AN: A couple of kind people asked about McGee's wedding… I know I can't write a ceremony and reception sort of thing, and I'm sorry about that, but here's my slant on getting there.
I think a lot of liberties were taken with jet-pack capabilities in 'Ignition', so I'm carrying on in the same vein.
I wondered if the Navy Yard had a church, Googled, and what I found was perfect! Go have a look!
That lovely state between sleeping and waking… you don't even know who you are; your name, your world, your motivations… nothing. You simply are… you float in a warm dark pool, loving that you don't have to think, to make your brain work; you're happy, incredibly happy. You don't know why, but you don't question it, that would be asking for trouble - you just revel in it.
So he did just that, but his awakening brain was pushing information at him, whether he liked it or not. The warm dark pool was a pretty comfortable bed, but his body had had enough of the curled up, foetal position he'd been in for… he'd no idea. A long time. He stretched, luxuriously; he still hadn't a clue who he was, but that feeling of happiness didn't dissipate even slightly. The brain kicked up another notch, flooding the backs of his eyelids with pictures…
A lecture theatre: 'My name is Tim McGee'… a pretty girl sitting on the front row watching him.
A kiss in a crowded airport…
A white, sandy beach and a blazing golden sunset, the girl's hand in his…
Lying on a mountainside at an impossible angle, his girl… yes, she was his girl now, reaching down to pull him up, to save him…
Walking down a trail, wet clothes slowly drying, with Mari beside him, he was thinking about a ring…
The feeling of happiness blanketed him from head to toe. The picture was complete. He, Tim McGee, was in love with Mari Weiss, and today… today he was going to marry her. He smiled; the word fatuous came into his mind, and he really didn't care.
He was floating closer to the surface of the pool, when a voice broke into his reverie. "McGee, you're in my bed, with a big, fat grin on your face. Should I be worried?"
Not even the sound of that familiar, mocking tone could dispel the happy feeling. Tim opened his eyes slowly, to see a hand with a large coffee mug in it about eighteen inches from his face. Tony set the mug down on the nightstand, and sat down on the edge of the bed. He was already showered, and dressed in sweats, and held his own mug cradled now in both hands. He watched Tim with a grin of his own as the other man pulled himself up to a sitting position and reached for the coffee.
The younger agent, his friend, took a long gulp, and croaked, "Thanks, Tony," finally emerging from the pool.
"Well, McGroom, I see you got a good night's sleep. No tossing and turning with pre-wedding nerves."
"Nope… don't believe so. Mind, this bed is very comfortable." He spoke as smugly as he could, then smiled and said what he really meant. "You didn't have to move out. I could have slept on the couch."
DiNozzo chuckled. "Which of us is getting married today?" He held up a finger virtuously, which was something Tim had seen him do before. "As your best man, it's my duty to deliver you to that chapel at the appointed time, intact, fresh, calm, and with no aches from spending the night before your nuptials on someone's sofa. And I take my duties very seriously."
Tim took another large gulp. "Well, the coffee's good," he said appreciatively.
"Plenty more. And you can place your breakfast order now, if you like. You can have huge, or go light if you prefer… for once you can order me about to your heart's content. At the risk of being sappy, it's your day."
"I call the shots?"
"You call 'em. Er… except…"
"Except what?" Tim was instantly nervous.
Tony leaned in close with a salacious look on his face. "What were you grinning about?"
Tim relaxed. "Mari, of course. I woke up thinking about her. That's got to be good, hasn't it?"
Tony's expression changed to thoughtful, and serious. "That even when you don't wake up alongside her, she's the first thing you think about? Yeah, I'd say that's very good. For what it's worth, I thought you were perfect for each other from day one."
"I still owe you for getting us together."
Tony peered into his tea mug, which was inexplicably empty by now, and shrugged.. "You'd have found some way without me."
"Don't think so, Tony. We talked about it… notably, sitting on a beach in Scotland. If you hadn't called me that morning I'd have skipped breakfast, and spent the day on my lap top, waiting until you were ready to go back to DC. Mari would have got a taxi to the airport, and that would have been that."
"Mmm… well, you don't owe me. It was a pleasure. I actually walked away from that breakfast table with a grin like a watermelon –" There was a knock at Tony's front door, and a few moments later, Tim heard Jimmy Palmer's voice in the sitting room. He wasn't going to walk in there in his boxers with hair that looked as if he'd contracted fowlpest, so he yelled, "Hi, Jimmy," dived into the shower, and ten minutes later emerged in the sweats Tony had left out for him.
