Corrected minor errors at the end ^_^

Monthly Day of Silence

Takes place shortly after Gibbs leaves in Hiatus.

Quiet, that's what she was hearing. No voices just soft slaps of fingers against keyboards. Director Jenny Shepherd looks around the bullpen. Two of the three remaining agents of the MCRT are studiously typing away as they finish up cold cases and old paperwork. Tony is currently nowhere to be seen, but that's remedied when the elevator chirps open and the current lead agent steps towards his desk. He's carrying several cups in a container and Jenny figures that Tony's just trying to emulate Gibbs. She gives him a thumbs up and steps back into her office.

Tony sets the drinks down and motions silently for the team to gather for their daily campfire. All three agents are busy texting for the next several minutes as they catch each other up on the events of the weekend.

Tony clears his throat and takes a sip of his flavored coffee. He grimaces slightly and the other two grin at him. They know that he's struggling to overcome the uncertainties that Gibbs leaving has thrust upon him and support him however they can. Today is another example: no vocalizing for the day.

They can text and write messages and Abby has been teaching them ASL (American Sign Language) on these designated days. As if on cue, the forensic scientist shows up with a Caf-Pow in one hand and Bert in the other. Bert's currently bearing a message near his butt that says "I miss Gibbs." If they were in her lab, they'd see pictures of Gibbs on the computer screen savers and the days that he's been gone. None of them like to admit that he's been away for almost 45 days now.

Two farts from the hippo later and the team settles in for their Sign language lesson. Abby so far has shown them the alphabet and each of their names. Now she goes around the room, picking up objects then Signing what that object is. Tim raises his hand at one point and motions to the plasma.

On the screen is the question, "So do we call Bert, Bert, or is he called a hippo?"

Ziva and Tony smile and Abby smiles for the first time that day. She races to the nearest computer to type in her answer. "Normally, we would call Bert a hippo, McGee. However, since he is an essential part of our NCIS family, you can call him Bert."

Tony and Ziva smother their laughter and wait patiently for Abby to start her lesson again. The elevator opens and both Ducky and Jimmy step out. Jimmy starts to say something then remembers that they are observing a day of silence. He Signs, "Sorry we're late; had a few last minute chores to finish up."

Of them all, Jimmy is the one that has caught on to Sign language the fastest. He and Abby can hold entire conversations and often do when Ducky or the team isn't watching or needing them elsewhere.

Abby just motions the two newcomers to where the MCRT are sitting and continues with her silent lessons.

Six months later:

Gibbs walks into Jenny's office, carrying a cup of coffee for both of them. He knows that his team will be arriving at any minute and wants to surprise them with his usual demands for the day; after he talks to the director of course. Jenny looks up at him when he enters and puts a finger to her lips. Gibbs waits with his usual impatience until she finishes writing then looks at the pad of paper.

Monthly Day of Silence is being observed. No talking allowed all day. Think you're up for the task Jethro?

Gibbs just raises an eyebrow, and then reaches for the pen and paper. Jenny looks at the question he has written down then writes that the silence has to last all day. Anyone caught talking verbally, will be punished financially.

Gibbs gives her a look that is clearly skeptical. She's expecting his team, especially David and DiNozzo to be quiet all day long? He grins imagining what the punishments could be for his team, not realizing that they're the ones who set up the Day of Silence in the first place.

Gibbs saunters down to Abby's lab first. The Goth's music isn't quite up to blaring his eardrums out, and he places a Caf-Pow in the fridge for her. He gives her a quick hug before heading back upstairs.

Tim is at his desk when Gibbs arrives and gives his boss a nod hello. Clearly the computer geek is taking the day seriously. Gibbs shakes his head mentally betting himself on which one of his team will break first. He has no doubt that Tim can keep silent; the first few months on the team, Tim had been almost mouse-like with his silence as he learned from the more experienced agents.

He still thinks that the two that will cave first will be Tony or Ziva. Tony can't help quoting movies and Ziva is…well, Ziva is known for her temper. So Gibbs settles himself at his desk waiting for the fireworks to begin. When noon rolls around, Tim stands up and hits something on his phone that sends an instant text to all of his teammates indicating he's going for lunch and he'll bring back favorites if they want him to.

Ziva and Tony immediately send him texts of what they want while Gibbs just stares at them. None of them have broken their vow of silence. Tim steps closer and Signs, Boss do you want anything?

