This one has been boiling on the back burner since this episode aired.
Inspired by the crappy way Abby treated Tim in this episode.
WARNING: If you actually liked the way Abby acted in this episode; then back out of this one and DO NOT READ IT. Please do NOT read this with the intent to Flame. Should you decide to read this with the intent to enjoy it for the fiction that it is; We thank you.
WARNING: If you actually liked the way Abby acted in this episode; then back out of this one and DO NOT READ IT.
Please do NOT read this with the intent to Flame.
Should you decide to read this with the intent to enjoy it for the fiction that it is; We thank you.
Slight AU - For the purposes of this storyline - the body that was given to Abby for her Class Lecture in Mexico was a Mexican citizen that had NO connection to Gibbs.
Slight OOC - I know I don't get the characters perfect. I can only try.
As he rested his mind, eyes and body on the flight back to D.C. Tim McGee could only be thankful that this ill-fated trip to Mexico was almost over. The fact that Abby was presently ensconced in her music through her headphones, as she steadfastly watched the world fly by out of her window in the seat next to him was also a good thing. He didn't have anything to say to her at the moment, anyway and not having to struggle with it was a huge help in his ability to calm the burning anger he was trying desperately to bank. As a matter of fact, as of this very moment, he doubted they'd have anything to say to each other for quite a long while yet.
Tim was sure that if it wasn't for the fact the Director was sending an Agency car and driver for them; Abby would be bolting back to the Navy yard under her own steam the minute they landed at the airport and leaving him behind; probably in hopes not only for another laugh at his expense but also in the hopes that he'd wind up earning Gibbs' wrath on her account, once again. Sometimes Tim could swear it was things like that that made Abby's day; She took lessons from the old Tony before he stopped being such a jerk.Tim couldn't help but think to himself. Maybe he was just tired and being less than charitable; but, damn it, she'd earned it!
She hadn't acted this irresponsible or self-centeredly since; well in a very long time and quite frankly; it was a side of Abby that made Tim awash with relief that he wasn't in a relationship with her, like he used to wish for. In fact; it erased the last vestitures of desire to do so from his heart; which until six months ago, had steadfastly held onto that whisper of hope; wrapped up in boundless forgiveness, love and sympathy for all that Abby was and everything she did. This was also a side to her that had now taken a very serious chip out of the foundation of their friendship. Tim had had enough.
No! He wasn't going there. Tim pushed his anger and aggravation down and held on to his commitment to relax enough to allow his stomach to attempt to right itself after the hellish last couple of days it had been through. While he'd not been completely sick, he had made enough errors in judgement regarding Mexican food and water that he'd had a rough time of it. Abby had enjoyed every minute of his discomfort.
Damn it! No! Stop thinking about it! Tim mentally chided himself as he shifted in his seat to get comfortable. When that became impossible, he beckoned to the stewardess. When she arrived at his seat, he stood and whispered in her ear and headed to the bathroom, just to stretch his legs.
As he reached the bathroom door, he held on to it for a contemplative minute. Tim knew he needed to pull himself together. Technically, he was still on protection detail and he wasn't about to blow that by leaving the stewardess to do his job for him any longer than absolutely necessary. He didn't need anything else to go wrong on this trip, especially on his end of things.
As she watched Tim get up and walk to the bathroom, while the stewardess stood silently by Abby's seat, Abby couldn't help but smirk. He'd been so careless during this trip; forgetting to only use bottled water and forgetting to be extremely careful about what he ate. She couldn't help but make fun of him for it. Sure, he was miserable, but, darn, he'd done it to himself, and he should have known better. It was hilarious. The look on his face the other night when she'd reminded him so cheekily that he'd forgotten to use bottled water on his toothbrush had been priceless; just as priceless as when she'd picked up her pillow and duffle bag and left their room to go sleep in her 'classroom'. Seeing Tim stop at the plane's bathroom door now and hold onto it for a minute, broke Abby's smirk out even wider.
When he stood there without moving, however, she felt a sliver of concern edge into her mind past her humor and her smirk disappeared. Tim turned around after a minute and headed back to his seat, but the slow pace and the dark shadowed look on his face unsettled her. This wasn't the Timmy she knew. Now the concern she felt was climbing. Something was wrong and she had to find out what it was.
