AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Abigail Sciuto/Timothy McGee
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Abby and Tim's daughter is unwell and Abby gets a shock. She turns to Ducky who gently tells her some home truths, which leads Abby to revaluating things.
WORD COUNT: 3,605
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for birggitt: F - Flu (30/41)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"Evie honey, please, drink your juice," Abby said, brushing her daughter's hair off her face and trying not to show how concerned she was when she felt how hot Evie's forehead was.
"Don't like it," Evie said, turning her head away from Abby.
Abby looked at Tim who shrugged. "But it's your favorite, Evie," she said softly.
"No, it's not. No, it's not. Debbie knows what my favorite is. I want Debbie." Tears began to seep from Evie's eyes and Abby looked at Tim again; she felt completely helpless. "I want Debbie. Where's Debbie."
"It's Debbie's afternoon off, Evie. You have Mommy and Daddy."
"Don't want Mommy; want Debbie."
Again Abby and Tim looked at one another and Abby had to fight the tears that threatened to pour from her eyes as she heard her four year old daughter say she didn't want her. She was at a loss to know what to do. Evie had never been like this, she had never been a difficult or a demanding child, and even though she had been born so terribly prematurely that they had all feared she wouldn't live, she'd never been sick, at least not seriously sick.
"My legs hurt, Daddy," Evie said suddenly. "They hurt when I touch them. Make them stop. Debbie would make them stop hurting."
"I'm going to call Ducky," Abby said suddenly.
"Abby, maybe you should call Dr. Boardman instead," Tim said, catching Abby's arm as she was about to hurry out of the Evie's bedroom.
Abby shook her head. "I trust Ducky," was all she said.
When Ducky arrived Abby felt a twinge of guilt as she saw him get a cane from the back of his car and using it to help him walk he made his way slowly to the front door. His long ago damaged leg had been causing him more and more problems over the last year or so, but for him to resort to using a cane meant he really was suffering.
Abby hurried to open the front door. "I'm sorry, Ducky," he said, kissing his cheek and offering him her arm, which he accepted. "I shouldn't have called you. It's just that -"
"Nonsense, Abigail, who else would you call? Now where is my dear Evie?"
"She's in bed. She's terribly hot, she won't drink her juice and she says her legs hurt and feel heavy."
"It's not just her legs, she says her whole body hurts - she won't let me touch her, it hurts her too much. And," Tim said giving Abby a rueful look, "she's asking for Debbie again." Abby sighed as Tim turned to Ducky, "Hello, Ducky," he said, Abby saw him noticing the cane Ducky was leaning on. "I'm sorry we disturbed you."
"As I told Abigail you do not need to apologize, Timothy - we're family. Now you two stay here and I'll go and see the patient."
As Ducky went into Evie's room and closed the door Tim pulled Abby into his arms. "Abby," he said softly, "I know you don't want to hear this, but I really think we should call Debbie."
Abby stared at her husband. For a moment she wanted to disagree, wanted to say Evie would have to make do with her parents, but then she thought of Evie's tears, of how hot Evie was and how unlike it was her to complain or demand anything. "All right," she said, "I'll call her."
"Well," Ducky said, coming out of Evie's room. "I am fairly certainly your little girl has the flu."
Abby sighed with relief. "Oh, that's not too bad then, is it? I mean she'll be fine in a couple of days."
Ducky turned to her and sighed. "No, my dear Abigail, Evie will not be fine in a couple of days. Far too many people have no idea what flu actually is and how serious it can be. They feel unwell and experience a symptom or two they know is flu-like and so they take a day or two off of work, return and say 'I had the flu'. Or they spend a day in bed and email their friends or post to Face Book or wherever saying 'I've got the flu' - that's nonsense. If you have the flu you are not capable of emailing nor do you have any desire to email anyone, and you certainly do not get over it in a couple of days. Evie will be in bed for a least a week and it will take her the best part of another week to fully recover. I'm sorry, my dears," Ducky said leaning his stick against the wall and taking their hands. "I do not mean to lecture, but -"
At that moment the front door opened and Debbie hurried in. Abby turned to her. "I'm really sorry to have called you, Debbie, but Evie's asking for you, she's really unwell. Ducky thinks she has the flu."
"It's no trouble, Mrs. McGee," Debbie said, pulling off her coat and hanging it up. "Flu is horrible, but I've looked after children who've had it before, Dr. Mallard, so I know what to do."
