a/n: sorry for the delay, but this was originally intended to come out in Mid-November (Cote de Pablo and Sean Murray's birthdays) so will hope to get the Christmas chapter finished and posted soon too. As always, thank you for your patience and for reading and reviewing.

"So, may I ask just a quick question?" Asks Tim as he finishes the reports he's been working on. It's late and the entire team has been helping him finish the last academic part of his training. The physically challenging part he's been working on slowly under the guidance of Jack, Daniel and Teal'c and the watchful eye of Dr. Frasier. He hands his report to Jack who in turn hands it over to General Hammond.

"Only one?" Teases Daniel and Tim blushes.

"I...would it be okay if I went back to DC before the holidays? I know that we or more likely you guys might have a mission or something coming up, but I really need to at least give out this one gift."

Sam smiles, as she knows for whom it is meant. "Do you need a lift to the airport?"

Jack huffs, "Why fly the friendly skies when you can fly the friendlier ones?"

Tim grins as his new team, his family, gathers around him, gently teasing him about the girl he'd left behind. He sighs as he thinks about the time they've been apart, the emails they've exchanged and the gifts they've already given each other. Fingering the Star of David at his neck, he looks up at Jack and General Hammond. The two men are still concerned about Tim's reception going back to NCIS and then Daniel speaks up.

"He won't be alone guys. He'll have his family with him, if he wants us to be there, right Tim?"

Tim nods. "I'd like you guys to be there, but I know that Teal'c might want to be with Bra'tac and Rya'c. I'm sure Sam wants to go visit her father too."

"Is it Gibbs you are not sure of, Timothy McGee?" asks Teal'c.

Tim smiles and shakes his head. "No, it's Abby that I'm concerned about. She tends to overreact whenever one of us returns after being away for a long time. I mean, it hasn't been that long, but she'll be mad because I haven't been there."

General Hammond thinks about it, and then shakes his head. "For now, we need to keep you here. You've only started your training and we need to let Agent Gibbs cool his heels for a little bit longer." He glances at Jack who frowns at him; Hammond gives him a high sign and Jack hides a grin.

Tim isn't paying much attention as he fiddles with a pen, wondering how he's going to give Ziva her birthday gift if he can't get back home to present it to her. He thinks about his friend, about all of the friends he's left behind. Daniel glances at Jack who nods in silent agreement. They need to take Tim back to DC, to let him visit his friends for a day or two. The fact that he'd chosen to stay with the SGC isn't lost on any of the team. The fact that he's done so within hours of Gibbs visiting Jack's house wasn't lost on them either. They can tell that he's having second thoughts, maybe even more, about the decision he'd made to leave the team he'd considered his family for so long.

Hammond puts a hand on Tim's shoulder, "It's not that I don't trust you, it's that I don't trust Agent Gibbs not to take Miss Scuito's side in an effort to try and get you to stay there; we need to make sure that if you go back, there won't be any repercussions."

Tim nods and asks to be excused from the room. Seeing the downcast slump to his shoulders, it's all Jack and Daniel can do to not immediately follow him from the room, but something in Hammond's eyes keeps them in their places.

"Take it easy gentlemen. Doctor Frasier, you have the floor."

"The general and I have been talking about Tim's recovery and part of the healing will indeed be letting him go back. Afterward, if he wants us to, we'll bring his team out here; let them see the way we interact and then see how you all act as a team and as a family unit."

Daniel nods thoughtfully, "Like we let Gibbs see some of the family time we have when he was here a few days ago."

Hammond nods, "Yes, only this time we'll bring the entire team out, let them see just what they have lost by their actions. They are beginning to realize some of it, but I'm not exactly certain that they know just what he means to us and to our little organization."

Sam frowns slightly, "Are you or should I say we, sure that we're not going to be rubbing their noses in it? Doesn't that make us as bad as them?"

