A/N: Thanks for continuing to follow this story. I appreciate all of your comments!
Disclaimer: the usual, I own nothing but my imagination
"Sarah, Julia and I have Jethro. He came to us on Friday. He'd been hurt." Olivia held the young woman's hand. A look of horror filled Sarah's face as the realization of what Olivia had said hit her full force.
"Miss Hammond, you and your sister live near McGee, do you know where he takes Jethro for a walk? You said the leash was still attached to his collar. McGee must have taken the dog out of a walk. If we can figure out where they might have been …." Ziva finished Tony's train of thought, "…then we may be able to find McGee or some trace of what happened Friday morning."
Olivia looked to Julia to answer the question. "Tim and Jethro have several routes around the neighborhood. Tim once said he thought Jethro got bored looking at the same trees and squirrels." Julia had a sad smile as she remembered the day Tim told her that. "Rainy days they usually stick the wooded section of the park where there is a tree canopy for some shelter from the rain."
"Your idea DiNozzo, you and David run with it. Blanchard, have your team go over the hospital lists again, John Does from Friday through this morning. Also check Metro's crime and tips logs since Friday morning. See if anything jumps out that might be related."
"Director, don't you think we need to call Gibbs?" Tony thought he might be pushing his luck but kept going anyway. "I mean, McGee is on Gibbs team."
One eyebrow almost disappearing, Vance gave Tony a sideways glance, "Really? I have my own reasons to call Gibbs, but I want to know why you think I should call Gibbs, DiNozzo."
"I know that Gibbs wants to try to fix this with McGee. He knows things got out of hand last week" Tony glanced at Blanchard and added, "He's not going to let McGee go without a fight."
"We're making Tim part of my team, DiNozzo. We made sure he knew that last week. We'll take care of our own." Harris and Ramsey stepped up to flank Blanchard, nodding in agreement.
"It does not matter what team McGee may be a part of, the point is that he is missing and we must find him." Ziva was irritated at this childish behavior. "Tony, we must go, NOW."
"WAIT! What is going on with my brother? Tim is missing and Jethro was hurt, now I'm hearing something needs to be fixed between my brother and Agent Gibbs? Tim practically idolizes the man, and now he's moving to a different team? WHAT IS GOING ON?" Tears were still streaming down Sarah's face as she yelled at everyone in the room as she leaned against the table for support.
Turning to Sarah, Ziva reached across the table to take her hand. "Sarah, last week there was a particularly difficult case."
"That was when Tim told me he had a bad day?"
"Yes, it did not end as we had wanted. There was a….rather heated one-sided discussion between Gibbs and your brother."
"Agent Gibbs blamed Tim, didn't he? He looked so dejected and guilty but he wouldn't tell me anything. He never mentioned anything, especially not having to move to another team."
Blanchard interrupted, "Sarah, your brother is an excellent Agent. Don't let any of this make you think any differently. There are a lot of teams that want him with them. Mine being one of them." His words sounded genuine.
"But what does any of this have to do with why Tim is missing? I don't understand. I need to know where he is and WHY!"
"Sarah, we do not know the why just yet. But we will do everything possible to find Tim." Ziva squeezed Sarah's hand as she and Tony left to search the park.
"Ducky...Ducky!" Abby bounded into autopsy looking for their resident Medical Examiner. "Abigail my dear! How nice to see you! Welcome back. I do hope you had an enjoyable week away!" Ducky returned Abby's embrace with welcome arms.
"Ducky, what's going on? I mean, I go away for a week and now Gibbs isn't here when I get back? And Tony is yelling at me and Director Vance won't let me in the conference room where they took McGee's sister. I haven't seen Ziva or McGee and something seems wrong, Ducky! I mean, why..."
"Abigail, my dear. Slow down. Jethro is away this week, he was assigned as a guest instructor at FLETC. He will be back next week, not to worry. Now tell me, what is this about Timothy's sister?" Ducky had tried to calm Abby's fears about Gibbs hoping that would calm the rest of her.
"Sarah, Tim's sister was in the squad room when I got there and then Tony came in and took Sarah upstairs to the conference room with Vance and Blanchard. The Director told me welcome back but go to my lab and then he shut the door. Why did he shut the door Ducky?" Abby had been pacing in short steps wringing her hands.
