Tim sighed as he glanced up towards the clock. He knew that he was in danger of getting a famous Gibbs glare, but at the moment he couldn't care less. He sighed and glared at his computer, silently telling it to speed up time and get them out of the office .
Tony watched his Probie, wondering what was going on. He hadn't seen Tim this worked up in months or maybe even years. He took a chance to earn his partner's wrath by asking him what was on his mind.
"You've been McClockwatching for the past three hours."
"Tony..." Ziva gave him a warning growl, knowing that he could easily piss Tim off if he kept that kind of talk up.
"No, seriously. He's been twitchier than a witch with a burning broom up her butt. What's going on?"
Neither of his probies answered him and Tony threw his pen up in the air, caught it midflight and headed for the elevator. If he couldn't get a reply from them, he generally figured that two or three others might have the answer he was looking for. He headed down to Abby's lab first, but she wasn't there and he remembered that she'd taken off early that day so that she could spend the weekend with the nuns at a spiritual retreat. He then headed to autopsy but Ducky and Jimmy hadn't any clues about why Tim was so jumpy either.
"Have you been able to talk to him at all, Anthony?" Ducky asked as they all headed back upstairs.
"No, and that's why I'm concerned. The last time Tim was this way, it was something to do with his family. First Sarah, then his grandmother and finally the Admiral. I just, every time he gets this way, I almost lose my partner and Gibbs almost loses an agent."
Upstairs in Vance's office a similar conversation was going on. "Leon, what do you know that McGee isn't telling the rest of us?"
"Nothing, I'm as clueless as you are Gibbs. I just know that two weeks ago he asked for your team to be given a four day weekend, which just happens to be this weekend. Take advantage of it and find out what the hell is going on."
Tony met up with Gibbs and the two had a silent, yet meaningful conversation. Tony nodded at Gibbs' silent command, and immediately headed over to Tim's desk. Gibbs in the mean time motioned for Ziva, Ducky and Jimmy to take their leave. All three of them did so after Gibbs promised to tell them what happened and why Tim was in such a worried state.
Tony sat down on the corner of Tim's desk, and picked up a pencil, "Probie, seriously, what's wrong? You look really worried. I haven't seen you this worked up since your dad was here; is everything okay with your family?"
Tim glanced at him and Tony knew he'd hit the nail on the head. "I don't know Tony. It's why I've been distracted today. I...I'll tell you about it after work, if you're really interested in knowing."
Gibbs gave the all clear and they turned off their computers, then headed for the elevators. Gibbs gave Tony one more silent command, and the senior agent gave a two fingered salute as he followed Tim to his car.
"El Jefe is worried about you too. Let's go and talk to him. Between the three of us, we can figure out what's going on."
Tony pulled out his cell phone when Tim nodded, "Boss, we're on our way."
"I'll put the steaks on, you and McGee plan on spending the night." It was an order, not a question.
Tony nodded in agreement as he said, "I already put our go-bags in the car. We'll pick up a couple of six packs on our way there."
Tony then motioned for Tim to get in the passenger side of the car. "As distracted as you are right now, Probie, there is no way in Hell, I'm letting you drive tonight."
Tim just nodded and then looked at Tony, "We need to get our laptops too, it'll be easier to explain."
"Already done, and Gibbs will have the Wi-fi turned on, so be ready with that explanation."
Tim wiped a hand over his face, "That's part of the problem, I don't know how to explain it, as I don't understand it. If I did, I would have asked the Boss for his advice weeks ago. Hell, even Ducky couldn't help and you know that he usually has a story for anything under the sun."
Tony thought about several events that could have led up to whatever Tim is finding no explanation for: his grandmother, the Navy Yard exploding, Ducky's heart attack, the admiral visiting. Oh yeah, it could have been any or all of the above, but he personally would bet on something to do with Tim's family and that could mean anything or nothing. He stopped the car long enough to go into his favorite liquor store, smiled as the bartender reached for not only two six packs, but a bottle of bourbon as well.
"I take it Gibbs called?" As he walked up to the counter and was waved out the door with a smile and a nod of acknowledgement.
"You know it."
Tony stashed the alcohol in the backseat and drove to Gibbs' house. Once there, he motioned for Tim to grab their go-bags while he retrieved the liquor. "Not that I don't trust you, Probie, but you've got enough on your mind at the moment."
Tim agreed and walked up to Gibbs' door where he knocked before entering. Gibbs smiled as he listened to Tony grumble good-naturedly about Tim being so polite. The steaks were already halfway cooked, so he had the boys get their plates and forks before turning to face Tim and ask him what was going on.
Tim shook his head as he chewed on his bite of steak.
"I honestly don't know Boss. You both remember my sister, Sarah?"
