NEVER COMPLETELY OFF DUTY
It's Abby and Tim's anniversary and they go out together to buy Abby's gift to Tim. However, they find more than they bargained for.
An established relationship story.
Written: January 2013. Word count: 3,205.
"Are you sure, Abby?"
"Yes, Timmy. You bought me this," she touched the new dog collar Tim had bought her for their first wedding anniversary. "And I know it wasn't easy for you going into the store to buy it." She was quite right there; Tim had never understood Abby's liking for such things - but it was one of the things that made her her and he loved her, so he'd overcome his natural embarrassment and had indeed gone into the store and hadn't just grabbed the first one he'd seen, but had spent several minutes deciding on the one he'd finally bought for her. "And I want to buy you what you want. Have you decided yet exactly what you do want?"
Tim nodded. "Yes, but I don't know how easy it'll be to find it."
"What is it?"
Tim swallowed. "An old-fashioned telephone, like this one," and he unfolded a piece of paper and handed it to her.
She took it and actually bounced a little. "Oh, that's perfect, Tim," she said, kissing a cheek. "It'll look great in your office." He knew that just as he didn't understand her quirk for the bondage stuff she liked, that she didn't understand why he, the hard-core techie preferred to write his books on a typewriter, why he had a pipe when he didn't smoke, and why he had several old-fashioned lamps in his office. The telephone would be just one more thing. "Come on, then," she said sliding her arm through his and hurrying out of their house.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon as they walked along heading for the part of the town where the antique and curiosity shops, the art galleries, the specialist stationery shops (one Tim knew very well as it was from where he bought his typewriter ribbons) and other such niche stores were.
They'd visited three shops and while they'd found a couple of telephones in one of them, they weren't quite what Tim wanted; they were too modern. He was beginning to think they were on a wild goose chase when suddenly Abby squeezed his arm. "Look, Tim, there's a new shop; let's go and try there."
Tim looked across the road and saw what Abby was referring to. It was indeed a new shop; it stood on the junction of two roads and he couldn't remember how long it had been since it had last been occupied. He looked up at the name above the window and saw it was called Quirks; he wondered if it might be a good omen.
A bell jangled as Tim opened the door and a man hurried across to them. "Good afternoon, sir, madam," he said smiling at Tim and Abby; his accent was quite clearly British and for a moment it reminded Tim of how Ducky spoke. "Are you seeking something particular or just browsing?"
"We're looking for something like this," Abby said, pulling the folded paper from her purse, unfolding it and showing it to the man.
He took it from her and stared at it as Tim glanced around him. Several things caught his eye and had this not been the fourth store they'd gone into he'd be suggesting they looked around, but he could see Abby was getting a little tired. More than once he'd gently tried to persuade her that now that she was six months pregnant with twins to slow down just a little, to sit down more and to work fewer hours. He hadn't yet succeeded; nor had Gibbs or Ducky who had both had similar conversations with her. He couldn't stop her from working long hours during the week, but at least Tim could limit the time she needed to be on her feet during the weekend.
"Well," the man said and Tim waited for him to say they hadn't got anything quite like it, but how about - and to show them something quite unsuitable. "I believe we have exactly for what you are looking. If you don't mind waiting I'll go and find it for you. We haven't been opened long and as yet not all of our stock is out."
Tim was about to ask how long the wait would be, but Abby spoke quickly. "Of course we donít mind waiting, do we, Tim?" Tim shook his head.
The man hesitated for a moment and then said, "If you forgive the imposition, madam, we do have a small coffee shop at the back of the shop, if you would like to sit down and the chairs are comfortable." He glanced quickly from Abby to Tim and seemed to be half expecting one of them to be angry with him for daring to make the suggestion.
However, Tim was relieved and grateful. "That would be great, wouldn't it, Abby?"
Abby smiled at him and Tim saw quite how tired she was. He put his arm around her. "Yes, it would. Thank you," she looked at the man and gave him a real, honest, Abby smile. Tim wasn't surprised when the man flushed just a little.
"If you come with me," he said and led them through the store towards the back where several tables and chair were. "I'll bring the telephone to you," he said, actually escorting them to a table and raising his hand in the direction of the man behind the counter, before he pulled a chair out for Abby to sit down on.
She sank down, her relief quite clear. "Thanks," she said, smiling at him.
"Thank you," Tim said, sitting down on the opposite side of the table. "Tea?" he said to Abby who beamed.
"Oh, yes, please," she said. Tea, British-style, was one of the easier to realize cravings she'd developed during her pregnancy. She drank several cups a day, indeed if she was ever missing from her lab, the odds were that she'd be in Autopsy drinking tea with Ducky who seemed delighted that finally there was someone with whom he could share his love of real tea.
The man who had greeted them, Tim realized he hadn't asked his name, had gone off to find the telephone and the person whom Tim guessed ran the coffee shop was standing by them. Tim got the impression that normally customers went to the counter rather than be waited on; but he wasn't going to object.
