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If McGee was surprised that Gibbs had come to pick him up instead of Tony he didn't show it. He simply opened the passenger side door and sat down. He slowly buckled his seat belt and then laid his head against the window without a word. Gibbs noticed the black eye and dried blood beneath his nose but chose not to comment.
They drove in silence for forty five minutes before Gibbs pulled the car off the highway and into a gas station lot. McGee stayed silent as the car stopped and Gibbs went into the store. When he came back out he had two cups of coffee and a bag of chips. He sat the coffee in the cup holders and threw the chips at his youngest agent, who didn't even look up.
Gibbs sighed as he moved to pump the gas. He had known this case was going to be hard on all of them. A twelve year old boy had been brutally murdered by his father. Several witnesses had given statements saying that the father had often been seen yelling at the boy and telling him that he wasn't good enough. The case had hit them all pretty hard.
Tony, Abby, and Ziva had turned up at his house a little after two in the morning. Abby and Ziva were both wasted and Tony was half way there. It wasn't all that surprising, Tony would never get completely drunk while he was out in public with the girls and he and Abby often turned up at his house drunk after a hard case. The surprise had been Ziva. She and Tony didn't interact much outside of work anymore, so the fact that she was not only with them but had trusted Tony enough to drink with him was almost a welcome relief.
The real surprise though, had been the phone call Tony got at two thirty that morning. All he would tell Gibbs was that McGee needed a ride from Richmond. It was nearly a two hour drive and Tony was too drunk to be behind the wheel so Gibbs told Tony to send the directions to his GPS and had set out on his merry journey.
By the time the gas tank was full McGee had taken a drink of coffee. Gibbs took that as a good sign. As they set out of the second half of their journey McGee groaned and Gibbs announced, "There's a bottle of aspirin in the glove box."
McGee nodded slowly and retrieved them, taking two and replacing the bottle to its original place. Once he had swallowed the pills he returned his head to its place against the window. It was another ten minutes before he spoke up, "So I guess I owe you an explanation huh?"
Gibbs kept his eyes on the road, "Nope."
McGee looked momentarily surprised but nodded and moved his head to rest against the back of the seat.
"You don't owe it to me, but it would be nice." Gibbs clarified.
McGee sucked in a deep breath. "After my dad retired he and mom built a house in Richmond." The statement was simple and McGee looked like that should explain everything. In a way it did, Gibbs decided.
"So what? You decide to talk to your old man after that last case?"
McGee let out a half laugh, too tired to display his usual nervousness in Gibbs presence. "Something like that."
Gibbs nodded and let the subject drop. They set in another silence as they watched the road.
Gibbs heard his youngest agent suck in a deep breath and knew that he was about to get the full story. McGee wanted to talk about it, but it had to be on his own schedule. He knew if he pushed McGee would shut him out and wait to talk to Abby.
"He always wanted a son like Tony." The words were spoken so lowly Gibbs wasn't sure he heard them.
McGee shrugged, "I was smart, I skipped a few grades so I never had a senior year or anything like that. Add being smart to being the smallest in the class and I never stood a chance against the bullies. I was pretty good at wrestling but I didn't have the weight to compete against the big guys. Never had any interest in any other sports, always killed him I liked computers more than basketball. Plus the whole Navy thing. I'm the first McGee in six generations not to be a sailor."
Gibbs nodded slightly, "Hard to be a sailor when ya get seasick."
"Yup. Instead of defending our country I chose to join NCIS and play computer games all day."
Gibbs 'hmphed' and said, "That the way you see it?"
McGee exhaled loudly, "Of course not. I love NCIS, I love being a field agent. It's just…" He let the sentence hang.
"It's just you thought since its Navy he'd be proud of you for it." Gibbs finished for him.
"Yeah. I mean we've taken down terrorists and murderers and I've been a big part of that. I just don't see why…" He stopped as he tried to think of the right word.
"Why he doesn't see it that way?" At McGee's nod he continued, "Because he doesn't know about all that stuff."
