The sounds of a desperate fight were loud in his ears as Gibbs rushed to scramble past the underbrush that blocked his path. If he yelled, would it give Tim the strength to hold on or push the lunatic to finish him off? Either way, Gibbs didn't have the air to try. As he broke free of the last bramble an echoing scream could be heard reverberating down the mountainside.

"No, no, no, no, no." He flung himself against the edge to look down. Thirty feet below him a still form lay clinging to a rock outcropping. After a few long moments the figure moved and looked up at him. It was the battered face of Tim McGee.

Gibbs quickly realized that it wasn't over yet. The rock and dirt were crumbling underneath the trapped agent and McGee was clearly beyond exhaustion. He needed to act quickly if the kid was going to get out of this alive. "McGee! Tim, can you hear me?" The younger man was already looking in the right direction, but it wasn't until Gibbs yelled that there was any recognition in his eyes.

"Boss? Boss, is that really you?"

"Yeah, kid, what do say? You ready to go home?

McGee barked out a laugh as he vigorously nodded. "I don't know if I can climb back up, Boss."

He noticed that McGee was definitely not looking down the cliff where Maycap's body had fallen, but under the circumstances he probably wouldn't have been either. "Just hang on, Tim. We'll get some rope from one of the choppers and have you out of there in no time. Just hang on."

"Further up, Boss." When Gibbs just stared at him blankly, McGee explained in more detail. "I was tied up; the rope is further up there." He wasn't sure exactly where the rope had been dropped, but he had complete faith that Gibbs would find it.

Gibbs looked around frantically, finally spotting the end of a rope under some damaged vines. He grabbed it and pulled. Within seconds he had a nice length of rope in his hands and rushed back to his fallen agent.

_______________

Some remembered knots turned Maycap's tether into a workable rescue rope. One end was tied around a reasonably sturdy tree while a loop was tied into the other end. Hanging onto the loop, Gibbs eased himself over the edge and moved towards where McGee waited for him. The shale fractured under his feet and he would have gone over the edge if not for the rope. Eventually he reached the end of the rope, still a few feet from being able to grasp McGee. "Tim, I need you to reach out to me. You're almost there, just reach out so I can grab your wrist."

Slowly, carefully McGee reached up with his left hand. Fingertips brushed, then Gibbs stretched again, wrapping a strong grip around the other man's wrist. Tim's fingers were still too damaged and bandaged to provide more than a suggestion of a grip but Gibbs felt it, nonetheless. With the added support, McGee was able to work his way up until he was next to Gibbs.

_____________

Harrison dropped out of the helicopter in the same manner as Gibbs had only minutes earlier, DiNozzo's frantic questions still ringing in his ears. He followed the trail, instantly spotting the rope. He eased his way closer, not knowing what to expect. "Gibbs! I need a sit-rep Gibbs."

A pleased voice responded to him. "Get us out of here and I'll tell you all about it." Laughing, Harrison grasped the rope at his end and kept it pulled tight allowing the two men to more easily clamber their way to solid ground. Once they were up with Harrison he dropped the rope and gave two thumbs up to the waiting helicopters.

Gibbs helped McGee down onto the ground. The injured agent was trembling from both shock and fatigue. Gibbs knew that in a matter of moments the clearing would be filled, bustling with rescuers, searchers and fellow agents. Right now it was up to him to give Tim what he needed. Keeping one hand on the other man, Gibbs slipped out of his NCIS jacket and wrapped it around Tim.

"You're safe, son. You're safe."


To be concluded in The Gemini and the Magician They thought it was over, but when the minds behind JBM Research vanish along with all their research the team discovers just how far from over it really is. Tim's search for both the truth and for closure is further complicated when Angela McGee makes some decisions of her own. When the going gets rough, which family will Tim turn to?