a/n - Last chapter, but not the last in this universe by a long ways. Everything else I thought about adding works better as a stand alone, si you'll see a series of one-shots, missing scenes and a few larger stories. I've got the next 30 years plotted out in my head g so you'll never be rid of me.
Thank you for your reviews and support, this has been an amazing journey, made all the better for the company I've had along the way. Well, 99.5% of the company. Hi, Greta.
"No, no, no." Gibbs ignored the other figure and ran straight to Tim, dropping to his knees as he took in the damage. The chair had shattered on impact, but a large piece of one of the broken spindles had gone completely through his arm, pinning it to his body. Tim was coughing up blood as he struggled to speak.
"Couldn't... couldn't let him hurt you... love you." His eyes started to drift shut.
Behind him, Gibbs could hear Tony calling for help. "Stay with me, Tim, stay with me."
Tim's voice was so weak that Gibbs had to lean even closer to hear. "Not sure I can, Jethro."
"No, no, you have to. You made me fall in love with you, Tim. You can't leave me now. You hear me, I love you."
Tim's lips moved, but no sound came out before his eyes closed. Gibbs pressed his fingers against his neck and found a pulse, but it was weak and getting slower.
"I won't get left behind again, Tim." Gibbs gently kissed the bloodied forehead. "If you can't stay with me, then I'll go with you. Together, forever, my love."
Unnoticed by Gibbs, Tony watched the confession as he blinked back tears. He'd never seen the older man so raw, so broken and knew without a doubt Gibbs was serious. The ambulance pulled in and he backed up to give them room to work. "Ziva? Ziva?"
She was staring at the body of Daniel McGee, the knife he'd fallen on still protruding out of his chest and it wasn't until Tony touched her arm that she responded. "What?"
"I need to go to the hospital with them."
"Tony, this is a crime scene, we can't just leave."
"I know, that's why I need you to stay here until another team gets here." He could tell she didn't understand and knew she hadn't heard. "If McGee dies, Gibbs will eat his gun, he's already planning on it."
"No." One look at Gibbs tenderly touching McGee's face as the paramedics worked on him told her that Tony was right. "Don't let him out of your sight, Tony."
Moments later, Tim was loaded into the ambulance, and Gibbs was helped into the passenger seat. There wasn't room for Tony to ride with them, so he left in the sedan, riding the bumper of the ambulance.
If he'd thought about it, Fornell would have thought the idea of driving to Silver Spring with a hysterical Goth and the Director of NCIS an impossible occurrence, but impossible wasn't an option when Gibbs was involved. Whatever happened, if Diane's involvement had somehow led to McGee's injury or worse, he knew he'd never forgive himself. The rarely used lights tucked behind the grill helped clear their path, but one more look at the woman rocking in the back seat and he mashed down even harder on the accelerator.
Several blocks behind the FBI sedan, but in front of the secondary NCIS team, Jimmy was pushing the Medical Examiner's van to its limits also. "I don't understand, Dr. Mallard, how did this happen? How could Director Vance think that they didn't love each other?"
"I wish I could give you a simple answer, lad, but the truth of the matter is that Director Vance thought he was doing the right thing. He had no idea that Jethro harbored such strong feelings for our Timothy and none of us had any inkling that McGee was quietly pining away for Jethro." Ducky tightened his grasp on the door handle as they sailed through another red light, barely slowing. "Mr. Palmer, you do realize that technically we are not considered an emergency vehicle?"
"Sorry, Dr. Mallard." Even with the apology, they didn't slow down in the least.
Local LEO's were at the scene when Fornell pulled in. He and Vance waved their badges to get past them while Abby stayed tucked in between the two men. There was no sign of Gibbs or DiNozzo, but Ziva was standing over a sheet covered body.
Vance had his hands full with Abby, so Fornell knelt down to pull back the sheet, gasping in relief at the unfamiliar face.
"I believe so, Agent Fornell. He and McGee both fell out of the apartment window just as we arrived. McGee was handcuffed to a chair. Daniel McGee apparently fell on his own knife."
Fornell had questions since the deceased man was flat on his back, but it was a panting Ducky that voiced them first. "Ziva, why did you move the body?"
