A/N: So this is my first NCIS fic that isn't a one-shot! We'll see how many chapters this baby turns out to be. . . .
Disclaimer: Song lyrics (that will be throughout the fic) are taken from a song called 'Hang onto you' by Delirious? - don't own them. And I don't own NCIS either - just this storyline! ;)
"And I'll hang onto you – 'cause you're stronger and you keep me from falling." –Delirious?
Grayed out scene: A young boy clutching a cell phone to his ear, a German shepherd dog sitting beside him
Sunday morning, 11:30am
Special Agent Timothy McGee paused to catch his breath and take a long drink from his water bottle. His dog Jethro sat at his heels, panting heavily, and looked around the park for flying objects and beautiful female bitches.
Tim noticed his dog's wandering eye and laughed. "I don't think we're going to run into Juliet today since Michelle only runs during the week, remember?"
Jethro looked up at his master blankly before returning his gaze to the park, ever hopeful to see the poodle they had met last week. Tim sighed as he leaned down and ruffled the fur on the German shepherd's neck. "Why should you be any different than me, huh? Pining after a girl that's out of your league?"
His phone rang and Tim took it out of his pocket, hoping that Gibbs wasn't calling him to a crime scene on the weekend. But he smiled when he saw his sister's name on the screen.
"Happy birthday, big brother."
"Hey, Sarah. Thanks. Are you at the library already?"
"I've been at the library since it opened, Tim. I've got to get this last bit of research done so I can start writing my lit paper tonight – but believe me, I'd much rather be taking you out for your birthday."
Tim laughed. "What are you talking about? You love writing – and you're making it up to me next Sunday."
"Next Sunday isn't your birthday. I feel like I'm letting you down – leaving you all alone today."
"I'm not going to be spending the day feeling sorry for myself, baby sister. Abby is taking me out to brunch when she gets out of Mass and we're meeting up with Tony and Ziva later tonight."
"Tommy and Lisa, huh?"
Tim groaned. "Knock it off, Sarah! Those aren't their names – Tommy and Lisa are fictional characters."
"Whatever you say, big brother," Sarah laughed. "How's your next book coming? Still having writer's block?"
Tim whistled to Jethro as he started to jog down the path, heading back to his apartment. "Actually, I woke up early this morning with some ideas bouncing around in my brain. Jotted them down and ended up writing two chapters."
"That's great! So, when will the next Thom E Gemcity book hit the bookshelves?"
"I'm supposed to turn in the manuscript by October first, and if I don't have any more big stumbling blocks, I just might make that deadline. So you should have a new book for Christmas."
"And you won't give me a hint about the plot?"
"Come on, Tim! At least tell me if Amy Sutton and Agent McGregor finally declare their love for each other and get married in this one!"
Sarah's words caused Tim to flash back to a night in a firelight den four years ago.
Abby in an old fashioned nightgown and cap, clutching Bert the hippo and looking at him with wide eyes as Tony led a handcuffed Landon from the room. "We have to talk," she said seriously. "Agent McGregor cannot marry Amy at the end." She paused but continued when he looked at her in confusion. "McGee, they're all wrong for each other."
Tim shook the memory away, surprised by the dull ache that still pierced his heart as he recalled Abby's words. "Nope. You'll have to wait just like everyone else, Sarah."
"Ok then, what about you and Abby? When are you two going to finally going to declare your love to each other and get married?"
Tim stopped in his tracks, his mouth falling open. Jethro stopped beside him and when he saw that his master wasn't immediately going to start going again, sat down on the sidewalk. "Sarah, what are you talking about? Abby and I are just friends."
"Tim, you're in love with her."
Tim closed his eyes, trying to block out the pain his sister's words caused. He started jogging again, and Jethro followed. "Doesn't matter – she doesn't feel the same way, Sarah."
"And I'm not going to discuss my love life with you – or lack of one." He cleared his throat. "Besides, I happen to be seeing someone."
"Oh really? What's her name?"
