Tim couldn't help but smile. As he looked around him at the rest of his team all working on something case related, it brought about a feeling that all was starting to be right with the world, more than it ever had been before. To a degree anyway because he knew that there would always be one glitch in that globe now; his now fractured relationship with Abby. Returning his eyes to his own computer, he couldn't help but think back over the past two weeks.
Walking away from Abby and into Ducky's house, he was brought up short at the sight of Pam and Gibbs standing side by side, apparently watching what had happened between himself and Abby. Feeling like he'd just royally screwed up with the boss watching, he geared himself up to apologise. Before the words could form on his tongue, Gibbs shocked him by doing something that he would have expected.
"If you even think of apologizing, I will head slap you so hard your children will feel it, McGee." The quiet and serious tone drove the point home and Tim could only smile. "You got it out, now rein that anger in and move on."
Silence greeted his response and Gibbs understood that his idea of moving on was more forceful than he'd intended. "McGee. My door's always open. My phone works, too."
"Thanks, Boss." Tim answered with a grateful smile.
"You two, go on, enjoy the rest of the night."
"Boss, I can't just leave without saying goodbye to Ducky. Oh, no, Boss, I forgot he was out there!" Tim admitted in horror. "He's probably so…"
"McGee. Ducky'll be just fine. If he wasn't okay with what just happened out there, trust me, he would have said so."
Tim looked at his boss for a long minute. The boss did know Ducky better than the rest of them did, so he had to be right. "Okay." He laid his faith in Gibbs' word out there but continued to gaze at his boss with gratitude..
"Go on. Both of ya. Git."
"Thank you, again, Agent Gibbs."
Tim and Pam spent the rest of the night in quiet companionable conversation by enjoying each other's company. It was a special time and with Jethro laying curled up at their feet and the feel of each other wrapped up in their arms, all the weight that bared down on their shoulders lifted leaving nothing but contentment in its wake. They discussed future dates and group get together's with the team and finally decided with the plan of inviting the others round and solidifying those relationships sooner rather than later. Everything was headed in the right direction….finally.
Monday morning dawned bright and sunny and with the newly found zest for life putting a pep in his step and much more happiness in his heart, Tim bought everyone coffee and breakfast and arrived earlier than the rest of them, only to find an envelope with his name on it lying on his desk when he got there.
The words jumped off the page at him and suddenly, he recalled Gibbs' words to him about this.
"You willing to go for some extra training?"
"No matter what it's for?"
"If you feel it's necessary, I'll go."
With a smile, he read the information and signed off on it before making a copy for himself and packing up his gear. He left everyone's coffee and breakfast on Gibbs' desk on top of his paper and headed out, destined for Assertiveness Training. Oh, yeah, things were definitely looking up.
Now, two weeks and two training workshops later, Tim not only had more assertiveness under his belt, but also some invaluable leadership training that he hoped would help him with both his career and his personal life. Gibbs had done him such a huge favor by nudging him in the right direction when he signed him up for both training sessions and it left him with absolutely no doubt that he was considered a valuable member of the team. Things were looking better now than they ever had before. He and Pam had even managed to stay in touch while he'd been gone for the training thanks to his I-phone and it's video call function. Even with everything he'd learned and experienced in those two weeks, his nightly talk with Pam had still been the highlight of each day.
Sitting straighter and with more confidence now, Tim soon became engrossed in his work and lost all track of time. Since cold cases were the order of the day and no phones rang, it was an easy thing to have happen. Before he realized it, the day was done and the call to wrap it up was given. He'd been thinking about something in his spare moments for the past week now and wanted a second opinion, mainly so he'd have the reassurance that what he was planning was right. But who to ask? He knew he really wanted one person's opinion but would that person be willing to talk to him about it? Where that answer had at one time most likely have been a resounding 'no'; now, Tim was fairly certain, the answer would more than likely be a 'yes'.
Pam had exercise class tonight and wouldn't be able to come over which meant Tim was free as a bird for the night and this presented itself as the perfect opportunity to seek out the hopefully sage advice that the second opnion would bring. Still it was with a heart full of nervous trepidation that he drove to the man's house. As he pulled up outside the house, he took a deep, cleansing breath and went in search of the man he really wanted to talk to. He didn't' have to look far since the first place he looked was in his basement. With careful silent steps, Tim entered the man's sanctuary warily seeing as he was unsure of the reception he'd get. While Gibbs had stressed several times that his door was open for Tim, the younger man had never before taken him up on that invitation.
