STILL LOVED

 

By

 

Ashleigh Anpilova

 

Tim and Abby have grown old together.

An established relationship story.

Written: October 2013. Word count: 3,085.

 

 

2065

 

Tim awoke, as he had done for the past dozen years or so, at six o'clock. It was far too early to be awake, far too early to get up, but awake he was. He did what he always did when he awoke, held his breath and just listened to reassure himself that Abby was still breathing. He listened for a moment or two, before he heard her steady breaths. Once he had heard them he relaxed and breathed a gentle sigh of relief; they had both survived another night.

 

Due to their various aches and pains, together with the fact that Abby, unlike him, felt the cold and slept under a pile of blankets even in the summer, as well as their different sleep patterns, they no longer shared a bed - just a room. He couldn't imagine the day would ever come when he would be willing to give up sharing a room with Abby, not even when they woke one another up at least once every night when they went to the bathroom.

 

He still loved Abby as much as he had loved her on the day he had married her; in fact he believed he loved her more, because he knew her more and they had grown even closer over the years they had been together. It was the year of their golden wedding anniversary and he knew the kids had a big party planned. Well, he knew it was really Evie who had persuaded her elder twin brothers to throw a big party for their parents.

 

Tim would have been quite happy just to enjoy a family dinner or to have a small party with their closest friends. However, that wasn't what Evie had wanted, and even though Evie was no longer the tiny baby who wasn't expected to live or even the young toddler who ran around after her big brothers, both of whom idolized and spoiled her, Evie still managed to twist all the other McGees around her little finger.

 

He lay in his comfortable bed for a little while longer, just letting his mind think about what the day might bring - and then he remembered exactly what the day would bring. Today, Abby would have her final tattoo removed. It had been her decision and of course he had supported her fully. Even how he could remember the day he had gone into their bedroom to find her standing naked in front of the mirror, her totally grey hair hanging around her shoulders, staring into a full length mirror with tears running down her cheeks.

 

He had taken her into his arms and held her, rocking her gently and stroking her hair until her tears stopped falling and she had told him what was wrong. She told him how she now hated her once loved tattoos; she thought they made her look ugly, and showed her to be a foolish old woman whose wrinkled and in parts sagging skin was just a mess of black lines and marks.

 

She had declared she wanted to have them removed - all of them - so Tim had set out to find someone who would take on the fairly monumental task. Given her age and quite how many there were, it wasn't easy to find someone. However, Tim had persevered - he loved Abby so much and wanted her to be happy - until he found someone who agreed to take on the job.

 

It hadn't been easy, inexpensive or quick. Two years after the first one had been removed the final one would be gone. Nor had it been free from pain, but Abby had never once complained, never once let Tim see the tears he knew she shed. Tears not just because of how the removing hurt, but also tears because although she no longer wanted them, she was getting rid of what had been part of her for so long.

 

He decided it was time to get up, put the kettle on and make a pot of tea. As he sat up, stretched carefully and slowly moved to the edge of the bed where he sat for a minute or two easing muscles that had stiffened up over night, he smiled at the thought of them now both beginning each day with a cup of tea. And not only any old cup of tea, but a properly made cup of tea; well properly made as the British made it.

 

When he was certain he wasn't going to fall back down onto his bed, he pushed his feet into his slippers, stood up, pulled on his robe, took his glasses from the night-stand and put them up and finally picked up his cane and moving slowly went out of the bedroom and into the bathroom. After standing for several minutes in front of the toilet, it always took so long first thing in the morning to pee, he brushed his teeth, washed his hands and face and went into the kitchen to make their first, of what would be many, pot of tea.

 

He didn't rush, he actually opened the backdoor and looked out at the beautiful surroundings (he never tired of them) and listened to the birds singing and gazed up at the sky for a good ten minutes before he poured the water from the kettle onto the tea leaves and glanced at the clock.

 

Five minutes after he had made the tea, he poured it into the china cups they loved to use, put them on a tray on the small trolley which he could push with one hand and made his way back to the bedroom. He wasn't entire surprised to see Abby was sitting up in bed, her hair tied loosely behind her, her glasses on the end of her nose waiting for him.

 

"Tim," she said, and smiled at him as he pushed the trolley across to her bed.

 

"Hello, Abby." He touched her head and then bent down, ignoring how much his back protested, and kissed her, letting his lips linger on hers for a moment or two before he simply had to stand back upright. He handed her a cup of tea, put his cane next to hers and sat down carefully on the edge of her bed and picked up his own cup of tea.

