A/N: This is the end of this ride – or is it? Thanks for all the reviews. I really, really, really appreciate the support. And I know I said it before, but I don't own them (see profile for full disclaimer.)

Chapter 12

Six Months Later

Tim was thrilled to be back in DC. His company had in fact obtained the contract and, as promised, Tim was heading up the DC office. Even better he was actually working with several agencies, including NCIS.

It wasn't the same, of course. Even though Tony and Gibbs had accepted Tim back into their lives, the others (okay, mainly Abby) took a little longer. Eventually, though, he had managed to build a new relationship with his former co-workers – and with the new Probie. Her name was Gretchen Hendricks and she had basically taken Tim's place as the team's computer whiz. Admittedly it was a little awkward at first since he was dating his replacement, but their mutual attraction soon overcame any discomfort.

He even had his own team of programmers working for him. He pretended to be insulted when Tony had nicknamed them the 'Geeklings', but everyone knew better. Life was good.

And then the phone rang.

Abby sang along with the music blaring from the speakers as she danced around her lab. The last few months had been amazing. With Tim back, it was almost like old times. True, it had taken her a little while to accept him back into the circle, but when she saw that Tony and Gibbs had forgiven him, she knew that she had to forgive him as well.

In some ways, things were even better than before. There was no longer any jealously between Tony and Tim. Both of them were working at jobs that they loved (although Tony still missed being in the field) and both of them were the best at what they did. And Abby thought it was really cute that Tim and Gretchen were dating – they were absolutely perfect for each other.

She couldn't wait for the weekend. They were all going to get together at Tony and Gibbs' house for a cookout. It was always so much fun, especially telling Gretchen embarrassing stories about Tim. Abby smiled. Life was good.

And then Ducky walked into the lab.

Tony and Gibbs had decided to spend a few days in the mountains before the cookout with their friends on Saturday. Tony hadn't taken any time off for months and Gibbs finally put his foot down. He, Ducky and Palmer had finally convinced Tony that NCIS would not fall apart if the director decided to take a few days off. Brian Reynolds would fill in as acting director and Tony was just a phone call away if a situation arose.

Although Tony had grumbled about taking the time away from the office, he was really looking forward to getting some one-on-one time with Gibbs. It's not that he didn't enjoy spending time with the team and Tim – he loved them – but sometimes he just needed Gibbs and only Gibbs.

Because of the meds Tony had to take, he didn't get to drive very often. Today, however, was a good day so Tony was behind the wheel of the BMW. It wouldn't be long until they were out of the city. The sun was shining and they had the windows down. Smiling, Tony reached over and grabbed Gibbs' hand. Life was good.

They never knew what hit them.

Abby sobbed in Ducky's arms and the older man gave her as much comfort as he could. Regaining a modicum of composure, she realized that she needed to call Tim. With trembling hands, she picked up her phone and made the call.

Tim saw Abby's name on his phone's display and answered with a smile. But the smile faded and the blood drained from his face when she gave him the news. He ended the call with a terse 'I'll meet you there' and hung up. He told his team what had happened and that he would be out of the office for the foreseeable future. (His team was the best and as long as he had a laptop, he could stay in touch.) He grabbed his things and headed for Bethesda. His friends – his family – needed him, and this time he wouldn't let them down.


(TBC in NCIS: The More They Stay the Same – coming soon!)

A/N: Don't hate me. Please?