"My dear, you know that you and I will find out soon enough what was being discussed in that room. Anthony will be along to let us know if something important is going on upstairs." Ducky hoped his explanation would be sufficient while wondering himself what the appearance of Timothy's sister meant.
"But Ducky, it looked serious. Tony wasn't smiling or joking or anything. Sarah said she knew something was wrong with Tim and Tony said that they had been trying to reach her this morning. Ducky! I'm worried!"
"Yes, well Abigail, we won't know what to worry about until Anthony, Ziva or even the Director himself deems it is time to tell us. Why don't we concentrate on having our laboratories ready for when they may need us, shall we? That should keep our minds busy from letting our imaginations run wild, don't you think?" Ducky gently steered Abby towards the doors.
Giving Ducky one more hug Abby looked with sorrowful eyes at her friend, "Thanks Ducky. I'll be ready."
After hours of searching the wooded park, Tony and Ziva return to their car empty handed. Being wet didn't help their mood. "DAMN IT" Tony hit the steering wheel in frustration.
"We knew this would be a punch in the dark, Tony. It has..." "Shot, Ziva, Shot in the dark" "yes, shot in the dark, but it has been raining every day, any clue would have been washed away almost immediately. It was too much to hope that we would find McGee so easily." Ziva was also frustrated but trying to be logical. "Let us return to NCIS and try to find another avenue to look for McGee."
"Commander Henry, Leon Vance, NCIS. I need to speak to Agent Gibbs." Vance hadn't wanted to make this phone call but knew it would be necessary.
"I'm sorry Director, Gibbs is in the middle of a tactical training session. If we break the session now, we'll have to start the activity all over again. This would put us behind schedule for the week." Commander Henry had really hoped not to have any of the drama surrounding Gibbs that was often associated with the talented but head-strong, opinionated agent.
"I understand Commander. But one of my agents is missing. One of Gibbs agents. I need to speak with him as soon as possible." Vance's voice rose a bit even as he understood the Commander's hands were tied.
"I'll get a message to the observation group. As soon as they can get Gibbs free, I'll have him call you. Will that do, Director?"
"Thank-you Commander. I appreciate the exception." Vance ended the call hoping that exception came sooner than later.
Returning to the squad room empty handed was not how Tony had hoped things would have gone. As much as he didn't want Blanchard's team working on finding Tim, he hoped they had better luck than he and Ziva did.
Jeff Blanchard made his way over to Tony and Ziva when he saw them get off the elevator. "Any luck in the park DiNozzo?"
Throwing his back on the floor he turned, "No. Nothing. The rain has washed any trace away. We don't know his actual route through the park. We looked through every wooded, canopied area and came up with nothing. No trace. Anyone we found in the park said they weren't in the park on Friday morning."
"Have you had any luck with the BOLO or crime logs?" Ziva had hoped the other team had something that they could work with.
"We've expanded the BOLO. The radius for all searches has been expanded to a one hundred mile radius. Right now, it's as if he vanished. Nothing on his credit cards or bank records, no evidence of a new cell phone in his name, no sign of his car. We need a break." Blanchard was sounding just as frustrated as they were.
The afternoon was dragging by slowly with no leads. Looking outside it could be mistaken to be early evening. The low dark clouds and continual rain made for a very gloomy day.
"Tony, answer your phone! It is driving me down the hall,"
"That's 'up the wall', Ziva."
"I do not care, hall or wall, your phone has been ringing nonstop, why are you not carrying your cell phone Tony?"
"What the hell is going on DiNozzo? I haven't even been gone a day and I get pulled from training, told to call the Director who is busy. His assistant tells me to call you and you don't pick up. What have I told you about never being unreachable?" Gibbs was irritated. If he had to do this at FLETC, he wanted to do it right.
"So what the hell is so important? Not that I mind being pulled out of training, but Vance had me here for a reason."
Hesitantly, Tony told him. "Boss, it's McGee."
"Can't read your mind DiNozzo."
"McGee's missing, Boss. We figure he's be missing since Friday morning."
"How do you figure?" Even though he asked, his gut was telling him they were right.
"He sent an email to his sister Friday morning. McMutt was found later Friday morning with the leash still on his collar and the dog was found hurt by some ladies that McGee knows in his neighborhood. He was supposed to meet his sister for lunch Friday. No one has heard from him or seen him since that email Friday morning."
