"Agent McGee," Tim said, picking the phone up and bringing it to his ear in one swift motion.
"Tim," someone said on the other end of the line. McGee frowned.
"Tony?" He asked, brow furrowed.
"Tim," Tony repeated, and McGee could hear that he was breathing in heaving gasps. "Tim, they took Gibbs." McGee started snapping at Ziva to get her attention even as he began tracing the call.
"Who, Tony? Are you okay? Where are you?"
"It's gotta be the drug ring, McGee, it has to be," DiNozzo answered breathlessly. "I'm following them in a car I… I commandeered." It would have been funny that Tony commandeered a car, if it weren't so damn serious.
"Okay, okay Tony, I'm starting a trace on you. Do you know where you are?"
"Umm…I'm not sure, we're out of the city now. I think-maybe we went-North? I…" Tony's voice trailed off and McGee felt a stab of fear.
"Tony? Are you hurt?" He demanded, and was not reassured by the silence from the other line punctuated only by DiNozzo's gasps for air.
"Tony!" He barked, breathing a sigh of relief when his monitor finally lit up, showing where the call was coming from.
"Just-just hurry, Probie," Tony muttered, evading the question with all the subtlety of a brick wall.
"Tony, I need to know-"
"Damn it McGee! They've got Gibbs! Don't worry about me!" Gritting his teeth and knowing without doubt that he was going to get nowhere with the stubborn senior agent, Tim motioned to Ziva and they moved quickly out of the building, heading to the SUV.
"Look, Ziva and I are on our way. We've informed Vance of what's happening and he's sending backup, okay? Now I need to know what condition you're in, DiNozzo."
"Look, McGee, just focus-focus on getting h-here, okay?" Tim buckled in quickly as Ziva floored the SUV and spun out of the parking garage.
"Left here, Ziva," McGee said, waving a hand as Ziva pulled out. "Tony. Last time I'm asking. I need. To. Know. If you're hurt." He said it in a tone that brooked no argument, infusing as much authority into his voice as possible.
"Look Tim," DiNozzo said with a sigh, his voice weakening audibly. Tim felt a shiver of fear run down his spine. "It doesn't-it doesn't matter if I'm hurt. You can't-can't drive any f-faster. You need to j-just stay calm and-and get here, o-okay?"
"Tony," McGee mumbled, voice trailing off. He was incredibly concerned about the senior agent.
"'s okay, McGee. Just-just find-find him." There was a sudden silence, oppressive and foreboding.
"Tony? Tony, are you still with me? Where are you?"
"I l-lost 'em, McGee," Tony whispered, his voice catching. "Turned right when-when they t-turned left. Can't- can't focus t-too well. Milepost 24, McGee. Turn l-left, okay?"
Suddenly Tim McGee was faced with making a decision that he didn't feel at all qualified to make.
"McGee. You-you get Gibbs, you h-hear me?" Tony said, his voice trembling.
"I promise, okay Tony? I'm going to get Gibbs. We're going to get him back, and then we're going to come for you, you hear me? Hang in there, Tony."
"'s good," Tony slurred, his voice suddenly losing whatever fire it had held before.
"DiNozzo, pull over. Pull over." There was no response, and Tim felt his stomach drop. "Tony? Tony! DiNozzo! Are you there?" Tim screamed into the phone even as he knew without a doubt that Tony could neither hear nor answer him.
"McGee? McGee, what is it?" Ziva demanded as she drove past the city limits.
"We've got to get Gibbs first," Tim answered, not wanting to give voice to what he'd just heard, to what he'd just promised. Ziva nodded in understanding and Tim was glad, not for the first time, for his companion's acuity.
"We need to hurry, then," she said, pressing the gas pedal even harder than before. It was a few minutes before they came to a fork in the road.
Tim swallowed hard as he directed Ziva to turn left, trying not to think about what he had just chosen.
Then they were driving, no longer certain of where to go and worried about missing something. It was only a few minutes before McGee spotted a flash of something in the underbrush to the side of the road.
"Ziva, wait! I think I saw something!" Ziva flicked a glance at him.
"How certain are you?" She asked quietly, and again Tim felt responsibility settle heavily onto his shoulders. If he was wrong, they would lose even more valuable time.
"I'm sure," he said with a deep breath. Ziva nodded and stopped suddenly, maneuvering the hefty vehicle into a U-turn with surprising ease. They backtracked more slowly, trying to reach a balance between speed and thoroughness. McGee could feel his heart pounding anxiously, his palms sweaty.
