A/N: Oneshot. Warning: Death of major character! This is fairly depressing, and I'm not kidding. Still, I hope that you can see something...slightly uplifting about it.
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS for which I'm sure that most people are grateful...except me. I'm not happy about it. :)
Thanks from Death
by Enthusiastic Fish
"Tony, do it! For once in your life, listen to me!"
Tony looked over at the empty desk. Another space to fill. Another hole. Another hole that could never ever be filled...not completely. A few tears slipped down his cheeks. He couldn't be bothered to wipe them away. It was the least he could do after all that had happened. It was hard enough just being here, but he felt that it was where he needed to be.
He looked over at the other desk, the occupant also crying, perhaps the first unsuppressed tears he'd ever seen on her cheeks.
"I cannot believe he is gone." More tears, unabashed, reddening her eyes.
"I can't either. Is anyone else here today?"
Ziva wiped the tears away, but more replaced them. "They are...here and there. I did not even get to say good-bye."
A few more tears escaped from Tony's eyes. "I did. It doesn't make it any easier."
"I could have thanked him...for saving us."
"He knew that already. That was his job. It's what he did."
Ziva tried to smile and couldn't. "When is the funeral?"
"I don't know. I'm sure they'll tell us." The elevator doors opened again. "Boss...is Ducky...?"
"He's done," Gibbs said. No tears, but a tremor in his voice that had been missing before.
"Any chance that..."
"No. No chance."
Tony just nodded. He had known there was no chance. He had been there, talked to Tim as he died, but he had to ask. A muffled sob came from the empty desk and Gibbs walked over to it.
"Abby, come out from under there."
"Come out, Abby." Gibbs knelt down and extended his hand. A rumpled and mascara-streaked Abby appeared from beneath the empty desk.
"He's gone, Gibbs."
"I know, Abbs."
"He...he was...just here. Just yesterday."
"I know." Gibbs held her tightly.
Again, the elevator dinged and the doors opened.
"He's finished. It's...it's definitely Timothy."
Abby let out a fresh wail. More silent tears escaped from Tony and Ziva. Even Gibbs' eyes were suspiciously wet.
Night came and one by one the mourners left...until it was only Tony and Ziva once more. Tony looked at the empty desk again, remembering...
"Get down! Get down! I'll distract them!"
"Wait! Probie, no!"
"Tony, do it! For once in your life, listen to me!" Tim slammed the car door shut and gunned the engine, forcing Tony to pull Ziva's unconscious body behind the dumpster. He didn't see the moment of impact...but he heard it, the squealing tires, the crunching metal, heard the awful silence that followed.
"Tony...I got 'em."
Tim just smiled. "I know it's too late, Tony. It was too late from the beginning."
"No, Tim...we'll get you out."
"No," Tim sighed, his head lolling back. "There's probably a gas leak. I'm wedged. You won't get me out...and it's too late anyway."
"No, Tim. We can do it."
"Not this time," Tim said, a few tears belying his brave words. "Is Ziva all right?"
"Yeah, she'll be fine."
"I think..." Tim laughed, winced and then laughed again. "I think...I might have loved her, Tony. It's too bad I can't tell her now...that I can't find out for sure."
"Do you want me to?"
"No. Not when it's too late. It will hurt more than it will help." Tim's breath rattled in his throat.
"Please, McGee, don't make me leave you behind."
Tim forced out another laugh. "You're not. I'm leaving you."
"What do you mean?"
Tim looked out the shattered windshield. "Can't you see it, Tony?" A beatific smile lit up his face. "Can't you see her?"
"Whom, Tony. Whom. It's the direct object, the accusative form," Tim said and laughed again. "We'll keep the light on for you."
Tim turned his face away from the vision only he could see and smiled at Tony. He was happy. "Kate...Kate and I will be there, waiting." Then, another rattling breath and he was still.
Five minutes later, the car exploded, the heat washing over Tony and Ziva, but he didn't feel anything. He was just cold.
"He saw Kate, you know," Tony said. "Right before he died. He said he'd wait."
"Did he...say anything else?" Ziva asked.
Tony laughed painfully. "He corrected my grammar." He hesitated. "...and he said that..."
"...that he might have loved you."
Ziva began to cry. "I cannot believe that he is dead."
Suddenly, there was a beep on both their emails.
"Do you have an email from Abby?"
They both opened them.
Tim told me that if anything ever happened to him I should send these to you all. He wrote a good-bye to each of you.
Tony looked over at Ziva and then opened the attachment.
You know what bugs me most about you? How good you are at everything. Even when you drove me nuts, you still managed to teach me. Thanks for that. I'm not much good at being heartwarming and comforting when people die...not even when it's me that's dead. I just wanted to be able to finally say thanks without you turning it into a joke. Thanks for being there for me. Thanks for annoying me. Thanks for teaching me what I needed to know. I needed that.
