Alternate Ending

A/N: You're not gonna like it... but sometimes, that's how I roll...

11 00 11 00 11

"We've got an emergency, Boss," Tony's voice sounded panicked on the other line.

"McGee?"

"Yeah. Just got a disturbing email. I'm on my way to his place right now."

"Disturbing email?" he inquired as he grabbed his keys and headed out to his car.

"I think he's gonna try and kill himself..." his voice cracked. "I shouldn't have left him alone."

"You just get over there, Tony. I'm on my way. I'll call an ambulance."

Gibbs was shouting into his cell as he sped down the street, telling the dispatcher where to send the ambulance. It seemed to take forever to get to McGee's apartment. As he parked in front, he saw the awkward parking job Tony had made of his own car before jogging up the steps...

*~.~*

"I'm sorry..." Tony heard McGee's voice coming from the bathroom and he quickly approached the doorway to see the gun at Tim's temple.

"Don't-" his voice was overridden by the gunshot. Tony froze; all breath leaving his body and his ears ringing. His eyes wide with disbelief, he watched the blood splatter drip down the shower wall where Tim's body was now slumped lifelessly. "No..." Tony's legs decided to work now as he approached the tub and pulled his friend from it. Tim was surprisingly light, but Tony stumbled to the floor with the man in his arms. "McGee?" he looked at the agent's face as he tried to find a pulse. "McGee!" he yelled, shaking him; trying desperately to believe that he was still alive. "Tim..."

*~.~*

Gibbs had paused briefly on the stairs when he heard the unmistakeable sound of a gunshot, then resumed his quick pace up to McGee's apartment. The door was already open and he made his way quickly toward the bathroom where he heard Tony's voice. "Oh God..." Gibbs felt his heart sink in his chest at the display before him. Tony clung tightly to his partner, rocking back and forth as he hugged the man against his chest. Tim's arms dangled lifelessly behind him, blood surrounding the agents and leading from the tub, where it was clear he'd shot himself in.

Gibbs heard the ambulance siren as it pulled into the lot and he pulled himself from his stunned state. Sure, he'd seen more gruesome scenes in his lifetime, but this was...obviously different. This was personal...

"Tony..." he crouched down beside them, not taking his eyes away from his senior agent's face. His friend's mind was elsewhere, unwilling to take notice of anything besides the man in his arms. Tears brimmed his eyes, yet hadn't spilled over, and his breathing was shallow and quick. "Tony, the paramedics are here," he told him quietly. "We gotta give 'em room." Tony didn't respond with more than a blink, which sent the tears streaming down his face. Gibbs decidedly positioned himself to pull McGee from Tony's arms.

"No!" Tony yelled to no one in particular as he clung tighter to Tim's body.

"Let go," Gibbs told him.

"No..." Tony shook his head, but his arms lost all strength and Gibbs took the opportunity to pull Tim from him. McGee's body was light, Gibbs discovered, and he carried him in his arms like a child, cradling the young man as he looked at his face. His eyes stung; burned as he looked at the obviously dead agent. As he entered the hallway, the medics entered the apartment and he laid Tim on the gurney for them.

Flashing his badge, he explained what had happened and watched as they confirmed that Tim was dead... Tony stepped slowly out into the hallway as they covered Tim with a blanket then covered the young agent's head. The sharp intake of breath Gibbs heard behind him, caused him to turn in Tony's direction.

Tony was covered in Tim's blood, standing there in the hall with a look of pure horror in his eyes. Gibbs approached him as he began to shake and nearly collapse. He reached out and grabbed his arms before he could. "I was too late, Boss," Tony's voice was more broken than Gibbs had ever heard before.

"Not your fault, Tony," he shook his head.

"Three seconds..." he retorted as he throat constricted and he choked a sob. "If I could've gotten here...three seconds sooner..."

Gibbs pulled his friend into a tight embrace, cradling his head against his shoulder and petting the back of his head in efforts to comfort him on some level. They both lost a friend, but Tony had witnessed it...and clearly wasn't dealing well with that fact at all. He felt the agent begin to shake more violently. "C'mon, Tony," he said as he pulled gently away and led him toward the couch. "You need to calm down."

"McGee's dead..." Tony said in disbelief as Gibbs sat him down.

"I know," he said in barely a whisper, then pulled out his phone to call Ducky.

"Why...why did he do it, Boss?" he met his eyes for the first time that night.

Gibbs shook his head, "I don't know."

"Jethro? Is everything alright?" Ducky's voice sounded on the other line.

"No, it's not," Gibbs replied. "I need you to come to Tim's place."

11 00 11 00 11

"Dear God..." Ducky was alarmed at the sight of Tony covered in blood where he sat on the couch. "Why haven't you called for an ambulance?"

"Not his blood, Duck," Gibbs told him.

"Well, he's obviously in shock," he said as he approached the agent and pulled a throw over his shoulders. "What happened?" he asked as he felt Tony's forehead and checked his heart rate. When he looked over at Gibbs, he realized the lead agent was chewing his bottom lip; a sorrowful look in his eyes as they seemed to focus somewhere in the air in front of him. Then it hit him, like walking into a brick wall, as he looked at the blood that covered the agent in front of him, and the blood all over Gibbs clothes as well. "Where is Timothy?" he asked, looking back at Gibbs.