"So what else is being done?"
"Vance had Metro check by his apartment building, his car is gone. No one remembers seeing him since last week. There's a BOLO out on his car, no activity on his cell phone or any bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards. Nothing unusual in Metro's tip lines or crime logs. No John Does matching his description at any area hospitals. We've got nothing, Boss." Tony didn't want to admit it, but he was feeling pretty inadequate right about now.
"Where's his sister...Sarah?"
"We've got Sarah here at the Yard. She came here looking for Tim. She'd been getting worried that she hadn't heard from him. She's kinda freaked out."
"Ya think DiNozzo?"
Looking around to see who all was listening to his conversation, Tony lowered his voice, "Gibbs, you don't think...you don't think McGee would have gone and done something stupid do you? I mean, after a couple of days maybe he really freaked out and left town? Do you think he might have sent you an email?"
"Doubt it, he knows I don't read my email. But go ahead and check. I'll wait."
While booting up Gibbs' computer, Tony took the opportunity to snoop. "DiNozzo, get out of my desk." Quietly trying to close the drawer, Tony responded, "Whoa, Boss. Do you ever read your email? Maybe you should spend some time cleaning out your old email Boss."
"DiNozzo! Do you want to spend your next day off cleaning out my email or are you going to go through it now to see if there is something from McGee?"
"Sorry Boss. Nothing from McGee in here. But, uh...Boss? Um, you've got a few recent ones that look a little weird...subject line is "I'm back"
"Open 'em Tony."
"OK, the first one...was sent last Wednesday. It says 'I've been watching Gunny. You're about to lose something.' Boss, is someone after you?"
"Are there more Tony?"
"Yeah, the second one...sent last Thursday. This one says 'I'm going to test your boy Gunny. How well have you trained him?' and there's one more that was sent yesterday. This one says, 'You haven't trained your youngest very well Gunny. Your boy says you don't read email so I've sent you a little package.' Boss, do you know what any of this means?"
Gibbs voice was quiet as he asked "Tony, is there a package?"
"Yeah Boss, must have been delivered this morning when we were out."
"Open it Tony. Tony! Gloves."
Minutes. Not a word was said for minutes as Tony opened the package with trepidation.
"Tony?" "Boss, you may want to try and get Vance to let you come back..."
"DiNozzo! What's in the damn box?" What little patience Gibbs had was now gone.
"Gibbs, McGee's drivers license is in the box along with a bloody jacket. It appears that there is hair, bloody hair as well." Ziva had grabbed a pair of gloves as well to help Tony examine the package.
"Ziva, is there anything else?" Gibbs' gut told him there was more.
"McGee's shoes and socks. And there is a note addressed to you Gibbs."
I'm sure you have forgotten all about me.
But I could never forget you Gunny.
And now your boy won't ever forget me.
"Tell Vance I'm on my way..." the dial tone was all they heard
Gibbs return to NCIS was delayed by too many phone calls between Vance and Commander Henry. It was wasting time. The heavy rains delayed traffic even more and by the time Gibbs reached the Yard, he was practically growling with frustration. "DiNozzo, where's that package?"
Not having seen Gibbs get off the elevator, Tony and Ziva were both surprised when Gibbs strode into the bullpen. "Abby's got everything, Boss. She's been going through all of it." Gibbs didn't even break stride as he barreled into the stairwell not wanting to take the time to wait for the elevator. Tony and Ziva following in his wake.
"Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs! I missed you! I was so worried when I came in and you weren't here and your desk was too clean and no coffee cup. I thought something happened and then Tony was being all weird and wouldn't answer my questions and ….I'm so glad to see you!" Abby enveloped Gibbs in a huge hug and held on tight.
Not wanting to disappoint Abby but wanting to get on with business, Gibbs returned the hug but quickly asked, "Abs, whatcha got?"
"It's not good Gibbs. The blood and hair, it's all Tims. The only prints on his drivers license are his own. The box has all kinds of prints but it was delivered by courier and then went through our mail system for inspection. And sand, there is sand in the hair and socks and on the bottom of his shoes. Gibbs, there was another note. It was stuck inside one of Tim's shoes."
Gunny—you didn't train your youngest very well.
I'll say he surprised me a time or two but I'm disappointed.
I thought you would have your men up to snuff.