Ziva opened hers at the same time.
I wanted to tell you so many times when I was alive, but I'm such a wuss. I think you are the most beautiful woman in the world. I have come so close to saying it, to asking you out, to doing all the things that McGregor did in Rock Hollow, which you probably won't have read yet because it's still being proofed. At least you can't kill me for it since I'm already dead. You are beautiful from the inside out. Your parents may have raised a killer, but you raised yourself to be an amazing person.
Tony and Ziva looked at each other, and by silent agreement, they turned off their computers and walked out of NCIS, arms around each other.
Across the city that night, letters arrived in inboxes...except for one. It arrived two days later in the mail...the sender knowing that the receiver would miss it otherwise.
Abby remembered when Tim had sent her all of them. He had begged her to promise him that she would get them to their intended recipients. She had agreed only reluctantly, the task seeming to be too morbid. She looked at her letter one last time before turning out the lights and sobbing herself to sleep.
I loved you from the first moment I set eyes on you, but I realized last year that what we have now is better than a relationship. It's a friendship and I wouldn't have traded it for the world. I still love you, but in a different way. I won't ask you not to change, but I hope that you still are the same woman at your core that you have been in the time I was privileged to know you. You are a wonder, Abby.
There were other letters received, each message carefully written for the receiver.
Ducky, I'm sorry I didn't listen to more of your stories. You remind me of my father. You know everything there is to know about everything. I never had a chance to know my grandparents, but I think my grandfather was probably like you...not that you're old...oh, who am I kidding. I'm dead. It doesn't matter what I think. You're like my grandfather, Ducky. I hope that doesn't bother you. Thanks for understanding me and for not judging me for my weakness. Timothy
I'm sorry I didn't listen to more of your stories. You remind me of my father. You know everything there is to know about everything. I never had a chance to know my grandparents, but I think my grandfather was probably like you...not that you're old...oh, who am I kidding. I'm dead. It doesn't matter what I think. You're like my grandfather, Ducky. I hope that doesn't bother you. Thanks for understanding me and for not judging me for my weakness.
It wasn't recounting memories. It was saying thanks.
Jimmy, You'll probably never forgive me for the way I wrote my book, but I promise you (and I'm dead...I'm not lying) that only the name was similar. The character was not. You'll make a terrific doctor...or you could even give Ducky a run for his money if you wanted to. Thanks for...being you. We never knew each other as well as we should have. I guess that will have to wait. Tim
You'll probably never forgive me for the way I wrote my book, but I promise you (and I'm dead...I'm not lying) that only the name was similar. The character was not. You'll make a terrific doctor...or you could even give Ducky a run for his money if you wanted to. Thanks for...being you. We never knew each other as well as we should have. I guess that will have to wait.
Most of them couldn't really understand why Tim would have taken this precaution...at least not out front. But...in a way, it was fitting. Tim was always prepared, even for death.
Director Shephard, We never knew each other outside of our respective positions. That's something I do regret a bit. I really only saw you when I messed up. You treated me right, though. Gibbs would never agree, and I wouldn't have at the time, but looking back, I needed it. Thank you. Agent McGee
We never knew each other outside of our respective positions. That's something I do regret a bit. I really only saw you when I messed up. You treated me right, though. Gibbs would never agree, and I wouldn't have at the time, but looking back, I needed it. Thank you.
Finally, two days later, the day of Tim's funeral, Gibbs checked his mailbox just before leaving. There was a letter there. It looked suspiciously like it had been typed on a manual typewriter, perhaps a Remington.
I don't even know how to address you when I'm dead. I hope you don't mind my assumption that you'd be more likely to receive this letter via snail mail. You'll get it later, but at least you'll get it. Thanks so much. I became...better than I was because of my time spent on your team. I'm not saying you're perfect. I know you're not. No one is, but I know also that I learned a lot about, not just my job, but about life and living from you. So, thanks for the headslaps, the death glares and every time you cut me off in the middle of a long-winded computer-related explanation. You probably gave me at least 100 more hours of life just by doing that. I know that you will hate the idea of outliving anyone on your team...but it's okay, Boss. I've been ready, just in case, and if I died, it was doing what I loved to do. That's what matters.
Special Agent Timothy McGee
The letters couldn't stop the hurting; they couldn't stop the pain, but over time, they eased it a little and they made it possible for those closest to him to move on, to welcome the cocksure new agent into their midst who was nothing like Tim, but who reminded them of him just the same.
Life went on...and Tim, true to his word, waited for them to join him.