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Author's note: Hello everyone! I am sooo sorry that I am updating another chapter so late, and I will try my hardest not to do that again! Life has been a roller coaster for the last three weeks! Thank you for your patience, and I am sincerely sorry that I did not install another chapter sooner. I will try to update future chapters as soon as I can, but for these next few weeks, I might not be able to update at all. But don't fear! I'm not giving up on this story! My home life has left me incredibly busy. Anyways, thank you for the reviews, and please don't flame me! I will update again as soon as I get a chance. Thank you! Enjoy!

Missing McGee Chapter 11

The ride back to Headquarters

When McGee had finally reached the end of the trail, he paused for a moment to search for Ducky and Palmer. He finally spotted them just as they were getting into the Autopsy Van and preparing to leave. McGee hobbled and made his way towards them as fast as he could without upsetting his legs too much.

Ducky noticed McGee walking towards them and got out of the car.

"Is there something wrong, Timothy?" Ducky asked McGee. He didn't know why Timothy would be walking towards the van unaccompanied unless there was something wrong.

McGee was just about to speak when Ducky exclaimed in shock, "Goodness gracious! That is quite a rash! Timothy, whatever in the world happened to your legs?"

McGee was trying to attempt to speak once again when he was cut off by Palmer, who had just gotten out of the van as well.

"Is everything alright, Dr. Mallard?" Palmer asked with genuine concern. He was just about to start the van's engine when he noticed that Ducky had opened the passenger door and got out. Palmer could think of no apparent reason as to why Ducky would get out of the car when they had been getting ready to leave and so he decided that he would follow the elderly Medical Examiner.

As Palmer approached Ducky and Timothy McGee, he noticed that there was something wrong with McGee's legs. McGee had rolled up the pant legs of his slacks to create make-shift shorts, but Palmer couldn't think of any reason as to why McGee would do that unless it had to do with the nasty rash that was developing on his skin.

When Palmer examined McGee's legs closer than he had done before, he could see that his legs were turning red and small red streaks were running up and down McGee's arms and legs. By the way that his skin was reacting, Palmer noted that McGee was suffering from an allergic reaction to something, but he didn't know what that was.

Ducky sensed Palmer's presence before his assistant had even asked if everything was alright. Without turning around or taking his attention away from Timothy, he said with an edge of concern,

"Jimmy, I'm afraid that dear Timothy here is suffering from a nasty allergic reaction to some poison ivy. Would you be so kind as to start the van for us and retrieve the first aid kit and set it in the back seats? And after you have retrieved the first aid kit, would you mind waiting in the van for us?"

Palmer stared at Ducky quizzically when he mentioned the word "us". Then, seeing Ducky turn around, he noticed just how badly swollen McGee's legs were becoming, and he realized that McGee truly did need medical attention.

Palmer nodded his head in consent at Ducky and listened as Ducky continued to speak.

"It looks like Timothy is going to need to catch a ride back to Headquarters with us, if that's alright with you."

"That's more than fine with me! I'm sorry that you have to ride back with us now because of the condition you're in, I'd like it if you could ride back with us more often, just under different circumstances."

Palmer started shaking his head up and down as fast as he could and answered Ducky sincerely. He didn't want either one of them to think that he didn't enjoy McGee's company.

Ducky continued on. "Good. Then we will be joining you in the van shortly," he finished without a second's hesitation.

Palmer hesitated for a minute, and then remembered what he had been asked to do.

"Oh! Um, right! Fine! I can do that!" he stuttered, then walked around the hood of the van and started the engine from inside the vehicle.

While Palmer was starting up the van, Ducky asked McGee, "Timothy, are you alright? I know that you're allergic to poison ivy, but I also that you're smart enough on your own to know what poison ivy looks like, so you wouldn't have purposely walked into some, now would you," Ducky stated, starting to draw his own conclusions.

McGee nodded his head sheepishly and Ducky continued.

"Are you sure that you can walk? Just how badly is the reaction hurting your skin? Are you sure that you wouldn't mind riding back to Headquarters with us?" he asked sincerely with genuine concern.

McGee responded gently, "Yes, Ducky, I think that I'm fine for the most part, and I can definitely walk, but my legs are really sore and tired right now. On top of that, I have a massive headache that is driving me insane, but it's not the worst pain in the world. As for the rash… that's nothing too major, it's just the way that skin reacts when it comes into contact with poison ivy. About ten minutes ago, Gibbs came down to check on me since I hadn't reported back to him, and when he saw the condition that my legs are in right now, he ordered me to catch a ride with you and Palmer back to Headquarters. And I was hoping that you wouldn't mind if I did hitch a ride with you, because I don't want to be anywhere near Tony right now…"

"Of course I don't mind, Timothy!" Ducky started to say. "And before you ask, I know that Palmer honestly doesn't mind either. You heard him just a couple of minutes ago, didn't you? I think that you know both of us well enough by now to realize that it would be our pleasure to drive back with you to Headquarters. And I can imagine that you need the break from listening to Tony's endless nicknames and that you need a break from him overall," Ducky concluded.

