I do not own NCIS; no infringement is intended.
I can not thank you enough for reading. This is the last chapter and I know that it has been a long time coming. Thank you for sticking with it to the end.
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They were at home the night before the father was scheduled to reappear in the son's life. It would probably be the last time his saw the man in the foreseeable future. It was odd to know something was going to happen and you didn't know when or if it would ever occur again. There was a finality that came along with such determinations. It would be nice to finish the chapter and allow something new to sweep in and dominate his life. Change could be very good indeed.
They were done with kerosene. The flame had finally burnt down into a nice, self-contained, flicker. McGee knew that, typically, he was not the volatile member of their corps. In fact, he personally considered himself just about the least temperamental of their little family. He was stable and dependable and he wanted that role back, the return of the status quo. Nothing sounded more appealing.
Abby had been concentrated on her own research, conveniently spread out all over the living room floor, the last time he'd checked which had yielded itself well to his writing. He could tell she was finished for the night as the quiet that had taken over the apartment slowly began to dissipate as she shoved her papers back into their files.
Headphones were wonderful inventions. He could have quiet and she could live in her noise haven. Domesticity still thrilled him. He thourghly loved having access to Abby on demand. Furthermore, she'd yet to show any intention of running for the hills screaming, things were working.
With the mutual research and development session ended he listened as she made her way over to him and rested her chin over his shoulder. "I'm going to bed, are you coming or do you want to keep working?"
It was already late. Neither one of them was very good at going to sleep at reasonable times. Still, they both always woke up when they were supposed to. And there was caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine. "Bed. Did you decide if you're going to try for a grant of just publish?"
"Didn't I tell you? I'm aiming for a study on the feasibility of animals in the workplace." McGee blanched. She delivered her line with such sincerity. Helpfully, she started laughing at his reaction which somewhat eased his horror.
"I'm kidding Timmy. But I do think I'll try for a grant this time." He allowed her description of her new ideas to flow over their actions as they each got ready for bed.
Once they had finally laid down, he turned to face her. McGee prepared himself for the half-heartbroken look he was sure was coming. "Abby, I know you were joking earlier, and Jethro worked out, but I really don't want another dog. Not now."
"I know. It's okay." She was quiet which wasn't all that reassuring that she wasn't devastatingly upset. Abby so rarely didn't get what she wanted, especially when it came to relatively little things, not that a dog was all that little, that she still didn't accept it well. He liked keeping Abby happy. Most who knew her made it a goal. Gibbs was the best at telling her no. Or maybe she simply expected it from him. "But not never? Right?"
She honestly didn't seem mad. Resigned would be appropriately descriptive. He could deal with that. "Not never."
It was quiet again. He could tell that she wasn't asleep. The act of falling asleep required much more time than had passed for both of them. Brains are notoriously hard to turn off sometimes. Just as McGee was deciding whether making a visual aid would help Tony with their next video game night, maybe he'd be more apt to listen to instruction instead of going off his own assumptions from holding a controller for thirty seconds if poster board was involved, Abby interrupted his chain of thought. "Your father comes tomorrow?"
"It will be all right." They'd been avoiding the topic successfully. Talking in the dark was easier. Turn off the lights and all the subjects you keep under wraps come bubbling up to surface.
Abby was curled into his side and he could feel her speaking against him. "I hope so. I'm sorry things didn't go better. I wish they had. For both of you."
"I could tell a long time ago that I didn't want his life. I didn't know what that meant, or what I did want, but I remember thinking that if a good life meant doing what my father did, being like him, I wasn't interested. We've never been able to overcome our differences and we probably never will. Too much time has passed. I've changed too much and yet I haven't changed at all. I'm sure the same goes for him, even if I don't see the alterations. It's what it is. We were the family that broke. It isn't that it doesn't matter. But, we couldn't fix it so we let it go. It was for the best. "
"I love you, Tim." That made him smile into the dark. I love you was still hard, still scared her. McGee knew it did. She almost never said it when she was being serious. Not that she didn't feel it, but just saying the words was a problem. It made it all the better when she did.
