Author's note: Some McAbby here. I couldn't help myself. But mostly Tony being...Tony.
Tim was inputting data on yet another of NCIS' cold cases when the elevator dinged and a familiar – if raspy – voice called out, "Honeys, I'm home!"
"Tony!" Ziva leaped up from her chair. "What are you doing here?"
"Nice to see you, too, Ziv-ah," Tony said. The first thing Tim noticed was that Tony didn't have to reach up to block the trach to talk, a gesture Tim had become familiar with when visiting Tony over the past two weeks. Tony turned, catching Tim scrutinizing him. "Look, Ma, no hands."
When Tony stepped closer, it was clear that there was a cap of some sort over the end of the trach. "So, not to be nosy, but how are you breathing right now?" Tim asked, making an effort to sound casual. It had only been a couple of weeks, but it felt like forever ago they'd been in the waiting room, listening to the doctor's grim assessment of Tony's injuries. They had said he would only need the trach for a couple of weeks, though. Wow, he must be at that point already. Put that way, it seemed like time had flown by. Time was funny that way.
Tony shrugged. "The regular way. Neat, huh? If I'm really good and don't suffocate myself, I get to have just a regular hole in my neck next week. I think the chicks will dig it." It was weird but delightful to hear Tony rambling again without having to pause to catch his breath.
Ziva, who had wandered over as well, swatted at Tony's arm. "It will heal and the scar will barely be noticeable. I have seen pictures on the Internet."
Tony raised his eyebrows and looked at her. "Trach porn, Ziva? Really?"
"Oh, you are impossible!" Ziva threw her arms up. "I am going back to my desk. Come see me when you can be older than twelve."
Tony chuckled as Ziva retreated to her desk. "Hey, McLonely. Guess what I did over my vacation?"
Tim turned back to his computer, pretending not to care. It was part of the game, after all. He and Ziva had both discussed missing Tony's presence, but neither would admit it to him. They had their pride – and Tony's ego needed no inflation. "Looked at real porn?"
"Nope." Tony crossed his arms over his chest and waited.
"Tree porn?" Tim guessed.
"Tree por—what the hell is that? You are one sick puppy!" Tony backed up a few steps. "Geez! Some people."
Tim shrugged. A former girlfriend of his had found it hysterical. "Tree porn. Pictures of trees twisted together that look like they're...getting intimate."
Tony leveled a look at Tim. "Sex, Timmy. We're all adults here. Anyhow!" He held up a hand. "Since you apparently haven't gotten out since the Dark Ages, I might as well just tell you. I've looked into sign language."
That got Tim's attention. "What, you want to know what Abby and Gibbs say about you?" He'd wanted to look into American Sign Language himself, but he had never found the time.
"Something like that." Tony grinned. "Anyhow, since you and our favorite lab rat were so kind as to provide me with communication and entertainment during my convalescence, I thought I would repay the favor."
"Oh, really?" Now Tim was worried. Tony didn't do nice things for him in any sort of obvious way. "You're actually going to be nice to me?"
Tony nodded. "Yes. Just for you, when I return, no 'Probie' for a month. And that's going to be really hard for me, because I can't call Ziva that anymore, either."
"Never stopped you with me," Tim said.
"I didn't raise Ziva from a young'un." Tony grinned. "So, Probes, upon my return, you will have your reprieve."
Tim wondered if Tony was truly going to be able to contain himself for that long, but it was the thought that counted. A tiny part of him suspected he might miss it. "All right, then. Thank you. What are you doing for Abby?" Her, Tony could be nice to.
"I'm doing it now, if you'd shut up and listen to me," Tony replied. "You and Abby hang out, right?"
"Right," Tim said, growing doubtful.
"So." Tony made a gesture Tim didn't quite catch. "You go to the lab with me. I'll show Abby my surprise, then you can do this." He repeated the gesture. "She loves it when you get handy with her."
Tim rolled his eyes, but he knew how passionate Abby was about ASL. She'd grown up bilingual, after all, except one of the languages wasn't spoken. "So you surprise Abby with God knows what-"
"Crüxshadows CD," Tony interrupted.
"Oh, she'll like that," Tim said genuinely. "What, then I propose to hang out with her?"
"Well, if you want your own special moment, you can do it whenever you like." Tony held up a warning finger. "But don't ask me to show you again if you forget. Because I really, really had to practice this one. Some of the deaf chicks in those videos are hot."