Janet shakes her head, "Not if it gets them to see just what we're doing as a team. And I don't mean missions. I'm talking the training that Tim still has to go through. I can't clear him for active duty yet and if they can see how we rally around our recruits, not to mention our friends and family, then maybe, just maybe we can finally open their eyes as to just how they have shut him out of their own little world."

Daniel opens his mouth then shuts it again.

"What is it, Doctor Jackson?"

"General, I'm not saying I'm completely against the idea, but what about Tim's feelings in the meantime? I'm sure you all saw the way he left here. He's used to being shot down by Gibbs, but he'd counted on being able to go back for a few days; if only to see Ziva."

Sam tilts her head to the side, "Tim has a birthday coming up doesn't he? Why not surprise him and bring her out here as a birthday gift? Surely she'd have a few days that they won't need her."

Daniel grins, "It would be perfect actually as they both have birthdays coming up. That's part of the reason he wanted to go back; to give her a birthday gift."

Jack beams at him, "Then we go beat on Gibbs at the same time."

The others chuckle and General Hammond shakes his head. "No Colonel, no beating anyone up this trip. I'll contact their Director and arrange for Agent Da'vid to come out here."

Jack frowns "Are we sure about that, General? Do we want to risk letting a suspected System Lord know that we're coming back?"

Hammond nods, "While I understand your concerns, we have to progress as normal. We have suspicions but nothing concrete to base them on. Let's bring Tim's surprise out here. If nothing else, it might make said System Lord tip her hand sooner."

Daniel scoots his chair back. "Tim's cooled his heels long enough. I need to go check up on him."

Janet watches thoughtfully as Daniel leaves, "He's really taking his role as Tim's brother to heart isn't he?"

Jack nods, "That space monkey has wanted to be part of a family for so long, that he's almost overcompensating. I have to let them have their space though. They need each other right now."

Janet looks at the expressions on his face. "You need him too, Colonel, just as they need you. General, as the team is on standby for the next week and possibly two, I give my permission for Tim to go back to NCIS. My only prerequisite is that he has the team go with him. As we've all noted, he's susceptible to Miss Sciuto and the Director of NCIS might be suspicious if you don't go with him. I would advise however, that you don't delay for too much longer."

Hammond smiles at Jack and nods. "Go tell your boys to pack their bags. We'll have the team go and pick up Agent Da'vid, and bring her back here. With Major Carter's permission, she can stay at her house unless Doctor Frasier would like that honor."

Janet shakes her head, "I have my hands full with Cassandra or I might take you up on that."

Sam nods at the same time, "Dad said that he and Selmak have plans for the weekend. I have a guest room that Ziva can sleep in while she's here."

Jack beams again, "Yep, this is why I like you guys and while Tim might not know it, it's why he agreed to stay with us, instead of NCIS."


Ziva sighs as she contemplates her weekend. She'd looked forward to it almost the entire year, knowing that her birthday and Tim's were close together. She'd wanted to ask him out for dinner, or at least a birthday drink or two as they've done in previous years. Why had she not asked him before he'd left and why hadn't she spoken up for him more often?

She shakes her head as she finishes her report and silently hands it in to Gibbs. The tall taciturn man has been so silent lately that she's not sure what to do or what to say to him anymore. Tim's absence even for a few days has been something that no one had foreseen. The fact that he'd chosen to stay away...she blinks back tears and starts muttering to herself in Hebrew.

"Take it easy, Ziva. We'll get him back, it might take a bit longer than we anticipated, but we will get him back. Right boss? We'll get McGee back, won't we; you won't let him stay out there, will you?"

Gibbs shakes his head at Tony's questions. "I don't know DiNozzo. He was pretty clear about why he'd stay there."

Tony's jaw drops, "Boss! He's our Probie! They can't keep him forever! You can't let them."

Gibbs turns and glares at him, "Why not? What have we done to encourage him to stay here?"