"McGee." Gibbs offered as way of greeting so as to hide the shock at his arrival.
"Hey, Boss. I..um..It's just…I…"
"Spit it out, McGee. I won't bite." Gibbs grinned at Tim's nervousness and pulled out the small stool that was tucked under the bench. "Sit."
"Ok. Er, thanks." Tim sat down on the stool and watched as Gibbs reached up to grab a bottle of bourbon off the top shelf. He accepted the jar that the Boss used as a glass and returned the smile. "I wanted to talk to you if that's okay?"
"Uh-huh. Guessed as much. Wouldn't be otherwise, now would ya? What's on your mind?"
"You know how well things have been going for me and Pam. We..I…" He started when Gibbs put his hand on Tim's shoulder.
"Relax. Damn it, McGee, you're wound tighter than a drum."
"How many times have I gotta tell you boys?"
"So…Huh. Okay, yeah, it's a sign of weakness but….You know how my relationships don't exactly work out, right?" Tim admitted with a deeply honest tone.
"Yeah, McGee. I know. You've kept trying though, Gotta give you credit for that."
"Thanks, Boss, But, my track record sucks in the biggest way. Since I started working with the team, every relationship I've ever tried to have has ended badly. Starting with Abby…." Tim stopped what he was saying and glanced down at the glass he held in his hands. With a deep rooted sigh, he tossed back the bourbon and chocked as the burn hit the back of his throat. "Wow!. That's strong stuff."
Gibbs chuckled and refilled the jar. "Yep. Sip it this time. Told Fornell the same thing once."
Tim nodded and sipped at the drink.
"So, you wanna talk. What happened with Abby?" Gibbs asked. He wished he hadn't a moment late when sadness flooded into those innocent green eyes that had always been so expressive.
"We…." Tim shook his head. "It just didn't work out." Sadness and regret flooded through him at the thought of what happened and he found himself unwilling to talk about it.
"Okay. So, what's really buggin' you?"
"I'm just not good at this."
"The whole relationship thing. Everyone I let in hurts me in one way or another, or worse. What is it about me, Boss? Why can't people just see me for who I am rather than someone they can walk all over?" Tim's heartfelt, plea tugged at Gibbs heart and he felt himself thud down on the hull of the boat.
"There's nothing wrong with you. You just pick the wrong people." He glanced over Tim and cocked his head. "Pam done something wrong?"
Tim's eyes shot up at that question and he soon found himself wanting to defend her honor.
"No. Absolutely not! The woman's a saint. I just don't know whether I'm cut out for this."
"Because I'm such a damn soft touch and let people walk all over me. Guess I'm just used to it."
"Well quit bein' used to it and let yourself be happy. Why is that wrong?" Gibbs pushed.
"It's not wrong." Tim whispered. "I'm just scared."
"Of getting hurt again, Boss. Of wearing my heart on my sleeve and getting it bled dry till there's nothing left…again." Tim huffed out a sarcastic laugh and sipped at his drink "That I'll wake up and the last six months with her will have all been a dream."
"Word to the wise here, McGee; just let it happen. Just like you have been for the last six months. One day at a time." Gibbs wasn't one for these little heart to heart talks, but knew that his boy needed advice. His gut pinged slightly and he just knew that there was something else that was on his mind. "Talk to me."
"Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Sure." Gibbs nodded and sucked in a breath.
"I want to ask you about marriage." Gibbs laughed loudly at the statement and shook his head with mirth.
"You sure I'm the right person to be asking. I mean, come on. You do realize you've come to the guy with a pretty damn bad track record, right?"
"Yeah, guess so." Tim glanced at Gibbs with a grin. "Why not?"
"Ok." Gibbs nodded and took another slug out of his mug. "Do you love Pam?"
"What? Yes. Of course I do." Tim stood up and started pacing. "She's everything to me and to be honest, my world currently revolves around her."
"Then go with it, McGee. She's good for you and makes you happy."