"There!" Ziva cried suddenly, pointing. Tim nodded, eyes wide with shock. There was a body crumpled on the side of the road. The car came to a swift and shuddering halt, both agents flinging themselves out.
"Gibbs!" Tim barked, reaching the downed man's side. Gibbs was lying on his side, and Tim's heart sank as he took in the cuffed hands and blindfolded eyes, the gag tied tightly behind his mouth.
"Come on, Boss," he murmured, gently rolling the man onto his back. He could hear Ziva yelling into the phone at someone for an ambulance and backup, but slowly tuned it out as his gaze sharpened only to Gibbs, to finding the pulse he knew had to be there. He sighed in relief when he found it, worried by the rapidity of the beat tapping against his fingers.
Easing the gag from Gibbs' mouth, he took in the various wounds on the man's body. There was blood leaking from a bullet wound to the right shoulder, cuts and bruises spattered across his face, blood trickling from his mouth, bone sticking out of the left wrist. Gibbs whimpered slightly as Tim applied pressure to the gunshot wound, the sound shaking McGee almost more than anything else that had taken place during the whole screwed up situation.
"Oh Gibbs," Ziva murmured, joining Tim at his side. She gently took the blindfold from his eyes, looking worriedly at McGee as Gibbs remained unresponsive.
"Tim," she said quietly, staring at him with a worried expression. "I'll stay with him." McGee nodded in understanding, squeezing Gibbs' uninjured shoulder.
"You hang on, Boss, and I'll bring Tony back, okay?" He stood quickly, bolting to the car.
His head pounded as he drove, his heart thudding painfully in his chest. Seeing Gibbs in that condition, broken and bleeding and in pain, had shaken him more than he wanted to admit, and now he was heading towards Tony, who was definitely injured.
McGee swung left at the fork in the road, tried not to think about what he was going to find. Could be just a concussion. Could be a dead senior agent.
"Come on, Tim," he whispered to himself, shaking his head. "Come on, focus." He was focusing when he saw the car in the ditch to the right side of the road. It didn't look as if it had rolled or crashed all too badly, but the mere fact that the driver had clearly lost control was enough to nearly send McGee into panic again.
"Tony!" He shouted, running towards the car. "DiNozzo, answer me!" He reached the car door, saw the form slumped to the side in the seat, yanked the door open. The car smelled like blood.
"Oh no," McGee whispered, easing the senior agent's body out of the car. Though his face and head were unmarred, Tim quickly found the wound that was responsible for the smell, heart sinking at the sight. It was a belly wound. Applying pressure in an almost frantic movement, Tim thought back to first-aid classes, to the autopsies he'd seen. His hands started to shake as he came to the conclusion that it was near where the liver was.
"Shit, DiNozzo," he whispered brokenly, fumbling with his cell phone with one hand, desperately trying to keep pressure with the other. He wasn't sure it would be enough. Kneeling on the cold ground, his friend bleeding out in front of him and knowing that Gibbs was in much the same condition not two miles away, Tim McGee prayed.
Ten minutes later, Gibbs was loaded into an ambulance, shock having settled in, infection already gripping his open wounds. Five minutes after that, DiNozzo was picked up. Blood loss had already caused his blood pressure to drop dangerously low, his pulse skyrocketing as his heart weakly tried to make up for the lost fluid volume. Twenty minutes after being picked up, Gibbs regained some semblance of consciousness, managed to grip Tony's lifeless fingers with his good hand, squeezed weakly before falling unconscious again.
A week later found Gibbs and Tony sharing a room, DiNozzo still on oxygen and blood, Gibbs getting antibiotics pumped into him.
Tim walked in quietly, not wanting to disturb the two sleeping men, smiled lightly at the tightness they exhibited even in unconsciousness.
"Tim," Gibbs said suddenly, startling the younger man. "Tim, you…you did good, son," Gibbs said with a small smile.
"Thanks Boss," McGee mumbled, and Gibbs nodded tightly.
"Next time you go after him first though, understand? No matter what he says, you go after him first," he said with as much determination as he could muster, and Tim looked at him.
"I'm a stubborn bastard, McGee, more stubborn than he is," Gibbs whispered. "Don't need my ass rescued as bad as he does." As he slid back into sleep, Tim shook his head.
"You're both stubborn bastards, Gibbs," he said fondly, then turned and settled into the chair between the two beds, opening a book and reading silently. He would be there when they woke up.