As he walked back to his seat, his anger continued to grow even as he was steadily worked at mentally stomping the fire of it out. He was just so damn tired of always being treated like someone there just for her to push around and make fun of, instead of respect and listen to. The careless choices she made on this trip had almost cost him his freedom; his life, even. If that had been the way the cards had played out; Tim McGee would be dead by now, and Abby Scuito would probably be unconcernedly on her way back to NCIS. He wondered if that thought had even crossed her mind at all back there, out at that 'crime scene'. She sure hadn't acted like it had. She acted like she didn't even give a damn. Not one word had she said about the whole mess either.
Did she ever stop for a minute to consider the possible outcome of something before she drug everyone else into her bullheaded plans? While doing so had never been her strong suite; this damn sure hadn't been an appropriate time for her to pull her typical aires and walk all over him. He had been sent down there to keep her safe; and she'd basically laughed in his face about it; repeatedly. They'd been told it was dangerous to be away from their safe housing arrangements; but Abby had refused to listen when she'd foolishly bulldozed her way into taking the entire class of University students out to the unsafe area where the drug cartel was known to be lurking and preying on people as they saw fit.
It hadn't been bad enough she'd foolishly left the safety of their hotel room the night before; just so she could self-righteously claim she couldn't sleep in the room with him because he was going to be sick from his mis-step with the water; no, then she had to take it up another notch. Risking her own safety wasn't enough of a dare for her; she obviously needed to raise the stake; like they were playing some high stakes poker tournament or something; instead of trying to get something accomplished while staying safe.
God knows what she'd been trying to prove, but whatever it had been; had not been worth the risk of all those students' safety or her own; even if she didn't give a damn about his.
Tim had done his damnedest to fight her; to block her efforts to make that trip away from the safety of the University. She'd bulldozed right over him; as usual; thinking little or nothing of the fact that he'd been sent there to protect her and he was the seasoned Agent and she wasn't. He knew what he was doing; she didn't.
And as if, the risks she'd put them all in wasn't bad enough, She'd further climbed up on her self-appointed pedestal as they'd driven back from that little "field trip". Abby had blithely ignored him and steadfastly kept her attention on her 'students'. That had actually been fine with him. He'd been too frayed at the edges to deal with her mouth then, anyway. What the hell was he supposed to tell Gibbs? She was his favorite, everyone knew that. But, would he do anything about this? Probably not; unless it was to somehow find Tim responsible for it.
Gibbs'd not only never done anything to curtail her crap over the last five years but was always quick to blame Tim for Abby's pushiness and less than smart decisions that created situations where Tim was left holding the bag. What would make this any different? Once again, Tim found himself just wishing this damn trip was over. Hell, he wished this day was over. He'd give anything to drown himself in a pitcher of beer right about now; and hell, he didn't even drink!
When he got back to their seats and quietly thanked the stewardess for staying close by Abby in his absence and sat down, Abby seemed to be waiting to talk to him.
"McGee? You don't look so hot." Abby sympathized with just enough humor in her voice that he wasn't fooled. She didn't really care if there was something wrong and right now he had no tolerance for her attitude. It was obvious she was chalking how he felt as the result of the mistakes he'd made back in Mexico and was still getting a kick out of his discomfort.
Taking her words and the humor she obviously couldn't let go of at his expense, for another slap in the face, Tim did his best to keep his emotions out of his answer; his ingrained manners preventing him from ignoring her, like he so desperately wanted to right now. With a face as devoid of any emotion as he could manage, he finally answered her.
"I'm fine." He sat down and laid his head back against the seat and closed his eyes; determined to keep conversation between them to a minimum. He'd had enough of her smug high and mighty attitude to last him a long time. Thank goodness, he wouldn't be needed down in her lab after they got back. Now, if they could just get back, he'd be all right.
Abby didn't like that he was lying to her and she didn't appreciate his being so short with her. It was obvious he was not all right. But, it was equally obvious he wasn't going to talk to her about it. With a huge sigh of utter frustration, Abby deliberately rearranged herself in her seat in a way that left no doubt, she was put out by his refusal to talk to her.
He didn't care. His stomach was upset, his nerves were still trying to calm down after that near miss with that Cartel. Why couldn't Abby ever listen when she was told to error on the side of caution about something? Oh, right, it was because it had come from Tim and not from Tony or Ziva or Gibbs. Damn, I keep forgetting that! Tim thought as his anger began to rise up again.
Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS! He mentally screamed at himself and stomped the flames of anger back out until they once again merely smoldered. Somehow, this time, he was unable to completely extinquish them, like he used to be able to do. Unable to find peace behind his closed eyes; Tim opened his eyes and reached under the seat for his knapsack; digging out a book. He was dying to get out his laptop and email a few people; but he needed privacy for that and he wasn't going to be getting that on this flight, so he settled for reading his book. He just hoped like hell, that Abby would take the hint and leave him alone.
Sure enough, when the book came out, Abby gave up the fight. She was tired and needed to relax anyway. If Timmy was gonna be pig-headed, she'd leave him to it. Now was not the time for him to exert his male-ness over her. Guys were notorious for not talking about what ever was buggin' them, Normally, Tim was excluded from that bunch; but right now; at this moment, he seemed to be a pro at it. Damn it, Tony's rubbed off on him! Abby silently fumed as she settled back down under her headphones and turned her music back on; once again tuning the irritated man beside her; out for the remainder of the trip.
Even as they deplaned and their bags retrieved by Tim, and gotten in the car; the uncomfortable silence remained. Abby wasn't used to this side of Tim and it was completely unnerving. It was the longest most uncomfortable hour she had ever spent in his company since she'd known him and she hated every minute of it. The second the limo eased to a stop outside NCIS, Abby was out the door, throwing over her shoulder as she ran, "I'll be in my lab" for the sake of knowing Gibbs would want to know where she was the minute he knew they were back in the building.
Tim let out a tense sigh and rolled his shoulders; truly thankful to once again be out of Abby's company. She was a lot to handle on most days; but for the scope of this trip; she'd been downright impossible. Oh, yeah, it was great to be home; where he was no longer the heavy. As a matter of fact; home was where he could fade back into the backdrop and be invisible; like he usually was. Right now, that would work well for him.
Stepping back Into the squad room, still toting his solution for his upset stomach; he responded to Tony's teasing jibe in stride and went straight to his desk; firing up his computer and settling back into his job. Maybe he could get through the rest of this day without further incident.
As Gibbs walked in, stopped at Tim's desk and immediately asked him where Abby was without so much as a "how'd it go, McGee?" ; Tim answered him immediately and as calmly as he could considering he felt an immediate sense of irritation. Would things never change around here? Was Abby still the only one Gibbs truly cared about?
Without missing a beat, as soon as Gibbs headed out of the squad room, Tim got back into the conversation with Tony and Ziva about the current case and dug in to help where he could; all thoughts and irritations about Mexico and Abby and Gibbs' favoritism set aside for the moment.
It was a long day and at the end of it, he was breathing a sigh of relief. Part of this day had been spent up in Vance's office as the Director laid out his request for a detailed report of the Mexican trip. Vance wanted to know everything that took place while he'd been on duty as Abby's Protection. Tim internally shuddered at the thought of having to lay out every single detail of what had happened. He'd look like an idiot with some of the things he'd forgotten to be careful about. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time and most likely wouldn't be the last.
But, one thing he knew without a shadow of a doubt; was he'd done his damnedest to protect Abby down there. Trouble was, would Gibbs see that? Probably not. He never noticed it; only noticed Tim's screw-ups. Well, then it was a sure bet; he'd find out about the ones he'd committed down there; and once again be on the receiving end of Gibbs' ire. He'd better brace for it now. Maybe this time it wouldn't result in hours spent on his knees in public humiliation. Tim could only hope.
With the Director's warnings about the report needing to be as thorough and precise as a normal Case Report; Tim dug in to getting it written. He'd waited until Gibbs had called it the end of the day to get started on it, even if it was required on the job. He didn't want to give the man any reason to be pissed at him. Tim had managed to actually get through the day without that happening and he seriously wanted; needed to finish out the day on the same wave of success in that arena. Somehow, he'd get through this report with his job still intact. After mindlessly holding his bottom lip for ransom between his teeth, his brain kicked into gear, his teeth let go of his lip; and he dug into his report; his fingers flying across the keys.
"McGee. What are you still doin' here?" Gibbs asked in surprise as he stepped up to the young man's desk.