Tony gulps as he thinks about all the pranks and stunts he's pulled on Tim. The stunts he'd meant as just that, pranks that anyone else would have...he stops as he realizes that if he'd pulled half of those stunts on anyone else, that person or persons would have punched his lights out if not outright killed him. He drops his gaze to his feet, and stares at the tops of his Italian leather shoes.

"He tried to stay with us and we drove him away didn't we?" He asks softly and the other two nod.

Jenny glares at the morose team in the squad room. McGee and his damn transfer to Colorado have impacted the MCRT in ways she could never have predicted. The man was nothing more than a computer technician, a geek in more ways than one. She shook her head as she registered Cynthia telling her that the commander of the SGC was on a secure line for her. Turning on her heel, she listens as Hammond tells her that Tim will be coming back to DC for a day or two and then she frowns as he requests Ziva's presence for the weekend ahead.

"Call it a surprise, Director. It might be all that you need to bolster some lagging spirits on Timothy's other team."

She hesitates for a few seconds then smiles. "Very well, let the team visit and yes, I'll sign Ziva's vacation papers. This is all providing she wishes to come back with your team of course."

"Understood, Director and thank you. Tim and the team should be arriving shortly."

Hammond hangs up and nods towards the team, "You have a go; just make sure you come back with little or no incident."

Jack gives a feral smile, "Are you sure we can't take a punch at Gibbs?"

Hammond chuckles as he leads the team out into the hall where Tim and Daniel are talking quietly. "No, you may not punch Gibbs. Tim, we've decided to let you visit your other team. I do expect all of you back here within 48 hours."

Tim stares at Hammond and then gives the General that slow beaming smile that endeared him to the SGC leader a year ago. Looking from one face to another, the smile just gets bigger and brighter even as Daniel and Jack lead him away.

"I hope we're doing the right thing, General." Doctor Frasier says softly, as she watches them go.

"He needs this right now, Doctor. They all do, no matter what they might think. The fact that Tim decided to stay with us needs to be addressed in both teams and we've got other things to worry about as well."

"Such as how two men ended up being brothers when we know or think we do, that Colonel O'Neill's ex-wife wasn't one to sleep around?"

"That too, doctor, that too."


As he opens the stairwell door and sees the withdrawn faces of the MCRT, Brent Langer has to wonder how and why. How could Tim have left and why would they have let him?

One or two incidences be damned, something had to have happened to have finally pushed that young man out of NCIS and into the open arms of the SGC. Again, knowing that he can get answers from Abby if no one else, he turns on his heel and heads back downstairs to Abby and her lab.

The Goth is humming under her breath as her almost earsplitting music erupts from the speakers. Langer watches silently for a few minutes then taps her on the shoulder.

"Oh, hey Brent, what brings you to my lab? You guys finally catch a case?"

Langer shakes his head and asks, "What happened between you and McGee? I thought you two were best buds."

Abby shrugs, "He decided that he didn't like us anymore. I still don't know why he was so upset about Jethro. He's the one who shot him."

Langer's eyebrows shoot up in disbelief, "McGee shot the Boss?"

"No silly, the dog."

"Ohhh, so McGee shoots a dog and you didn't like it?"

"Well it's not as if Jethro could shoot back now is it? I mean, he didn't mean to bite Timmy, it was an accident. Timmy should have known better than to shoot an innocent animal and he should have just taken it like a man and let Jethro stay with him. It was fate that they met and he should have just accepted Jethro as part of his destiny."

She turns back to her computers clearly indicating that the conversation was over and Langer stares at her for a few more seconds, wondering where she comes up with some of her logic, before heading down to Autopsy. Once again, the assistant ME is there and Langer tilts his head as he wonders if Jimmy can give him answers that no one else seems able to.

"Hey Brent, how's it going? You settling in okay up there?"

Langer nods as he wonders how to ask his question. "Palmer can I ask you something?"

"Sure, what about?"

"Why did McGee leave? Why didn't the Boss stop him?"