"A pot of tea - hot," he added, "and I'll have a large black coffee, please," he said. Strong, black, sugarless coffee seemed to be his craving since Abby had become pregnant. Needless to say it met with Gibbs's approval.
The man nodded and was about to leave when Abby said quickly, "And some cakes. You do have cakes, don't you?"
The man smiled and nodded. "I'll bring you a selection," he said and left them alone.
"It's nice here," Abby said looking around her.
Tim smiled. "It is," he took her hand and looked at her. "Are you all right, Abby?"
"Of course. I keep telling you and Ducky and Gibbs I'm only pregnant."
She rolled her eyes. "Okay, I'm a bit tired, but I'm fine, Timmy, really. Stop worrying." And she patted his hand and smiled - her look told him she knew full well he would not stop worrying and that rather than it irritating her, she actually liked it.
Abby was on her second cup of tea when the man they'd first seen hurried up to them. "I'm terribly sorry to keep you waiting, sir, madam," he said, his look was indeed apologetic. "It has taken me a little longer to locate the telephone than I first thought it would. However, I now know exactly where it is, there are a few boxes to be moved in order to actually reach it, but that won't take long. Are you able to wait another ten minutes?"
It was Abby who answered. "Oh, yes," she said.
"Thank you," the man said and hurried off again.
"Why don't you go and look around, Tim, I can see you want to." Abby smiled.
"Will you be all right?" Tim felt his cheeks become a little warm as Abby just gave him one of her looks. He pushed his chair back and stood up. "I won't be long," he said.
"Take your time, Timmy, I'm quiet comfortable."
Tim smiled at her and turned to go. He didn't know how it happened, but rather than find himself back in the main store he found himself outside what he though must be a storeroom. He was about to turn back when he saw a man he was certain he recognized - and if he did, they needed to get out of Quirks very quickly and he had to call Gibbs.
He glanced around him, checking that no one was about before moving as quietly as he could he slipped through the half-open door and into what was indeed a storeroom. However, it wasn't antique phones or lamps or furniture that was being stored; it was guns!
He glanced around him again before pulling out his cell phone and quickly taking several photographs. The sound of a voice had him pressing himself back against that wall and keeping absolutely still as a man, the man he was certain he recognized came back into the room. And now he was closer Tim saw he'd been quite correct; it was who he thought it was: Lieutenant Darren Claridge, wanted on multiple charges including murder and smuggling - and it looked as if Tim had the evidence of the latter right in front of him.
Moving slowly and quietly he slid along the wall and backed out of the door and back into the passageway where he rested against the wall for a moment before turning and hurrying back to the coffee shop. There he found the British man sitting opposite Abby showing her the telephone. Tim pushed his cell phone back into his pocket, forced a smile onto his face and strolled nonchalantly across to them.
Abby looked up and smiled at him. "Look, Tim," she said, "it's perfect. It's just like the one in the photo."
Tim forced himself not to grab Abby's hand and drag her out of the store. Instead he looked at the phone; it was indeed perfect. "It's great, Abby," he said.
"Do you really like it?"
He nodded. "It's perfect."
Abby beamed at him. "Good. We'll take it," she said looking from Tim to the British man who had stood up as soon as Tim had appeared.
"Very well, madam," he said. "I'll go and wrap it for you and have it ready in a few minutes."
Abby was about to stand up but Tim, in what he hoped wasn't an obvious move, put his hand on her shoulder and gently pressed down, making her stay seated. She glanced at him but stayed where she was as the man walked away with the phone. "Tim?"
Tim sat down and took her hand. "Okay, Abby, you have to listen to me and do exactly what I tell you to do."
Abby's eye grew wide as she stared at him. "What's the matter, Tim? What's happened?"
Glancing around him, he bent his head towards her and swiftly told her what he'd found. "So what you have to do is go and pay for the phone, tell our British friend that you're going home because you're tired, but that I'm going to stay and look around for a bit. Get him to call you a cab, he'll probably offer. Then once you get outside the shop send the pictures to Gibbs and tell him Claridge is here and he needs to get here quickly."
She shook her head. "I'm not leaving you here," she said, her tone defiant.
He sighed. "You have to, Abby."
"But what if he gets suspicious?"
"Why should he? He's right out the back in a part of the store that's hidden behind a fake wall. I only found it by chance. Why would he come out here."
"I don't know. But -"
He put his finger on her lips and silenced her. "No, buts, Abby. Just go and do what I told you."
She glared at him. "All right," she said standing up. "But I'm not going home."
"I'll wait in the cab around the corner. But I am not, do you hear me, Timothy McGee, not going home."
He stared at her and saw the determination on her face. "All right," he said and sighed. "But don't blame me if Gibbs yells at you when he gets here."
She beamed. "He won't." And with that, she took his phone, bent over him, kissed him quickly before straightening up. For a second or two her hand lingered in his, then she bit her bottom lip, gripped his phone just a little bit tighter, turned and headed towards the front of the store. Tim sat and watched her go before he stood up and went over to the man behind the counter and paid him.