Ducky eyed her. "Are we talking about children who have had true influenza or the modern day type?"
Debbie smiled. "Real, Doctor. Don't worry, I know what to do and the first thing is to make sure she drinks plenty of fluids."
Ducky beamed at her. "Oh, good, Evangelina will be in good hands."
"Oh, Debbie," Abby said quickly, telling herself that Ducky didn't mean that Evie wouldn't have been in good hands with her parents; she knew Ducky didn't mean that.
"Yes, Mrs. McGee?"
"Evie said she doesn't like orange juice I tried to give her. I thought that was her favorite."
Debbie flushed a little. "Um, it was, Mrs. McGee, until a few weeks ago when the manufacturers changed something. Her favorite is now blackcurrant and orange. I'm sorry, I . . . I'll go and see Evie," she said and hurried off into Evie's bedroom.
Abby stared after her. Had Debbie told her about Evie no longer liking orange juice? Had Evie told her? What else didn't she know about her daughter's likes and dislikes? What else didn't she know about her daughter? She looked at Tim. "Did you know Evie now likes blackcurrant and orange?"
Tim frowned and then said slowly. "You know what, Abby, Debbie did tell us, but we were both in a hurry; Gibbs had called us all in and we were running late. We'd planned to go shopping on the way home and Debbie asked us to get blackcurrant and orange juice instead of orange juice. We never did go shopping; we called Debbie later and asked if she'd be able to go."
Abby frowned. "Oh," she said softly. "I remember now."
They stood for a moment or two before Ducky said, "Well, my dears, I shall leave you. I'm sure Evie will make a full recovery, but do not worry if she seems to get a little worse before she gets better and don't expect her to bounce out of bed any time soon. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Stay and have a cup of tea, Ducky," Abby said, taking Ducky's hand.
"No, my dears. As you can no doubt see my leg is giving me more than a little trouble today so I wish to go home and rest it. I shall have a nice long, hot bath and then spend the evening sitting with it up. And no, you must not feel guilty for calling me to see Evie - I assure you I would have been very angry had you not done so. And you do not want to see me angry." He smiled at them both.
Impulsively Abby threw her arms around him. "Thank you, Ducky," she murmured as she hugged him tightly.
"Yes, thank you, Ducky," Tim said, bending down to pick Ducky's cane up, which he'd dropped when Abby had hugged him as she had.
"Thank you," Ducky took the cane from Tim. "Well, I won't say it was my pleasure because seeing dear Evangelina so unwell isn't a pleasure, but I was more than happy to give my advice. Now, I really must go and please try not to worry too much about Evie; influenza is very unpleasant and does drag on, but as we all know Evangelina McGee is a very resilient and determined little girl; she will be fine." He kissed Abby's cheek and squeezed Tim's hand before once more leaning heavily on his cane he made his way slowly back to his car.
"I can't believe I forgot my daughter's favorite drink," Abby said as they stood and waved as Ducky drove off.
Tim put her arm around her. "Don't worry too much about it, Abby. I forgot as well and I'm sure if she hadn't been feeling so unwell she would have drunk the orange juice, you know what a good little girl she is."
Abby sighed. "I know, but she didn't want me Tim; she wanted Debbie. She loves Debbie more than she loves me." And suddenly the tears she'd been fighting welled up and fell over her lashes.
Tim pulled her into his arms and kissed her head. "Of course she doesn't love Debbie more than she loves you, Abby. You're her Mommy; she loves you very much, you know she does. Look I remember once when I was sick when I was about five, I didn't want my mom, I wanted Penny. It didn't mean I loved her more than I loved Mom, I just wanted her. Children are like that when they're sick. Who did Evie draw her first picture for?"
"Me," Abby said her voice small.
"Well there you go then." He kissed her head again. "Now come on, let's go and see how our little girl is."
He handed her his handkerchief, resigned to the fact it would end up covered in Abby's make-up and once she'd dried her eyes and blown her nose they went into Evie's bedroom where they found her asleep.
"Sleep - it's nature's best medicine," Debbie said, as she folded some of Evie's clothes.
THE NEXT DAY
Abby and Tim drove to work in separate cars and as she drove Abby kept thinking back to Evie calling for Debbie and wanting Debbie more than she'd wanted her. She'd suggested staying at home that day to look after Evie, but Evie had shaken her head and told her she had Debbie and when Abby had tried to insist, Evie had flung herself into Debbie's arms and clung to her.
