a/n - Written for the 'Why are you torturing McGee?' challenge. Set very early in season 2, jsut a few months after McGee has been made an official member of the team.

Lost in Translation

"Where's McGee? He's late." Gibbs checked his watch for the third time in less than two minutes. This was the first time the newest member of his team had not been at his desk well before the official start of the day in the three months since he had joined them.

DiNozzo was looking forward to razzing the young man. "Haven't heard from him, Boss. Maybe he's been captured in one of his computer games." He gave one of his trademark grins as he slung his backpack under his desk.

"Be nice, Tony."

"I'm always nice, Kate."

"Really?" Kate swung around in her chair to face DiNozzo. "Then why was it McGee that walked me out to my car Friday night after we all had drinks at Guffy's? Not only that, but when he noticed that my tire was flat, he changed it for me so I didn't have to wait for road service."

Tony just shook his head. The Probie was such a Boy Scout. McGee wouldn't have used the opportunity to move in on a damsel in distress – what a waste, but at least he could tease Kate about it before the kid got there. "So, Kate, did you thank him in any special way?"

"You are such a pig, DiNozzo." She glared at him before returning to her work. Monday's always started with a visit from the paperwork fairy. Gibbs stared at DiNozzo, daring him to continue to taunt his partner when his cell phone rang. Speak of the devil.

"McGee, where in the hell are you?"

~Boss…~

"Speak up, McGee. I can barely hear you. Where are you?"

~I… I don't know. ~

Even as he responded, in the back of his mind, alarms were beginning to go off. That was a stutter of confusion, not the common hesitation he hadn't drilled out of the young man yet. "What do you mean; you don't know were you are?"

At his own desk, DiNozzo started to laugh. "Don't tell me that Probie got lost on his way to work. This is too perfect." Kate, however, picked up on the concern in the senior agent's voice.

"Tony, hush."

Gibbs was ignoring them both. "Talk to me, McGee." He stood, waiting for an answer that would tell him where to go.

~Cold… woke up here… I'm in a field somewhere… don't know…" ~

"What's the last thing you remember?" Gibbs tried to prod the other man for more information.

~Kate had a flat tire, fixed… ~

As his words faded off, Gibbs' alarm grew. "McGee, stay with me!" He turned to Kate. "Get Abby to run a trace on his phone, NOW." He returned his attention to his agent on the phone. "McGee, Tim, are you hurt? Are you injured?"

~Cold… everything hurts… 'cept my legs… can't feel my legs… so tired, Boss…" ~

"Stay awake, McGee." By now even DiNozzo realized that something was seriously wrong and stood, pulling on his coat. Kate hung up her phone and moved closer.

"Abby's got a general area; she'll send more details to us on the road." Gibbs acknowledged her with a nod of his head, his main focus being his lost agent.

"Did you hear that, McGee? We're on our way, just stay awake, kid. Just stay awake."

---NCIS---

Tony DiNozzo could count on one hand how many times Gibbs had let him drive while the older man was in the car. This time he hated the reason. The youngest member of their team lay in a field somewhere, injured, possibly paralyzed, waiting for them to find him. Gibbs was talking to him, forcing him to stay awake, but the responses were coming slower and required more prompting from his boss. An ambulance was on stand-by, waiting for a final location once they located McGee.

"How's he doing, Boss?" Tony split his attention between the road and the concerned visage of the senior agent. Gibbs just shook his head as he continued to coax answers from McGee.

"Tony, stop." Kate's frantic yell caused him to slam on the brakes. "According to Abby, we're right on top of him, Gibbs."

"McGee, can you see us?" When there was no response he leaned over DiNozzo's arm and blasted the horn, listening for it over the cell phone. When he heard the horn in stereo he climbed out of the car. "He's here, spread out." Gibbs began climbing down the steep slope as he continued to call out to McGee. DiNozzo and Todd also began searching.

"Found him." Kate dropped her pack and scrambled over a downed tree, falling to her knees as she reached him. "He's alive." Gibbs and DiNozzo reached him a few seconds later, Tony already on his phone for an ambulance.

"Lay still, kid, don't move." Gibbs settled next to McGee, checking him over while Kate braced his shoulders and head to prevent him from moving. McGee seemed only vaguely aware of their presence. Tony knelt beside them.

