Sadly, I do not own NCIS. No infringement intended.

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It had been a rough couple of days. A particularly time consuming case had everyone's nerves on edge but Mcgee felt the breaking point coming. He might actually kill Tony this time. It wasn't the typical McNicknames or the nerd references. That was standard fare when DiNozzo was around. It was the women issue… again… Why it had to be Tony who walked in when Mcgee was being borderline sexually harassed by one of the witnesses he'd yet to understand. Was his karma really that bad?

Tony's glee had only increased when a new FBI agent had been sent to collect results from Abby. An agent who was apparently taken with the Goth persona. Okay so maybe he had been overreacted slightly. Refusing to leave the lab while the agent was around may have been overkill. Tim's warning glares to keep his distance had worked apparently and the agent was gone. Crisis averted. Yet again. It was just what happened when Abby was involved.

The team was back at their desks with the intention of finishing up reports in order to begin their weekend off. A constant string of suggestions about what Mcgee could do with the witness had lapsed into Tony's new favorite game: reminding Tim exactly what his position in Abby's life was. Not that Tony had ever understood exactly how complicated that relationship was. On again, Off again, Friends with benefits changing almost as soon as Tim, himself, was sure of what they were. Being reminded of his assumed location in the depths of the friend zone was not his idea of a good time. But the end of the day was finally in sight.

Maybe if he kept to his computer DiNozzo would get tired and try bothering Ziva. Before that had the chance to happen Tony had thrown out another McJealous comment. Of course, now that Mcgee wanted Gibbs to do that weird all-knowing thing and tell DiNozzo to get back to work, Gibbs was staring at his computer as if it held nuclear codes. Probably trying to check his email.

Tony never knew when to back off with Mcgee. He liked to see how far he could push him before Tim snapped back. Usually it was fine, just how they worked together. But Abby was typically a subject kept off limits since the end of their official relationship. Tony knew Mcgee still had a thing for her. He still found it almost as funny as he did back when Tim had first started working for Gibbs. Tim knew this, knew DiNozzo didn't know the reality of the situation. Maybe it was because he and Abby had been leaning more towards the together end of the relationship dial lately but Tim was having a hard time keeping the mental walls up.

It was getting harder to pretend he didn't love her. Not that he was ever very successful at that. But somehow it had been different lately and he knew it probably wouldn't end well for him. It never did. He was destined to love her yet never have her, not the way he wanted. But being the masochist that he was, he would take anything she could give him. Being in friend zone with Abby may be painfully difficult, but being without her would be devastating.

Mcgee's mental musing was cut off when Tony did in fact finally turn to Ziva. Tim let out a sigh hoping he could finish his report and be free for the next few days. That thought lasted all of the two seconds it took him to process what Tony was actually saying. "So you see, Ziva, the Probie has been taken with the mistress of the dark from the beginning. You've probably noticed his jealous mating dance. It could be worse though, their little fling resulted in some pretty amusing material. Did I ever tell you how she convinced Mcgee to collect all this nonsense from a crop circle…" Rage filled Mcgee. Before Tony could get out another word Tim had turned on him.

The string of threats of bodily harm that came out of his mouth probably sounded more like an exaggerated hiss than actual English. Tony's amusement apparently hadn't worn off. Nobody had ever taken him seriously about this. After all these years, they still thought he had some awkward fascination of her, a juvenile crush. He was so tired of all of it. Tired of not being taken seriously, tired of having to defend himself all the time, and currently tired of DiNozzo's voice.

Tony had raised his eyebrows at the hissed threats and turned back to face Mcgee. "Seriously? Still holding out Mcgee? Think she's going to come around if you scare off enough visitors to her lab? Thought you had given up on that years ago." Whatever Tony had been expecting in response, it did not include the sound of hands slamming against the desk as Mcgee bit out a harsh "She was my girlfriend." Like it justified anything. Made his situation any different. Even worse, as soon as he had opened his mouth he felt her beside his desk. On top of everything else, she had to appear the second it was too late to stop talking. He managed to note, over the pounding anger in his head, that apparently he had earned the attention of the rest of the team. Gibbs let out a sharp "DiNozzo", finally recognizing that his senior field agent had gone too , it was Abby's quiet "Stop" that froze the scene.

She had been bored in her lab. All the evidence processed and put away, she had decided to go visit the team. Stepping off the back elevator she had heard Tony's remarks. While she allowed his harmless teasing of Timmy truly hurting him was out of the question. She was preparing a response to throw off the tension when she stepped up beside Tim's desk. Her timing was ideal to witness his assault of the furniture and outburst. Her previous statement was forgotten. "Stop."

One word drew everyone's attention to her. Now three members of Gibbs' team were staring at her with varying expressions of curiosity. It didn't matter. What did matter was that Timothy Mcgee was flat out refusing to look at her. Rather, he seemed to be highly interested in the clock on the opposite wall. She stepped in front of his desk, face on to him. "Timmy." No response. He was stubborn. She reached out and put her her hand over one of his. Every muscle in his entire arm must have been locked in place. "Tim." Her voice was quiet but she knew he heard. It was just a matter of time. Mcgee could not avoid her gaze forever. She could practically feel his mind working, coming to the conclusion that she wasn't going to let this go, weighing his odds, deciding how to play it out. She knew that he knew that he was going to give in from the minute she said his name.

Abby felt some of the tension leave his hand as he slowly looked down and met her eyes. She could read him like a book. Saw everything in his eyes. It had always been that way. In some ways they were perfect opposites with each other. Him so guarded yet open, her so open yet guarded. He had never been afraid to let her see exactly how he felt about her. She didn't comment on it but she always knew. She wasn't entirely comfortable with the intensity with which he could look at her. Well, she didn't use to be. That relatively new revelation didn't scare her as much as it should have.