Once again Tim had told her it didn't mean anything, it didn't mean that Evie loved Debbie more all it meant that the sick little girl at that moment wanted Debbie. He'd even tried to make her laugh by saying at least it wasn't her uncle Tony she'd wanted. Abby had forced herself to smile at his words, but she still couldn't help being upset.
By mid-morning she'd done everything she needed to do. She'd already called home three times and had been reassured by Debbie that Evie was no worse and was spending most of her time sleeping.
However, she decided to call once more. Again Debbie reassured her that Evie was just as she'd been an hour before and Abby had been reassured. But then had made the mistake of asking Debbie if Evie had asked for her; Debbie's silence before she'd answered told Abby all she needed to know.
She hung up the phone and then pressed a button. "Autopsy."
"Hey, Ducky. Can I come and talk to you or are you busy?"
"I'm never too busy to talk to you, Abigail, you know that. Give me ten minutes and I'll put the kettle on and we can have a nice cup of tea."
"Hey, Duckman," Abby called as she hurried into Autopsy.
"Hello, Abby, tea is almost ready," Ducky said.
"How's your leg today, Ducky?" Abby leaned against one of the table and watched Ducky walk across the room. He was certainly moving more easily than the day before and wasn't using a cane, but his leg was clearly giving him more problems than a year ago, as his limp was much more pronounced.
"Better than it was yesterday, thank you." Ducky came back to with two mugs of tea and handed one to Abby. "Now, sit down and tell Ducky what the problem is."
"Where's Jimmy?" Abby asked as she pulled one of the stools towards the table. She didn't want to start to talk to Ducky only to be interrupted.
"Ah, he's helping Jethro with something."
"Oh, that's nice."
"Yes, I'm sure it will be," Ducky paused for a moment, "challenging for both of them, shall we say?" Ducky's eyes twinkled and Abby laughed for a moment her worries were forgotten. "Well, come along, Abigail, do tell me."
Abby sighed and told Ducky everything. "I didn't even know what her favorite drink was, Ducky," she finished with.
"Well, my dear, I may not have had children, but I do know that something like that it not all together unusual. Children change their minds overnight, one day they love carrots, the next they hate them; one day one child is their best friend, the next day they swear they'll never talk to the said child again. It really is quite impossible for parents to keep up."
Abby gave Ducky a half smile. "Thanks, Ducky," she said, "but this isn't the same. And it's not about the juice, not really, it's about Evie wanting Debbie and not me."
Ducky stared at her for a moment. He put his mug down and took Abby's hands. "Abigail my dear, do you want me to be quite honest with you?" Abby nodded. "Are you quite certain?"
"Very well. The simple fact is, my dear, that you cannot have it all - I'm sorry, but no matter what the books and magazines and your peers and everyone say, you cannot have it all. No one can. You are a working mother, you have a demanding job, a job that often requires you to work late or to drop everything and come to work. You work long hours, you work at weekends. How often is Evie in bed when you and Timothy get home?"
Abby swallowed hard. "Pretty much every night. But it wasn't like that with Benny and Tommy."
"No, I know, but all children are different and they did have one another."
"So you're saying I should give up work and be a stay at home mom?"
"Goodness me, no. I am not suggesting that at all, Abby. I know how much you love Benjamin, Thomas and Evangelina, but you are not the type of person to stay at home all day."
"I sometimes think I'd like to give it a go," Abby said softly. "Okay, so if I don't quit, what do I do? You said it, Ducky, the job's demanding. Gibbs calls, we answer. I can't just tell him I can't do the tests he wants me to do as I have to go home and get the children's tea, can I?"
"Well, no, but I am sure that Jethro would understand if you wished to reorganize your day somewhat."
Abby smiled a little. "I'm sure he would too, Ducky, but that's not practical; you know it; I know it and Gibbs'll know it."
"Well how about an assistant? I know your last experience with Chip didn't go well, but maybe . . ."
Abby shook her head. "You know me, Ducky, I can't let go." She sighed. "It wasn't just that Chip had an ulterior reason for being here, it's that I have to do everything myself. I wouldn't trust an assistant, no matter who it was. I'd redo anything they do - you know that."
Ducky patted her hand. "Yes, I'm afraid I do, Abby. It's your nature."