From her desk, Ziva snorted. "Yes, of course. Only you would learn signs that involve picking up women."
Tony looked at her over his shoulder. "I don't recall there being any assassins in this conversation. McGee, did I ask for assassins in this conversation?"
No way was Tim getting into the middle of that one. He sighed, feigning impatience. "Just show me the sign."
Tony demonstrated. "You gotta watch the finger placement. Very important."
Tim imitated Tony. It was a pretty simple sequence. "Got it." He put his hand near his chin and brought it forward and down; that was one of the few signs Tim knew, thank you.
Tony shook his head. "Not following you. I told you, I had to focus my energies."
"On getting laid!" Ziva called out.
"I said no assassins!" Tony stood up and tugged at Tim's arm. "Come on, let's get to the lab before Gibbs sees you setting fire to Rule Twelve-Point-Five."
"Twelve-point-five?" Tim asked. Rule Twelve had never been his favorite. It had stopped him from turning his fling with Abby into anything permanent. That, and her lack of desire to get serious. And the fear of Gibbs if the relationship went south. Basically, a lot of things.
"The DiNozzo Corollary," Tony explained. "You should probably not hang out with co-workers you used to have sex with."
Tim shook his head as he followed Tony to the elevator. "That's only because most of the people you've had sex with want to set fire to you later."
Tony punched the elevator button, shrugging. "Rules are rules for a reason."
As expected, when they got to the lab, Abby practically knocked Tony off his feet as she hugged him. "I missed you so much!" She stepped away and looked him up and down. "Oh, my God, and they capped your trach off. That is so cool!"
"One step closer to freedom, baby." Tony reached into his jacket and pulled out a CD. "This, my dear, is for you."
Abby took the CD and wiggled excitedly. "Oh, this is their best album. Thank you!" She hugged Tony again, more gentle this time, then smiled at Tim. "Did you put him up to this?"
Tim shook his head, perfectly content to give credit where it was due. "Nope. That was just his way of thanking you. Because he can't discuss feelings like a normal person." He braced himself for the slap to the back of his head that would no doubt follow, and wasn't disappointed.
"Anyhow, I'm out." Tony waved. "I need to go find Palmer and freak him out." Before either Abby or Tim could say anything else, Tony disappeared out the door.
Abby looked at Tim, smiling. "He's back."
Tim nodded. "That he is." He returned Abby's smile. "So, got any big plans for tonight?" It was a Friday, after all.
"Nope." Abby bounced over to her computer. "Not this weekend. Just quiet at home." She turned her back to Tim as she called up results, and he tried not to sigh. "Maybe I'll go visit Jethro." The German Shepherd had been too big and active a dog for Tim's apartment, but he had a friend in the Virginia suburbs whose own dog had recently passed. He wanted another German Shepherd, and the timing had worked out perfectly. Abby had been quick to obtain visitation rights, and everyone had been happy. Tim missed having the dog around sometimes, but he had also been told he could come over to play with Jethro whenever he liked, so it worked out.
"I've got an idea." Tim didn't say anything else, waiting for Abby to turn around.
Finally, Abby looked. "Well, let's hear it, Timmy."
Tim signed to her, initially pleased with himself, then concerned when Abby's eyes widened and she laughed.
"Are you serious?" Abby asked. "Like, seriously serious?"
Tim should have known better. He had trusted Tony to be nice, and he should have known better. "Oh, no. What did I just say?"
Abby laughed harder. "You asked me if I wanted to have sex!"
"Oh, my God," Tim groaned. He raised his eyes to the ceiling. "Abby, if I murder Tony, will you hide me when Ziva comes for vengeance?"
Abby giggled again. "Throw in dinner and I'll help you clean up the crime scene!" At least she was Abby, and she took these things in stride. Especially when Tony was involved. "Next time you want to learn Sign, Timmy, learn it from me." She reached out and gestured for Tim to give her his hands. He did, and she clasped them, then guided his fingers into a position. "Now this is how you ask a girl to dinner." She signed for him, and he nodded and followed. "And this -" She curled her hand into a fist, bobbing it up and down, "- is how that girl would say yes. And this is how you say 'dog.'" She snapped her fingers and patted the side of her leg. "So what say we go out to dinner and stop by to see Jethro?"
Tim grinned. "Sounds great." Maybe Tony didn't suck at being nice after all. Creative revenge was still called for, however.