McGee sat silently as the sun rose. Gibbs threw out, "I always felt the same way about my dad." McGee didn't look up but his head twitched ever so slightly and he knew he had his attention. "Some people, no matter what you do they only see it the way they want to."
"Sometimes I think maybe I should have just joined the Navy." McGee whispered.
"Would you have liked that? Being stuck on a ship for months at a time?" At McGee's silence he continued, "Cause it wouldn't make him proud of you. People like that, they just keep wanting more. First you join the Navy then he finds something else you have to do to make him proud of ya."
McGee stared out the window with a withdrawn look on his face. "I know."
Gibbs smirked darkly, "Still hurts though."
McGee nodded but remained quiet. After a long silence he spoke up again, "That last case, I just I don't know, it got to me. I just wanted to talk to him and see if he'd say it just once. Hell even Tony's dad told him he loved him, as bad of a relationship as they have."
Gibbs didn't reply and kept his eyes trained on the road.
"I took a cab all the way to Richmond. It cost three hundred dollars. That's why I needed a ride. I didn't have any more money." McGee said with a laugh and Gibbs joined him.
"Why'd you call Tony?"
McGee shrugged, "He may be what my dad wished I was but he's still my, ahh, you know."
"Yeah, something like that."
Gibbs let a grin grace his features for a few seconds.
"I guess I coulda called Ziva or Abby but I figured they'd be drunk by then. Tony doesn't get really drunk in public especially if one of us is with him. I guess I just thought he'd be sober."
Gibbs glanced over at him for a second until he continued, "Plus after everything we've been though the past few months it was just natural to call him when I needed someone."
Gibbs had to admit that that one statement made him smile. After another pause he finally asked the question he'd been wanting to since McGee got in the car, "And the eye?"
McGee grunted, "I guess he isn't used to me standing up to him."
Gibbs didn't acknowledge the answer.
"I was in his face, he didn't have another choice." McGee offered nervously.
"There's always a choice McGee. And the right one is to never hit your kid." Gibbs said with anger seeping into his voice.
McGee fidgeted uncomfortably, "I know."
"Then stop making excuses for him." He yelled and slammed his fist onto the dashboard.
"I wish I could." McGee stuttered.
Gibbs took a deep breath; his intention wasn't to make McGee nervous. "Did you at least get a hit in yourself?"
McGee looked up in surprise but nodded, "Three actually. Mom started yelling that I broke his nose."
"Good for you, Tim."
McGee shuffled in his seat, "Somehow it didn't feel as great as I thought it would."
"It never does." McGee nodded and rested his head against the back of the seat.
"Coming to get me, not giving me a headslap for getting stranded alone in the middle of the night, talking to me."
Gibbs shrugged, "Woulda done the same for any of ya." At Tim's nod he added, "I'd like to meet your father sometime."
McGee looked over with wide eyes, "Um I don't know if that's a good idea."
"Why not? I'll leave my sig and my baseball bat at home."
Tim muttered, "That's what I'm afraid of."
Gibbs smirked, "Still wouldn't be as bad as Ziva getting a hold of him. Or Abby."
McGee shuttered at the thought. "True."
As they pulled off the highway Gibbs headed to his house.
"Where are we going?"
"My house, everyone else is there. Might as well keep ya all together this weekend so I can make sure no one does anything stupid."
McGee nodded, slightly relieved that he wasn't going to have to be alone after everything he'd been though. He looked over as they pulled into Gibbs driveway and asked, "Could we keep this between us? I mean Tony'll know and that's fine but could we not tell Ziva and Abby?"
Gibbs smirked but shrugged, "It's your choice, just think of a good cover story."
McGee nodded and got out of the car. As they walked up to the door Gibbs swung his hand out and hit McGee in the back of the head. "That's for getting yourself stranded, alone, in the middle of the night."
McGee rubbed the back of his head, "Thanks Boss."
A/N: Oh my first NCIS story. Not sure exactly how good it is, it's not exactly what I was going for when I started writing. This was in part inspired by Emerald1's amzaing story, Shattered Innocence which you should all go read. Let me know what you all think. Thanks for reading.