"Working on my report for the Director, Boss." Tim said quietly as he stopped typing and respectfully gave Gibbs his undivided attention. With his heart in his throat, he silently sent up a prayer that he'd get through this moment with the man without screwin' it up.
"Anything you wanna tell me?" Gibbs asked in that tone of his that made the question an actual order to be carried out.
"About what, exactly, Boss?" Tim asked cautiously.
"Mexico." The boss replied in the tone that clearly spoke of his irritation at having to get specific.
"Nothing that won't be in the report, Boss." Tim answered quietly and without hesitation.
Gibbs arched his eyebrow at his less than forthright answer and stood his ground for a silent minute, hoping the normal Tim McGee would resurface and a more thorough answer would arrive. Finally, he gave in; shrugged and said. "Okay, McGee, your call." Before walking out to get coffee.
Tim let out his breath, unaware until then that he'd even been holding it; and worked to get his breathing back to normal and get back into his report.
While keeping to the facts of what took place there; Tim refused to refer to the incident with the Drug Cartel; believing it to be separate and entirely irrelevant to what they'd gone down there to get done. Nothing had come of it and no one had gotten hurt. And so the report was written as though the incident with the Cartel never took place. Also excluded from his report, was Abby's spending the night in her classroom. Aside from that, Tim was thorough and accurate, as usual.
Thirty thankfully solitary minutes later, Tim was done. Saving the file, he printed several copies of it, closed down his work station, scooped his report from the printer, as well as his backpack and headed out. As he walked, he set one copy of the report in a case folder and set it on Gibbs' desk; headed up the stairs to deliver it to the Director; and then took the elevator down to the squad room, quickly ducking into the stair well to head out to the parking lot the invisible way. He didn't want to talk to anyone right now. He was tired, irritated and ready for a long night of peaceful sleep. First, he had a phone call to make. As soon as he was safely in the privacy of his car, he flipped his phone open and made the call on speaker so he could drive safely while he talked.
"Hey, So sorry, I couldn't call you before now, Work's been really hectic."
"I know, Tim. I know you didn't get in until this afternoon and now you have that creepy case to get through and figure out. We're fine, you and me. Don't worry. Are you okay? I know Abby was pretty unkind to you about the possibility of you being her escort."
"Yeah, I told you I heard what she said to you. Do you think I played it cool enough that she didn't realize I'd heard her?"
"Oh, yeah, Honey, You were great. I'm sorry you had such a rough trip. So glad you were able to find the time and peace and quiet to call me while you were there. You sure you don't want me to have a talk with Abby?"
"No, Sweetheart, I don't want you to worry about it. I'll take care of it. It's just gonna take some time and some kid gloves. Besides, we don't want to add any complications to our relationship, remember? And clueing Abby in would definitely do that!"
"Don't you think after all this time, if she still doesn't get it; it'll take something stronger?"
"Probably, but with Gibbs as her champion, I don't have a choice."
"Honey, don't worry. This will all work out. I didn't mean to complain. I'll call you in the morning, okay?"
"Okay, Tim.. You just make sure you get a good night's sleep. And don't worry about Jethro. He can wait to see you. He and I are getting along just great and your sleep comes first, anyway."
"Thanks. Sweetie. I'll call you in the morning. Do you wanna meet for breakfast somewhere?"
"Tim. Honey, I know you really want us to be able to see each other, but you know we can't do that. People would talk and your job and mine would get really really complicated. Neither of us needs that right now. Weren't you just reminding me of that?"
"I know. I just miss you. Can't wait to see you."
"Soon, Baby. Soon. Be patient. God knows you've been patient already, but hang in there, the weekend's ?"
"Sure. You get a good night's sleep too, Sweetie. You hear?""
"Yes, Tim. I promise. Good Nite!"
As soon as he got home, Tim got ready for bed, his heart and mind feeling much lighter. This relationship was really going well and even though they'd been dating for four months, he really felt this was meant to be. Even so; they were taking it slow by mutual agreement. After hearing what the other had been through, both of them had promised not to rush through this and so neither had journeyed past the endearing nicknames as of yet. The 'Love' word hadn't even been mentioned; as both of them put way too much emotion and trust into the use of it and hadn't yet felt their relationship had gotten to that point. No matter, they were both happy in the budding relationship. And now, his report was done, the blasted trip to Mexico was over with and life could get back to normal; well almost normal.