"I would appreciate that very much, thank you," he sighed in relief as he walked to the Autopsy Van with Ducky and opened the passenger door.

By this time Palmer had started the car and the engine was running smoothly. He acknowledged Tim as he opened the side door and entered the van. Ducky followed immediately afterwards.

As soon as McGee had found a seat in the back of the van and fastened his seatbelt, Ducky advanced slowly and made his way towards him, then sat down and after he had buckled his own seatbelt, he told Palmer that he could start driving.

"You can find your way back to Headquarters from here, can't you?" Ducky asked Palmer somewhat nervously.

"Yes, I think that I can find the right way to go without assistance this time," Palmer answered.

It was an unspoken fact between Palmer and Ducky that Palmer's sense of direction wasn't the best, and more often times than not he needed Ducky's directions and guidance. Palmer's driving wasn't nearly as bad as Ziva's driving, but he still drove with sharp turns and hit almost every bump imaginable when driving on the road.

When the van was moving at a fixed speed on a main road, Ducky started to treat McGee's poison ivy rash with some rubbing alcohol, and while he was doing that he started asking McGee about how exactly he had run into the poison ivy.

"It was my own fault, really," McGee started. Then he relayed his entire ordeal to Ducky and Palmer while Ducky finished treating his arms and legs with rubbing alcohol.

"It sounds like Tony has taken his pranks way too far this week," Palmer said.

"I have to agree with Jimmy about that, Tim," Ducky added.

"I know, and while I'm not saying that I disagree that Tony has gone too far with his pranks today, I think that it's mostly my fault, because I was gullible enough to fall for both of them." McGee stated slowly.

"Nonsense! It was not your fault in the least, Timothy!" Ducky exclaimed. "You've done absolutely nothing wrong! It doesn't matter if you are gullible or not; what matters is that Tony has gone too far in pranking you. And he has gone too far! Jimmy and I could hear Gibbs yelling at you from upstairs!"

McGee winced. He knew that Gibbs had yelled so loudly that Tony and Ziva could hear every word that had been said, but he hadn't known that his lecture had reached Ducky and Palmer's ears as well. And for that matter, Gibbs' angered words had probably reached Abby's ears when she was in her lab as well.

Ducky continued to explain to McGee why it wasn't his fault, but McGee was lost in his own thoughts, thinking about what he was going to say to Tony when he arrived at Headquarters. His train of thought was brought to an abrupt halt when he heard Ducky yelling his name.


"Hm… wh..what?" McGee asked, coming out of a trance as though he was in a daze.

"What did you say, Ducky? I'm sorry; I think that my mind just wandered off…"

"I asked if you were feeling alright," Ducky asked with concern. He tilted his head to the side and looked directly at McGee. "Is everything alright? Are you feeling okay? How is your headache feeling? Earth to Timothy, can you hear me?"

"Oh, yes, I can hear you just fine, Ducky. I'm sorry about that earlier… I didn't mean to zone out like that, I'm just really tired, and it feels like my brain is in the clouds right now… I'm feeling fine, honestly. I'm just really tired, and I hope that this rash goes away soon." McGee finished.

Ducky shared a worried glance with Palmer from where he was sitting in the front of the van, and then turned his full attention back to McGee.

"That's okay, Timothy. We know what you mean. Believe it or not, I myself have had days like that before, and to be honest, I believe that we've all had days like that before. Now as for your rash… that's going to take some time to die down, but hopefully with the ointment I'm about to give you, the swelling will die down by tonight, and the itching should stop soon. I can't say that the rash itself won't give you any problems, however. I'm afraid that since your body is allergic to the uroshiol chemical in the poison ivy, the chemical is going to stay in your system for a longer time than it would normally would. And if I were to hazard a guess, I would say that your rash should be completely gone by next Wednesday, no actually, next Friday." Ducky concluded.

McGee stifled a groan. A week! He had to wait for a whole week before his rash was gone! And he had to put up with the itching and other side affects every single day until Friday! McGee sighed in frustration. Today really was not a good day.

Despite his irritation, McGee managed to say thanks to Ducky but he couldn't hide his obvious irritation.

"Thanks, Ducky," McGee muttered half-heartedly.

"I know that you're not pleased to hear that, Timothy, but that's the truth. I can prescribe some pills that will speed up the healing process, and I have some ointment here that should stop any itching in a matter of minutes, but aside from that, there's nothing much else that I can do. But I can give you some sleeping powder that you can pour in Tony's coffee, if you feel up to doing that," Ducky added, trying to lighten up the mood.

"That would be greatly appreciated, Ducky, I would love the medicine, but I think that I'll have to hold off from the sleeping powder for now. Gibbs would kill me if he found out that I put his top agent to sleep when we're in the middle of solving a case," he finished with the smallest of smiles on his face. "And thank you for your assistance," he added.

