Epilogue: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Two Days Later

"Ducky said you might be able to hear us," Tony said as he walked around McGee's hospital bed and fiddled with the edge of one of the get well cards. "So I better not go telling you any of my deep dark secrets. I don't need you waking up and blackmailing me."

McGee didn't reply.

"Nah," Tony continued, walking back around to the chair next to his bed. He didn't sit down. "You wouldn't blackmail me. Zee-vah, sure, but not Probie."

Tony paused and ran his hand along the back of the chair. His wrist was still bandaged, though it didn't hurt like it had two days before.

"But I'm still not telling you my deepest dark secrets," Tony finished. "For all I know, you could use them in your next book!"

He walked another round of McGee's bed before sitting down on the chair. He sighed and said, "I'm sorry this happened, Probie."

"You shouldn't be," he wanted McGee to wake up and say; knowing Probie probably would wake up and say that. But Tony knew it wasn't true, so really, it was no big loss.

"Yeah, yeah, I wouldn't try and absolve me either," Tony muttered when McGee didn't reply. "I really messed up royally. I'm probably the biggest idiot on earth."

The investigation had cleared Tony (and Ziva) of any wrongdoing on his behalf. His life had been threatened, it concluded, and Agent DiNozzo had acted accordingly. Tony had wanted to laugh when he read the report. If only they knew.

"I don't even know what I was thinking," Tony said after awhile. "I still don't."

Tony paused and glanced away. He felt guilty, extremely guilty. It just wasn't McGee's assault; it was a combination of that, Hayes' death and Ziva's cover-up. He couldn't even start to understand what Ziva was thinking when she decided tampering with the crime scene was a good idea.

Not that he was any less guilty. He had let Ziva do it, helped her, even when deep down he knew it was a bad idea. It made it worse, in his eyes. Worse than Ziva's attempt to help . . . he had done nothing to stop it and now he was regretting doing it. Any of it.

Hayes had been right. He had been too gutless to stand up to Ziva and tell her that it wasn't a good idea. Granted, he was in shock, but still. If they were found out, their careers would be over and quite possibly their freedom.

Tony laughed humourlessly as he wondered if someone might visit him in prison. It's not like he had anyone to visit him. And it would just be a matter of time, he believed, before they were found out. Ziva had told him to stop being so paranoid, but not everyone could be a Mossad spy.

He knew Gibbs knew something was up. Tony wasn't that dumb; he'd caught the looks Gibbs had been sending him and Ziva for the past two days. Thankfully, Gibbs hadn't called them on it, but Tony wondered if he already knew and would never call them on it. His team was already shattered enough as it was. He didn't need to send two agents to jail for a stupid mistake.

"Hah, stupid mistake, yeah right," Tony muttered darkly. "Some mistake. Ziva knew exactly what she was doing. So did I, deep down."

"I should never have let it happen," Tony said. "Any of it. I shouldn't have let you get attacked. I shouldn't have shot Hayes. I shouldn't have let Ziva tamper with evidence . . . It's just a huge mess."

Tony blushed as he said, "It's just . . . I was so angry. When Hayes was talking about you, all I could see was you on the floor in your apartment. I just couldn't stop thinking about the blood . . . God, I didn't think anyone could bleed that much . . ." Tony broke off and sniffled.

Then he laughed. "Look at this, Probie. Never thought I'd see the day when I was crying over you . . . It's very Brokeback Mountain. You think I'd look good in a cowboy hat?"

Tony shook his head. "Didn't think so." He paused.

"Still," he continued, "I really thought at the time Hayes was going to kill me. I know he was lunging for the gun. Or I thought I knew that. I don't really know anymore. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. Maybe I just wanted him dead so much that I convinced myself it was in self-defence . . . A shrink would have a field day with this."

Tony stood up and warned, "You better not use that in your book, Probie."

He started pacing. "It's been so weird at HQ the past couple of days. Ziva and I can barely look at each other anymore. Gibbs alternates between shouting at us and being nice to us . . . it's very un-nerving, actually. Abby won't stop crying. It's chaos."

Tony sighed dejectedly. "Never thought I'd say this . . . but we need you back, Tim. We just don't work without you. It's weird, but true. It's like when Kate . . ."

Tony cut himself off and shook his head angrily. "No, nothing like Kate. You're still alive."

'Just,' Tony amended, looking at the ventilator.

McGee had come through the surgery, but had yet to show any signs of wanting to breathe on his own or wake up. His parents had arrived just over twenty-four hours ago, followed by Sarah. They were currently having a coffee, convinced by the nurses to take a break. This had allowed Tony to slip in and visit.

"I am so sorry, McGee," Tony sighed. "This should have never have happened. I shouldn't have sent you to arrest those two alone, and then none of this would have happened. Just because I was too busy with my personal life was no reason to neglect my duties."

"I was an awful boss, I know," Tony finished sadly. "Don't make a much better senior agent either."

Tony sat down again. "You have to wake up, McGee," he pleaded. "Now, in two weeks time, I don't care. But you have to wake up."

A tear trickled down Tony's cheek. "I can't do this again. Not after Kate. And Paula."

Tony blinked away his tears. "Still crying over you, Probie. It's a momentous occasion. We should write a song."

"With your singing, I'd rather not," a voice said from the doorway.

Tony started and nearly fell off his chair. "Gibbs?" He blushed.

"Who else would it be, DiNozzo?" Gibbs said, stepping into McGee's hospital room. He slipped out of his raincoat and looked at it critically.

'It must be raining again,' Tony concluded bitterly. 'Typical, just what we need. More rain.'

Gibbs looked at McGee's prone body and asked quietly, "Any change?"

Tony shook his head. "Nope, still the same."

Gibbs sighed. "Where are his parents?"

"Getting coffee," Tony replied. "The nurses convinced them to take a break."

"They need one," Gibbs mused and then added to himself, "We all do."

There was a moment of silence before Tony asked, "Why are you here, boss?"

For once, Gibbs looked a little more cheerful. "We got Meyer."

"Really? Where?"

"Trying to cross the border in a stolen car. Border patrol picked her up. She's on her way back to DC. I am going to interview her," Gibbs answered.

"So it's over, then?" Tony asked softly, looking like a lost child.

"It's nowhere near over, Tony," Gibbs replied sadly as he looked at McGee's still body. "Not even close."

Tony and Gibbs fell silent. Only the pattering of the rain and the gentle beeping of the monitor remained.