Three long months. That's what it had taken for Tim to get used to completely living without his sight and get used to having Jethro guide him. Three months that had been long and arduous and only made easier by his team and of course Emelia. Things had been going well on that front and Tim had to admit, that he had fallen head over heels in love with the woman that helped him both physically and emotionally; making sure that what he had lost, didn't get him down and that heavy weight of depression never dragged him down further than feeling a bit down in the mouth. Despite everything he was happy and content.
"Penny for them?" Emelia's soft, feminine voice travelled over to him. "You've been quiet today."
"I have?" Tim asked and frowned. Emelia reached up and traced the frown lines with her fingers and looked deep into the big green eyes she had grown to love. Thankfully, Tim was one of the lucky ones whose eyes hadn't gone milky and she knew from experience, that they probably wouldn't. "You have a soft touch."
"I know. So, come on Tim, what's on your mind?"
"I dunno. I guess I'm just being a bit thoughtful today."
"Anything to do with the fact that you go back to work tomorrow?" Emelia asked softly and leaned in gently to kiss the man she loved. "You'll be fine. You know that right?" She ghosted against his full bottom lip.
Tim huffed a small laugh and reached up to brush his fingers through her silky hair. "I know, Em. I know it's just...I can't do what I used to do and that was part of what I loved. Going out in the field, working the scene. Now what will I do? Be a desk jockey?"
He flinched when he felt the hand connect with the back of his head and turned his head to glare in Emelia's general direction. "Hey! Not fair!"
"Oh totally fair! I'm just following Gibbs' orders." Tim chuckled and reached over to put his hand on her knee. He grinned wickedly and slipped his fingers underneath her leg to tickle the sensitive flesh. Emelia squealed and tried to slap the offending hand away. "You totally don't play fair! That's just...that's just...CHEATING!"
"Call it what you want but it ain't cheating." Tim replied happily. "It's payback!" He dove in and started to tickle her but soon backed down when she started calling a truce.
"Okay! Okay! you win! But you're still more than a desk jockey and you know it."
"Uh huh." He pulled back and flipped the glass front of his Braille watch open. Em watched as the long deft fingers told the time quickly and more efficiently than most. "Damn. It's getting late and I have to be up early tomorrow."
"What time is it?"
"Ten thirty. Are you staying?" The hope in Tim's voice was obvious.
"That okay? I've got a spare uniform for tomorrow and I want to drop you off on your first day."
Tim stood up and pulled her with him. With a deft move, he'd tugged gently on her arm and enveloped her in a warm hug. "That would be perfect, honey. Just perfect."
"G'morning! So, is he here? Is he? Is he?" Tony dropped his backpack beside his desk and glanced over at Tim's high tech desk. "He's not here yet!"
"Disappointed, Tony?" Ziva smirked from her own desk. "He will be here soon. He has a meeting with Vance and personnel."
"I know but I miss him, ya know? It's not the same without him here."
"Only been gone a night, DiNozzo." Gibbs said as he walked into the squad room carrying his coffee. "Couldn't have missed me that much."
"Huh? No, I was talking about McGee...not that I wouldn't miss you Boss, I mean who wouldn't but Probie's due back today and..."
"Shut up now, Tony." Ziva warned through a laugh. "You are digging yourself a deeper hole."
"Woah! Did you? You did! You got it right!" Ziva was saved from replying by the elevator dinging. All eyes turned towards it to see who was stepping out and they couldn't help but grin at the sight of Tim walking over with his cane in one hand and the handle of the special harness in the other as Jethro guided him through over to his desk. "PROBIE! Welcome back! We missed ya!"
"Thanks. It's good to be back...I think." Tim put down his backpack and felt for the arm of his chair. Once he found it, he sat down carefully and gave Jethro a quick scratch behind the ears. "Good boy, Jethro. Lay down." Jethro did as commanded and lay down beside Tim's desk. Gibbs grinned and moved forward to stand in front of Tim.
"Good to have ya back, McGee. You okay?"
"Yes, Boss. I've got a meeting with Director Vance in about..." He felt his watch. "Ten minutes and then I'm officially back on the books."
"Good to know. It's been a rough few months with DiNozzo trying his hand at what you do."
Tim frowned. "Please tell me you didn't mess my programmes up, Tony."
"McGoo! I'm offended! I just...okay, I tried to use them but had to pull one of the geeks out of cyber crimes to show me." He grinned when Tim laughed loudly. "I did alright with it but damn, it takes me too long! We had a TAD for about a week and that did not end well at all."
"What happened?" Tim asked and stood up. Jethro sat up and looked at his master expectantly. "Jethro, stay."
"He completely messed up on a case and contaminated the evidence. Gibbs was not a happy hamster."