Jimmy pauses in his cleaning as he ponders the answer to Brent's question. "I think and this is just speculation on my part, that Tim was given the one thing there that he's seldom received here," he looks up at Langer as he cleans the same spot over and over again.

"What was missing, Palmer?"

"Not much, just a little respect."

Langer steps back on his heels. He looks at Palmer who is studiously cleaning another section of the table.

"What happened, Jimmy?"

"I'm not the one who should tell you."

Brent huffs, "Well it's not like anyone else on the MCRT will."

Jimmy hands him a slip of paper with an address on it. Looking from it to Palmer, Brent can tell it's Palmer's home address. "I'll be there just name the time. You need me to bring anything?"

"An open ear and maybe something to drink. I have plans for this evening but I can talk tomorrow or later this weekend if you still want to."

Brent asks suspiciously. "No tofu surprise or anything?"

Jimmy chuckles, "No, just something to drink."


Tim is almost bouncing as he starts packing his go bag. He stops when he hears a sound by the door and smiles when he sees Daniel standing there.

"You can come in you know."

"I was watching you. You seem almost too happy. What happens when we get there?"

Tim sighs and sits on the bed. He pats the corner and Daniel comes closer. "Are you going to leave us Tim? Are you having second thoughts already?"

Tim shakes his head already knowing where Daniel is going with this line of questioning. "No, I just wanted to give Ziva a birthday gift. We've been celebrating our birthdays for almost two years now, since we're so close together as far as days go. Her birthday is only a few days before mine. We don't do much, just go out for a quiet meal together but this year I wanted to actually give her something special."

He frowns as he searches his dresser drawer and then groans as he thinks about where the gift actually is. Or rather where it probably ended up as the jacket had been taken into evidence after Abby had covered Jethro the dog with it.

"Darn it! It was in my coat pocket! I had just picked it up when we were called out on the case and then the whole dog-biting incident. I forgot to grab it before Abby put the coat on the dog."

He frowns wondering how he's going to find another gift and one with that particular meaning when Daniel puts a hand on his shoulder.

"Don't suppose this is what you are looking for?"

Tim's smile brightens once again then his brow furrows as he looks at Daniel in question.

"Don't ask, I promised not to tell."

Tim nods knowing what the other man isn't saying. He shows the charm to Daniel who smiles at him.

Daniel gives him a nudge, "Come on, we don't have much time if we're flying the "Friendlier Skies."

"You mean that Jack and Sam will be flying us there?"

"Not necessarily." Daniel says as he points skyward.

Tim nods and places the precious box into his go bag. As they turn to leave, Daniel puts a friendly arm around his shoulders.

"So, how long have you been crushing on the Israeli hottie?"

Tim glances at him, "Truthfully? A lot longer than she thinks I have."

Daniel looks at him and Tim says, "I'll tell you someday."


Langer comes back upstairs and studies his current team. Frustrated by the conversation with Abby and the melancholy that permeates the squad room, he throws up his hands.

"If you all miss McGee so darn much, why didn't you stop him? Honestly, boss, if it had been anyone else you'd have fought tooth and nail to keep him from going! You want him back, show him! Don't just sit here with your hands on your chins saying, gee wish Tim was here! Go get him!"

They all stare at him as he throws himself into the chair that sits behind his desk. "Hmph! Some team! Hope I don't have to have you guys on my six anytime soon! I'm not sure I'd trust you to have it!"

Gibbs stands up, and Brent stands up at the same time, daring him to give him that head smack. "Go ahead Boss! I dare you! Stand up to me! Tell me that you're going to go out there and this time fight for the man that you actually said 'belonged' to you! But before you do that, make sure that you're doing it because you actually want him on this team. Not as a computer geek but as an AGENT. He's not some freaking probie anymore! He had DiNozzo's six as his Senior field agent, the entire time you were gone, hiding in Mexico. That's not someone who is a probie; that is a field agent!"

Ziva and Tony watch as Gibbs swallows the anger that had obviously swelled during Langer's diatribe. They can see the blue eyes flashing and know that finally someone has broken through to the boss where no one else could. Tony stands up and Ziva does too.

