a/n - Starting a new one. This is going to be a rough ride, folks. Tony lovers will like this one later on, but have patience please. His part is slow to develop. I'm only on chapter 4, so I may not be posting every day. I am again writing two different stories at the same time. (well, actually more like five, but two that are at the posting here stage) I'll start posting the other one soon, too.
My Father's Keeper
"Morning, Sarah." Tim leaned over and gave his sister a peck on the cheek before sitting down. She was wearing the early morning attire of all the students in the dorm's dining hall, flannel lounge pants and a school t-shirt, with her hair tied up in a messy bun.
Her heels up on the chair, she gave him a half-hearted glare over the coffee cup she had resting on her raised knees. "You weren't such an early bird before you became a fed, big brother. Why couldn't we meet for lunch, instead?"
"This can't wait, it's about Dad."
She stared at her brother. He wore an expression she had seen before, one that she hoped to never see again. "Don't tell me, he fell off the wagon, didn't he? Did Mom say what triggered it?"
Tim pinched the bridge of his nose. "Mom didn't say anything, she kicked him out."
"Good for her." Sarah sat forward, slamming her cup down on the table. "Maybe if she'd stood up to him sooner it wouldn't have gotten so bad. Is he staying with Uncle Mike?"
"Nope, he's on a bus, headed here."
"What are we going to do, Tim? Will Agent Gibbs help you?" Sarah used some napkins to mop up the coffee she had sloshed before picking it back up.
Tim reached over and snagged some more napkins for her. "I'm sure he will, I'm going to talk to him as soon as I get to work this morning. In the meantime, everything that could cause a problem is boxed up and in the trunk of my car, and Jethro is going to stay at a friend's place until it's safe." He leaned forward and squeezed her hand. "You are going to go to your boss and pick up some extra hours. If Dad knows that you're swamped between work and school, you should be all right. With any luck I can get him back in rehab again in a few weeks."
"And if you can't?" She didn't expect him to answer, and he didn't. This wasn't new territory. William McGee had battled with alcohol for as long as Sarah could remember. Unfortunately, he had made an art of hiding his addiction from everyone except his wife and children. Change ships, ports and bases often enough, and the rumors never quite catch up, at least not quick enough to help.
"He'll be here today." Tim stood and kissed the top of her head. "I'll call you as soon as I have a plan." She nodded back and gave her brother a brave smile as he walked away. She waited until she saw his car pull away from the curb before calling her boss at the off-campus coffee house where she worked. Mr. Hall was not only a flexible boss for his student employees, as the son of a recovering alcoholic he'd become a wonderful resource since her father's last stumble.
"Where's Gibbs?" McGee was early, but it was a rare day that Gibbs wasn't already somewhere in the building. Ziva looked up from the stack of paperwork on her desk to see him with a box.
"He is with Director Vance, they are not expected back for another hour. Is there a problem, McGee?"
Tim needed to speak to Gibbs before the rest of his team. "No, just something I need to talk to him about. I'm going to go take this to Abby." He managed to make his escape before Tony arrived.
The music was blasting in Abby's lab, but she turned it down the second she saw McGee's expression. "Hey, Abs, need to tell you something and need to ask a favor." He sat the box on the corner of her desk, not quite sure how she was going to react.
"What's up?" She took a long slurp of her Caf-Pow as she studied him.
"My dad started..." Tim stopped and took a deep breath. This was always the hardest part. "He's started drinking again."
Tim McGee drank less alcohol than any man Abby had ever met outside of a Priest, and even they took the sacrament, so she wasn't quite sure if he was overreacting or should be worried. "Define drinking. Are you talking about getting plastered once in a while, or binging, or..."
"He's an alcoholic, Abby."
Very few things stopped Abby cold, but that admission did. After a few seconds of stunned silence, she reached out and took his hand. "Wow, you've never talked about that before."
"Yeah, well, he's back drinking again and Mom's kicked him out of the house. He's on his way here, so I wanted you to know that Jethro is staying at a friend's place in the country until this is over and to not just drop by, okay?"
"You think he could hurt Jethro? Are you and Sarah safe?"
He shrugged. "Working on it. I've got this box of stuff that can't be at the apartment when he gets there and I was hoping..."
"Sure, I'll take it. So, is this your stash of booze?" She hated to see him upset and hoped to get a smile out of him as she poked around in the box. She wasn't surprised to see the bottle of Everclear he used to clean electronics, or the bottle of bourbon that everyone on the team had been given last Christmas, but the hand sanitizer was a surprise, as were the bottles of flavored extracts. "McGee..."
"It'll be okay, Abs."
She wasn't totally convinced. "You're going to talk to Gibbs right? Because he can help, I mean he protected Ziva from her dad and last week he helped Tony with all the trouble his dad caused..."
"As soon as he gets back, I promise."
It was mid-morning and McGee had worked his way through most of the backlog of paperwork on his desk before Gibbs and Director Vance arrived back at the Yard. Vance did not make an appearance in the squadroom, and Gibbs was demanding finished paperwork before he even sat down. Tony and Ziva both muttered apologies and started working seriously on their files for the first time that day, while McGee was able to hand over a large stack ready for Gibbs to sign off on, hoping it would help the older man's mood.
"Well, at least someone accomplished something this morning." Gibbs took the offered files and tossed them in his inbox, not wanting to deal with another reminder of the Prince Sayif fiasco. When McGee didn't immediately return to his desk, Gibbs took a better look at him. "Problem, McGee?"
Tim froze, sensing how bad of a mood Gibbs was in. "Yeah, actually, I need to talk to you about something when you have a minute, but it can wait."
"I need coffee, come on." Gibbs headed straight for the elevator as McGee first scrambled to get out of his way and then scrambled again to catch up with him. The elevator had just started to move when Gibbs flipped the emergency switch. "All right, McGee, spit it out."
Even after all the years of being part of the team, facing Gibbs like this still made Tim nervous and he unconsciously rubbed his sweaty palms against his pant legs. "Boss, it's about my dad. He's arriving later today and..."
"Nope, not happening, McGee. I'm still cleaning up the mess from DiNozzo's old man, and the last thing Tony needs is you rubbing your family in his face."
Gibbs was on too much of a roll to see the effect his words were having on his agent. "Let me make this perfectly clear. Your team mates have not had the fortunate experience of having a great childhood. Tony has had enough of a reminder of that fact. He does not need to see you showing your dad off around here, especially when we're still dealing with the fallout from his father's involvement with Prince Sayif and his family, so you are not to allow your father to step foot in the building, you are not to even mention the fact that he is in town. Is that clear, McGee?"
Tim reached out and turned the elevator back on. "Crystal, sir." When the door opened on the next floor he immediately stepped out, intending to put some distance between himself and Gibbs before he said anything he'd regret. Gibbs wasn't quite done.
"You're supposed to be Tony's friend. I shouldn't have had to explain this to you, McGee. I expected better." Tim froze at the words. He'd been the one to help Tony with his father, he'd hacked into the hotel records and determined how much was owed, he'd loaned Tony the last five hundred dollars needed to pull off the rescue of his father's reputation, and he'd been the one to sit at a bar with Tony most of the night his father left town.
"I guess you don't know me that well, Gibbs, but don't worry. I'll make sure my family doesn't bother anyone here." He stayed ramrod straight until he heard the doors slide closed, and then slumped against the wall, shaking.