"Ambulance will be here soon. How is he?" In answer, Gibbs pulled McGee's left sleeve up to expose his raw and bloody wrist. Tony checked the right arm to find it in even worse shape. "Whatever happened, he fought it."

"Yeah." Gibbs continued his exam, his anger obviously growing. His fingers lingered on the torn skin at both corners of the young man's mouth before tracing the bruises that followed the damage and continued across both cheeks. The inside of his mouth was raw. "Damn it to hell." Without explaining, he pulled Tim's shirt loose and then checked his belt. DiNozzo removed one of his shoes and also began to swear.

Kate wasn't sure what they were finding. Before she could ask, she noticed a change in McGee and checked more closely.

"He's stopped breathing, Gibbs."

Gibbs ripped open McGee's shirt and applied a hard sternum rub, hoping to force a reaction of some sorts. When that failed, he tilted the young man's head back to begin rescue breathing. Kate moved to stop him.

"If he's got a spinal injury, this could make it worse."

DiNozzo reached out for her arm, allowing Gibbs to continue. "If he's brain dead, being paralyzed really won't matter." Shocked, Kate nodded and backed away. Sirens could be heard in the distance and she scrambled back up the hill to direct the paramedics to their injured friend. Tony moved closer, placing his hand on McGee's neck to monitor the weak pulse. "Come on kid, fight."

Thanks to Kate's instructions, the paramedics arrived at the scene with all the equipment they needed to stabilize the injured agent. His three teammates moved out of the way, but no further than was necessary to give them room to work. Gibbs grabbed Kate's arm and turned her towards him.

"I need you to go to the hospital with him. Make sure all the evidence on him is processed and have the doctors do a SAE kit." He waited, knowing the conservative woman hadn't fully understood the significance of what he and DiNozzo had seen.

"SAE kit? You think he was molested?"

"Kate," Gibbs knew there was no easy way to say it, so he listed out the facts for her. "McGee was restrained for a long period of time. Those marks on his face are from a ball gag. His skin is damp, but his clothes are dry. He's been redressed by someone else and judging from his dilated pupils, he's been drugged. Somebody did all that to him and then dumped his body out here in the middle of nowhere. Right now we have to assume the worst." He looked back over at his youngest agent. The paramedics had a tube down his throat and were strapping him down to a backboard. "Whoever did this may not realize he's still alive so don't let him out of your sight."

"They grabbed him Friday night, didn't they?" Kate looked like she wanted to say something else, but the paramedics were ready to move, so instead she followed the stretcher back up to the road. She gave him one last haunted look before she climbed into the back of the ambulance.

Gibbs turned back to the crushed grass where McGee had been found, his trained eye discerning a faint trail. Before he could follow it his cell phone rang. He groaned when he read the caller ID and flipped the phone open.

"Abby, he's alive and on his way to the hospital." He let her rant for a few minutes before cutting back in. "Abs, Kate is with him, she'll take care of him. I need you to stay at the lab. We need to get the bastards who did this." He didn't give her time to argue, just raised his voice over hers and continued. "I need you to have more agents sent out here; we've got potentially miles to cover. Ducky's flight should be arriving soon; have him go straight to Bethesda." After Abby wound down and made him promise to find the animals that did this to McGee he closed his phone. DiNozzo was still standing, staring at where the ambulance had been parked.

Gibbs walked over to the other man, careful not to startle him. DiNozzo's hands were clenched at his sides as he forcibly regulated his breathing.

"Tony?"

At first, he thought he hadn't been heard, but just as he was about to repeat himself, DiNozzo started speaking in a low tone. "He's just a kid. I know he's a trained federal agent, you don't have to remind me, but laying there he looked so young, Boss."

"I know." Gibbs reached up and squeezed Tony's shoulder. "Are you going to be able to handle this?"

A slow nod was his answer, followed by a question. "Was this a personal attack or an attack against the agency?"

It took a long time for Gibbs to respond. "I don't know, but…"

"Either way, Tim wasn't the original target, Kate was." DiNozzo finished for him. "Does she know?"

Gibbs thought back to the look on her face before she climbed into the ambulance. "Yeah, Tony, she knows."

TBC...