"He was still alive when we reached him." She didn't look up at all.
Ducky gave the body a closer look. "You rolled him to render first aid?"
"It is what we are required to do, is it not?" Ziva rubbed her hand against her pant leg, remembering the feel of another fabric against her hand when she pressed Daniel McGee further onto his knife as he breathed his last. "Luckily, he died before the medics arrived and they were able to concentrate all their efforts on saving McGee."
Suspicious that more than luck had been involved, Ducky decided to let it go and concentrate on the living. "I assume Jethro went to the hospital with Tim, but where is Tony?"
"Also on his way to the hospital."
"Were he or Gibbs injured?" Vance didn't like the idea that only one agent maintained the crime scene until back-up arrived.
Ducky listened carefully as he examined the body. Even with witnesses, protocol had to be followed and he accepted the liver probe from Jimmy while the new team started photographing the scene.
"Tony went with them to..."
"To what, Officer David?"
Ziva turned to Vance, taking a deep breath, knowing what affect her words would have on Abby. "To stop him if necessary. Gibbs... he said something that convinced Tony he would end his own life if McGee died."
"Noooo." Abby would have fallen if Vance wasn't holding onto her, but it was Jimmy that gently took her away from the scene, glaring at Vance as he moved her back to Fornell's sedan.
"Boss?" Tony reached out and turned Gibbs away from the doors to the surgical unit, forcing the devastated man to look at him. "Let's get you cleaned up, okay?"
"No, I... I have to stay here." Gibbs started to pull away, but Tony held on.
"It's okay, Boss. The nurses know where we'll be. They'll come get us if there's any word. See, they even got you something to change into." He held up the scrubs he was holding and eventually Gibbs nodded, allowing Tony to lead him into a restroom.
Gibbs was docile as Tony emptied his pockets. It wasn't until Tony started to remove his holster that he reacted. "No, I need that."
Tony froze, his hand on Gibbs' weapon. "It'll just be in my jacket, okay? The scrubs don't have belt loops." When Gibbs didn't respond, Tony slowly pulled the weapon clear and tucked it into his pocket, zipping it closed. Next, he tugged the polo shirt up over his head and quickly shoved it into the plastic bag the nurse had also given him.
He waited a moment, but Gibbs made no effort to remove his pants, so Tony carefully undid the buckle. It wasn't until he had the blood stained jeans down to his ankles that Gibbs helped at all, just stepping out of them as Tony balanced him. The blood hadn't soaked through the knees of the jeans so Tony concentrated on washing away the blood that was on Gibbs' hands and the bloody smear across his cheek.
First one hand, then the other, Tony carefully scrubbed and rinsed until every bit of blood was washed away. Eventually satisfied, he soaked a length of paper towel and began washing Gibbs' face. It wasn't until he was finished that he saw Gibbs' eyes focus, but the devastation in them was heartbreaking and Tony had to say something. "He loves you, Boss, and he won't leave you if he's got any choice in the matter. You know that, right?"
"Yeah." It was a ghost of a whisper, but Tony was happy to get any response and even happier when Gibbs was able to help dress himself.
The waiting room was full when they returned and Abby ran to them to throw herself in Gibbs' arms. With the older man distracted for the moment, Tony pulled Ziva into a hug, burying his face in her hair. She was shocked, but stilled as he began to whisper. "Right jacket pocket. Unload the gun and put the empty clip back in it. Don't let Gibbs see."
Understanding, Ziva clung to Tony with one arm while the other hand was busy. Eventually, her own pocket was filled with loose rounds and she pulled away.
The hours ticked by. Fornell tried to apologize to Gibbs, but one look at his haunted face dried up the words.
Gibbs remained stone faced and unmoving until Sarah arrived, brought once again by Balboa. One arm lifted and she burrowed against him, sobbing out her grief and fear. Gibbs kissed the top of her head and turned to press the side of his face against Abby's head as she rested against his shoulder before returning his undivided attention to the doors.
Needing a few minutes away from the hurt and angry expressions, Vance escaped to find a coffee machine only to find Jimmy Palmer already feeding the machine quarters. At first Jimmy ignored him, but then he turned back, pointing at Vance. "Why? Just tell me why."
