A couple of days later, Gibbs went to the group home to see Tim. After speaking with Penny, he'd decided to wait a couple of days before going back to see the boy. Penny had said he hadn't handled the truth very well, not that Gibbs really expected him to. No one handled learning that your parents weren't really your parents well, let alone a fourteen-year-old boy who was borderline abused.
Tim was led into the room a second later by one of the caretakers. As soon as he walked into the room, he started avoiding Gibbs' gaze. He wasn't sure what to say to the man or how to act around him anymore. He wasn't just some guy that came to see him anymore.
"Hey, kid," Gibbs greeted.
"Hi," Tim said while looking down at his feet.
"You wanna sit down?" Gibbs asked.
Tim didn't answer. He just went over to the couch and sat.
Gibbs immediately went and sat down next to the boy. They sat in silence for several moments before Gibbs finally decided to break it. "It's been a weird couple of days for you, huh? It can't be easy to find out that the people you love as your family aren't technically your family."
"I…It's not fair," Tim said. He knew it wasn't a very grown up thing to say, but it was all he could think of at the moment. His whole world had been turned upside down and it was just… unfair.
"No, it's not. Life rarely is, but you've really been dealt a bad hand, and it doesn't hope to get any better in the foreseeable future," Gibbs said. He hoped that at some point, Tim would realize he was better off without the McGees, but he didn't expect that to happen anytime soon.
"Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?" Tim asked. He felt like he must of done something to the universe to warrant something like this happening. He knew that didn't make sense, but then again, none of this really did.
For a second, Gibbs felt like he was listening to himself talk. He'd asked himself that very question over and over again since Shannon and Kelly had been killed. He couldn't understand why he had to lose them like that. "You didn't do anything. I know it seems like you must have for something like this to happen, but sometimes bad things just happen. We just have to learn how to live with them.
"I don't want to. I wanna forget this happened. I wanna go back to last week. Things were better then," Tim said. It was hard to believe, but things were better. Yes, he lived in a house where he felt like an outcast and he was pretty sure his parents only tolerated his presence because they had to, but at least he knew who he was and he didn't have to face the prospect of living with strangers.
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure it seems that way. You just got hit with a really big blow and it feels like nothing's ever going to be okay again. But it will be. You'll be okay, Tim. You'll get through this.
Tim looked at Gibbs for the first time. "Penny says you want me to live with you."
"That's true," Gibbs said.
"I don't wanna live with you. I'm sorry," Tim said. He didn't wanna hurt the man, but he didn't wanna live with him. He wanted to go home with his sister and his parents. He loved his Sarah more than anything and he loved his parents too, even if he was sure they didn't love him back.
Gibbs waved off the apology. "Not like I expected you to jump for joy at the idea. I'd be more concerned if you did wanna live with me. I'm still just a little more than a stranger to you. You don't know me. All you really do know is that I set all this in motion."
Tim looked at him surprised. "I…I didn't know that. You started this? Why?" he asked somewhat upset that Gibbs had been the one to turn his life upside down.
"Because my wife, your mother, asked me to. She spent most of her life looking for you. She wanted to see you and know that you were okay, and if she couldn't see that for herself, she wanted me to do it. So I did. I set out to find her son," Gibbs explained.
"Well, then can't you just say that it's okay for me to stay with my parents. I can go home with them and everything will get back to normal," Tim said with desperation in his voice.
"No, I can't and I wouldn't if I could," Gibbs said. He wasn't going to lie to the kid. He wouldn't tell him that he would be okay with sending him back to the McGees because he would never be okay with that. He would fight like hell to keep this boy as far away from John McGee as possible. "I know you love your parents, Tim. I know you wanna go home with them and have everything go back to the way it was. But somewhere inside of you, you've gotta know that the way they treat you isn't right. It's not right for them to make you think you're weak or abnormal."
Tim looked away. "But I am."
"No," Gibbs said firmly before using his index finger to lift Tim's head up so that he was looking at him again. "They're the ones that aren't normal. It's not normal to treat your son like that. There are all different kinds of people. Not everybody is athletic or popular, just like not everybody is smart. But when you have a child, you're supposed to love him or her for who they are. You're not supposed to try to turn them into something they're not or tear them down for not being how you want them to be. That's what the McGees do to you and it's not right. What's worse is that they've got you so turned around that you believe what they say about you."
"They're my par… Well, I guess they're not my parents, but I love them. I wanna be with them," Tim said in despair.
"I know, and that's what makes it all the more sad. I'm sorry, Tim, but I can't let that happen. I won't let these people destroy you anymore than they already have," Gibbs said.
Tim felt tears threaten to fall. Before they could, he stood up and started to leave the room.
Gibbs didn't try to stop him. He knew that the kid was really upset and needed to be alone to deal with things. So he let him go.