 

"Today's the day, Timmy," she said, her eyes bright as she looked at him.

 

He took her hand and squeezed it. "I know, Abby."

 

"You donít mind, do you? I mean, if you do -"

 

"No, Abby. I don't mind, of course I don't. I just want you to be happy."

 

She smiled at him. "It's just I said it would be all of them and . . . But I could call Dr. Harrison and say I've changed my mind."

 

Tim shook his head. "No," he said firmly.

 

She beamed at him and he saw the young woman he'd met for the first time all those decades ago in her lab at NCIS. NCIS at one point it had been their entire lives; they both lived for it; they both almost lived there and then - And then the day had come when everything had changed.

 

Abby put her hand on his arm and gently squeezed it. "Are you thinking about that day again, Tim?"

 

He looked at her. It didn't surprise him that she knew what he was thinking of; she never failed to read his mind. He nodded, "Yes, Abby, I am."

 

It had been the worst day of their lives; it really had; a day when both of them could have died. Although forty-five years later, he knew it had actually been one of the best days of their lives. How could it not have been given what they now had? What they had had for over four decades?

 

A simple, straight-forward interview, the kind they did every day, had turned into a near blood bath. Tim's shoulder had never fully recovered from the bullets that had penetrated it so deeply it had taken surgeons hours to remove them. Meanwhile, back at NCIS, somehow someone had got past security and into Abby's lab where he'd thrown acid at her face; the doctors believed it would be a miracle if she ever regained partial sight in one eye.

 

Her sight wasn't good and had got a lot worse with age and even worse because of the damage and she was registered as partially blind. However, she had regained some sight in both of her eyes, enough to watch her children grow; enough to watch Tim change from the young man to the middle aged man to the old man; enough to see sunrises, sunsets, skies, clouds, hills, flowers, trees - enough to see and enjoy the full beauty of where they lived. And she had never once let a lack of full sight slow her down and prevent her from doing what she wished to do. But then Abby had never let anything stand in her way and prevent her from doing what she wished to do - it was one of the many things Tim loved, had always loved, about her.

 

As soon as he had come round from the anesthetic to find Gibbs sitting by his bed, Tim knew that was it; he couldnít do it any longer. He couldn't go on being an NCIS agent; he couldn't go on risking his life. He couldn't risk leaving Abby a widow with three young children to raise alone.

 

He remembered he had looked at Gibbs and managed to croak, "Boss?" even though Gibbs hadn't been his boss for eight years.

 

"Yeah, Tim. I know. It's time."

 

And that had been that.

 

Abby had resigned from NCIS as well and for nine months they had waited to see what would happen to Abby's eyes. When her doctor had pronounced it a miracle and said he didn't need to see her again, they decided what they would do.

 

Ducky had died the previous year and to Tim and Abby's surprise he had left them his Scottish childhood home. At the time they had believed they would sell it and buy a bigger house in America in which to raise their children; after all what would they want with a home in Scotland? However, after long talks, some of which included Gibbs and Tony, they made one of the biggest decisions of their lives and decided to pack up and move not just out of DC, but out of America and move to Scotland.

 

"We did do the right thing, didn't we, Abby?" It wasn't the first time he'd asked the question and it wasn't that he didn't believe they had done the right thing - indeed he knew they had - it was just that he wanted to hear Abby tell him they had.

 

Abby smiled. "Of course we did, Tim. Can you think of a better place to have brought up Tom, Ben and Evie?"

 

Tim shook his head. "No." He couldn't; he really couldn't.

 

The twins had been excited about their adventure and talked about it all time, about all the new friends they would make, about all the games they could play. They hadn't seemed at all bothered by the fact they would be leaving their friends and the country of their birth. They were just looking forward to going on a plane and having a new place to explore. Evie, still a baby, really didn't know any difference. As long as she had her mommy and daddy and big brothers, her toys and blankets, as long as she was fed and cuddled and read to, she didn't mind.

 

Tim remembered the twin's first reaction to what to all of was an enormous house, it was at least as big as Reston house had been, if not bigger. For a moment or two they had stood in the huge hall, which was bigger than Tim's first apartment, before they had looked at one another, done their silent communication thing and had raced off  to explore the entire house. Even now Tim believed he could hear them clattering up and down stairs, running along the hallway, calling to one another, calling to their parents, calling to Evie.

