This was my very 1st "Project." It's been stuck in my head since the very 1st time I stumbled across fanfiction and got the urge to write one. "This" is the one I wanted to do.

Tag: Light Sleeper: This story takes place immediately following where the episode stopped.


The case had been wrapped up tight and the only sound heard in the squad room was that of keyboards being used at warp speeds as case reports were currently being typed up. Strangely enough, the squad room was otherwise quiet. Although; given the circumstances of the case they were typing up the reports on; the solomn atmosphere within the quietness; was actually not surprising at all. They had all been affected by this case. The Korean Sleeper Cell here in the US; right under their noses?

Seeing those families ripped apart by the events the team had unraveled; upset them all. The near death experience with the "really big bomb" as Tony had so adequately put it when he'd first seen it; had seriously affected them all; they'd been as quiet as church mice since it had been diffused. Yes, this case; the last couple of days, in fact; had been extremely nerve wracking for all of them.

Each agent, although trying to stay on task; wanting to get their report done while everything was still fresh on their minds; was fighting a losing battle. They all had somewhere else their mind kept wandering to; pieces of this case that had affected them in different ways.

Tony's mind kept going back to the size of the bomb and the fact that it had been made with no chatter erupting to alert any of the ARMFED food chain; at least, not they'd heard. He was thankful that no one had gotten hurt or worse; died today. He looked around the squad room; thankful that everyone had made it back from this one alive.

Ziva was perturbed that none of her contacts had; well; contacted her, to alert her to this terrorist cell. In fact; she was outraged at how close this came to having not ended well. There would have been some serious asses to kick; well, if she'd survived to kick them; anyway.

A tiny part of her brain reflected back to and wondered about Gibbs' comments to her, back at the family's house; when this case first broke open:

(ZIVA MOVES THE PICTURE ON THE WALL; NOTICING THE CRACK AND THE HOLE BENEATH IT)
GIBBS: Sign of an unhappy marriage.
ZIVA: Funny. I thought it looked like a hole in the wall.

GIBBS: It's about fist-sized. Husband probably hit the wall instead of hitting his wife.

Ziva briefly wondered if he had been speaking from personal first hand experience; or maybe from what he'd witnessed as a child? He did not seem the type to ever come close to actually striking a woman; so, it was probably something he'd seen as a child; she supposed. It was so out of character for him to talk about such private matters; even in such an indirect way. It definitely stayed with her that he had done so. Giving her head a slight shake; she forcibly moved her thoughts back to the facts of the case and attempted once again; to finish her report.

Tim was inwardly shaken. That bomb had been huge; and it had been a close call. He'd never had to deal with that before. Not only that; but the whole ordeal back at that family's house the day before had really shaken him up. He never thought he'd have to see the two situations together again, it was partly why he had taken this job; so he wouldn't ever see it again. It had taken everything he had inside of him to not react to Gibbs' comments to Ziva about the cracked wall with the fist sized hole in it. He had quickly gotten himself back on task; to give himself time to trample down on everything that had risen up in him when he'd heard that piece of conversation. With extreme will-power; he'd returned his focus entirely to the case at hand.

But it had only gotten worse from there. Although, he had marveled at the ease with which Gibbs had taken over care of the baby; to help the mother out; Tim had been hugely relieved to be able to make good his escape. More than ten years ago; and it was still as painful as if it had happened yesterday. It hurt too damn much; and he couldn't deal with right now.

Gibbs was silently trying to decompress. This case had been especially difficult for him. He had been incensed; as he always was; to see a family torn apart by politics and hidden agendas. He hated it when innocent children paid the price for the choices the adults in their lives made. It made him sick when entire families paid the ultimate price for doing what was right.

While his own forced sacrifices always there in the back of his mind, to remind him why he took this job and stayed with it; why he trained others to do it well; his heart ached for this family; a mother who sacrificed so much for the life of her child; for that child's safe future; a husband; who loved and provided for his family; while being totally clueless as to the danger he'd been in; and a helpless child; caught in the middle; and now left without a mother to help her grow up. It was times like these that made Gibbs angry enough to want to punch a couple of walls, himself.

It had been second nature to rescue the helpless baby from his hapless agent; but it had only served to re-light the smoldering flame of agony that burned steady in his heart. It had taken everything he had within himself to hold his pain inside while he did what needed to be done; solve this case. Fourteen years; and it was still so painful, he could barely breathe when he thought of them; like it had happened yesterday. And it seemed a lifetime ago, when the experience he'd spoken to Ziva about earlier; had been an unhappy milestone in his younger life.

He hadn't been surprised at McGee's ineptness at holding a baby; hell; the kid was barely old enough to be away from home on his own! Well, no; that's not fair; the kid is actually older than he looks; but, Gibbs hadn't been happy to have to do it. They had a case to solve; he didn't need this getting in the way. He couldn't help what had come naturally for him to do; rescue the crying baby; when experience told him what she was needing. Silently, he had sent up a prayer for strength to get through this one.

Strangely enough; as McGee was handing over the baby; and even as he was beating a hasty retreat; the look in his eyes was very familiar to Gibbs; and not because he'd seen it in the young man's eyes before; but because he'd seen it staring back at himself; when he'd looked in the mirror back those 14 years ago! It was a look you could never forget. Something was going on with this boy. Unfortunately, there had been no time to get into it then.

The sudden stillness of the squad room snapped Gibbs' attention back to the present with a resounding thud in his heart. Looking around, he was surprised to find that he was almost alone. Tony and Ziva had apparently, silently slipped their reports onto his desk; having been careful not to disturb him as he'd been lost in his thoughts. McGee, while probably finished with his report, too; had stopped what he was doing and was lost in his own thoughts; his eyes looking like wherever his mind had gone; was not a pleasant place.