She kept her eyes trained on his. Despite being able to geek talk for hours and finish each other sentences, words were not always necessary. His questioning look burned into her as she nodded her response. Yes, they would talk later. Away from the others. Silent agreement reached Abby went to remove her hand but found her wrist caught as she moved. "Promise." Neither a question nor a demand. His request binding her to follow through, to not deflect the conversation as was her talent. She nodded once again and he released her arm before finally breaking his eyes away from hers. The whole scene couldn't have been more than a few moments. She turned to return to the safety and sanctuary of her lab only pausing to shoot Tony a glare.

Gone as quickly as she appeared. Tim threw himself back into his chair. Promising to make her talk, was he stupid? Was this going to be what it took for her to finally break away from him? To realize he was in far too deep? She had never wanted what he did. He turned back to his previously forgotten report making a point to not look at the others. He could at least hopefully salvage his sanity in front of them. He heard Gibbs vaguely telling Tony to go check with Ducky. Good, The last thing Mcgee wanted was to go another round with the very special agent. By the time Tim was putting his report on Gibbs' desk, Tony still wasn't back and Ziva looked to be finishing hers as well.

Not waiting for permission Tim grabbed his things and left. His apartment was calling, the writing he had planned was looking less and less likely to happen. Now he would probably spend the whole night trying to figure out what he was going to say to Abby. She had promised after all. It would take her awhile to show up but she would. Deciding how to edit what he really wanted to say to her was essential. If he let lose, started in on promises of eternal devotion, she'd probably be out the door before he was done.

Tony was not an idiot. He realized he had pushed the Probie a bit too far this time. He also knew making el jefe mad would probably come back to bite him later. Being sent to check on whatever Ducky had quickly turned out to be useless. The doctor was out for the night. Tony didn't particularly want to go back and be stared at by Gibbs, or worse forced to do paperwork. Running out of options he turned towards the lab. Making sure Abby wasn't too mad at him would probably be a good idea for his overall survival. Tony'd seen how she looked at him, she wasn't happy. She could kill him if she wanted to after all. Stopping in the doorway he could see her sitting, elbows on the lab table, ramming her head into her hands. Apparently she could hear him shuffling about because her head snapped up to meet his. Deciding there was no turning bak, he put on his signature DiNozzo smile and went in.

Abby watched him saunter into her lab. Dealing with Tony would be easier than thinking about Mcgee. "And you don't even come bearing Caf-Pow" she said as he crossed over to stand beside her. "My apologies, pretty lady," came his reply. Charming her was not going to cut it this time. Especially without Caf-Pow. Tony had crossed a line. A line he probably didn't even know existed. Whatever she and Mcgee were or weren't was not to be used as leverage against Tim. Her quiet staring seemed to be making Tony uncomfortable. As fun as it was to watch Tony squirm, she didn't feel like dragging it out. A raised eyebrow was all it took for him to speak. "Look, Abs, I'm sorry for badgering Mcgee. I'd say I won't do it again but we both know that'd be a lie. I didn't know he was going to get so bent out of shape."

Abby knew Tony didn't mean any real harm. Most people had ever taken her and Tim's relationship seriously. Ziva hadn't been around back then, Tony still found it almost funny. Who knew what Gibbs thought. For some reason she thought he might not be as Rule 12 as he used to be. Her heart clenched, Kate had known. Her best friend. Her confidant in all things. She had known how Abby felt, how scared she was to love Mcgee. But when Kate had died so had secrets she held concerning a certain young agent. It had been a long time since Abby had someone to talk to. "I know Tony. But it's not fair to him. He has never done anything wrong. Just don't use our relationship against him." Tony cocked his head at her, "relationship?" "Tony, there are things I'm not proud of. One of them is how I've treated Mcgee."

The last time they'd had a real relationship Abby had been scared. Terrified to meet someone she could actually see herself with longterm. Was that even a word in her vocabulary? Ever since she had broken up with him, citing a variety of reasons and hiding behind rule 12, things had changed. At some point she had fallen in love with him. She was still scared, afraid she had done too much damage for him to take her back. What if he had finally had enough? She wasn't sure she could take that.

Trying to protect herself all those years ago could end up bringing her demise now. Her own words almost choked her. "Tony, you have no idea. Whatever I am with him, I have to fix it. This time it's all on me. I have not been fair to him. I know how he feels about me, how he has always felt about me. I haven't been able to give that back to him, not in the way he deserves. But I can't stop myself from taking from him. Whenever I need someone, in ways the rest of you can't fill, he's the one I go to. He would never turn me away. Never say no to me, but I know what it does to him. I constantly give him hope then crush it. What if this time it's too much. I can't risk losing him Tony. He makes things okay." And it was true. With Tim it was okay to stop. She never had to explain what she was talking about. He didn't look at her in the half questioning way most people typically did. Tim let her be, accepted her for who she was and wanted nothing more. With him, it was okay to be a living paradox. That was something rare in her world.

The way she was looking at him told him more than he ever would have guessed about his friends. Her hollow look of blinding fear startled him. This was Abby, who solved all the problems, broke the cases wide open and apparently was in love with his partner. Tony thought of himself as a perceptive person, usually he was, so how did he miss that two of his best friends had fallen in love with each other. Not only had the depth of their relationship slid by him but also the amount the were both tearing themselves up about it. Wow, if he had known… "Abby, maybe you should talk to him." "Oh, I know, I already promised I would." So that had been what their creepy silent talking thing had been about. She seemed to be done with their conversation. He twirled one of her pigtails and leaving her with her thoughts headed for the door. Her voice stopped him as he was in reach of the hall. "You may be forgiven by me, but you still need to apologize to Mcgee." "Will do Abs." And she was left alone.