A Sign of the Times - McGee's POV

McGee yawned. Damn, the Mountain Dew had worn off. He looked regretfully at the screen. He was almost at the end of the level, but he wasn't going to make it without at least a few minutes of rest. He sighed. He laid his head, down on the desk, careful not to sleep on the keyboard. Last time he'd done that he woke up to find fifty pages of what looked like a snake hiss on his screen. The phone ringing was his cell. He opened his bleary eyes. He'd gotten twenty minutes in at least. "McGee," he answered thickly.

"Hey, Probie. We're working a case. I need your eyes for something. No, not computer related." Tony added before he could ask. "But it does have to do with numbers. Oh, and hurry, Gibbs is driving me insane." He hung up the phone without letting McGee say anything else.

"I guess I'm going in," he said, rubbing his eyes. It didn't sound urgent, so he took the time to change into acceptable weekend work clothes. He'd never dress like Tony in silk and denim on the weekends, but he didn't want to wear a full suit either. Ah, forget it. He dragged on the clothes he'd worn Friday and headed to the office.

When he got there Tony glance at the clock. The older agent winced. McGee smiled internally. Maybe he could handle Tony. There was nothing truly malicious in the man that he could see. Kate didn't seem to think that way, but then, Kate didn't seem to think like anyone else. Abby liked Tony, so he couldn't be bad. "Sorry about the time, Probie."

McGee shrugged. He blinked a few times. "What do you need me to look at?"

"These financials. There's something wrong with them, but I'm missing it."

"Okay. What am I looking at?"

Tony gave him a crash course in accounting and the stock market. It was fascinating to listen to him. He wondered idly if Tony'd do his taxes for him. A few hours and three Mountain Dews later, McGee was feeling a lot more alert. "How did you learn all this stuff?"

"Self-preservation." Tony shrugged. Gibbs caught his attention. McGee watched, hiding a smile as Tony and Gibbs exchanged signs. He'd never really considered that you could yell at someone in sign. "On it, boss."

McGee frowned at him. Gibbs had been signing all day, night, whatever. "Did Gibbs lose his voice?"

"No, I made the mistake of mentioning I wanted to learn sign. He wants me to teach you."

"I guess you'll want the website Abby showed me."

"You are a blessing, Probie. Now, see how this doesn't add up, we need to find out where the money went instead of into these accounts."

Gibbs clapped sharply. Tony and McGee both looked up, startled. "Sign it, Tony," Gibbs added a verbal order to the signs.

"Bastard," Tony signed carefully. McGee grinned. Abby had taught him that one when they first got together. In fact, she'd given him some hints and websites.

"This is going to be Hell, isn't it?" McGee muttered. He took in the scope of the papers in front of them and the complexity of the processes they were going to use.

"The other reason I needed you here," Tony said, signing slowly. "He's driving me crazy."

"Short trip." McGee's mouth was moving before he could stop it. He blamed the caffiene.

"Don't make me hurt you, Probie."

The weekend progressed. McGee found the hidden accounts through some almost-legal hacking. Tony watched over his shoulder, verifying the information with the reams of financial paper on his lap. The senior field agent stretched. McGee felt his back twinge in response. He quickly emailed Tony the ASL dictionary to his home and work addresses. "Go home," Gibbs ordered. "Reports ready on Monday." McGee was more than ready for that. He had a level to beat.


"I'll go get lunch," McGee told Tony. He glanced at Gibbs' desk. The man was still responding to McGee's voice, but not to Tony's. The tension between the two agents was beginning to give him a headache. He needed to get out of the office. Five Guys, here I come, he thought. He needed grease and soda. I'll stop and get Abby a Caf-Pow on the way back, he decided.

He gathered up the familiar order of hamburgers and fries, then headed on to get Abby her drink of choice. He made his way into the lab. Abby was in the middle of something that looked exceedingly complex, so he left the drink with a sticky note attached to it on her desk. Then, he braced himself to go back into the office.

McGee distributed the hamburgers and opened up the fries they'd share. The three men tucked into their lunch with gusto. They didn't indulge often because Kate would go off about the lack of veggies. One of the other teams, he couldn't be bothered to remember their names most days, walked by. The youngest one grinned and waved. Tony waved back. Gibbs glared at him McGee hid his smile in a bite of hamburger. God, Gibbs was a jealous bastard. And he knew for a fact that Tony and Gibbs weren't a couple. Abby had confirmed that. Well, maybe she had. Sometimes with Abby you couldn't be sure.