Once again, Gibbs was reminded of the look he'd seen in this young man's eyes at the beginning of this case. Wanting to get to the bottom of it; yet unwilling to do it just yet; Gibbs mentally wrote himself a note to do it later; maybe after the weekend off; McGee would be ready to talk. It was obvious, he wasn't ready now. He'd been so closed up about it; Gibbs wouldn't have even caught it; if he hadn't been looking at him; watching him closely.

Yeah. He knew the feeling. Knowing that his agent needed to get done with the report so he could go home; he did what he had to do.

"McGee!"

Tim snapped back to the present as he looked at the man who had called his name.

"Boss?"

"Done?"

Tim quickly looked over his report; typed in the case #, saved it and hit print. "Yes, Boss." He answered as he got up and took his report off the printer and handed it to Gibbs.

"Good. Okay; call it a night. See you Monday." Gibbs rewarded him. Since he was still present and accounted for; Gibbs decided to go ahead and let him go home. The others would have to wait until he could see them; before he'd let them go.

"Thanks, Boss. 'Night," Tim quietly gave back; as he gathered up his stuff; locked down his station; and headed out; his eyes stuck to his feet as he walked.

Gibbs frowned. Something was off with his youngest agent.

"McGee!"

"Boss?"

Gibbs waited silently; his way of letting his agent know; he was expected to come back to Gibbs' desk to see what he wanted of him. McGee approached Gibbs' desk timidly; not prepared for anything. Unsure of what was coming.

"Something bothering you?" Gibbs asked him quietly.

Tim looked at him in shock as he thought; Man, this guy's perceptive! Since Tim didn't know how to lie; and wasn't prepared to let him in on something he was trying to re-bury; he was kinda stuck.

"Yes." McGee's honesty did Gibbs proud.

"Wanna tell me about it?" Gibbs asked in all seriousness

"Thank you, but no… I'll… be… fine." Tim managed to stammer out.

"Okay. Just remember, my door's never locked." Gibbs volunteered. "Night, Tim." He quietly ended the conversation; picking up his coffee cup and heading out of the squad room for a refill.

McGee was stunned; and thankful. He'd called him by his first name! Gibbs had picked up on him being upset about something. Tim was stunned that he'd actually seemed willing to listen! And not just at this moment, either; apparently. The guy was willing to wait until Tim was ready to talk? He was thankful for that.

Gibbs realized this case had adversely affected all of them. By Monday, they should all be right as rain; as much as can be expected after experiencing something like this; anyway. He could only hope that if McGee needed to talk about whatever it was that was bothering him; he would come see him; as he'd invited him to do.

When Tony and Ziva returned to the squad room; he released them as well; no longer having the heart to delay their free time. The sooner they left; the sooner he could have some peace and quiet and be able to regroup. When they left; both Tony and Ziva seemed in better spirits than they had been earlier in the day. Gibbs wasn't sure if it was because he'd threatened to fire them if they ever disobeyed a direct order; and they'd obviously taken that to be his way of saying something nice about them; of if it was something else. Either way; they seemed to be fine; and so he had no cause for concern there.

As he headed home; Tim tried to put this case behind him; tried to rebury everything it had uncovered within himself; too. But, now that it had become uncovered; down deep; where it had been lying dormant for all this time; it burned like someone had poured alcohol on it in a twisted cruel joke. Tim. was thankful he had hidden it well; back in the house; that the baby's crying had been a huge distraction. It had made for a great cover. Tim was okay with his boss thinking he was inept with babies. It was better than him knowing the truth.

Luckily; Tim seemed to be able to drive on auto-pilot; as he didn't know how else he'd made it home. Once he got there; he attempted to immerse himself into his book-writing; even giving that up for a session of his "free-writing"; hoping that would let off some of his frustration and rising negative emotions; he felt rushing up and feared being unable to stop.

Gibbs found himself busy work; unwilling to give his mind any license to think about anything else; he waded through the knee deep piles of paperwork that had yet to be done; older case reports that needed signatures; cold case updates; employee notations in their files to be used in their reviews; anything he could think of to keep his mind too busy to think on it's own. Two hours later found that he'd accomplished a great deal; in fact; the paperwork was almost caught up; and he was in a better frame of mind; more capable of relaxing now. With a contented sigh; he closed up shop for the night and headed out.

Two hours later; Tim found that all he'd accomplished was nothing. Pages and pages of gibberish; his hands were exhausted; and his mind was still stuck where it had been two hours ago. Giving up with a disgusted sigh; Tim called Abby to see if she wanted to go to a movie. All he got was her voicemail; so he just kept his message to a "saying hello" and ended the call. Trying Ziva's number; he got the same results. Again, he gave up in his endeavor. This time; he simply took himself off to see a movie; figuring it was the only way he'd get his mind off this case and everything it had dredged up.

Going home; Gibbs felt drawn to his boat. Working the planer on it soothed his nerves and kept his hands constructively busy. It also kept his mind on an even keel. This was where he kept/lost his sanity; in the security of his basement; working on a boat he would never sail; but always rebuild.

After the movie; Tim felt better; and without giving any thought to anything other than the movie; he was able to give in to exhaustion and sleep. Just before he nodded off; he prayed that it would be a peaceful night's sleep.

Gibbs worked himself into exhaustion; needing to be able to just drop off to sleep; refusing to head to his bed until he was that tired. There was no way; he was gonna go up there and just lie in bed and think himself to death. He couldn't handle that. He didn't need that. When he finally called it quits and made his way up to his bed; as he got comfortable; he hoped he would be able to get a peaceful night's sleep.