Tim McGee sat next to the hospital bed, reading and waiting for the bed's current resident to make an appearance into reality. The figure in the bed stirred and rolled over. McGee put down his book and got his first glimpse of Tony's face since he'd been moved to a private room. McGee hissed in sympathy as he saw the bruises forming on Tony's face.
"Damn, Dinozzo, you busted yourself up something shocking."
When Tony didn't respond, McGee sat back and shook his head. When Tony did wake up, there would be countless people poking him and prodding him and countless more claiming to know 'exactly how he felt'. But for the most part, they would have no idea. Timothy McGee did though; he was one of the few people who could truthfully claim that he knew exactly how Tony was feeling. You see, although the doctors wouldn't say it until they had finished running tests, McGee was almost positive that he knew what was wrong with Tony. Epilepsy. McGee knew because he had it as well, not that he'd ever told anyone.
He'd found out when he was sixteen. Just 3 days after he'd gotten his learner's license. It still scared the crap out of him. The fact that he could remember everything from what colour underwear he was wearing at the time to the number plate of his car (blue silk boxers and WLR335, for those of you playing at home), but he couldn't remember where that damn bus came from. Hell, he couldn't even remember the bus. Tim frowned as unwanted memories assaulted him.
"Mom, PLEASE, can I take the car? Please? Please?" sixteen-year-old Timothy McGee begged.
He laughed and pleaded, half-bouncing and half-running in hyperactive circles around his mother. He'd had his license for three whole DAYS, and they still hadn't let him use the car yet. HIS car. Quite possibly the most beautiful thing without a heartbeat on this earth. And they wouldn't let him use it yet. It was unfair, it was unjust, it was unbelievable, it was un... well it just sucked.
Tim's mother gave him a mock glare, "Fine, fine, okay. Just be careful, remember…"
"… I'm only a learner. I know, mom" Tim finished, before racing through the house, snatching the keys off the hallstand and tearing through the front door.
Tim couldn't wipe the smile off his face, he was driving. Driving. Him. With the windows wound right down and the radio turned right up, he looked just like any other teenage driver.
Without warning, and for no apparent reason, Tim began to blink rapidly, the world around him going in and out of focus. Tim fought to keep his eyes open, this was weird. Then it stopped. Just like that. Worried, Tim pulled over and shook his head. He rubbed his eyes and then stopped, looking at his hands in shock. They were shaking, twitching uncontrollably, as though an electric current was running through them. He clenched them fiercely, waiting for the tremors to pass. When his hands stopped shaking, Tim took a deep breath and started his car back up.
"Well, that was officially weird", Tim said to himself as he pulled back onto the road.
He turned the car around and began heading home. He drove through the city, making the familiar turns at the 7-Eleven, then again at the department store. Suddenly the rapid blinking began again. The world began to slide in and out of focus. What was he doing? There was something… driving! Groggily, Tim drew himself together. He had to just keep driving, and then everything would be fine. With a growl, Tim wrenched his eyes back down to the road.
"Nearly home, just hang on", he told himself.
For no reason whatsoever, and scaring him half to death, Tim's head whipped violently to the left. He yanked it forwards again, his mouth dropping open in horror. Around him, the world began to slide out of focus as once again his head was flung to the left against his will. His hands started to twitch again and he whimpered in fear as the car started to drift across the road. Fighting the entire time, Tim felt his head turn forcefully to the left again. Then to his horror, his teeth clenched and his head began to whip back and forth. God it hurt, but there was nothing he could do. His eyes rolled back in his head, he could hear the world around him. Then even that faded and there was nothing.
He woke up in hospital. Bruised, broken, sore and utterly bewildered. What had happened? He'd been driving, was on his way home, had turned at the 7-Eleven and the department store… then…… hospital. It didn't make sense.
The next four months went by in a pain-filled, white-washed, antiseptic-smelling blur for Tim. But he did find out what had happened. He'd had a seizure and driven his car into a city bus. He was epileptic and lucky to be alive. Funny, he didn't feel so goddamn lucky!
McGee shook his head, trying to rid himself of the unwanted memories. The first 3 or 4 months after he was diagnosed was still a sore spot for him. He'd slid into a horrible, fear-induced depression, afraid to leave the house in case he had another seizure, afraid to tell people in case they thought he was a freak. He scowled to himself and forcibly shoved the memories into a back corner of his mind. He picked up his book and resumed reading, if Tony felt anything like he did after a seizure; he wouldn't be sailing on the good ship Reality for a while yet.
Tim began to fidget; he was bored with a capital B. There was only so long you could sit in a hospital chair and read silently. Even though Tony was his friend, even though he wanted to be there when he woke up to let him know he had a kindred spirit in Tim. Kindred spirit? Where the hell did that come from? Tim snorted with laughter and made a mental note to stop watching Oprah on his days off. He stiffly eased himself out of the chair, wincing as his joints cracked and popped. He walked over to the door, holding an internal debate about whether starvation or death-by-hospital-cafeteria-food was the nicest way to die.
Making up his mind that he would at least get a coffee from the cafeteria, he headed down the hall. Tim knew these halls like the back of his hand. Out of Tony's room, turn left, down the hall, turn right at the vending machine, then left at the nurse's station and take the elevator down to level 2. Tim turned right at the vending machine and froze in the middle of the hallway. Standing at the nurse's station were Kate, Ducky and Abby. But giving poor Alice (Tim knew almost everyone in the neurology ward by name) hell was Special Agent Leroy Jethro "Second-B-Is-For-Bastard" Gibbs.
"Oh no, no, no, no, no. This is not happening." Tim muttered under his breath, "OK, Tim, no biggie, what's the worst that could happen? You can't be fired coz you're epileptic. Hey, he doesn't even know you're epileptic, you could… No. Gotta tell him. OK, here goes."
Tim took a deep breath and carried on walking down the hall. Abby noticed him first and gave him a wave. He smiled weakly and waved back, then focused his attention on his boss.
"Uh Boss…" he began.
There was no answer, Gibbs just carried on giving Alice a hard time.
"Boss…" he said again, a bit louder.
Alice shot him a desperate look as Gibbs' ranting reached a crescendo.
"BOSS!" he yelled.
Gibbs whirled around and fixed him with a glare. Ooh boy, if looks could kill, then there would have been a mummified Timothy McGee standing in front of him right about then.
"What now, McGee?" Gibbs barked, giving him the scowl that had sent many a bureaucrat running screaming in the opposite direction.
Oh, damn, this was a conversation he REALLY didn't want to have.