Everyone couldn't help but chuckle at her choice of words. Tony choked on his diet soda and shook his head. "Bunny, Zeevah. That's bunny. There ain't nothin' hamster like with the Boss...yowch! Thanks Boss."
"The damn fool got himself arrested because the evidence pointed to him." Gibbs reached out and pulled Tim's hand up so he could grasp the handle of the coffee mug. "Careful, it's hot."
"Thanks, Boss." Tim said and gingerly sipped his drink. "Me and Em had a quick one before work but we slept through the alarm."
"Oh do Tell, Prob...ow! Damn it bo...OW!"
"Can it, DiNozzo!" Gibbs growled but before he could say anything else, the Director made his presence known.
"Hey, where's Abbs? She still sick?" Tim asked. He knew everyone was here, but a phone call the night before from the Goth made him doubt she'd be in because the flu had floored her for a few days. "She sounded horrible yesterday."
"I told her not to come in today." Gibbs replied. "She was gonna come in anyway because it's your first day back but I told her to stay away. Last thing I need is one of you getting the flu."
"That's probably why she rang." Tim reasoned. He remembered the disappointment in her huskier than usual voice. "She said she was sorry but didn't say why."
"She was pretty upset about missing your first day, Probie."
"If she's sick she's sick. I mean..."
"Special Agent McGee. We're ready for you now." Tim stepped out from beside his desk and bent down to pick up the handle of Jethro's harness.
"Well, let's get this over and done with."
"You'll be fine, Tim. Just hurry up because we're gettin' nowhere on this damn case. We need you."
Tim grinned broadly knowing that the case had been tough and they'd hit dead ends but the Boss' comment wasn't about Tim's computer knowledge, it was about having all his kids back with him where they belong. Tim remembered something and shirked his head up to the railings. "Vance still there?"
"Director, can I have five minutes?"
"I'll give you ten. Don't be any later." Tim heard the footsteps as Vance walked away and felt around the edge of his desk. Once he was standing in the right place, he bent down and picked up his pack.
"Guys, I've got something for you all." Jethro nudged Tim's arm out of the way as Tim rustled in his bag and stuck his head in. After a few seconds, he pulled out a plastic bag and nudged his masters hand once again. Tim took the bag with a grin and scratched behind Jethro's ears. "Thanks, boy."
"Damn, You taught him that?" Tony said incredulously. "That dog is like a super McMutt!"
"That is impressive." Ziva agreed and walked over to stand by Tony.
"He just started doing it. He's been brilliant." Tim pulled out the first small package and felt the tag. "Gibbs, this one's for you." Gibbs took the present and waited for Tim to read the Braille tags and hand everything out. "Before you open them, I want to thank you for everything. Boss, I know what the cane says and I can't thank you enough. Em described it to me fully one night after I read the inscription and it sounds beautiful."
"You're welcome, Tim. I'm just glad you like it."
"Come on Probie! What did it say?"
"Yes. Please tell us. Gibbs' lips were...sealed? Is that right?"
Tim laughed softly. "Yeah, that's right and the plaque says, Hope in the darkness. It means a lot to me because even though I live in the dark, there's always hope for the future. Especially now."
"That is truly beautiful, McGee. You chose very well, Gibbs."
Gibbs hummed his approval. "Glad you like it, McGee."
"Well guys, I haven't got all day and I don't hear the rustling of paper being ripped off." He grinned when he heard the wrapping paper being removed and a small gasp of appreciation once the boxes were opened. Inside each present lay a silver ID bracelet with each of their names engraved on the solid plate. "I hope you like them. It's not much, but turn them over and there's an inscription on the back."
"What does it say?" Tony asked and ran his finger over the raised Braille nubs.
"They're all the same and it's something that fits us all."
"Go on." Gibbs urged. The team leader didn't really show any emotion but the quiet awe was prevalent in his voice.
"They all say while I breathe, I hope." He smiled when he felt Gibbs' hand on his shoulder.
"These are perfect, McGee. Thanks."
Tony stepped over and startled Tim by pulling him into a hug. "I love it." He said quietly in Tim's ear and moved back for Ziva to do the same.
"It is beautiful and I shall cherish it dearly."
"I'm glad you all like them. Okay, I'm going to go and get the paperwork sorted." Tim picked up the harness once more and started walking towards the lift in the back. He stopped halfway there and turned round. "You know, I am one of the luckiest men alive right now because I have my family and they didn't let me give up, but I also have a gorgeous girlfriend and a team which has become just as special to me as my own blood. That means more than you'll all ever know."
With that, Tim turned and made his way up to the director leaving behind his team...no family...who were all stunned into silence at what had just happened. It was then, that they all realised that no matter what, things would be different for them all, but the future was looking brighter and everything truly was going to be okay.
And here's the end. We want to say a big thank you to everyone that has alerted and reviewed. You are all truly the best and have been wonderful. Big hugs to everyone! xxx