He could tell from Sarah's tone that she didn't believe him. "Her name is Cassie – she's an interior designer. We've gone on four dates. I'm taking things slow, but she seems nice. At least she hasn't tried to steal my credit cards or kill me."
"Tim, I know you haven't had the best luck with women," Sarah sighed. "Neither of us has been lucky in love. I just want you to be happy – you deserve it. And I think Abby is-"
"Sarah, please, let it go. I learned long ago that all Abby was willing to give me was friendship."
"The last thing I wanted to do was upset you on your birthday, big brother. I'm sorry."
His reassurances that she had not upset him were cut short as his call waiting chirped in his ear. "That's my call waiting, sis, I have to go. I'll call you later, ok?"
"I love you, Tim."
"I love you too, Sarah." Tim pressed the incoming call button. "McGee."
"Timmy! Happy Birthday!" Abby squealed.
Unconsciously, a huge grin spread across his face at the sound of her voice. "Hey, Abs! How was Mass?"
"It was good – very uplifting. Are you ready for brunch?"
"I am – or I will be by the time you get here."
"What are you doing? You sound a bit out of breath."
"Jethro and I went for a run around the neighborhood. We're almost back to the apartment."
"Aw – how's our dog doing this morning?"
A thrill shot through him at the words 'our dog' coming from Abby's lips. "He's good – but I think he's a little down at not seeing his new girlfriend at the park."
"What? My Jethro has a girlfriend?"
"Yeah, he met a poodle named Juliet last week."
"What's he doing sniffing around a toy poodle?"
"No, Abs, Juliet's a standard Poodle. She's as big as Jethro."
Abby made a grunting sound. "Well, I think I'll still need to talk to him about girls – unless you've already covered that topic?"
Tim laughed, remembering Jethro's glassy-eyed stare at the park. "I think I'll let you do it but I have to warn you that it might be too late."
"Okay, I should be at your place in twenty minutes."
"Sounds good. I might still be in the shower so just use your key and let yourself in."
"You didn't have to give me a ride, Sister. I could have taken a taxi to Tim's."
"Nonsense, Abigail. The soup kitchen is in this neighborhood, so it made perfect sense for me to bring you." Sister Rosita smiled at her from the driver's seat. "Besides, I am so happy that you are getting together outside of work again with that young man. You must bring him bowling sometime, now that our tournaments are over."
Abby smiled. "I'll ask him – I'm sure he'd like that."
Abby turned her attention out the window. It had indeed been a long time since she and Tim had done anything together outside of work. They used to do things together all the time: weekly lunches, taking care of Jethro on the weekends, staying up all night playing the latest RPG's. After all, Tim was her best friend. It was only natural that they spend a great deal of time in each others company.
It wasn't until the psychiatrist lady, aka Kate's sister, had arrived on the scene earlier this month that Abby realized how much work had taken over her life. She no longer went to movie marathons with Tony, or swapped stories with Ducky over cups of tea, or went over to Gibbs' house to 'help' with his boat.
But the worst part was she didn't notice until Rachel said the words "What about McGee?" the void that had been left by his absence in her lab, in her life.
How long had it been since –
-McGee had brought her a fresh CafPow?
-McGee had worked side by side with her in the lab?
-McGee had given her a high five when they cracked the code on a case?
-McGee had given her his full-blown grin – the one just for her?
Abby sighed as the waves of loss hit her all over again as she realized she didn't know and couldn't come up with the answers to those questions. Kate's loss and the realization that she had been pushing everyone, especially Timmy, away had been haunting her since Rachel's visit and had been the catalyst for making some changes in her life. She and Ziva had gone to a nail salon for a mani/pedi and late lunch afterward. She and Gibbs had hung out, sanded his boat and shared memories of Kate. Tony had been harder to pin down. Abby had the feeling that he was exorcising his own demons. But she had finally gotten him to go with her to a classic horror film festival.
She smiled as she remembered Tim coming down to her lab two weeks ago. She had to admit part of her had been waiting for him to notice her extracurricular activities with the others and call her on it – but she had forgotten how patient and maddening Timothy McGee could be.
