Going to Be Okay
Disclaimer: The NCIS characters mentioned below are not mine and no profit has been made in the writing or posting of this story.
Summary: The eyes themselves were dulled and deadened, the usual spark of interest and intrigue with the world, the excitement over figuring out life's many puzzles, blatantly absent. He would never admit it aloud, but that frightened him more than knowing where his agent was.
Spoilers: Set around 11x13 "Double Back"
Now that he could finally see his agent's face, he did not like what he saw. McGee looked even more exhausted than he himself felt, the dark bruises on his cheek and forehead from the blast almost matching the purple crescents under his eyes. The eyes themselves were dulled and deadened, the usual spark of interest and intrigue with the world, the excitement over figuring out life's many puzzles, blatantly absent. He would never admit it aloud, but that frightened him more than knowing where his agent was sitting.
He wordlessly tilted his head toward the hallway, gesturing McGee to follow him. The man in question sighed once again, getting up stiffly from the metal cot, walking on wooden legs to the cell door. The agent would not look his mentor in the eyes, staring at his black dress shoes dejectedly. McGee stopped when he reached the door, unsure what he was supposed to do. "Uh, Boss? What's…" the man paused, searching for the right words. "Uh…what happens now?"
He pushed himself upright using the portion of his arm braced against the horizontal metal bar, going over to the barred door of the cell and pushed against it lightly with one hand. The door put up little resistance, swinging open easily. Not locked, then.
He turned to leave, going back down the well lit hallway to the second desk. He could hear McGee behind him, following with dragged feet, shoes flopping against the linoleum floor. The occupants of the other holding cells were more alert as they made their way back then he previously had been, although they were blessedly silent as he walked his agent to the front. He was not in the mood for them.
The officer behind the desk was waiting for them, clear plastic bag presumably filled with McGee's personal belongings clasped in her hand. The officer held out the bag to McGee who promptly took it, unzipping it with his right hand as his left procured his confiscated shoe laces. There was a bench against the wall opposite of the desk, and McGee hobbled over to it to sit while he laced his dress shoes.
He watched his agent sink into the faux leather seat, slipping off his shoe to begin the process of lacing it. "The Admiral didn't press any charges," the officer reported, "so there's no bail. He just wanted your agent to cool down for a little bit."
He remained silent as he watched his agent finish tying the newly laced shoe before moving on to the other.
"He okay?" the officer asked. "Couldn't help notice the bruises. And his eyes. He's not zoned out enough to be high, but man. Nothing going on behind those eyes, yah know?"
"Yah, he'll be fine." Not a lie, but enough to subtlety tell the woman in front of him to stop asking questions.
Another man dressed in the Metro uniform approached from behind, carrying McGee's holstered gun. "Here's his gun," the man spoke unnecessarily as he handed him the weapon. He reached into his pocket and handed him McGee's switchblade without comment. "The badge and cell phone are in the bag. Think there was a scarf too."
He just gave a slight incline of his head to show that he had heard. McGee had since come up beside him, walking easier now that his shoes were fixed. He wordlessly handed his agent the gun and knife, watching with rapt attention as McGee secured the gun holster around his waist and tucked the blade back into his sock. McGee was quiet as he finished his tasks, the female officer breaking the silence by saying, "You're free to go."
McGee made no move to start walking, so he began the journey back to the front lobby, his agent trailing wordlessly behind. His headache was pulsating mercilessly across his forehead with each step he took, reverberations sounding across the linoleum floors matching the beating within his head. They stood in front of the locked doors, a buzzing noise signaling that the officers at the desk released the locking mechanism. They strode across the front lobby, people still milling around despite the late hour. The security guard from before gave them a one-handed wave as they passed, the only indication that someone had noticed their exit.
He pushed through the front door out into the night, the temperature having dropped slightly since he had first entered. He puffed out a sigh, watching his breath dissipate into the night sky, trying to figure out what to say to his agent. What really could be said at this point?
Figuring that whatever needed to be done would be better executed after a cup of coffee, he decided that it was time for the detour to the diner. He began to walk to the parking lot, not needing to turn around to know that McGee was following.
The car responded with a beep when he pressed the remote on his keychain to open the doors, the noise the only sound passing between them as he slid into the driver's seat and McGee took the front passenger's seat.
Usually McGee would fill silences with idle chatter, nerves making silences uncomfortable for him even after being on the team for ten years. The only time he was ever quiet was when he was studying his latest tech gadget during a case, enamored with the newest screen in front of him. He cast a sidelong glance at the younger man, but the gesture went unseen. McGee was resolutely staring out the window, watching the night's lights pass by in a kaleidoscope of blurred lines.
He pulled into his usual spot at the diner under the bridge, thankful that they provided around the clock service. He got out of the car without a word to McGee who made no move to continue being his shadow. Letting the door slam behind him, he walked the short distance to the diner's stairs.
Exiting with two cups of coffee that were steaming in the cool night air, he came back to the agency sedan, the lamps from the parking lot illuminating his agent still in the front passenger seat, unmoved since he had left. Going to the passenger door, he tapped on the window with one of the Styrofoam cups, wordlessly watching McGee startle at the noise, having not seen his boss return. He stared at him with those same deaden eyes as before, although this time his otherwise blank expression was drawn together in a slight frown of confusion.