He'd been asking himself the same question for hours. "I thought I was doing the right thing."
"Yeah, well, if you ever have the chance to do the right thing for me, please don't." Shaking his head, Jimmy pushed past him to return to the waiting room.
Finally alone, Vance pulled out his phone and hit the speed dial. "You were right Sweetheart. I screwed up big-time." Not giving her time to respond, he closed the phone, leaned against the vending machines and prayed.
When the doors finally opened it was Ducky that came out to see them. He walked straight over to Gibbs who scrambled to his feet the moment he saw his old friend. "Ducky, is he..."
"It was close, Jethro, but luckily he's as tenacious and stubborn as you are." He smiled as he continued. "It won't be a quick recovery, but we expect it to be a complete one."
"Thank God, oh, thank God."
Being nearly crushed by the combined hugs of Sarah and Abby, Gibbs didn't see Tony slip away, but Vance did. He found the other man in the stairwell, leaning against the wall, his shoulders shaking. Expecting to be punched, Vance laid a hand on one of the trembling shoulders. "He's going to be all right, DiNozzo."
"Yeah, they both are." Visibly pulling himself together, Tony turned around to look at Vance. Vance waited, knowing he probably deserved whatever was about to be said. "It doesn't matter, Director Vance. It doesn't matter when they fell in love. It doesn't matter when they admitted it to themselves, or to each other, and it sure as hell doesn't matter when they told anybody else. What does matters is that they truly, deeply love each other. And that's all that matters, you got that?"
"I've got it, DiNozzo, I've got it."
Tony stared at him a minute more before walking past him to return to the waiting room.
Abby and Sarah finally released Gibbs to let the rest have a turn. Tony was the last one to come to Gibbs, his hug a little tighter than what most realized. Gibbs pulled him close to whisper in his ear. "Thank you, Tony, for not giving up on either of us." He patted the side of Tony's face before leaving with Ducky to see Tim.
Just before they reached the door to the surgical and recovery units. Vance came out of the stairwell. The two men stared at each other before Vance slowly nodded. "Like I told DiNozzo, I get it now. Take care of him and... and just be happy, all right?"
Gibbs smiled as he looked back at his family before looking through the doorway where they were moving Tim to a recovery room. "You know, for the first time in a long time, I am."
Epilogue – two weeks later
"I know you'll be glad to get Tim home from the hospital, but are you sure about driving him all the way to Stillwater?"
Gibbs smiled at the man driving him. "I'm sure, Tony, and the doctors agree that it will help him."
Jack had been serious about Tim having family in Stillwater, and was looking forward to pampering his new son-in-law, while the doctors believed the added support would help Tim with both his physical recovery and dealing with the guilt over his father's death. Even Ducky's discovery of a brain tumor that had been slowly destroying Daniel McGee's mind could not totally erase the pain of what had happened.
"Okay then, but does Tim know you're picking up the Porsche? I mean, he knows that you're going to be driving it?"
Gibbs didn't roll his eyes, but it was a close thing. "Yes, DiNozzo, he's the one that sent us down here, remember?"
"Just checking, Boss." Grinning, Tony pulled up in front of the body shop and shut off the car. "I wonder what part took so long for them to get?"
The owner of the shop looked up as they walked in. "Agent Gibbs, good to see you. If you just sign this, she's all yours."
Gibbs took the papers as he stared at the Porsche in the showroom. "It's red. When it was towed in here, it was silver."
"Yes, well," the owner grinned as he handed Gibbs a pen to sign with. "Agent McGee requested the color change. He said something about the visibility factor and that you'd understand."
With DiNozzo choking in laughter, Gibbs signed and received the keys while the large doors were opened. He fired up the motor, feeling the thrill as the car vibrated with power. It wasn't until he left a strip of rubber down the street that he let himself laugh. Life with Tim was going to be an adventure and he couldn't wait for it to begin.
This is it, the final chapter, one that has been in my head since I first started writing NCIS fanfiction. While this might be the end of the story, this universe is far from done. Yep, those dangling threads were there for a reason. Thanks for sticking with me, you guys are the best.