Surprise keeps Gibbs from replying right away. He didn't know that Tim could speak Sign language. Tim heads for the elevator when Gibbs doesn't reply and stops only when he gets a text saying only one word, Coffee. Tim grins and gives Gibbs a thumbs up as the elevator closes.

The local restaurants have gotten used to members of NCIS coming in anywhere from once a week to one day a month with a silent request for food and quickly respond to Tim's order. He heads for the door and is soon entering the elevator at NCIS. Gibbs meets him and within minutes the elevator is once again in use as Gibbs' private conference room.

Gibbs raises an eloquent silver eyebrow and Tim gulps. He hates it when Gibbs looks at him in that tone of voice. Unlike Tony's movie quotes, he has yet to find a way to ignore that particular look of Gibbs. Tim decides to take the easy way out and gently places the box of lunches on the floor. He then stands back up and in Sign asks Gibbs what he wants to know.

Gibbs Signs back, when did you learn this and why are we all taking part in a day of silence anyway?

Tim sighs and motions for Gibbs to wait a moment. He sends a quick text and gets an equally quick reply. Tim smiles and Signs, I'll explain it all if you let me deliver these.

Gibbs nods and Tim sighs in relief as the elevator starts up again.

Tony sighs as he relays Tim's message to Ziva. They should have known that Gibbs would corner their teammate as soon as he had a chance. Tony knows too that Tim won't say anything out loud…they have a reputation to maintain after all.

Gibbs waits almost patiently while Tim passes out the meals, before motioning for the younger man to start speaking.

Tim sighs inaudibly as he looks wistfully at his own uneaten meal. He knows from past experience that the boss expects him to explain the day of silence to him with no more delays. Gibbs taps him on the shoulder and motions to the meal waiting on Tim's desk. He then Signs Go ahead and eat, then tell me what the hell is going on around here.

Tim eats quickly, and then brings Gibbs up to date on the Monthly Day of Silence. The only thing he doesn't tell Gibbs is when it actually started.

Originally we were doing it once a week but when the other departments started participating and making it a contest, we made it a once a month contest. So far, the MCRT is leading the pack with four wins in the last five months.

Why only four wins?

Tim looks down at his hands, clearly not sure how to answer. Gibbs puts a hand on his shoulder. He looks at the date that's scrolling across the plasma and calculates just when he'd comeback to the fold.

Lemme, guess the day I came back?

Tim nods, we were all so excited that we forgot the rules that day. We didn't mind losing that one though. Getting you back is better than winning a silly contest boss.

Gibbs pats him on the shoulder then looks at the other two who are nodding in agreement.

Tony Signs, We told the other departments that we'd agree to a six month contest. Today's the last day and ends at 17:30 hours. Five more hours boss, you gonna help us win this one too?

Gibbs smiles at the challenge. He nods and picks up his coffee as he heads to Abby's lab.

Abby looks up when she sees him and rushes over to give him one of her bear hugs. She then takes him down to autopsy where Ducky and Palmer are finishing up on a cadaver. Ducky is still talking to his cadavers, just not on the Day of Silence.

Instead, he and Jimmy work that day using Sign language to communicate or if they have no dead bodies they practice their texting. That's what Gibbs and Abby find the two of them doing and Ducky is silently chuckling at the texting that he's receiving from his assistant.

They both look up when the elevator opens, and Abby signs that Gibbs now knows what is going on.

Ahh, excellent, Jethro with your skills we should wrap this final day of the challenge with no problems.

The fact that Ducky managed to Sign all that almost makes Gibbs drop his coffee. He'd known that his team had learned Sign, or at least that Tim and Tony had, but he'd never figured that Ducky and Palmer would take it upon themselves to do so also. Ducky smiles at his friend's confusion and promises to talk to him later after the Day of Silence has ended. Gibbs nods and follows Abby back upstairs. Once in her lab, he Signs,

So the entire team, you, Ducky and Palmer included are winning this contest?

Abby nods and Signs back, Yep and it's all thanks to your team that we're in the lead…they're the ones that wanted to learn Sign language.

Abby, I've been back almost three months now, why didn't I see this going on before now?

Abby shrugs as she Signs, We did have one day that none of you guys were here due to being out on a crime scene all day.

Gibbs can remember that day. He'd had laryngitis and his team had been quiet all day long, exchanging hand signals as they respected the fact that Gibbs wasn't able to talk; or so Gibbs had thought at the time. Had that actually been a contest day?

Gibbs sighs and pecks Abby on the cheek as he heads back upstairs. His team looks up when he enters the room. Tim Signs, you okay boss?