"So there's no other choice; I have to quit work and stay at home."
"Or," Ducky said slowly, "find another job, one that isn't so demanding, one where you would still be doing forensics or at least research, but one whereby you weren't working against the clock least a murderer strikes again."
Abby stared at him. "Duckman, what have you been up to?"
Ducky smiled. "I have a friend, his name is Dr. Addison, he runs a small research laboratory and one of his employees has to leave as her husband has been relocated. He asked me if I knew of anyone whom I thought might be suitable. The position is part-time - mornings only - and is basically a job share, but," he said raising his hand to silence Abby's objection, "you and the other person, another working mother, would have sole responsibility for your own projects. You would not have to pick up her work and she wouldn't have to pick up yours."
"But, Ducky, I'm a forensic scientist; I'm not a research assistant."
"No, but both jobs are really, when it comes down to it, puzzle solving; both require a focused mind; both require something able to think outside of the box and look at things in different ways; both require a level of stubbornness and determination. The main difference is that no one's life is in danger if you don't finish something by noon - it can wait until the next day."
"I don't know," Abby said. "Surely your friend will have plenty of properly qualified people apply?"
"Henry regards the people with whom he works as family, rather like here and he would rather have a new member of the team whose experience was maybe not exactly for what they were looking, but who would fit in. A person who was passionate and who was dedicated and determined, something who didn't give up, someone who loved science, someone who loved a challenge, someone who loved solving puzzles. Does that remind you of anyone, Abigail?"
"I'd miss you, Ducky. All of you."
"We'd still see one another, you know that."
"Well, yes, but . . ." Abby trailed off
"Ah, may I be indelicate for a moment?"
Abby smiled. "Ducky, I don't think you could ever be indelicate."
He flushed a little. "Is it a question of money?"
Abby shook her head quickly. "No, not at all. Thanks to your help with buying the house and the college funds you've insisted on setting up for Benny, Tommy and Evie, money isn't a problem. And you know how grateful Tim and I are, don't you, Ducky? I sometimes think we've never thanked you properly."
Ducky patted her hand. "You have, Abby, more than 'properly' and as I told you at the time, I do not have children and thus will never have grandchildren you, Timothy, Ziva, Anthony and Jimmy are my family. When Jimmy and Breena finally have the children they so desperately want, I shall set up the same college funds as I will do should dear Ziva and Anthony have children."
"You're assuming Tony ever finds one woman who'll be prepared to put up with him for life?"
They both laughed for a moment and then Abby said, "You helped Jimmy with his medical school fees, didn't you?"
Ducky nodded. "Yes, my dear. I did. And I was very happy to do so, just as I was happy to help you and Timothy when you discovered you were expecting twins. So if it isn't money that is the problem, what may I ask is it?"
Abby gave him a rueful look. "What if I'm not good enough? What if I . . . What if I let you down, Ducky?"
Ducky frowned a little. "Now, Abigail, this is very unlike you, very unlike you indeed. You would not, you could not, let me down - so stop that foolish notion immediately."
"Sorry, Ducky," Abby said suddenly feeling foolish. "It's just that with Evie . . ." she trailed off and shrugged.
"I understand." Ducky squeezed her hand. "Why do you not talk it over with Timothy tonight and then let me know tomorrow or the day after if you would like me to call Henry?"
She thought for a moment then smiled and nodded. "Yes, Ducky. I'll do that. And thank you - again." She leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead.
LATER THAT NIGHT
"So, Timmy, what do you think?"
"What do you think, Abby?" Tim said firmly.
She paused for a moment, thought about her lab at NCIS; thought about Gibbs, Ducky, Tony, Ziva and Jimmy and then she thought about Evie and Tommy and Benny. "I think I'd like to meet Dr. Addison," she said slowly. "No," she said as Tim opened his mouth, "I don't just think I want to meet Dr. Addison; I know I want to meet him, Tim. Ducky was right, I can't have it all. No one can. And this would be the ideal solution - for us all."
"Even for Debbie?"
Abby nodded. "She told me a week or two ago that she'd love to do some more studying, but wouldn't have the time. If I only worked during the mornings, she would have the time. So," she said, "I'll ask you again - what do you think?"
"I think it's a wonderful idea, Abby. I really, really do."
She smiled. "Do you, Timmy? Do you really?"
He pulled her towards him and kissed her. "Yes, Abby, I really do."