"He's right Boss, we need to go get Tim back."

Ziva nods in agreement, "Only this time we do it as a team. Not just you Gibbs, we all need to go and prove to McGee, to Tim, that we need him."

Before Gibbs can say or do anything, Jenny comes out of her office. "Ziva, come with me please. Gibbs, this concerns you too."

Tony and Brent stare at the director as she shuts the door behind the other two agents.

"Someone has her panties in a twist." Tony mutters.

"Think it might have something to do with our new arrivals?" Brent points to the screen and Tony lets out a silent groan.

"In a way, I hope that's good news."

Neither of them hears the elevator ding as Tim steps off. He gives Brent a silent nod in greeting and then says, "Hey Tony."

Tony spins around, starts towards the younger man and then stops "Tim! Does this mean... are you back?"

"For a day, maybe two."

The elevator dings again and this time the entire SG-1 team steps off. Tim makes introductions to Langer who grins at Sam as he says, "Wow, wish they had them this pretty in the FBI."

Tim looks around, obviously searching for someone, and Tony points upstairs, "Jenny took both Ziva and Gibbs up just before you guys arrived."

Jack looks disappointed and Daniel smacks his arm, "You know that Hammond said you couldn't smack Gibbs this trip."

"Doesn't mean I would have," Jack complains and the others laugh. The elevator bell rings again and this time Abby and Jimmy both step off. They're squabbling about something that Jimmy had said and Abby is just about to punch Jimmy in the arm when she spies Tim surrounded by Tony, Brent and the SG team.

"Timmy! You're back! I knew you couldn't stay away! Now you can go get Jethro and apologize."

"Not happening Abby. I didn't come here to stay. I came here to-"

Abby stomps her foot and is clearly heading over to him, about to say something more when she stumbles and falls to the floor. Langer hides a smirk as Daniel gives her an insincere apology.

"Sorry about that, I thought I heard Tim trying to explain why we were here. Wanted to make sure that everyone could hear what he has to say."

Abby rubs her knee and stands up glaring at the young scientist who smiles serenely back at her, daring her to say something. A movement from the side has her sliding over to Gibbs,

"Gibbs, he tripped me! He deliberately tripped me."

Gibbs stares at her and she takes a step back. "Gibbs?"

"Not falling for it this time, Abbs. Colonel, I understand you and your team are in town for a few hours."

"Yep, we are. Seems like we have a couple of birthdays to celebrate this weekend." He places a hand on Tim's shoulder and Gibbs is about to say something when Abby shakes her head.

"No, Ziva's birthday is Sunday but Timmy's birthday isn't until Tuesday. Therefore, you'll just have to come back."

She starts towards Tim and again she mysteriously stumbles. Glaring up at the SG-1 team, she realizes that none of them are close enough to have tripped her this time. She looks around the room and growls at Langer who has stepped closer to Tim, shaking his hand.

"Seems like you won't be here next week then. Where's the party?" He asks no one in particular and Tim grins.

"We made arrangements to have one of the conference rooms at the hotel. Just seemed easier that way and if we get tired we can just go upstairs and sack out."

Abby starts protesting about those who might have to drive home and Sam smiles, "We've taken a few extra rooms, just to make sure that no one has to worry about being the designated driver. We want to celebrate two birthdays and we're going to."

Gibbs nods in approval and tells the MCRT to go home and pack their overnight bags. "We have some birthdays to celebrate. I take it you want to meet up at the hotel?"

Jack nods thoughtfully, watching as Ziva heads for the stairwell. Tim can see her leave too and is about to follow her when Abby finally makes her way over to him and punches him in the arm.

"That's for leaving us, McGee!"

Before she can do it again, she finds her fist firmly caught in the dark skinned hand of Teal'c. "We have much to talk about, Abigail Scuito. I suggest that you go get your bag and meet us at the hotel. Providing of course that you do want to wish your friend, Timothy McGee a Happy Birthday before he comes back to Colorado with us."