Neither man responded as they vividly remembered Sarah and how Tim's devotion to her had almost caused the younger agent to quit the team. Tim took another bite of steak and a swig of his beer before he opened his laptop and turned it on. Once he had what he wanted pulled up he then turned the laptop so that the other two men could see it.
"It's not Sarah, it's my mother. Sarah sent this to me a few hours ago, but I've already been on the receiving end of it as well."
Both men could see a lot of emoticons and not much else for a message.
Tim took another swallow of his beer and stated, "I've tried to call Mom and the neighbors, but there is a blackout of some sort going on, I even tried to call Dad and Penny. Dad didn't pick up and Penny just basically shrugged it off as Mom being Mom. I was able to contact the local leos, they are going to send a car over to make sure that she's okay."
Tim's phone rang as if on cue, and he listened to the voice on the other end. Gibbs and Tony could see a bit of the stress leaving his shoulders as he thanked the other person and hung up.
"Take it they said she was there and okay?"
Tim nodded and they continued eating. As they were finishing the meal, Tim looked up at the other two, "The main reason I'm so worried is that Mom isn't this...weird. Yes she can talk your ears off, but that's usually when we are skyping, or talking on the phone. This...whatever it is, is just plain strange."
Tim yawned and apologized. Tony gulped down the last few bites of his steak, then washed his hands before heading for the hall closet and some pillows and blankets.
"Get some rest probie, the boss and I can take it from here."
It was evident from how fast he fell asleep that Tim had been worrying about the weird message for quite some time and Gibbs wondered how they would be able to help if even the cyber wiz couldn't figure it out. He thought about calling Abby, but just as he did so, he and Tony both received text messages.
As they read the message, they glanced down at McGee's sleeping form. Gibbs shook his head and Tony sighed as he imagined his probie's reaction when he figured out just what the message was actually about. Gibbs motioned for Tony to let Ziva know to stand down, as he called Ducky to tell him what was going on.
"Oh, my I'm not sure even Abigail could have figured that one out. I will call Mr. Palmer, Jethro and let him know what you found out."
"Thanks Duck. I'm not sure I know how to explain this one to McGee."
"Maybe a simple case of seeing is believing." Ducky advised as they said good night and hung up.
"Good idea." Gibbs stated softly and turned to face his senior agent who was still staring silently at their companion.
"I'm not sure he will believe it, if it doesn't come from you, Boss. Hell I don't believe it and I've got the proof in my hand."
Gibbs sighed and gave him a soft smack on the shoulder, "Go to bed, DiNozzo. I'll find a way to tell him when we all wake up."
It was the smell of freshly brewed coffee that woke Gibbs that next morning and he stretched for a moment as he pulled on clean jeans and sauntered downstairs. Tim was nowhere in sight and as Gibbs poured his first cup of the day he glanced out the back door where he could see the faint silhouette of Tim's silent form, leaning against a post as he watched the stars wink out of sight in wake of the early morning sunrise.
Tim didn't bother turning around to verify Gibbs' existence. He just took another sip of his coffee and sighed as he admitted to the boss that he still had no idea what was going on.
Gibbs fished his cellphone out of his pocket, brought up the text message and handed it to McGee who stared at it with a bit of trepidation before actually reading it.
"She..they...oh crap, I'm sorry Boss. Of all the scenarios I could think of this was not one of them."
Gibbs nodded his head in agreement.
"Your family never was one for doing things like normal McGee." Tony stated as he yawned and sat down on the staircase.
Tim shook his head, "I know, but I ...we...they...who the hell does this kinda thing?"
Gibbs smacked him lightly on the shoulder, "It's over and done with McGee. I'll call Leon in a few more hours and tell him the good news, then arrange for Balboa to take over our shift for that day."
Two weeks later Admiral John McGee renewed his wedding vows to his wife of 40 years. Tim escorted his mother to his father, and he could see the tears running silently down Sarah's face as he gave the bride away. His mother had confessed that she'd wanted to do something special and he'd known then that the Admiral had finally told her about his cancer and that the renewal of the wedding vows was their way of confirming not just their love over the years, but for Tim and Sarah it was a way to finally see the love their parents did have, not only for each other, but also for the siblings.
The ceremony was short and simple with only their NCIS family, along with Penny, present as witnesses. Later Tim would look back on that day as one of the happiest and perhaps most bittersweet days in his life. He would still wonder about the emoticons for years and one day he asked her about the weird message she'd left for him and Sarah.
His mother blinked and said in that silly, Mom type way she always did, "I just figured that Sarah would see and then she'd pass it along to you to figure it out, and you did. I just didn't think you'd have the entire NCIS/MCRT backing you up when you did so."