"What?" Tony protested, surprised at Gibbs' behavior. McGee was trying very hard not to be surprised by anything these days. It made him feel like an idiot.

Gibbs raised his brows.

"Forget it," Tony signed. He left McGee and Gibbs alone while he went in search of Abby. The youngest agent worked through his report for the third time, double-checking his spelling and verb-tenses. He couldn't handle a Gibbs lecture today. He hadn't slept in twenty-four hours. Maybe that's why he was thinking such weird thoughts. Thoughts like Tony'd tell me if he got together with someone on a permanent basis. Tony wouldn't tell him anything. McGee knew that the stories Tony spun were just that much smoke and mirrors. Tony didn't really have a life. Yeah, he flirted with anything that moved, but he was dedicated to his job. Why was he thinking about Tony again? Abby was a much better topic of daydreams and analysis.


Kate showed up a few hours late the next day. McGee escaped the room as quickly as he could. Gibbs was teasing Tony and not being all the subtle about it. McGee needed to run some signs by Abby to figure out what they meant, but he had a fairly good idea that they weren't appropriate for the office. In fact, he'd swear they weren't just by the way Tony was getting more and more snappish. Some of them he knew were the usual "get to work" and "where's my report" that Gibbs usually snapped. But a lot of the comments weren't. And he'd start signing before he had Tony's attention, then refuse to start over. Maybe he was giving Tony a taste of what it was like to actually be deaf. But McGee could see the tension growing in Tony's shoulders, so he'd run before the man exploded.

"Thanks for the soda." Abby grinned at him. "So, what brings you down to my lab? Do I have time to have my wicked way with you?"

McGee felt the heat in his cheeks. He nodded. "Had to get away from them."

"Gibbs being a bastard?" she asked sympathetic. "Poor, Tim. Come here." She gave him a hug and a kiss on the lips. "Better?"

He nodded. "So what are you up to today?"

"Well, there are other teams," she chided. "But of course, they aren't my favorites." She chatted until one of the machines beeped. "Sorry, got to get that."

McGee left her to work. "Probie, coffee run," Tony said, holding up his mug.

Gibbs clapped his hands. Tony glared in his direction. "I told you, you get the coffe, Dinozzo. McGee spilled it last time."

"Oh, did you want coffee?" Tony's eyes were innocent.

"Tony." DiNozzo shoved away from his desk. He grabbed Gibbs' cup on the way past his desk. McGee sat down at his computer and kept his head down until Kate got back.

"What did he do this time?" she asked Tony as she sat down.

"Nothing for you to worry about," Gibbs stated flatly.

McGee hoped against hope that Kate would get Gibbs to stop this. It wasn't fun and it wasn't funny. Tony was in a nasty mood and that never boded well. Tony was always bright and chipper. "Boss," Tony said calmly. "Boss," Tony repeated. "Why did you involve, Abby?" Gibbs didn't say anything, but McGee could hear the slap of his hands. "Just so you know, I am getting Ducky to help me hide your body," Tony said in a reasonable tone. Gibbs laughed.

"What's with the signing? Gibbs, did you lose your voice?"

"No, Kate. DiNozzo wanted to learn to sign, I'm teaching him."

"No, Kate, he's not teaching, he's torturing. He won't listen to me at all, and now he's got Abby doing it too. She pretends that she can't hear me! At least she taught me how to curse more than a year ago." Tony stalked to his boss' desk. McGee ducked his head down again. He wasn't going to get caught in the middle of this one.

"I'm using full immersion. He'll never learn if he has to rely on talking to me. And it won't do him any good with a witness if he has to rely on their ability to read lips. I'm sure Abby's teaching him words I don't want him to know. On the plus side, it's been quieter around here. You should try it."

"Try what? Signing? No, thanks."

"It's useful," Gibbs pointed out.

"Lunch time. I'm going out. Don't expect me before one." McGee winced at the flatness of the tone.

"Take your phone," Gibbs responded.

The computer expert's stomach agreed with Tony's assessment. He pulled his lunch out of his desk drawer and kept working. A message popped up from Kate: 'All weekend?'


'How long do you think they'll keep it up?'