He tapped the window again with the bottom edge of the cup, McGee finally understanding and rolling down his window. He wordlessly passed the beverage to the younger man, repositioning himself so that he was leaning against the small nook created where the side view mirror met the hood of the car after McGee took the offering with a slightly trembling hand.
He took a long sip of his coffee as he looked at the night sky, the light pollution still making it difficult to see the stars. The rumble from the cars passing overhead on the bridge was oddly captivating, rhythmic and soothing in an unexpected way. He took a deep breath, savoring the night air, before taking another sip of his coffee. He could feel his headache slightly abating, tension slowly loosening with each deep breath and sip of coffee.
"He came to visit her," McGee began, breaking the silence between them. He responded by taking another sip, letting his agent take the lead.
McGee huffed a laugh that lacked any joviality. "I get caught in an explosion, the destroyed front of NCIS was on every newspaper, on every news station. Get a piece of glass in my gut. Nothing. My girlfriend gets caught in an explosion and he drops everything to come see her." He paused to take a steadying breath, the Styrofoam crinkling as the agent unconsciously clenched his hand around the cup. "He's never met her. Hell, I've barely mentioned her to him."
He let the uncharacteristic curse go without comment, waiting for McGee to continue.
"I just went to get something from the vending machine. I only stepped out for a minute." He huffed out another humorless laugh. "I've been doing that a lot lately."
McGee was quiet after that declaration. He finished the last of his own coffee and debated whether or not to leave his spot against the hood to throw away his empty cup in the garbage can by the diner door. He was about to push himself up to a completely upright position when McGee began to speak again, in a pain-filled near whisper.
"She was crying when I got back. The doctor said she can't get upset. She's too weak for that right now. She was mumbling that she didn't want to hold me back, that I shouldn't feel obligated to stay."
He closed his eyes in realization, knowing how this story would end without McGee needing to finish. He might not need his agent to say the words, but McGee did, so he stayed silent, waiting for the story to continue.
"The nurses kicked us out after that, to let her rest. Dad wanted to know what my intentions are with Delilah." McGee rubbed a hand tiredly down his face. "I don't know what my intentions are. The only thing I want right now is for Delilah to get better."
He paused, deep in reflection. "He wasn't there when she was pulled out from the rubble. He wasn't there when she was loaded into the ambulance or needed to be taken back in for emergency surgery. He wasn't there when the doctor told her she's…" his voice cracked, filled with emotion. "I can't think that far ahead right now."
Neither was I, a voice silently told him. But I am here now.
McGee took a moment to compose himself, shaky breaths interspersed with audible sips of coffee. He was about to prod his agent to continue when McGee began to speak on his own.
"Dad wants me to break it off." He laughed, but there was a note of hysteria behind the fake mirth. "He's never been interested in my job at NCIS, never thought being a 'paper pusher' was good enough for me. Now he's got it in his head that I can be director someday, that Director Vance is grooming me to take over. But I have to stay focused, I can't throw that all away because I feel obligated to stay with her. Cut my losses, is what he said."
The sweet face visage of a woman flitted across his mind, her head tilted to the side confidently when she looked up at him. Images of secretly shared glances between his agent and the woman when they thought no one was looking and the faint smile Tim got when listening to one of the messages she would leave on his cell when they were working late overtook his mind's eye. Anger, red hit, molten rage consumed him, his hand crushing the empty Styrofoam cup.
He came back to himself when McGee began to speak once more. "After that…well, I guess you know what happened then."
"You hit him," he stated, realizing that it was the first words he had spoken to his agent all night.
"He had security call Metro, who took me down to the station." He groaned, having come to a realization. "Is this on my record now? The incident report will have made it to Vance by morning, later today I guess it is now. I know I'll be suspended, but please Boss, let me work first. Let me find Parsa."
He could feel his agent's eyes on him, but resolutely kept his own gaze trained out on the blackness of night. "No charges, McGee."
He could McGee sink into his seat, disbelief escaping his lips in a puff. "That bastard."
Again, he did not comment on the uncharacteristic use of profanity. If there ever was a time for such words, he reasoned the current situation was appropriate.
He let the silence linger for a moment before asking with a blank face. "How'd it feel?"
"How'd what feel?" He could hear the confusion and tiredness in McGee's voice.
"Ya know." He mimicked a left hook in the air, his right hand firmly gripping the empty coffee cup, eyes shifting upwards and never leaving the bridge above head.
He could feel McGee's smile beside him. "Pretty good," his agent replied. "I've wanted to do that for a while."
He harrumphed in amusement. Throwing his eyes over to McGee and waiting until his agent met his gaze, he replied around a half grin, "So have I."
McGee's face broke into a large smile, deviousness sparking to life behind his eyes. Good. It was about time there was some life behind those eyes again. His own half grin remained etched on his face as he returned his focus back to the bridge. They were going to be okay.
a/n: Thank you so much for reading this story! It is always a joy to see all the people who enjoy a piece of mine from all over the world. A big THANK YOU! goes to all who let me know their thoughts through reviews and PMs. Those are much appreciated!
Until next time :)