A/N: A special "Thank You" goes out to my Beta, shelbylou and my faithful muse, chelsea1234 my cheering squad: all the reviewers who have steadfastly stood by my stories and enjoyed them for the fiction they are.
With no new case to solve and the need for help in taking care of Timothy, Ducky requested Gibbs give the okay for someone to stay with the young man for at least part of the day, preferably on a rotating basis, both for their benefit and for Timothy's. The need to keep changing things up was prevalent with the possibility of depression or worse hanging over their heads where Tim was concerned.
It wasn't long before even with the team switching off, the days became part of a normal routine for them all. They would all work the normal day, with one of them going to Ducky's at mid-morning and check on Tim. One of the other two would come at lunch time and spend their lunch hour with him. Then, mid afternoon, would bring someone else to check on him. The end of the day, of course would bring Ducky home and most nights the team would congregate there to let Tim see they were all there for him.
Unfortunately, the only Tim they saw was the distant, seemingly broken one. Too filled with bitterness and self-recriminations to see anything else, only his physical pain kept him cognitive of the here and now. His mind, whenever dulled by painkillers, would retreat to whatever place it had found where it didn't have to think or focus. It was evident in the blankness of his eyes when he'd lay awake but unseeing and not responding to any of them.
The team was frustrated. They'd all tried to get through to him and no one had been able to. Only Ducky seemed to even get him to take his meds or even eat. The best the rest of them could do was leaving his meals on the bedside table along with his meds and his water. It didn't take long, only two days, before Gibbs had become as concerned about Tim as the rest of them
Ducky had decided to not push him beyond his current state. While it was disturbing, it was actually helpful in the physical mending his body needed to go through. The emotional mending would come soon enough, Ducky believed.
While Gibbs had purposely taken a back seat to the rest of the team, let them move in and look after their teammate, he now felt responsible for Tim's lack of motivation to move on, to get past this. He'd let himself be convinced somehow, that Tim would simply rise above it. He didn't know when it had happened. He remembered being concerned about this very problem just a few days ago. So, what had happened? Work had happened and it had been simpler just to push easier soluttions around in his brain until, somehow, they'd become the answers.
He'd been wrong and Tim was suffering for it. Silently,emotionally and mentally suffering. It needed to be stopped. Sending the team home for a much needed respite from trying to juggle their sleep, helping with Tim and work; Gibbs took himself up to Ducky's bedroom to see for himself what was going on. Ducky hadn't argued with him but he had stressed the need to keep his physical recovery at the forefront of concern. It had, after all, been less than a week since the young man had been shot.
Gibbs sat in the armchair after bringing it closer to the bed and setting his feet up on the end of the bed. As he sat there, silently looking Tim over while the young man slept, Gibbs noticed the body language begin to change. Tim's hands were the first thing to change. Where they'd been laid flat and resting calmly when he first came in, they now began to clench into fists and unclench, almost rhymthmiclly. His face became pinched, as if in pain and his limbs began to shift on the bed. When his body began to get restless, the pain obviously became worse as the cries that now came from him gave testament to.
Knowing it wasn't time for Tim's pain meds, Gibbs did the only other thing he knew to do, he changed his seating, sitting down next to Tim and reaching out to him; smoothing the hair back from his forehead, laying a comforting hand on his good shoulder, whispering words of comfort in his ear.
"ssh. Tim. You're okay, just relax."
Gibbs' words seem to help, although they didn't work complete magic. As the pain seemed to ease, Tim's eyes opened, almost immediately finding those of his boss. Still waking up and still in pain, Tim seemed to freeze where he was, almost relaxed, soaking up Gibbs' presence, like he would a dose of vitamins.
Not wanting to startle him or dissuade him from finding strength where he could, Gibbs kept Tim's gaze without altering so much as the look on his face. After a long tense minute, Tim seemed to regain his sense of time and place. As he blinked, Gibbs felt finally able to take a breath.
"Boss?" Tim's tentative voice tugged at Gibbs' heartstrings.
"Tim? I'm gonna call Ducky up here and we're gonna talk about this pain you're in, okay?"
"Thought it was normal. When you get shot twice." Tim said quietly.
"I want Ducky to weigh in on it." Gibbs got up and went out to the hallway.