Gibbs just nods and sits at his desk. He silently finishes the remaining paperwork in front of him before going to face Jenny.

He starts heading upstairs when a buzzing from his pocket tells him that he has a new text. He reads it and looks up just as Tony throws him a pad of paper. Gibbs catches it then continues on to the director's office.

Jenny smiles when Cynthia buzzes her before Gibbs enters. She'd been expecting the former Marine a long time before now but realizes that Leroy Jethro Gibbs marches to his own drum and not hers.

The first message on her desk reads, Why Jen? What made my team learn Sign language?

Jenny stares at him, clearly not knowing what he's talking about.

Gibbs scribbles again this time it reads I take it you didn't know.

Jenny reaches for her own pad of paper.

I thought they were just texting or emailing. Using the hand signals that you've taught them over the years.

Gibbs reads it and realizes that the answers still lie with his team. He walks out of Jenny's office and back downstairs. He heads for his favorite barista and is impressed when they have his coffee ready for him without his saying a word. He hands over the money and nods his thanks as he heads towards a bench near the waterfront to think.

Ducky finds him out there a few hours later and motions for him to come back to the office with him. Gibbs looks at the time and is surprised to find that it's almost five thirty. A few more minutes pass and they walk to the other departments. All of them hand over an envelope to Ducky as he passes by. Ducky takes the envelopes and hands them to Jenny. She tallies up the losses and scribbles down the results handing the paper back to Ducky.

The M.E. chuckles and looking at the time heaves a sigh. Even though the Day of Silence is over, he continues out the door Signing to Gibbs as they leave "Oh thank goodness that is over. Well, Jethro, shall we go tell the reigning champions the good news?"

"I take it that they won Duck?"

"Oh yes. The others all failed at some point in time that is the tally sheet that I gave the Director."

"You believe what the other departments have written down?"

"Oh not at first Jethro, but after Timothy pointed out to everyone that we have eyes in all the departments and can check their validity they all became very forthcoming, especially when Timothy pointed out that we even have eyes in the bullpen and the MCRT is just as culpable as anyone else."

Gibbs nods then asks the question that's been burning a hole in his brain all day long. "Why did they do this Duck? What prompted the Day of Silence?"

"I'm afraid that you'll have to ask your team that particular question Jethro. They are the ones who started it after all."

Ducky walks to the elevator and upon entering autopsy tells Palmer to wrap it up and go home; their team won yet again. Jimmy smiles and pulls his jacket on, then looks at his mentor's face. Jimmy can tell something is bothering the M.E and Signs,

"What's wrong Dr. Mallard?"

"Oh, nothing Jimmy, just hoping that Jethro doesn't become insulted by what he finds out tonight."

Jimmy nods as he thinks about the past few months and the reason behind the Day of Silence.

"They'll work it out Doctor. They are a family after all."

Ducky smiles at Jimmy's reasoning and claps him on the back before Signing his response.

"Right you are, Mr. Palmer, right you are."

In the bullpen three agents wait the return of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. They've discussed who would tell Gibbs the reasoning behind the Day of Silence. Tim looks at the other two and sighs as he Signs.

"I'll tell him, but you two need to back me up on this one."

Tony and Ziva both nod and all three look up when Gibbs enters the bullpen. When Gibbs starts shutting down his computer the other three look at each other in temporary confusion. Then Gibbs looks at all three of them as he sends out an email, You three, my place in an hour. Tony brings the booze.

What about the rest of us boss?

You're telling the story McGee. As for Ziva, bring the pizza.

Tim looks at the other two. Tony nods at his partner's silent request for a ride. Tony knows that Tim wants to discuss how to tell Gibbs about the day they created while he was gone. A quick stop for beverages and the two are soon pulling up to Gibbs house. Ziva comes around the corner a few minutes later and Tim helps her carry the hot food into Gibbs house.

Over supper, Tim tells Gibbs in Sign language about the campfires and how their day of silence, a day of training ended up becoming a contest.

"We were floundering without you those first few weeks and this was one way we could communicate that no one else could over hear and make fun of any of us. We wanted to maintain our reputation as the best MCRT and this is one way that we found to create a bond amongst us. Then one day while Abby was upstairs with us, Jenkins from cyber crimes came up and misinterpreted our training as a competition. So, we let it run. Six months later, we're still the top team not just as an MCRT but also in silent communications. As for the money, it's donated to the families of lost NCIS agents."

Gibbs nods then looks at the three of them as he Signs. "Good job you guys. Although you could have clued me in sooner."