I guess that's why you kicked him off your team?
I don't think there's much more I can teach him, I think he's had enough.
He's not expecting you to find him.
But if you want to look for him, he'll be hanging around for a while.
Check your email once in a while Gunny.
You might get a surprise.
"Gibbs! You know how to find McGee right? I mean...you have to find McGee. We're all family and we stick together. You're going to find him, right...Gibbs?" Abby didn't like the look on Gibbs face.
"Boss, any ideas of who this is?"
Looking at Tim's shoes in evidence bags, Gibbs softly replied,"Yeah DiNozzo, I'm pretty sure I know who it is."
"Jeff, we found Tim's car! It's in long term parking at Dulles." Ramsey was behind Harris as he explained how they found the car as they ran into Abby's lab. "Airport security found the car out in the farthest lot backed in against a fence blocking the plate."
"Paul, go, see if there is anything there and have the car towed back here so we can go over it. Bill, I want you…"
"Hold it Blanchard, my agent, my team…"
"I don't think so Gibbs, Tim is assigned to my team now, we'll take care of him. Any information you have on who sent the package will make it that much faster."
Vance finds the two team leaders standing toe to toe as he walks into the forensics lab with their agents backing each man up. "Mind telling me what's going on here?"
"Leon, my team will find McGee"
"You sure you want to do that? Blanchard and his team have a relationship with McGee. When I spoke with McGee he was pretty convinced you didn't want him on your team any longer." Vance stood next to the two men as they stared each other down.
"You have a 'relationship' with my agent Jeff? Movin' a little fast aren't you? Thought his assignment to Blanchard was only temporary, Leon."
"Jethro, you know I'm not the only one that wants McGee on their team, I just showed him how our team works, what that would be like."
"You mean you just got to him before anyone else, is that it?"
"You were pretty adamant about getting him out of your way last week. Your team backed you up by letting him walk away….alone."
Ziva and Tony spoke up loudly but stopped as soon as Gibbs put up his hand. His voice full of remorse, "My fault, not theirs. I let things get out of hand. But that didn't mean I wasn't going to fix it, make it right with McGee." It seemed as though time stood still. The tension in the room was as heavy as the humidity of the storm. .
"Damn it Leon, I know the bastard that has him. He's going to be in bad shape when we find him. I need to be there when we find him." Gibbs didn't wait for Vance to reply.
"Abs, I need you to find Mark Wells. Last I knew he was still in prison."
"Prison? For what?" Tony and Ziva crowded around Abby on one side as she started her search. Blanchard and his team crowded around the other side.
"Murder of a marine." Gibbs watched as Abby's fingers worked the keyboard. It seemed that she wasn't as fast as Tim and he'd had the audacity to yell at Tim for not working fast enough. The irony was not lost as he waited.
"Gibbs, what aren't you telling us?" Vance was wanting some answers.
"Boss, that note….what did all that mean, you not training your youngest?" Tony's voice was full of concern that maybe he had missed something. He, too, was responsible for training his Probie.
Tim had seen his mother's look of disappointment, he knew what was coming….
"I can't believe you almost let your sister die. What kind of son are you? How could you let me down like that? How could you let her down like that? You're supposed to take care of her, be the big brother and protect her. But you can't even protect yourself let alone anyone else…."
"Mom…mom 'm sorry. I'll work harder. I'll take care of Sarah. " promises from a young man that went unheard by those that mattered….
Tim's mother morphed into Gibbs, anger clearly seen on his face. "Can you tell me how you could be any more stupid McGee? How could you miss all that information…with that big MIT brain of yours? Or maybe that's just as much of a joke as you being a field agent. You can't even keep yourself out of poison ivy for God's sake. How are you going to solve a case or protect a witness. I can't believe you let Erin be killed right in front of you. You can't protect yourself or anyone else."
"Boss….please…I'll work harder…I can do better" whispered words that were never heard.
The image of Gibbs morphed into Wells walking around and around, yelling and kicking. "I've never known a Marine to leave a man behind but there's always a first time and looks like it's you. I can see why Gibbs didn't bother looking for you. You can't even learn the basic techniques. Look at you, you weren't even able to protect yourself from one old man. You can't protect yourself or anyone else…
"just end this now"….words from a wounded man delirious from pain that were muted out by the storm that continued to build.