In the stairwell, Ziva sits on the bottom stair, waiting for Tim to catch up to her. He gives her a bashful smile as he tentatively puts an arm around her waist.

"I had hoped for a private celebration this year; you know, just the two of us, like always."

Ziva leans into him as he escorts her to her car. "We can still have that. It is why I was upstairs with Gibbs and the director. I have been asked to come out for a visit. If that is, you would like me to come out for a few days?"

Tim gives her another bashful smile and she asks him if he'd like to ride with her to the hotel. He nods and she motions for him to get inside. As they leave the Yard, neither of them see Jenny heading over to her own car. The outside lab has called telling her that the results Dr. Mallard had requested are in. She gets inside and drives off, rubbing her stomach as she does so.

Upstairs the remaining team members of SG-1 and the MCRT look at each other. Langer finally huffs out,

"Are you guys gonna stare at each other the rest of the weekend or are we going to go help two friends celebrate their birthdays? Come on Palmer; you, Dr. Jackson and Too Tall there can ride with me."

Teal'c nods his acceptance and Palmer gulps as he nods too. Daniel looks at Jack narrowing his eyes as he silently reminds his team leader that he cannot take a bite out of Gibbs this trip. Then he hastens after Langer and the others.

Gibbs motions for Jack and Sam to come with him. He looks over at Abby who is still rubbing her fist where Teal'c had grabbed it. He sighs as he picks up his coffee cup and heads towards the elevator saying,

"Come on, Abbs. You know that you'll regret not saying goodbye to McGee if you don't."


She stops when she sees that the other three are in the elevator already and runs to catch up.

The party itself starts out quietly. The two teams meet in the hotel's conference room and Tim confesses that he'd gone ahead and ordered for everyone. As he says that, there is a knock on the door. Everyone laughs when they see a cart laden with pizzas being rolled in. The delivery boy beams when Tim hands him the money along with a hefty tip.

"Don't suppose you ordered drinks as well McGee?"

Langer's question is followed by another knock on the door. As Tim opens it, Ducky steps inside pushing a cart full of cold beer and sodas for those who don't drink alcohol. Ziva beams at the older man when he motions for her to follow him to the side counter where they set up the teapot. As the boxes empty and the celebrating begins, Tony glances around the room.

"Where are the birthday boy and girl?"

Langer grins as he takes another sip of his beer. "Hopefully celebrating in a private room."

Daniel shakes his head. "Tim went to get something out of the car. I don't know where Ziva went."

Ziva looks at Tim as he brings their bags in and puts them on one of the roller carts.

"You are different tonight, what has happened?"

"I wanted to celebrate with you alone. Like we have been, not with a bunch of people." He admits.

"Well, since I have been asked to come back with you and the SG-1 team, we can still celebrate alone, just in a new city, yes?"

He nods and she pats his arm. "I know it is not quite the same as we are used to. At least we will get some time alone though, will we not? Time to talk about the things we both want to say?"

He raises his head and stares at her. "You mean it, some private time just you and me?"

She nods, "I think that your team will be arranging it before we even get back there."

Tim chuckles as he remembers the team, Dr. Fraiser and General Hammond all talking when he'd been out in the hallway. He hadn't paid much attention to what they were saying, as he'd been lost in his own thoughts, wondering how he was going to give Ziva her present. He starts to pull it out of his pocket when she stops him with a soft kiss to his cheek.

"Let us exchange gifts where we will have privacy. Even though we are at a hotel, we are still expected to show respect for our friends."

Tim nods and slips an arm around her. She looks at their go bags and smiles. "Come on, we need to let the others see that we have not left them hot and loose."

"High and dry." He automatically says and she grins at him.

"They might not be high, but they will definitely not be dry for a while either."

"Yeah and I still don't trust Jack not to try and take a poke at Gibbs tonight. He might have promised Hammond that he wouldn't but he's still fairly protective of me."