As he walked into the sitting room, the other two were kneeling on the floor in front of the fireplace, with photos spread all around them. "Hey, McAstronaut… come and look at yourself!"
"DiNozzo, I told you I didn't want a guys night out! Especially the day before my wedding! What are you playing at?"
"Well, that's ok, McGroom, you're not getting one! Just settle down and go with the flow. The girls are off having a wonderful day doing what girls do before a wedding… It's your last day of freedom… and Jimmy and me are organising it for you."
"Kidnapping me, more like it… where are you taking me?"
"Five more minutes, and we'll take the cuffs off, then you can take the blindfold off, then you'll know. Relax…"
He subsided, grumbling. He'd never have considered for moment asking anyone else, but this was the down-side of having DiNozzo as best man. He'd said so to Mari; she'd just laughed and told him he'd be fine with Tony, but he'd been maybe just a little worried that the frat boy side of the SFA would emerge at the wrong moment. He'd been to the wedding of a friend, the previous year, where the poor guy had had to beg and plead with a local TV company to let their make-up department give him a false eyebrow – having woken up the day before the big event with one shaved off. Would DiNozzo do something like that? Well, no, DiNozzo wouldn't. But here he was, handcuffed and blindfolded in the back of Palmer's truck…
"OK…" he felt the handcuffs click. "You can look now." The vehicle slowed down as he pulled the scarf off… Tillman Air! The place they'd investigated earlier in the year… murder by jet-pack…
Tim knew the place was in the hands of an administrator while murder charges, suits and counter suits were still pending, but the research was still going on. The jet-packs… no, it couldn't be… Tony and Jimmy were grinning like loons as they led Tim over to meet the man who stood waiting to greet them.
"McGee, meet Captain Lars Arnessen. He's looking after the project for the marines, until everything's sorted. Captain Arnessen, this is Tim McGee, the poor unsuspecting guinea pig I promised you…"
Tim had no idea how they'd pulled it off or financed it, and neither one was saying, but he'd spent three incredible hours, first on tethers, learning to handle the controls, and then finally trusted for a thirty second free flight over the airfield. He spent the rest of the day as high as he'd been on that flight.
"I had Mari's permission to let you risk your life the day before your wedding," Tony had told him later, as the guys, including Tim's father, sat down to dinner at his favourite restaurant. "She's a girl an' a half, Tim."
He'd almost blushed, as he'd agreed with his friend's assessment. Now, here they were, surrounded by the photos that Tony and Jimmy had taken of his adventure; without them, he'd have thought it was all a dream. Tony selected five, and put them in order. "Captions," he said gleefully.
Jimmy studied the first one; Tim about to lift off for the first time, on the tethers, eyes screwed shut under the safety helmet. He made air quotes. "'No…no – I don't want to die before my wedding!'"
They looked at the second one, where the screwed up eyes had given way to a wary sideways glance. Tim smiled, and said, "'I swear I'm gonna get you for this, DiNozzo… if I survive.'"
The third one had Tim about fifteen feet in the air, a smile on his face; "'Up, up and away,'" Jimmy sang with more enthusiasm than tune, and passed him the fourth shot from Tony's selection.
The SFA said "Only one possible for that…" The photo showed Tim turning a slow circle, one tether line having been released. "'Is it a bird? Is it a plane?'" Jimmy joined in. "'No, it's McAstronaut…'" from which they segued neatly into 'The Wind Beneath My Wings' as they showed Tim the shot of him coming down towards the camera, steady and straight as an arrow, his ecstatic grin visible from twenty feet.
He shook his head in wonder. "Thanks, guys," he said softly.
Jimmy had also brought their button-holes; where Gill Cooper had got hold of deep blue-purple gentians, Tim had no idea, and they could have all worn ornamental cabbages for all he cared, but then he considered that Swiss flowers were perfect for a Swiss bride, and he had to fight a wave of emotion. He put his head down, pretending to be fascinated by one of the photographs, and the other two men pretended not to notice.