'Until G's satisfied.' He thought that was obvious. Gibbs never did anything by half measures. Tony would be as fluent as Gibbs, if not moreso, if the former Marine had any say in the matter.

'We're doomed. You know what you were saying about Stockholm Syndrome the other day?'


'You're right. Not us though. Tony and Gibbs.'

'But which one's the captor?'

'I'm not sure yet.'


"You couldn't handle it and ran to the lab, huh, Probie? Did Abby kiss it make it all better?"

McGee nodded with a cheerful smile. Tony glared at him.

"How was the weekend, McGee?" Kate asked, breaking the silence that had decended on the group.

"I got a crash course in accounting," McGee responded. "Paper accounting and double books." He nodded towards Tony. "But other than that, actually rather quiet for once. No one got hurt."

"That's a start. One of Tony's dates didn't try to kill him for not showing up?" Ouch, that was a bad idea. Couldn't she see that teasing Tony was the last thing she should be doing today?

"Appearantly not, Agent Todd. Tony, get the car, we have a case."

Finally, things were going to get back to normal.


Gibbs made his "Tony" sign - cop plus heart. Tony cocked his head to the side. He glanced at the crime scene. He nodded, "Boss," he signed without bothering to speak. McGee wondered if he'd ever get to the point where he didn't have to wait for further instructions. Tony had his camera, sketch pad and measuring devices. McGee went to schlep in more supplies. What was he thinking? He already knew what to do without instructions.

"Boss," Tony's voice sounded strange, strangled. "Trouble." McGee stared at the tableau for a moment, identifying the snake. Non-poisonous, calm. Good. He went to find something to transport it in. There was an old shoebox in the back of the SUV. Gibbs' appearantly from the size and style the picture showed. He punched holes in the top and moved slowly towards Tony, not wanting to scare the snake, or get himself shot. The green eyes pleaded with him, but McGee didn't know why the man was still frozen. He handed the box over. Tony put it down. The snake slithered toward it and into it, the way McGee thought it would. Tony put the lid onto the box carefully. He wrapped it with the crime scene tape Gibbs offered him. "At least Abby will be happy," McGee muttered. He retreated with the snake. She loved snakes. Now, she'd have another pet.

"McGee, ambulance!" The phone call was made before McGee even realized he'd done it. He bent over the prone woman and answered all of the questions from the dispatcher. He stayed with her during the ambulance ride and gaurded her room. The doctors were helpful and the nurses assumed they were a couple. When she woke up, the first person she asked after was her boyfriend. McGee sighed. He hated this. He didn't know if he should take her statement or wait for Gibbs. He decided to do it sort of half-and-half. He called Gibbs, but then chatted with her, building rapport and gathering information.


Tim stared at his screen, willing his report to be finished by the next time he blinked. It didn't work. He hadn't figured out a way to transfer his thoughts to the computer automatically yet. Then again, no one else had either, so he didn't feel quite so bad. Sarah was a sweet girl and she didn't deserve to have her fiancee stolen away from her. He'd asked her just before closing if she'd marry him and she'd said yes. Tim sighed.

"So, you have a good time with. . .?" Tony's voice trailed off, fishing for information.

"My mother? Yes, I did. We went to a spa. Did all the wonderful girly things she likes. So, how are the lessons going?"

"Well, I can't curse as fluently as I'd like, but Abby's catching me up on that. But, on the plus side, I can make comments about your assets to McGee without you knowing it, so it's all good."

McGee glanced up at that. "My assets?"

"Your training, your wit, your ankles." He waited for the explosion. "Not to mention, the possibilities for ganging up on you have just expanded." Gibbs smacked Tony across the back of the head. McGee winced. It looked harder than it was, obviously.

"Be good," Gibbs ordered.

"You take away all my fun, boss," Tony whined. He was signing automatically now. "Send Kate that website, MIT," he signed to McGee.

"If you want to know, learn," Gibbs said to Kate. Her email pinged and McGee sent Tony a thumbs-up.

"Tony, since we're not getting that divorce, you want a ring?" Gibbs signed. McGee stared for a moment, then decided he didn't want to know. Besides, there was a new crypto program he had to figure out how to convince Gibbs to let him buy.


Tony's POV McGee's POV Gibbs' POV Abby's POV Ducky's POV - coming soon NCIS Index