She whirled in surprise at the sound of his raised voice, her plaid skirt flaring briefly with the sudden movement. "McGee! You scared me!"
He rolled his eyes. "Could you turn it down, please?" He waved his hands at the deafening music coming from her speakers.
Smiling sweetly at him, she grabbed a remote and pressed a button. "Better?"
The music subsided to dull roar and he smiled. "Much – do you have the DNA results yet?"
"Nope – still waiting for a ding."
He nodded and turned to leave. "I'll check back later then. Gibbs wants the results as soon as you have them."
"Wait! Can't you work down here for awhile?"
He raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Why? Do you need me do something for you?"
She shifted on her feet. "No, Tim, it's just quiet down here."
He smiled. "It wasn't quiet when I came in here a minute ago, Abs."
She darted forward and punched his arm and he glared at her. "You know what I mean! I – I just thought if you worked down here for a bit you'd be here when I got the ding and you could run the results up to Gibbs then."
He looked at her skeptically. "And that's it? You sure your computer's hot box doesn't need to be rewired or-"
"No! I don't need you to fix anything, Tim, but if it's such an inconvenience for you to work down here you better get back to your desk." She whirled away from him in another flash of plaid and began furiously typing on the keyboard.
She heard his sigh as he came up beside her, his fingers flying over the other keyboard. "I was running a trace on our victim's bank records upstairs but I can do that just as easily from here."
She raised her chin in the air. "I don't want to force you to stay down here with me, McGee.'
He sighed again, louder and longer this time. "Are you mad at me, Abs? Did I do something I don't know I did and need to apologize for it?"
She stopped typing and turned towards him. "No – what makes you say that?"
He kept his eyes fixed on the screen in front of him. "Because of the way you're acting – and the fact that you've made plans with everyone outside of work but me."
A lump rose in her throat as she realized she had unintentionally hurt him. She reached over and laid her hand on his, stilling his fingers on the keyboard. "McGee," she said throatily and waited for him to look at her. "Can we go to lunch?"
He smiled sadly. "You're just asking because-"
She shook her head so emphatically her pigtails whipped across her face. "No, I'm asking because I need to talk to my best friend about stuff and I don't want to talk about it inside the walls of NCIS. So, lunch?"
And her Timmy smiled, his full blown grin, the one just for her.
They had gone to lunch and Abby had poured her heart out, telling him all about the memories of Kate that Rachel had raised and how she was afraid of losing them all the same way. McGee had been very supportive, much the same way he had been after Kate died, and Abby was over the moon that their friendship still seemed to be strong and intact.
"Abigail, we're here," Sister Rosita's voice interrupted Abby's thoughts.
Abby started and focused on the view outside her window for the first time in several minutes, taking in the sight of Tim's apartment building. Grabbing her overnight bag and parasol, she threw a smile over her shoulder at the Sister.
"Thanks again for the lift." She reached for the door handle but stopped when she felt the older woman's hand on her arm.
"You all right, dear? You were so quiet on the way over here."
Abby nodded. "I was just thinking."
Abby nodded again, and silently wondered at the slight flush she felt stain her cheeks.
"He's such a nice young man – oh, I know I haven't seen him in a few years, but I don't think he's changed that much, has he?"
Abby shook her head.
"You couldn't do better, you know." When Abby looked at her in confusion, she added, "For a husband, dear."
Abby rolled her eyes as she pushed open the car door. "Good bye, Sister. Have a good afternoon at the soup kitchen and I'll see you tomorrow."
Sister Rosita leaned across the seat. "Do you need a ride home tonight?"
Abby shook her head. "No, Tim will give me a ride."
Sister Rosita smiled. "I'm sure he will. Have a good time, Abigail."
Abby opened her parasol, shaking her finger at the Sister because she knew exactly what the woman was thinking. Just because Sister Rosita was a nun didn't mean she didn't have any impure thoughts!
"Good bye, Sister."
