Is it fun?" Ziva chimed in.

"You'll enjoy it. It's not the conventional kind of circus, more of a show. But I went a few years back and loved it." Said Tim. "You know what guys, I'm pretty much done in so I'm...we're going to get going. You sure about this Abby?"

"Positive. It's in town for a couple more weeks so we can always get more tickets. For now, you need to get to bed and rest."

Tim picked up the wallet that had been placed on the table and glanced at the bill. With a smile, he pulled out his wallet and paid for everyone.

"Probie, no. Let me give you som..."

"Don't worry about it. It's on me. Here." Tim handed over the front row tickets and stood up. "Thanks for a great night out guys. I've really enjoyed it."

"It is us that should be thanking you. Go home and get some rest." Ziva stood up and moved to hug Tim. "It has been wonderful."

"Yes it has. Thanks Zee. Don't forget to tell us how the show goes."

"I will." She replied with a twinkle in her eye.

"See you later, Probie. Take care of yourself because you know what happened when I did too much."

"Yeah, I remember. You knocked yourself back for ages. I'll talk to you tomorrow, Tony." Tim clapped his friend on the shoulder and waited for Abby to say her goodbyes. Once she was done, the two of them walked back to the car and Abby grinned when she felt Tim's arm scoot around her shoulders.

"That went well."

"It did. You think they'll enjoy the show?" Tim asked with a tired smile.

"Who wouldn't? You've still got our tickets for tomorrow haven't you?"

"Sure have." Tim broke off and rubbed at his tired eyes.

"Come on; let's get you home to bed."

"Is that a proposition, Miss Sciuto?" Tim chuckled "Because if it is, I don't think Ducky'll approve."

Abby squeezed Tim's waist and rested her head on his shoulder. "You wouldn't be up for anything anyway. Hmmm, think Ducky'll mind me staying over just to cuddle. I could borrow one of your t-shirts."

"I'm sure he won't mind, Abby." Tim replied as he opened the door of his car for her. As she stepped in, he crouched down and took her hand in his. "I think, he'll just be glad that everything's headed back on track."

He stood up and closed the door behind him. As he moved to the driver's seat, he watched as his friends left the restaurant hand in hand. Somehow, after the past few weeks, everything felt right with the world and with that thought, he got behind the wheel of his car and drove home feeling happier than he ever had.

His future with Abby was once again looking very bright, indeed.