Tony sighed, resting his head on top of his arms. He was careful not to put to much weight on his left arm, which was still in the process of healing. His dull gaze watched the empty desk in front of him. The desktop was completely cleared, having no evidence whatsoever that it had been used before. It looked too clean.
Beside him, McGee snuck a peek over at his friend, his fingers still clacking buttons on his keyboard. He followed Tony's gaze and also let out a sigh.
"What, probie?" The response was instantaneous, almost as if he were about to say it even if McGee hadn't spoken up first.
Tony turned his head on his arms and looked at the junior agent. "You know," he said with a hint of sarcasm, "out of all of my years as an agent here, next to Gibbs' 'whaddaya got?', that's the most asked question I get."
McGee didn't flinch. "So, you're not fine." It wasn't a question.
Tony scoffed. "No, McTherapist, I'm just peachy." He turned his head back around and continued to watch the empty desk. "Absolutely peachy."
"Way to use your investigative skills, McGee," Tony's sarcasm was gone. "Congratulations, you're now as prodding as a five year old-"
"Oh, come on, enough with the mask, Tony!" McGee snapped. "I'm trying to talk to you!"
"And I don't want to be talked to."
McGee leaned back in his chair, his arms crossing in front of him. "Well you and I are partners, and partners don't keep secrets-" He ducked as a pen was thrown at him.
"You sound like a fortune cookie," Tony said, sitting up straight, challenging the look on his friend's face. "Stop."
"No, you stop!" McGee picked up the pen and sent it back towards the senior field agent. "You're drowning in your sorrows, Tony, and you're trying to hide it from the rest of the worl-"
Tony slammed his palms onto his desk and stood up, clear anger expressing on his features. "How I act does not concern you, McGee, so back off!"
McGee pushed his chair back and got up to his feet, his stare meeting Tony's. "She didn't just mean something to you, Tony! Don't forget, we all loved Ziva, too!"
Tony shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Don't! Don't even talk about it, okay? Just drop it!"
"Don't bury yourself, Tony!" McGee took a step closer to him, his voice raising. "Don't do this to Ziva. Not like you did for Kate, not like Paula, not like Jeanne, and not like Jenny!"
Tony's eyes were now wide with rage, but he restrained himself from swinging a punch at McGee. He couldn't take him on right now, not without further injuring his arm. "So, what, you're saying I should just spill out on every little thing that bothers me, Tim? Because I'm not looking for advice, and I certainly don't need any from you!"
"You see, that's why she left. Because of you!" McGee jabbed a finger into Tony's chest to emphasize each word. "You're the reason she's not here!"
Tony opened his mouth to reply, but he closed it just before he could say anything. Instead, he pushed McGee away, wheeled around, and plopped back down behind his desk. He didn't watch as McGee clenched his fists and stormed away, probably off to talk with Abby...
"He's right, you know," he whispered to the man leaning on the cubicle wall behind him. "He's right."
Gibbs sighed and stepped out from behind the wall. "No," he said simply.
Tony looked at his boss. "I tried to help her...but she can't stand to even be near me anymore. I don't know what to do, Boss; what I could've done differently-I can't find her anywhere-"
"She doesn't want to be found," Gibbs stated. "But like you said, she'll call when she's ready again."
"What if she doesn't?" He continued to study Gibbs' expression. "She's not coming back, is she?"
Gibbs cocked his head.
"They never come back, Boss." Once more, Tony's eyes travelled down to look at the emptiness before him. "That desk is cursed. They never come back."