Ziva nods and they saunter back into the conference room. Langer grins as he starts singing "Happy Birthday to you."

The others chime in and before long, the two teams are singing merrily. Hours later, Tim and Ziva exchange silent toasts as they start escorting their friends up to the rooms that they've been assigned. Gibbs and Ducky help them escort the remaining team members upstairs. Gibbs has been assigned to the one with Teal'c and Jack. Ducky hadn't been expected, but Tim does offer up his bed if the older man wants to stay.

"I appreciate the offer Timothy; however, I do have a house guest coming in tomorrow and would like to be there when he arrives."

Jimmy looks at his mentor who gives him a gentle smile, "Stay with our friends, dear boy. It's a rare treat for both of us when we get to spend time with them."

Jimmy still looks a bit troubled, but Tim motions for him to stay and take the room with Tony and Langer.

"Unless you want to run interference for Gibbs and O'Neill." Tim says teasingly and Jimmy shakes his head as he dashes into the room.

Ziva looks at Tim as she pulls out the keyed card for the room that she's sharing with Sam and Abby.

"Good night, Tim. Do you, would you like to meet me downstairs for an early morning coffee?"

Tim gives her a smile as he brushes a kiss over her cheek. "I'd like that a lot. See you in a few hours."


The dawning of the new day has both teams downstairs enjoying the free continental breakfast. Tim and Ziva manage a few quiet moments talking about the next few days to come. They both know that Abby is going to be upset by Ziva joining Tim and the SG-1 team for a few days and Tim has to admit that he'd been afraid that Gibbs wouldn't let him see Ziva due to the ever-present rule number 12.

"You are part of a new team now, rule 12 should not figure into anything."

"I know but…"

"No buts, she's right." Gibbs states as he sips at his first cup of coffee.

Tim stares at him, and then asks, "If I were to come back would it change? Would you accept us as a couple even if one of us wasn't always out in the field?"

"Different set of circumstances."

Tim glances at Ziva then back at Gibbs, "So what does that mean?"

"It means that if you come back we talk about it. If you don't, then the rule won't apply."

Jack nods approvingly at the couple. "You two lovebirds going to stop and grab more clothes for Ziva before we take off?"

"I was just asking him what I would need for my journey."

Sam looks at her and smiles, "How about you, Abby and I go pick out what you need, and we'll let the boys have some time alone?"

Ziva smiles back at her as she stands up, "I would like that, thank you. Abby? Are you going to come with us?"

Abby bites her lip and then shakes her head, "No, I'm going to visit the nuns. Can you drop me off though?"

Ziva sighs and nods, "Of course we can. I shall miss you while I am gone."

Abby shrugs as she states, "You'll be coming back though. It's Timmy who doesn't want to come back to us."

Sam looks at Ziva as they finish dropping Abby off. "Whew! And Tim has to deal with that every day? I've seen spoilt children, but wow, she's never outgrown it!"

The men start gathering their things, and Gibbs glances at Tim who is trying studiously to avoid meeting his eyes.

"Hey, talk to me."

"The general has said that he wants the entire team to come visit sometime. I'm not sure if the director will allow for it, but if she does, you're still welcome to visit me at Jack's house. I just thought you should know."

"O'Neill going to sit still for it?"

"I have a right to have a friend or two visit, and I still consider both you and Tony my friends, Boss."

Gibbs swallows, knowing that for all that's been said and done, he's done nothing to earn this man's friendship or trust and yet for reasons unknown, Tim still trusts him.

"Thanks, Tim. We'll start making arrangements. Tell Ziva to take her time and to enjoy this week."

"Thanks Boss."


The teams gather near the USS Barry. As it's early on the weekend and there are no sight-seers this early in the day, Jack and the others designated the old retired ship as their drop off/recovery point whenever they come to NCIS. Langer looks around and makes the first move.