Gibbs shook his head and closed his eyes briefly, before motioning for Ducky to look in the bathroom. Ducky stood and went to the small room, gasping in disbelief at the scene in front of him. Seeing McGee's gun in the tub and the bullet-hole in the shower wall, surrounded by a bloody mess, it didn't take long to figure out what had happened. He couldn't speak.

"Tony walked in right as it happened," he told him, now standing behind the older man.

Ducky spun around to face him, "Timothy is dead, then?" he asked quietly. Gibbs gave a small and regrettable nod. Ducky swallowed, ducking his head a bit as he felt tears sting his eyes. Quickly pulling himself together, he took a breath. "We must attend to Anthony, then." He pushed past Gibbs and went to Tony who was staring off at nothing in particular. "Fetch him some water, will you, Jethro," he requested. Then under his breath, "Abigail will be so devastated..."

Tony suddenly began to sob, loudly. "Oh god..." he cried, bending forward until his head was in his lap.

"Anthony," Ducky put a hand on his back. "It's alright..."

"I shouldn't have listened to him...I should've let Abby see him. She's gonna be so angry..." his cries turned into a desperate attempt to breathe. He felt the couch dip beside him and another hand on his back.

"Tony," Gibbs said calmly. "C'mere," he helped Tony to sit back up, then handed him a glass of water. "You let me worry about Abby. I need you to take care of yourself right now. Or at least let me help you."

"Jethro is quite right, dear boy. I know how much you hate hospitals. So let's avoid it, shall we?"

11 00 11 00 11

Gibbs had brought Tony home with him, helped him to change and get into bed. The senior agent had woken his boss several times that night with screams that escaped his nightmares. Each time, Gibbs had gone into the guest room to calm him, eventually deciding to stay there with him.

Ziva called the next morning, needing a ride from the airport, and they both went to get her. She was slightly phased by their appearance when she approached the car; sensing something was horribly wrong. Tony stood leaning back on the passenger door as Gibbs took her luggage and placed it in the trunk. "Are you alright, Tony?" she asked. "You do not look well."

He blinked, unsure of how to answer the question. Then he felt and heard the trunk slam closed, and Gibbs was standing beside Ziva. "We've got some bad news," he told her in a quiet voice. She turned to face him with a furrowed brow. "It's McGee..."

She tilted her head, slowly, registering the hurt in his eyes, and turning to see the same in Tony's. "He's dead," Tony told her.

Her eyes darted back and forth in the air, "What?" The question came out as air; her eyes welling quickly with tears...

11 00 11 00 11

When Gibbs arrived in Abby's lab, she was in tears. It shocked him a bit, seeing as no one had been in yet to tell her. He approached the stool she was sitting on in front of her computer, facing away from him, hunched over. "Abs?" he put a hand on her shoulder.

"Do you know?" she said through tears before turning to face him. "Of course you know...you're Gibbs."

"Who told you?" he asked as he pulled her into a hug.

"Timmy," she cried. "In an email... I went to his apartment this morning."

"You shouldn't have done that, Abby."

"I think I know what sent him over the edge," she pulled away, forcing herself into professional mode as she went to the evidence table. Holding up an evidence bag, she explained, "He must've found this, Gibbs. It was in the bathroom trash."

"What is it?" he asked from where he stood.

"A pregnancy test," she told him. "Kendra was pregnant...did he tell you that? He didn't tell me that, Gibbs. He didn't even let me meet her. He didn't even tell her we were friends. He wouldn't even let me see him after she died... What did I do to him, Gibbs? Why did he push me away?"

Gibbs hushed her nervous rambling by pulling her into another embrace. "I'm sorry, Abs," he told her, rubbing her back as she cried into his shoulder. He had no comforting answers...

11 00 11 00 11

Ziva fought hard against threatening tears as she closed the email McGee had sent her. Her eyes drifted to Tony who had his elbows propped on his desk. He was staring over at McGee's empty chair with a lost look in his eyes. "Tony," she called. He didn't respond, or give any indication he'd even heard her. She stood from her chair and walked over to his desk, sitting on the edge of it without blocking his view of McGee's desk.

He looked up at her. "I shouldn't have left him alone," he said as he looked back at McGee's chair.

"This is not your fault."

"Isn't it?" he looked at her again, slightly angry. "He was my friend. He was in pain and I just left him alone..."

"You cannot possibly blame yourself for this, Tony. It is not your fault-"

"It doesn't matter whose fault it is, does it?" he retorted. "McGee's dead because I was a few seconds too late to stop him..." his voice cracked as he pushed out of his chair and retreated to the restroom. She considered following him, but Gibbs rounded the corner and entered the bullpen just moments later.

"You get an email from McGee?" he asked her.

"I did," she replied.

"Abby got one, too. Obviously, so did DiNozzo," he said as he sat at his desk.

"He probably sent one to you, as well," she said.

Gibbs opened his normally untouched email and found McGee's immediately. He hesitated to open the note, but couldn't refuse the man's final goodbye.

Boss,

Thanks for giving me the chance to be part of your team. It was a great honor working with you. I know I'm taking the coward's way out, but you have to understand, better than anyone, how much it hurts. Thanks for taking care of me.

-McGee

Gibbs boiled over with anger toward himself. He did understand how badly it hurt...and he'd allowed this to happen anyway... He stood, angrily tossing the monitor from his desk to the floor, earning gasps from every agent on the floor. Without paying them any mind, he stalked to the elevator, never once looking back...

~Fin~

11 00 11 00 11

A/N: told you... ;)

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