"You staying for breakfast, Jimmy? We got plenty…" The banter got Tim back on track as they made short work of the pancakes, and then the young AME left to go home and change. "Now, McGroom, let's see this Versace effort you've been hiding…"
They changed into their finery. Tim had brought a toothbrush, the clothes he'd stood up in, and his wedding outfit to Tony's place; his car and everything else he needed was at the Navy Yard chapel, except for the rings, and he'd made Tony check three times this morning already that he hadn't lost them. Who'd have thought, Tim mused, the times he'd driven past that great little building that used to be a power plant… that he'd be getting married there. But where else could be better?
They weren't going for formal wear; Tim had put himself in Mari's hands over dress, and had been really happy when she'd suggested that they didn't hire things they'd never dream of wearing any other time. So he'd splashed out on a charcoal grey three piece that fitted him perfectly, and now Tony produced a flat, tissue lined box. "Mari sent this, told me to give it to you when you put your suit on. Lose the tie, McMalemodel."
Tim removed the dove-grey silk tie he'd bought to go with the suit, and lifted one out of the box that was the same gentian blue that had choked him up earlier. He put it on, moving as if in a dream, until his friend laughed and threatened to stab him with the pin as he put his buttonhole in place. They'd both decided that carrying guns was a real no-no on such a day, but kept their badges. Because they go with the threads, Tony had said. Finally, done to perfection, the two men stood side by side looking at themselves in the long cheval-glass mirror that Tony had lugged into the sitting room earlier, striking silly poses. The SFA chuckled earthily.
"You know we're going to get mobbed as soon as we step out of the front door? Two such specimens of male perfection… it's going to bring every woman in the neighbourhood running…" Tim just rolled his eyes. "Seriously… you look good. Like a guy should on his wedding day. Ya ready?"
"Yes… have you got…" Tony reached into his inner breast pocket and showed his friend the tiny linen bag, then ostentatiously pushed it back into the pocket and patted it down. Tim looked sheepish.
"Tony… thanks…" he felt awkward; couldn't find the words.
His friend, of course, could… when was DiNozzo ever speechless? "Privilege, Tim," he said quietly, and pulled him in for a hug. "Let's go. You have a wonderful woman to go wait for."
Tony's prediction was half right. As the two men emerged from his apartment, his neighbour Fi was coming out of hers, pulling her baby buggy through the door, and hanging onto her lively three year old, Jessica, as well. She gave them both an admiring glance. "Wow, you two look good, Tony. This is the friend you told me about? Congratulations…" As they talked, Tony carried the buggy, with a sleeping Alfie aged two months, down the steps outside. Fi stopped, looking across the road to the park opposite. "Oh, damn."
"He's there again." She didn't have to explain; the two agents only had to follow her glance. There was a fenced off playground in the park; an asphalt path ran alongside it, and there were benches beside the path. A man sat on one of the benches watching the children play.
"He never does anything…" she said anxiously, "But he just gives me the creeps. He sits there and stares at the children… I've promised Jess… but now I don't want… Oh, look, I shouldn't be moaning to you, you've got a wedding to go to!"
Tony asked calmly, "Have you told Metro?"
"No," Fi said… "What could I tell them? They wouldn't arrest a man simply because I don't like the look of him."
"How often is he there?" Tim asked.
"This is maybe the fourth time I've seen him."
Tony bit his lip. He was thinking that he should simply phone Metro and alert them, but it was Tim who spoke first. "Tony, he's got something in that bag. See the wire?"
Tony looked; the man was too intent on the children to notice their scrutiny. He munched on a sandwich held in his left hand – he could have been just an office worker having his lunch, but something was concealed in his right hand, and a wire that only a technophile like Tim would have noticed led from it into the canvas bag on the ground at his feet. The older agent nodded with a frown. "We'll walk across with you, Fi," he said. "It'll only take a moment… I brought my car round from the garage earlier." He pointed to his Mustang, at the kerb a few yards away.
"That's good… but I don't want to make you late…"
"We've plenty of time," Tim said firmly, and Tony shot him a sideways, approving glance.
The gate to the playground was on the fence at right angles to the path where the man was sitting. It had a warning notice beside it that said adults must be accompanied by a child. To keep them in order, Tony thought inconsequentially. The two agents were able, whilst deep in conversation with Fi, to study the guy. He was sitting opposite a stockade climbing frame with a slide, that was favoured by the eight and nine year olds, leggy boys and girls in summer shorts and vest tops, or skirts that rode up as they hurtled down the slide.
Tony said softly, "Am I imagining it… or has he got a hole cut in that bag?"