"Yeah, she does. How do you know?"
"Know what?" Gibbs asked with more patience than usual. After all Tim had never come to him for advice before and he wasn't about to scare him off with his usual gruff impatience.
"How do you know when someone's 'the one' Boss?" Tim sunk back down on the stool with slumped shoulders.
"Okay. Listen to me because I'm not gonna say this again. I may have been married a few times, but there was only one woman that really stuck in my heart. When I first met her, I just knew she was the one and I have no doubt in my mind, that we would still be together today."
"Shannon?." Came Tim's quietly respectful question.
"Yeah, Shannon. The others didn't really mean near as much to me. Sure, it was good while it lasted, but I didn't love them the same way. You just know when the right person comes along." Gibbs shrugged and topped up his mug.
"I think I know what you are talking about, Boss. I just needed that reassurance that what I'm doing is right."
"I think it is. Listen to your heart, Tim. You said your world revolves around her now. If when you get up in the morning, all you can think about is what you want to do to make her happy today, and your last thought before you go to sleep at night, is 'did I make her happy today, then she's the one."
"That's exactly where I'm at ,Boss."
"Then you have your answer; straight outta your own heart, McGee."
I think….I'm going to….Damn it! I'm going to ask Pam to marry me."
Gibbs' head snapped up at the revelation and he couldn't help the grin that spread across his face. "You think you're ready?"
"Yeah. I've been thinking about it all week and want to grow old gracefully with her by my side. I want kids, a house, a dog…hell I want it all as long as Pam is there with me. I don't want to waste anymore time, Boss." Tim blushed furiously as the tidal wave of words poured out of his mouth.
"Then you have my blessing. If she makes you happy and it's what you want, then go ask her."
Tim stood up and placed the jar on the workbench. He turned to leave feeling lighter than he had all week but paused at the bottom step. "Boss?"
"Thank you." Tim whispered and made his way up the steps. Gibbs smiled as he watched his agent leave and stood up to stretch.
"You're welcome, Son. Anytime."
"Come on already, Probie. How hard can it be?" Tony stood leaning against the counter sipping on his frappe latte. "Just pick one."
"You know Tony; it's really not that easy. I really want her to feel blown away. But, it's not like we've ever talked about this. In case you haven't noticed, she doesn't wear a whole lot of accessories."
"That one." Tony pointed to something that caught his eye and huffed when Tim shook his head.
"No! You've pointed that one out three times, why that one?"
"Just like it." Tony scowled and made his way over to the chair. "Wake me up when you've found one, alright. Preferable before we have to get back."
"Yes, Tony. …Excuse me?" Tim called out to the sales girl. "Can I see this one?"
The young girl pulled the pad out and placed it in front of Tim. His eyes were automatically drawn to a one carrot, platinum set ring that sat in the middle.
"Tony. I've found it!" the girl plucked the ring out of the pad and handed it to her customer. "What do you think?"
Tony came to his side sucking up the last of his drink and chocked at the sight of the price tag. "How much?"
"Stop looking at the price and look at the ring. Do you like it?" Tim said impatiently.
"Well, heck yeah! It's gorgeous, but really? You gonna spend that much on a ring?"
"Yep. I'll take it."
Tim glanced at Tony and grinned broadly at the look of shock on his friend's face. "She's worth it, Tony. I'll give her anything she wants if it makes her happy."
He felt Tony clap him on the back.
"Sure you will, Probie. Sure you will."
It wasn't long before they were leaving the shop with Tim's new purchase nestled safely in a little velvet box in his pocket. Tonight was the night. Tonight was going to signal a whole new life with the right person at his side and he wanted it to be perfect. With a sigh he reached into his pocket and let his fingers trace the curves of the velvet box.
"Just do me a favor, Probie."
"What's that?" Tim said innocently and pulled himself out of his happy thoughts.
"Just make sure she's as good to you as I know you will be to her, alright?"
"You can count on that." Tim grinned as he climbed into the car.
Tonight, he was going to ask Pam to be his wife and no matter what had happened in the past month, he felt happiness ad contentment wash over him in waves.
Oh yeah. Life was definitely good
A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU TO SHELBYLOU - Couldn't have done this without you.