Chapter 29

Tim limped into his apartment. The fingerprint dust was still evident. He'd have to clean everything. Sarah had wanted to stay with him, but he had insisted that he needed some time alone. It was true. He needed to think and that was best done in solitude. He dropped his bag in his bedroom and made a beeline for his typewriter. He sat down and flipped on the jazz music Tony so loathed. The record had been there since the day of the accident. He'd forgotten to put it away. As the mellow notes filled the air, he sat back and thought. Rock Hollow had taken quite a few twists and turns in the last month. Agent MacGregor had been quite prominent in spite of Tim's best efforts to move him into the background. The crisis had reached its peak and MacGregor was at a standoff in the place he came to think. Tim pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and began to type.

MacGregor stood motionless facing the two men who had tried to take everything he loved away from him. He had gone rogue. No one knew where he was, and no one could get him out of this. If he killed them, he was a murderer. If he did not, he was letting them get away with murder. It was a Catch-22. "What would Tibbs do?" he thought to himself. There was no question. Tibbs would be the hero. But how that could be accomplished in this case, MacGregor didn't know. He would lose either way, his job or his life.

"Well, MacGregor? You have us where you want us. What now?"

"Now, you'll have to pay for what you did."

A condescending sneer marred the otherwise handsome face of the other killer. "Oh really? And who's going to make us do that? You?"

The gun shook in his hand, but MacGregor held firm. "I might only kill one of you, but it's your choice of which one." MacGregor didn't want to let them get away. He would rather die than do that, but he didn't know how he could do that without killing them.

Suddenly, the choice was taken from him as one of the men sprang at him in an attempt to get the gun. Tim --Tim stopped and struck out the name he'd just typed then continued-- MacGregor fired without thinking and the man dropped to the ground. The other took one step and then stopped as MacGregor turned the gun on him.

"Do you want to die as well?" he asked, trying to ignore the body lying in a spreading pool of blood. "I can help you with that." When the man stayed still, he directed him to lay face down in the dirt. As he watched over him, MacGregor pulled out his phone and called Tibbs. "Yes, it's me. I found them, Tibbs. Or rather they found me. I'm at Rock Hollow."

He waited patiently for Tibbs to come all the while watching the living and the dead. What would Tibbs say?

"You did what you had to, Tim --Again, Tim shook his head at the slip-- MacGregor," Tibbs said when he arrived. "There was nothing else you could do."

Tim was startled by a knock on his door. He looked back at his typewriter, at the page he had just typed. Was that worth keeping? He didn't know but left it there and walked to the door. He pulled it open.

"Boss! What-what are you doing here?"

Gibbs didn't answer. He stepped past Tim into the apartment.

"Come in," Tim said belatedly.

"How are you doing, McGee?" Gibbs asked.

Tim thought about it. "I'm not sure."

Gibbs looked over at the typewriter and registered the jazz wafting through the air.

"How much did you write?"

"What?"

Gibbs pointed at the typewriter.

Tim flushed. "I-It's probably not worth keeping. I was just getting some ideas down."

"What ideas?" Gibbs asked. Without waiting for an answer, he walked across the room and pulled out the sheet.

"Oh, Boss. It's really not worth reading," Tim protested and closed his eyes in embarrassment when Gibbs ignored him and began to read. This was infinitely worse than having Tony and Ziva read his draft. This was stream of consciousness. No one ever read it besides him, particularly not when there were so many ways for it to be taken badly. He opened his eyes and watched Gibbs read the words he had just written. It seemed to take him forever. After a couple of minutes, Gibbs looked up at Tim.

Tim felt that something was expected of him. He settled for asking, "Well?"

"You're right, McGee."

"I am?"

"There was nothing else you could have done." Gibbs handed the page to Tim who took it with nervous fingers. Gibbs walked by him and out the door. He paused and without turning around said, "See you tomorrow."

"Yes, Boss." Tim watched Gibbs walk down the stairs and then closed the door. He looked down at the page and reread the last words he had typed. He nodded, although still with some sadness. He had done what he had to. There was nothing else.