"You're not imagining it," Tim murmured just as softly. "What d'you bet a camera?" His voice was hard and un-McGeelike. "Sitting there in broad daylight taking pictures of little girls' pants, the bastard."
"And we haven't got our guns," Tony said regretfully.
"We don't need our guns to take the likes of him down," Tim protested.
"I know," Tony said, turning so that the man wouldn't see him phoning… not that he was looking anywhere but at the children, and speed-dialled Metro. "I'd just have enjoyed it. But we can't have you getting in a scuffle with him in your wedding suit."
Tony spoke to Metro dispatch, who said five minutes. "You OK with that, McGroom?"
Tim's smile was thin. "When you were shot at JFK… when we were waiting to hear how you were - you remember what Mari had been through? She told me she'd marry me, and take whatever came, and she meant it. She'd tell me I could be an hour late for my wedding, not that I intend to be - if it meant catching a paedophile. You said she's a girl and a half."
"I did too. Uh-oh…" The man on the park bench seemed to be preparing to leave. The two agents went into action, starting out quickly in opposite directions to come at him from two sides.
As he put his lunch box back into the bag, on top of the camera he thought he'd concealed so cleverly, and began to get up, a cold voice behind him said, "Sit down, friend." He glanced over his shoulder to see a tall, solid young man standing behind the bench. He knew at once that he'd been made, and leapt up to flee, only to run into a casual hand, not even a fist, that shoved in the area of his gut and made him totter back onto the bench. An older, even more solid man loomed over him.
"My friend said sit down," he said pleasantly, lifting his jacket to show the federal agency badge on his belt. "You can see we're dressed for a special occasion," he went on conversationally, "And we'd be seriously mad if we had to muss up our nice clothes by chasing you. So, you're not going to attempt to run. You're just going to wait quietly with us until Metro get here."
"I wasn't doing anything…" The indignant protest died away as McGee lifted the camera from the bag, using his handkerchief. He switched it on, and after a few moments of studying it, he passed it over to Tony, his face twisted in disgust. His friend looked too, very briefly, switched it off and put it back in the bag.
"You have the right to remain silent… use it." The man subsided. There was a litter bin by the bench; Tim took his handerchief back from his friend and dropped it in. The SFA grimaced understandingly, then looked at his watch. "Eight minutes… they said they'd be here in five…"
Tim looked at his, and said, "It's OK. We still have plenty of time." He thought for a minute. "Mind you… the guests will be wondering where the hell the groom is. I guess Jimmy'll tell them we're on our way." He paused again, then said suddenly, with alarm, "I think we've got trouble, Tony."
The other agent looked in the same direction, to where another young woman was talking to Fi, and they were both pointing in their general direction. With them stood a very angry looking young man, and the other young mother was beckoning over her husband from where he'd been pushing his son on a flying tyre. The gathering crowd left the playground, and advanced on the two agents and their prisoner. No sign of Metro.
"Hey…" one young man called sharply as they advanced. "Fi says this guy's a pervert. Been taking photos of our kids, right?"
"We're federal agents," Tony said lightly, showing his badge again. "We're dealing with it. Metro are on their way."
The angry father came straight to the point. "They're not your kids. Maybe we don't want you to deal with it. Maybe we want to deal with it ourselves."
"Yeah," his wife said. "Arresting him and sending him to jail's not good enough. He'll get out and start again. I'd like to show him exactly what I think!"
Another father said loudly, "I say let's teach him a lesson he won't forget!"
Tony's voice changed. It was quiet and cold. "And I say you can't be that dumb!"
The dad hesitated. "Dumb?"
The pervert tried to get up again, thinking nobody was watching him; Tim pushed him down, one handed, just as casually as Tony had done.
"That's what he said. You're lucky we're not packing… I didn't want to take my gun to my wedding. If we were, d'you know we'd be aiming at you right now, not him? D'you think that's right? Would you make us do that?"
There was an angry, confused murmur. "You heard," Tony said. "And when Metro got here, they'd have to arrest you, because they're law officers, like us. We do things according to the law. D'you want to be arrested when he's the criminal?"
The angry father wasn't convinced. "Maybe it'd be worth it." He took a step forward, and Tony simply stood in his way.
"Don't do this," he said, still in that quiet, matter-of-fact voice. "If you try to go through me to get at him, you'll mess up my suit, and I want to look good on my friend's wedding photos."