 

Abby and he no longer lived in the house. It had become far too much for them once all of the children had moved out and they had grown older and started to ache in places they'd never ached in; it was too big and had too many stairs. However, they hadn't wanted to sell it, they hadn't wanted to leave the place where they had both been so very happy, the place in which they had raised their family.

 

They had talked to the children and discussed several options and now the house was now owned by Tom and his civil partner Rupert. Both Ben and Evie had been perfectly happy for their brother to buy the family home. The grounds had been large enough for them to build a smaller place for them to live in, and they easily obtained planning permission to build a modest bungalow which they had built specifically to cater for their needs.

 

The bathroom and toilet had grab rails and a walk in shower with a seat and a walk in bath; the kitchen had a central island where both of them could sit to prepare dinner; there were no door thresholds which they could trip over; everything flowed; everything was perfect. At Tom and Rupert's insistence (their son-in-law was an author and thus worked from home) they had had an alarm installed with buttons and pull-cords in every room which when pushed or pulled would sound in the main house.

 

Abby had laughed at the idea, saying they werenít that old and it was a waste of money. She no longer laughed and hadn't done since the day she had tried to walk from the living room to the bathroom without using her cane. She had lost her balance and fallen, breaking her hip and suffering a minor heart attack. Tim had been out when it had happened; Tom had taken him to the hospital for a check-up after which they'd had lunch. Abby had been alone in the bungalow. She would have lain in the hall for several hours were it not for the alarm button which had summoned Rupert to her side. Indeed, given the heart attack, the doctor had told Tim she may not have survived, had she have lain on the floor for hours until someone found her.

 

It had shaken Tim more than Abby and since that day he feared that Abby would die before him, given she was a few years older than he, even though women tended to live longer than men. Her health, while still very good for a woman of her age, wasn't quite as good as his, thus it seemed logical to him that she would be the one to leave him alone. He dreaded the day he would wake up, hold his breath and listen to her breathing only to hear nothing.

 

He wasn't certain what he would do; he didn't know how he could go on living without her. However, he would have to; he knew that, because she would want him to do so. Besides, there were the children and the grandchildren to think of. Ben had twin boys, Evie two girls and another baby was on the way. Sometimes he wished he would be the one to go first, but then the thought of leaving Abby on her own upset him.

 

However, he wasn't going to think about either of them dying, not yet, at least he wasn't going to consciously think about it. They had grown old together; they had survived bullets and acid; they had taken the huge step of leaving America to set up home in Scotland; they had brought up three, happy, healthy, lovely, loving children. They were going to celebrate fifty years of marriage and with luck, good care - and they had the best care - they would both survive to see and enjoy another few years.

 

Yes, death would part them one day; it parted everyone (they were the only members of Team Gibbs who were still alive). They had both talked together and to the children about their wishes, about what they wanted. Neither of them wanted to suffer; neither of them wanted to watch the other suffer; neither of them wished to be a burden; neither of them wished to go into a care home. Everything had been drawn up and signed and was in place, so the burden of having to make a decision at a terrible time wouldn't exist.

 

But that wasn't going to happen today or tomorrow. They were still both in relatively good health; they still both enjoyed good meals; they still both took pleasure in being able to potter around outside; they had the beautiful countryside and amazing skies and sunsets to enjoy. They still enjoyed books and music and did a variety of puzzles on a regular basis to keep their minds fresh and still had their computers. They weren't bed bound or even house bound; they hadn't run out of things to say to one another; they still teased one another; they still kissed and hugged; they still loved one another. They had three wonderful, not perfect but wonderful, children, two first class son-in-laws and a beautiful, talented, caring daughter-in-law and four adorable grandchildren.

 

They were blessed; they were happy; they were content; they were at peace. They had lived long, happy, fulfilled lives that in parts had been exciting, scary, fun, worrying; they had laughed together; they had cried together; they had supported one another. They had faced death and survived and together they would face what happened to them next.

 

Tim took the Abby's empty cup, put it down on the trolley and touched her cheek with one hand while taking her other hand and pulling it towards his lips and kissing it. "I still love you, Abby, McGee," he said.

 

She smiled and once again her eyes shone; again she was the young woman he had met all those years ago. "And I still love you too, Timothy McGee. I always will." She took the hand he had on her cheek and put it to her mouth and kissed it.

 

 

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