I DO NOT OWN NCIS OR ANY OF ITS CHARACTERS!
DANIEL, MY BROTHER
Tim had struggled emotionally with what happened to Delilah. Not for the reasons everyone had assumed, but it was something none of them could've guessed. He was never the most forthcoming about his family. There were too many dark secrets he kept hidden.
It had become a little more apparent why he didn't talk to them about his past. His wasn't the white picket fence upbringing they all seemed to think he had. When they met his father and heard how he'd treated his family it was embarrassing, but they still stood by him.
Now seeing the woman he loved dealing with her paralysis he was reminded of his brother. He hadn't thought of Daniel in a long time. That alone made him feel like the worst brother ever, so he couldn't bring himself to talk about him. Not to Delilah. Not to Tony, nor Palmer, not even Ducky. Abby might have understood, but she was discovering her own family secrets and he didn't want to add his own to it.
When he realized he was hurting his girlfriend by distancing himself from her to avoid his long hidden guilt, he turned to the one man he could talk to, uninterrupted and know he wouldn't be judged.
Gibbs had shown up at the hospital as Delilah's parents were spending some private time with her. Before he could make his exit, Tim asked him if he would sit with him for awhile.
At first they sat in silence, until Tim worked up the courage to make use of the opportunity to bare his soul. While he sat staring straight ahead he began, "I wasn't avoiding her you know?"
Gibbs was curious what Tim was trying to tell him. He'd watched his agent struggle with the news that Delilah may never walk again. He hadn't been sure if it was the prognosis or Tim's sense of responsibility for not being fast enough to save her from the attack that caused it or even that he wasn't by her side, perhaps to suffer the same fate. Tim loved Delilah, so Gibbs didn't doubt he'd eventually get back to her.
Hearing him deny his avoidance didn't gibe with what he appeared to be doing.
Realizing he needed to clarify things Tim began his story. "I had a younger brother, before Sarah was born. His name was Daniel."
Gibbs silently stared at the younger man. He could see the distant pain in his eyes and he wanted nothing more than to erase it. He hoped it would be alleviated by letting Tim tell his tale.
"Daniel was two years younger than me. He was the son my father had always wanted. He was the athlete, the on gung-ho about joining the Navy when he was old enough.
"When we were 10 and 8 we went out on a hike. I was leading the way on a trail I frequently used. Daniel was too excited to walk behind me, even though I warned him that there were spots that were treacherous. He just laughed and told me I was being worse than our mom.
"He ran ahead. I yelled for him to stop and wait up for me, but he just kept going. I was getting angry, until I heard him scream. I'd never heard anything like it before, or since."
Gibbs found himself putting a reassuring hand on Tim's shoulder. Despite there was nothing to change what happened in the past, he felt Tim needed to know he had someone there.
"By the time I found where he'd fallen, he was quiet. He had rounded a blind turn that led to nowhere, but down. There was a lot of underbrush and it was hard to see him. I called down to him and his voice called back quietly. He told me he was fine, nothing hurt but his legs must've been stuck under something because he couldn't move them.
"It wasn't until the rangers came to bring him up that I caught a glimpse of his body twisted in a way even I knew wasn't good.
"Seeing my parents crying at the hospital was too hard for me to watch. When I went to move away from them my father stopped me and asked how I could let it happen. I tried to tell him it wasn't my fault, but he insisted I should've been watching him better.
"When the doctor informed them that Daniel would never walk again my father nearly killed me with just his glare. The guilt settled in. I wanted to be mad at my brother, but I kept replaying all the different ways I could've stopped him from going off that ledge.
"He was in the hospital bed for two weeks before pneumonia set in his lungs. From there his body just began to shut down. I wondered if Daniel couldn't stand the thought of living and being unable to achieve all his dreams and let himself die.
"It was almost a year later that mom got pregnant with Sarah. I didn't want to think of her as a replacement for Daniel. Being a girl she probably ended any possibility that they would try to make her like him. I think that's when dad started spending less time with us.
"You see Gibbs," Tim suddenly turned toward the older agent acknowledging his presence. "It wasn't Delilah I was avoiding, not even her condition. It was the memory of my brother and I guess the guilt I felt for both of them, even if I know in my mind neither were my fault.
"Delilah is stronger than Daniel and I know she'll be okay. I'm going to be here for her through it all."
Gibbs gave a sad smile, but nodded his approval of Tim's dedication. "She's a lucky girl, Tim. I think she knows that she has you and that will be a great help as she moves forward."
Tim nodded. "Thanks Boss," he gave Gibbs a grateful smile. Taking a deep breath he stood and began walking back to Delilah's room. He entered her room and walked to stand next to her parents.
"Hey Tim," she smiled at him.
He smiled back. One day, he would share his brother's story but not until he had her home again.