Co-Written by Shelbylou
Thank you, Shelbylou, so much for your dedication and outstanding contribution to the success of this story.

TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE CHALLENGE


SILENT ECHOES

This early in the morning, traffic is always extremely light and trouble-free, which makes it his favorite time of the day. Most days the chance to beat the rush of humanity in their race to begin their everyday maze running is enough of a reward for coming in this early. But today is different.

Today, it is especially important to hold on to the peace and quiet that this early morning solitude brings with it. After all, today is May 25th. It is the day of Remembrance.

Five Years. Five years ago today the world shifted and spun wildly off its' axis for each and every one of them on the team. There isn't a single of them that has not been deeply affected by the events of that day. The day one of them didn't come home. That was the day Agent Caitlyn Todd died. Killed in the line of duty on that fateful day, that tragedy forever changed their lives.

Every year on this day, he knows that all of them that knew Kate, as individuals take the time to recognize this day for what it is. And every year he does it too. This year, he feels inspired to do something different than he's done before. Now, he feels the need to do something more tangible and worth looking back on; over and over again, anytime he'll feel the need to take a breath and remember; although, it's highly unlikely he will ever forget; that she was taken from them because his own life was spared.

As Tim enters the squad room and carefully sets his backpack down in his desk chair, he unzips it completely and carefully takes out a hardcover book. To the ordinary passerby, it's a normal hardcover book that could house any story one would find in the local library. This book, however, is different. It's stiff and sleek with the feel of its newness and even its' pages haven't lost the noise or luxurious feel of the newly turned quality. Each page is empty save the lines that lie in wait for the words that will soon fill them with a purpose that only Tim has in mind. He's had this on his mind all week and is anxious to begin what he looks forward to and thinks of as his mission for the day; this day; no matter what else comes down the pike. After all, doing this on any other day just wouldn't be the same.

Setting everything else he brought with him, in its' place and looking to see how much time he has, Tim gets comfortable at his desk, his body adjusting in the chair until it feels just right, opens the book and begins to write. The words flow from the very depths of his heart and need to be expressed with the love, care and attention that they deserve. He's already searched deep and now has found that as he writes, the words that appear on the paper are the physical representations of his soul. He writes what matters most, leaving behind on the pages, his written testament of the echoes of Kate that still resound throughout his life today.

The ding of the elevator snaps him back from the abyss of writing to the exclusion of all activity or awareness of his surroundings. He quickly closes the book as he glances up and waits for the jovial bantering that can be hard coming in a steady stream from the corner, to materialize into his colleague and friend. Sure enough, Tony's voice gets louder and louder as he walks across the squad room and Tim nervously reacts out of instinct for his need for privacy in this matter by quickly stowing the book in his drawer, thinking more of getting it out of sight than of where he was placing it.

As he finishes closing the drawer, Tim stands to his feet in hopes of shifting any undue attention off what he has just done and says good morning to Tony. Smiling briefly at the older man, Tim sits back down and powers up his long dormant computer and dives into checking his emails. Intent on getting on with his day, Tim fails to see the look of concern that crosses Tony's face. It's only 06:45 and McGee's actions have already caught the attention of his more seasoned teammate and his legendary powers of observation

The Senior Field Agent has, in fact, noticed several things that are 'off' with Probie this morning; the first of which, is the book he was quickly - but not quickly enough - trying to hide as Tony came in. This is followed closely by the strangely sad, slightly haunted look in the younger man's eyes. Last, but by no means least, Tony has caught the unusual fact that Tim has obviously been here for a while and yet has only just now booted up his computer. The illogical order of things going on with his teammate this morning peaks Tony's curiosity and now encroaches upon the line that ventures on into concern. Before he can say anything, Tim speaks first.

"I have to go help Abby with this encryption that's stalling this case. It might take a while."

And just like that, he is gone from the squad room, and in the back elevator headed for the lab. In the blink of an eye, Tony has the squad room to himself. The only thing he has to keep him company is his work. Well, no; there's his work and then there's Probie's Secret Book!

Quicker than he realizes he's even done it, he reacts to his brain's nagging Get the book. And in the blink of an eye, before he can even think twice about what he's doing, it's done and the object of Tony's curiosity is in his hot little hands and he's sitting down in his chair with the surge of elation running through him and a matching smile on his face. With a sigh of contented gratification, Tony's mind celebrates. Yes! I have the prize! His face remains lit up and with the biggest Cheshire cat grin, he opens the book - and feels his breath catch in his throat.

Gibbs had been standing in darkness at the balcony that over looked the squad room. He has been at work for a while, talking to the commander of a battleship in MTAC. Once they finished what they'd needed to do, he starts to make his way down but sees Tim move to his desk and pull out a book; with a sigh, he leans down and watches his youngest agent unpack his backpack, sit in his chair and shift slightly to get comfortable before bending over beginning to write in the book. The young man is writing steadily until Tony walks in.

The boss is still standing there watching carefully as his agents greet each other and Tim boots up his computer and gets busy working. Gibbs sees Tony watching his teammate and notices the concern that is soon etched across his Senior Field Agent's face. Still watching silently, the boss is now begins to wonder just what it is Tim has been writing all this time and why it would bring this look to Tony's face first thing in the morning.

It isn't long before Tim obviously receives an email from Abby, explains himself to his teammate and leaves the squad room. Gibbs watches as Tony does the expected; acts like a big kid and takes the book out to read; something that would have elicited a good head slap if he'd been down there, for now, Gibbs settles for shouting down…or at least opens his mouth to do so, until he sees his senior field agent's shoulders slump slightly and his eyes go wide while his mouth seems to drop at whatever it is he's reading. The boss decides to wait it out and stands there sipping his coffee slowly as Tony completes the trek to his desk and sits down in his chair to finish reading the book.