Tim was just slipping into a pair of jeans when he heard a knock on his front door. Jethro raised his head lazily from his doggie bed in the corner and gave a short, sharp bark but didn't move.
"Hush, boy. I'm sure it's just Abby," Tim soothed and Jethro laid his head back down on his paws. "Some guard dog you are." He contemplated putting a shirt on but since he was fairly sure it was just Abby, he padded out in his bare chest and feet to answer the door.
"Abs, I told you to just use your key," he admonished as he swung the door open to reveal a FedEx delivery person. Suddenly self-conscious, Tim crossed his arms over his chest. "Yes?"
"I have a package here for Timothy McGee from Sarah."
"Really?" he asked, reaching for the small brown parcel. "That's funny – she didn't say anything about sending me something when I was talking to her this morning," he murmured as he turned to set it on the couch as Jethro came out of the bedroom, his tail wagging. "Sorry, boy, false alarm, it's not Abby."
Jethro sat just outside the bedroom doorway, cocked his head and looked at the FedEx employee.
"Sir, I need a signature."
"Oh, of course." Tim turned back towards the front door just as Jethro let out a low growl of warning.
Special Agent Timothy McGee saw the gun a split second before he felt the pain in his upper chest.
The last thing he saw before everything went black was Jethro lunging for the armed FedEx employee.
Abby could hear Jethro barking as soon as she opened the front door of the building. She hurried down the hallway, glad that McGee lived on the first floor.
When she rounded the corner, she saw Michael bent over the doorknob, trying to pick the lock. "Just what do you think you're doing, young man?"
Michael jumped back guiltily. "I'm sorry, Miss Abby, but my mom had to run out to the store and the tenants have been complaining about Jethro's barking. He's been carrying on like this nonstop for a couple of minutes now."
Abby frowned as she fished her copy of McGee's key out of her purse, fitting it into the lock. "I'm sure there's some perfectly-" She paused as she got the door open and Jethro crashed through, flinging himself onto Abby, still barking frantically, and throwing her onto the floor.
"You were saying?" Michael asked. "Miss Abby, is that – blood?" The boy pointed to the front of Abby's black and red dress which now had dark paw prints all over it.
Abby went even paler under her make- up, pushing Jethro off her. "Michael, hold him," she ordered pushing Jethro toward Michael.
The boy grabbed the dog's collar and tried to hold on as Abby got to her feet and entered McGee's apartment.
Her anguished cry shocked Michael and he loosened his grip on Jethro's collar, allowing the dog to tear back into the apartment. Scrambling to his feet, Michael followed and stood in the doorway staring in shock at the scene in front of him. His neighbor and recent friend lay on the floor bleeding from a wound in his chest and it didn't look like he was breathing. Abby was feverishly performing CPR. As she moved from his mouth back to his chest, she barked over her shoulder,
"Michael, call 911. Tim's been shot. We need an ambulance, now! And take Jethro with you."
Michael looked around and saw Tim's phone by his laptop. Picking it up he called 911 and managed to convince them that he wasn't playing a practical joke, that he really was calling in a gunshot victim. The dispatcher asked if CPR was being given and Michael said yes but they needed to hurry. He was reassured that the paramedics were on the way and then he was told to stay on the phone until they arrived.
Michael kept the phone to his ear with one hand and held Jethro's collar with the other. He couldn't take his eyes off Miss Abby. She worked tirelessly even as the tears streamed down her cheeks, never wavering in what she was doing, moving between Tim's chest and his mouth, trying desperately to breath for him and keep his blood flowing. Michael's mom had told him that the brain couldn't survive long without oxygen. How long had Jethro been barking? Michael tried to remember what time he had heard Jethro start barking but he couldn't – everything was a blur.
Finally he heard the sirens in the distance, coming closer, coming for his friend.
As he watched Abby's hands move up and down on Tim's chest and her mouth moving silently with the count, he prayed that they would be in time to save his friend's life.
Everybody, take a deep breath. This is a McAbby fic - I promise! Reviews are LOVE - the muses eat them like candy and they make the words flow faster!