Ducky smiled back at McGee. "It's a pleasure for me to be of assistance," he replied. "And if you don't want to put sleeping powder in Tony's coffee today, then I'm positive that I can find someone else- maybe a fellow ninja or gothic forensic scientist friend- to do it for you," Ducky ended with the slightest hint of amusement on his face.

Palmer waited until Ducky had finished speaking, then announced, "We're here."

McGee hadn't even realized just how much time had passed by. One minute he knew that he was getting into the autopsy van with Ducky, and the next minute it seemed like he had arrived at Headquarters within seconds.

"I guess that we have to get back to work, now, don't we?" McGee asked no one in general.

"I'm afraid that I have to say "yes" to your question, Timothy" Ducky answered as he was exiting the van through one of the side doors.

"Do you guys need any help unloading?" McGee asked politely.

"Thanks, but I think that we'll be fine by ourselves," Palmer replied. "And thank you for riding back with us," he added. "It was a pleasant experience, and a nice change for once,"

"Yes, thank you Timothy for driving back with Jimmy and I. And thank you for putting up with my endless babbling," Ducky said. "I agree with Jimmy. It was a pleasant experience to have you ride with us, and I hope that your rash will start to feel better soon."

"Thanks, Ducky; thank you Jim." McGee took the time to look at both of the medical examiners in the eyes and say thank you.

"I had a nice time talking with you as well, despite the pain that this annoying rash is still giving me. I'll drop by your lab later Ducky to collect that ointment and those pills. Thanks again for the ride!" McGee finished, and with that he turned and started walking towards the nearest stairwell.

As he was walking up the stairs, McGee thought, "Well, it's good to know that Ducky and Palmer at least care about me."

McGee paused as he opened the main entrance doors that led into the entry room of the NCIS building. After shifting his gear bag from one shoulder to the other, McGee walked into the elevator and waited patiently as he made his ascent up to his office floor. When he got out of the elevator, he was relieved to see that his desk was arranged just the way he had left it. Tony hadn't pulled any more pranks on him before he left, or so it seemed.

After McGee set down his gear in a neat pile by his desk, he turned on his computer and logged on, first making sure that the network cable wire had been plugged in.

"Alright, let's see if I can find a lead this time around…" McGee trailed off as he started to type away on his computer, scanning for any trace of suspicious activity or anything else that could possibly have been related to the murderer's identity. He didn't even bother to look at what time it was until he heard the elevator doors open and Gibbs, Tony and Ziva stepped out.

McGee was expecting some sarcastic remark from Tony, and was awaiting another nickname, but none never came.

"That's strange…" McGee muttered under his breath, not knowing why Tony wasn't making some smart remark or joking about his "Probie's" latest mistake.

"Have you found any leads?" Gibbs asked as he approached McGee, with his normal frown on his face.

"No, not yet… but I'm still working on it, Boss. This guy is virtually invisible! It's like he hasn't left a single trace, or a single lead that I can possibly find! I don't know what to look for next, but I'll continue to search. I mean, he's left no sign of a virtual username or even a cyber identity, and I can't find any similarities between the two deceased naval cadets yet… but I'm still trying. It shouldn't be this hard…" McGee trailed off, fearful that he had disappointed Gibbs once again.

"Search harder then, McGee. You either do or do not find a lead on this case. There is no "try"," Gibbs finished, more irritated than he had been when he entered the NCIS building. He wasn't mad at McGee personally, but he was mad that his youngest agent hadn't been able to find a lead yet. It had been over a week, and the team was left just as clueless now as they had been when they first started.

"Tony! Ziva! Get back to work, now! No one goes home until they find a lead. Do I make myself clear?" Gibbs threatened.

"Glass clear," Ziva muttered, while Tony and McGee laughed silently.

"It's "crystal clear" Ziva, not "glass" clear," McGee corrected her gently.

Ziva huffed in response. "Fine! I think I get it now! It's pronounced crystal clear, not glass clear, am I not correct?" her last sentence was more of a statement, rather than a question.

"You're correct, Ziva. Now I want everyone to get back to work! We have a lot of work to do, and we need to find a lead that should have been found on Monday! And that goes for you too, McGee! I'm going to go talk to Director Vance, and when I come back, I expect to see you all typing on your reports. And if you've finished with your report, then you can start looking for more work to do. No excuses! Do I make myself clear?" Gibbs asked, his right eyebrow raised with a frown in his eyes.

"Crystal!" McGee and Tony chimed in, followed by an exclamation of "Glass!" from Ziva.

All eyes turned to Ziva as she tilted her head, frowned slightly, and said, "I pronounced it wrong again, didn't I?"

Gibbs smirked as Tony and McGee started laughing out loud, unable to stop, while Ziva muttered Hebrew curses underneath her breath.

When he was finished laughing, McGee went back to work, typing. He could only hope that he would find a lead soon. And maybe if he did, the rest of his day would go better. He could only hope so.

Author's note: Well, I hope that you enjoyed that last chapter! Please leave a review if you feel inclined to do so. I would LOVE to read them! Again, thank you for your patience.