"You're really going to a wedding?" The angry wife asked, and both rather stunned agents were only prevented from saying something very sarcastic, (that really wouldn't have helped the situation,) about six hundred dollar suits with gardens in the lapels, by Fi's gentle intervention. She wished now she'd never opened her mouth to the other parents.
"Tony's the best man; Tim's the groom. They were on their way to the church, but they stopped to help."
The angry father hesitated again, and then blustered. "But… but how do we know he won't get away with it? How do we know he won't come back? What if we didn't recognise him?"
Tim thought it was probably better to address their fears than to point out that the guy was certainly going to jail, and said suddenly, "Who's got a cell phone with a camera?" Five of the eight parents standing there instantly produced them.
The thoroughly scared pervert still managed to squeal indignantly, "You can't photograph me. It's against my civil liberties!"
"He could be right, Tim…" Tony mused. "But of course, if any of you ladies wanted to take a souvenir photo of myself and McGroom here in all our glory, cuz, you know, we look so good… we wouldn't want to stop you."
"And of course we have to be standing close to our friend here so he doesn't get away," Tim endorsed. "Because, if you did," he added to the man on the bench, "I really don't think we could stop them from going after you."
Cameras clicked, and then Tony, with perfect timing, said innocently, "By the way, who's minding your children?" Amidst an outburst of guilty exclamations, the crowd melted away, just as three Metro squad cars came bouncing across the grass.
"Hey, DiNozzo," the sergeant said. "From a distance it looked like you had a lynch mob there… how did you sort that out? And what's with the party clothes?"
"Hi, Wallace, what's with the overkill?"
Tim glanced apprehensively at his watch, as it looked as if Tony was going to settle down to a reunion chat with an old acquaintance. They'd had twenty minutes comfortable leeway, now they had ten minutes to get to the Navy Yard. And for all his confidence that Mari would understand, he still didn't want her to worry, or to have the embarrassment of arriving at the chapel before he did.
Tony's voice broke into his worried funk. "Come on, McGroom… we're sorted." He found his elbow grabbed by his best man; he was bundled into the back of one of the squad cars.
"One crew to get statements," the sergeant explained. "One to take our nasty little friend in. Leaves one crew with nothing to do." They were alongside Tony's Mustang by now, and the two shot out of the squad car like corks.
The siren started up, lights began to flash, and Tony said, "Hang on to your buttonhole, McGroom."
It wasn't as terrifying as riding with Gibbs, Tim concluded. Tony loved his Mustang and didn't ill-treat her, and weaving in and out of traffic in the wake of Sergeant Wallace's vehicle was smoother than he'd expected. Nine minutes later, Tony slid into a reserved parking slot to see the three bridesmaids frantically beckoning at the chapel door. With a rasp of his horn, the helpful cop drove away, and Tim and Tony ran for it, just as Mari's limo appeared in the distance.
Tim barely had time to register that Sarah, Anne-Marie and Claire were dressed in that same rich gentian blue, before Tony propelled him through the double door. "We'll explain later, ladies…" he yelled over his shoulder before braking to a sedate walk as he checked over Tim's appearance one last time, and escorted his friend down to the front of the chapel, while a buzz of relieved conversation went on around them. The sunshine sparkled through the reds, blues and whites of the beautiful, modern stained glass window, as the bridegroom steadied himself.
Tony allowed himself a glance round, and caught first his boss's glance, then Ziva's. Gibbs raised one eyebrow and looked slightly amused; Ziva's chocolate brown gaze was, as always, unfathomable. She was always telling him something with those eyes, and always, at the same time, preventing him from understanding the message. He smiled at her anyway, and turned his attention back to Tim.
"Yeah, I'm OK."
The music began… and Tim could absolutely not resist turning to look at his bride as she came down the aisle towards him. Her dress was of very soft pale gold satin, with a long, straight skirt, and a top that flowed and folded. She carried gentians and edelweiss, and there were more of the little white star-flowers in her hair. Tony caught his breath, and Tim thought he'd never seen anything so beautiful in his life. She came to his side, and their eyes danced at each other.
"Liebchen…" Tim whispered. Mari leaned towards him, and the totally smitten groom waited breathlessly for some term of endearment back.
She whispered lovingly, "I hear you were late, McGee…"
AN: The vows, the reception… they're down to you. I'd rather leave it to your imagination than make a bad job of it.