"I love you too, Abby."
Bright and early the next morning McGee had joined Tony and Ziva for their morning routine of preparing for Gibbs. Eventually, they all wandered in their own directions to complete their designated tasks. When McGee looked up from his computer, hours later, it was to only to notice that just himself and Gibbs remained in the bullpen.
More concerning was the fact that Gibbs was standing in front of his desk, focused directly in on him. Good things almost never came out of Gibbs staring him down. "Abby asked for you. Thought about sending you to work downstairs today."
"You're not going to are you?" Not that he'd mind spending the day in the lab but somehow McGee thought that locking himself away might give the wrong impression on his renewed grasp of control over his life.
"She doesn't actually need help. And is me sending you down there going to fix anything?"
"No, it wouldn't."
"I don't let anybody else avoid their families."
"Abby likes to think that everything works itself out in the end. Maybe she's right, maybe in another year, another decade something else will happen and we'll try again. Maybe things will work eventually or they won't. It is possible that this is the end and it's time to let go. Sometimes it works like that."
Honestly, some people are better off letting go rather than drag each other down in the struggle. McGee knew he was not a fortune teller. There weren't any tarot cards for this one. He could tell that his response was along the lines of what Gibbs wanted to hear. Apparently he had passed the test.
Gibbs finally broke his constant gaze and began to move away from Mcgee's desk. Before he could get too far away, McGee stopped him. "Boss?" Gibbs turned back towards him "Thanks." There was another nod accompanied by the half smile Gibbs got when things went as he planned or something amused him.
The boss was pleased with him. Not that Gibbs would have actually let him go and hide in the lab, but choosing to stay and knowing what he needed to do placed him with good marks in the boss' book. It was still odd to think about Gibbs caring what happened in his life that didn't directly correlate to his ability to do his job. McGee wouldn't necessarily describe it as eternal devotion as Abby had but it was nice nonetheless.
As the Admiral was shown in for the interview, work took precedence, McGee did his job completely and well. The Admiral was good with business as usual. Personal didn't need to parade in the way of the task that drew them together. Their time in the room was strictly professional and though passing more slowly than either would have liked, did pass by.
Reinterview being over and done it was time for the exit. They were alone together once again, in the same hallway where their first conversation at the start of project reconnect had taken place. The same yet different. This time, the tone was completely different. McGee wasn't anxious, acceptance of a situation was a wonderful thing. Calm had won out.
While he was supposed to be escorting his father out, McGee realized that he had stopped walking and his father was watching him. The Admiral broke the silence. "Are we not done?"
"No, we are." McGee snapped back into reality long enough to take a few steps only to stop again. The bullpen was back in view. The Admiral's final escort already waiting to take him out of the building. Now or never. "No. Wait. I have something to say." Closure was good. Gibbs taught them all that. What could happen when you had it and alternatively what could happen if you didn't. Not that this was exactly a life or death situation but still.
"If nothing else, I owe you because you have shown me what I wanted. And what I didn't. Because of everything I was not, I have become what I am. And although it's not so simple, and there are hundreds of reasons for all the whys, you were one of the firsts. These past months have proven that I was right. I did what I had to do to become someone I can be proud of. I know I'm still not what you expected, or what you wanted, but I have realized that I am going to have to be okay with that. I know now. I understand. And I truly thank you for that."
His father nodded. The only response he was granted. His father had heard him. Maybe for the first time. It was something. They continued into the bullpen and the escort took over. McGee joined the rest of the team back at the desks and watched the Admiral leave. The elevator doors bringing the close to the story so far.
The definitive culmination of everything that had happened over the past months: the Admiral had listened to what he said, didn't fight it or dismiss it, but listened. You had to accept what others were able to give and McGee was starting to see that maybe it was all his father was able to give him. He was going to have to be okay with that. And he was. The puzzle pieces of his life had fallen and fit themselves together. Everything was finally okay.