"Do you have a restroom?" he asked. The man nodded and pointed to his right; he was certainly a man of few words and as Tim stared at him he felt certain that whereas he didn't know if the British man was involved with the gun smuggling (he suspected he wasn't) he felt certain this man was.
By the time the bell jangled and Tim looked around to see Tony about to enter the store he'd leaned that the British man, whose name was Edwards Fotherington and who had gone to Eton (Tim had been right, Fotherington's voice had sounded like Ducky's), was the owner of Quirks. However, this was the first time he'd been in the store since he'd bought it; he'd been travelling around finding antiques and legally shipping others from Britain. He'd employed Daren Claridge, as an assistant manager and had left the staffing to him.
Tim was even more certain Fotherington knew nothing of what was really going on in the back of Quirks. He was even sure that Fotherington didn't know of the storeroom behind the fake wall - certainly when he'd gone off to find the phone, he'd gone in the opposite direction.
As Tony came in he beamed and called out, "Hello, little brother. I thought it was you. Dad and sis are outside." And he put his arms around Tim and embraced him tightly before squeezing his arms and smiling at him. As Tony had embraced him Tim had felt something drop into his pocket; he guessed it was a gun. He gave Tony a quick nod and Tony let his hands fall from Tim's arms. "I'll get Dad," he said, turning and hurrying to the door. "Hey, Dad, sis," he called, opening the door. "I told you I saw Timmy."
To Tim's amazement Daren Claridge after a futile attempt to pull his own weapon, raised his hands and simply allowed Tony to cuff him as Tim cuffed the coffee shop guy and Ziva cuffed a man Tim didn't recognize while Gibbs made arrangements for the guns to be collected and taken away.
It took Gibbs less than five minutes talking with Fotherington to be assured the Brit had no knowledge of what had been going on while he had been absent from the store. He'd turned quite pale when Gibbs had told him the truth and had sat down on the edge of a desk Tim had been admiring from the moment he'd set eyes on it.
"Oh, my," he said, "oh, my, oh, my, oh, my. What am I to do?"
"Go on running your store, sir," Gibbs said, putting his notebook and pencil away. "Reckon you've got a good business here. Not that I'm an expert, but . . . Just get yourself some reliable staff."
"Oh, I shall. I shall. But are you quite . . . I mean I had no idea. I assure you, Agent Gibbs, I had no idea."
"Had I done so, I would have - Oh, dear me." He took a handkerchief out and wiped his forehead; he looked quite unwell.
Suddenly Tim had an idea. "Boss, can you spare me for a minute?" Gibbs nodded and Tim hurried off only to return a moment or two later with a cup of tea. He handed it to Fotherington. "Here you are. A good friend of mine, he's British and he went to Eton, swears by tea for shock.
"Why thank you. And your friend is quite correct." He took a sip of the tea and sighed before looking at Gibbs. "Thank you, Agent Gibbs," he said.
"Just doing my job. Right, we done here, McGee?"
Tim cast another lingering glance at the desk and silently promised himself he'd be back - very soon. "Yes, boss," he said and he smiled at Fotherington. "I'll be back," he said.
Fotherington stared at him. "Thank you," he said his tone even more formal than it had been.
Tim smiled and hurried out of the store behind Gibbs. Claridge and his two accomplices were already in the back of Tony's car and Tony and Ziva were bickering about who would drive. Tim glanced around him, "She's safe," Gibbs said. "She's around the corner in a cab."
Tim breathed a sigh of relief. "Boss, I tried to -"
"Make her go home. Yeah, know that, Tim. Well, what are you waiting for? The fare's not going down. Go and get Abby and Ducky and I'll drive you."
"Ducky?" But Gibbs had already turned away and was heading off to where his own car was parked.
LATER THAT NIGHT
Tim sat on the couch gazing down at Abby who laid full length with her head in his lap. He was sure he loved her more each day - not that he'd tell her; not that he needed to tell her; he didn't have to, she knew. Her stroked her head and laughed when she glared at him and then he remembered he'd never got an answer to his question. "What was Ducky doing in the cab with you?"
"Oh, Gibbs was at his house fixing something for him when I called. And Gibbs wanted to make sure I was okay so he brought Ducky with him."
"Good," Tim said, bending over her and kissing her.
"Because there was no way Ducky would have let you get out of the cab," he said. "And don't look at me like that; I know you Abby Sciuto."
"Abby McGee," she said quietly.
Against his will he beamed. "Abby?" he said. When they'd married Abby had said she wanted to keep her own surname and he'd agreed, albeit a little reluctantly. "Do you mean it?"
She nodded. "Yes. If something had gone wrong this afternoon I'd - Well, you know."
He bent over her again and kissed her, this time for a lot longer. "How about I run you a bath?" he asked when he was forced to lift his head as his neck was becoming quite painful.
She beamed his pussy-cat grin and nodded.
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