"McGee, anytime you want your old job back, let Fornell know and I'll transfer back to the FBI. Unless of course you decide you want to put up with the old grouch in which case, I'll stay with Gibbs and team. Happy Birthday, Tim."

Tim laughs as he shakes Langer's hand. "Thanks Brent, it was nice getting to know you too."

Jimmy points to the cell phone in Tim's pocket, "I can be a good listener. Anyway I'll try to be a better one than I have been. Happy Birthday."

Tim pulls him in for a hug, "Don't forget, it goes both ways. If you need to talk or just rant, there's email too. Thanks for being a good friend Jimmy."

Tony shakes his head, "I refuse to believe that you'll be gone for good. Take this time, learn from them but come back to us. I might not be the best friend in the world but I can endeavor to do better next time."

"I love you too Tony."

Gibbs waits until everyone has had their say, then motions with his coffee cup for Tim to follow him. Tim doesn't think twice as he automatically falls into step beside him. Daniel and Jack look at each other and start to follow but Teal'c blocks their path.

"Not this time. They need to start communicating and this is a good time for them to do so. Besides, I think that Gibbs is relaying good news not bad."

"You mean about them coming out to the Mountain."


Gibbs sighs as he turns to the young man he'd brought on so many years ago. Tim bites his lip unsure of what the boss was going to say, but knowing that he had to give him his chance to say it.

"I need to apologize to you. I don't know if you can believe me, but I am sorry about the way things have ended."

Tim glances at him, at the sincerity in the blue eyes. "I believe that General Hammond offered you and the rest of the team a chance to come out to the Mountain? If the director does give you that time off, take him up on that offer. I'm on limited physical training for at least another week, but when that's over I can send Tony an email and then you guys can decide if you want to come out and watch us train."

"I'd like that, and I think they will too."

They sit in silence for a few minutes, then Gibbs hands him a small package wrapped with brown paper. "Open it when you get there. Happy Birthday, Tim."

"Thanks Boss."

They walk back to where O'Neill and the rest of SG-1 are waiting. Ziva has her go bag and a small duffle at her feet and Tim picks up the duffle as they join the others. Ziva raises an eyebrow but says nothing, knowing that it's just part and parcel of who and what Tim is.

"All right kiddies, everyone in the circle? Ziva, welcome to our merry band of mischief makers. All hands inside, we don't want to lose any fingers now. Gibbs, we'll have your girl back in a few days. Langer, stop staring at the Major, she's already taken."

Sam turns her head, "She is?"

"You are." Jack states as they disappear in a flash of light.


Ziva sighs with contentment as she snuggles in Tim's arms. Lying in one of the loungers on Jack's back deck, they can see the stars popping into view as they start twinkling against the deep blue/black blanket of the night sky.

Tim kisses the top of her head, and she looks up at him. "Not quite alone, but still alone. They are very considerate, this new family of yours."

"Yeah, I kinda like them. They can be loud and overbearing, but not as intrusive as some others. I wish I could have given us a little more privacy, but I think we did pretty good."

Ziva chuckles, "They are not snoopy like our Tony. They know what it means to want to have some time alone."

Tim nods, "They've been great. I haven't wanted to take a separate apartment until I knew for sure that this was where I wanted to be."

"It is, as you stated when you came back the first time, where you need to be. For the time being, at least. You need this and them, Timothy McGee. They need you too."

He gives her a hug as they continue watching the stars come out. Inside the kitchen, Jack sighs as he protectively watches his son and the girl in his son's arms. Daniel glances at him, and puts a hand on his shoulder.

"He's staying with us, Dad. She's visiting for a bit and then going back, but your son has already decided to stay."

Jack ruffles Daniel's hair. "He tell you that space monkey?"

"Yep. All we need to do now is help him find his own apartment, so that the next time she comes out, they can have a bit more privacy."

Jack thinks and then brightens. "I think I know just what he needs."

He motions for Daniel to follow him into the living room and together the SG-1 team starts making plans.