"Hey, Duck!" Gibbs hollered down.
Ducky appeared at the stairs.
"Come up here a minute?" Gibbs asked. "Bring you r bag?
"What seems to be the problem, Jethro? Ah, Timothy, you're awake!" Ducky said when he arrived in the room a short two minutes later.
"Hey, Ducky." Tim said quietly.
"Tell him why you're awake, Tim." Gibbs instructed him in a quiet tone.
"In too much pain to sleep," the young man admitted still in the too quiet tone that unsettled Gibbs.
"When did you take your last pain pill, Timothy?"
"When Abby brought it to me " Tim answered right away.
"That was more than four hours ago. No wonder you're in pain. You must eat first."
"I'm not hungry, Ducky, honest." Tim said earnestly.
"Yes, I'm sure you're not. Small wonder with the lack of exercise you've been suffering from. Can you raise up?"
Tim tried to raise himself up with Gibbs helping him and although the pain was surreal, he suffered through it as silently as he could and accomplished the task. He needn't have bothered trying to be so quiet about it, though as both Ducky and Gibbs were obviously upset with his silence on the subject now. There was no doubt they'd seen the obvious signs of pain for what they were
"Why didn't you just tell us it hurt too damn much to sit up, McGee?" Gibbs demanded angrily.
"Jethro, calm down. Timothy, Jethro is quite right. You must not do that again. You need to tell us when you're in that much pain, dear boy." Ducky admonished both of them.
Gibbs sat down in the armchair, too angry to sit any closer for fear of handing the kid a serious head slap.
Ducky took the half of a sandwich off the plate he'd brought with him and instructed Tim to take several good sized bites and to drink his water. As Tim did as Ducky instructed, silently and almost embarrassed, Ducky got his pain meds out and proceeded to fill a pill organizer for the week.
As Timothy finished half of the half sandwich, Ducky turned toward Jethro and held out the prescribed meds and told him to wait a good ten minutes before letting Timothy have them. Ducky left, knowing the two needed to talk.
While waiting for the ten minutes to lapse, Gibbs decided to try to work through some of what had to be bothering Tim.
"Had any time to think? Or have you been pretty out of it when you're not sleeping?" Gibbs began.
Tim looked down at his hands in his lap.
"Haven't wanted to think about anything, Boss."
"Think that'll help you get through it?"
"You just hopin' that pretty soon, you'll just happen to wake up numb from it all?' Gibbs asked quietly serious.
"Kinda." Tim admitted guiltily.
"Nothin' wrong with that, Tim. Except it's not likely to happen for you."
Tim looked crestfallen.
"And you're living in misery in the meantime. You deserve better. But, you're the only one that can change it for yourself." The boss reasoned for him.
Suddenly, feeling the need for more answers, Tim looked Gibbs straight on and waited silently for answers he somehow knew were coming.
"It's a head decision, McGee. You have to decide to do better for yourself. Are you gonna let her win? You gonna let her have your life even after she's dead?" Gibbs pushed.
"I don't want her to win, Boss." Tim admitted.
"What are you gonna do to take your life back from her, McGee?""
"Not really sure." The young man admitted.
"Okay. What do you want outta your life? What are your goals, McGee? Start there." Gibbs encouraged. "While you're recovering from the physical stuff, concentrate your brain power on finding the answers to those questions!"
Tim spent a long silent minute mulling over Gibbs' words. After a few minutes, he looked up and smiled at Gibbs; a genuine Tim McGee smile.
Gibbs had never been so happy to hear those words as he was at that moment. Still, for the young man's sake, he had to come down hard on him, challenge him.
"You wanna thank me? You keep your head in the game and don't let anyone talk you out of it! Take your life back, with both hands! Get some help working through this before it buries you.
"I will, Boss. I promise."
"I'm gonna hold you to it. All of it!"
"I know, Boss, I know. Honestly, I'm gonna need you to do jus that."
"You hold yourself to it first, Tim!!"
Gibbs got up and handed Tim his pain pills and water, standing by him as he took them. When the meds had been taken, Gibbs ruffled the young man's hair and smiled at him.
"Now, get some real sleep."
"That's what family's do, McGee."
"That's what family's do.