Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of NCIS, I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Chapter 1

As director of NCIS, it was his difficult duty to make those dreaded calls to loved ones whenever one of his agents was wounded or killed in the field. This day was an exeptionally black day as Leon Vance had to face making two such calls. No matter how many he had previously made, they never got any easier. On his desk in front of him lay two files, both opened on the pages detailing next-of-kin. The files were those of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. With a heavy heart, he picked up the phone and dialled the first number.

Jackson Gibbs was working in his store in Stillwater, Pennsylvania, stocking shelves, when the shrill bell of his telephone startled him. He answered and when the caller identified himself as the director of NCIS, Jackson felt his knees weaken and he grabbed the counter top for support. He did his best to brace himself for what he knew was coming. This was the call that he had been dreading from the very first day his only son left home to join the Marine Corps. He could hear the catch in the director's voice and discerned that it was bad news. Director Vance explained as concisely as he could that his son, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, was in a critical condition at Bethesda Naval Hospital, having been shot and wounded in the line of duty earlier that morning.

The director informed the devastated father that Jethro and his team had been working a murder scene in a public park in Washington, when a Navy lieutenant pulled up in his car and pretty much went berserk. He started firing a semi-automatic weapon indiscriminately upon the agents and bystanders alike. Gibbs' team was taken completely by surprise. Reports from eyewitnesses said that Agent Gibbs acted valiantly when he realised what was happening. He drew his own weapon and charged courageously towards the gunman, firing as he did so. Thankfully, he managed to shoot and kill the gunman but not before receiving multiple gunshot wounds himself. His heroic actions saved the lives of his team the director explained.

In as sensitive, yet insistent, manner as he could, Vance advised Jackson Gibbs to get to Bethesda sooner rather than later, as his son's condition was listed as critical. He offered his support to Gibbs senior and recited the usual words of consolation that he had become accustomed to reciting, but today they felt even more empty and useless than usual. After all, they were just words. What good were words at a time like this, Vance found himself wondering.

Having ended that first call, Vance stood up from his desk, walked to his drinks tray and reached for the bottle of Jim Beam. He really had been shaken when he received the call from Ducky only an hour or so earlier. Making these calls was harrowing at the worst of times, but this time it was different. It felt more personal. He and Gibbs had got off to a rocky start in their professional relationship, but nowadays he would almost call Gibbs his friend. They had come to an understanding and it was based on mutual respect. Vance didn't have very many friends because of his position and he hoped he wasn't about to lose one today. And then there was DiNozzo. Everyone loved DiNozzo. Sure, he could drive you demented, but he brought a certain light wherever he went, not to mention he was a damn fine agent. What a waste! Vance threw back the bourbon, closed his eyes and savoured its malty warmth as it slid down his throat. Taking a deep breath he returned to his desk. It was time to make another call.

Anthony DiNozzo Senior was sitting in a hotel bar in Atlantic City, having a lunchtime drink with a suitably wealthy lady, when his cell phone rang. He didn't recognise the number, and for a moment considered not answering it. But for whatever reason, he decided to pick up. The caller introduced himself as Leon Vance, Director of NCIS. DiNozzo froze and the blood drained from his face suddenly, so much so that his female companion grew concerned. He listened carefully as the director explained what had happened. DiNozzo Senior heard the first few words and as shock set in, the director's voice faded. He had always expected that something like this would happen to Tony eventually, but it didn't make it any easier hearing the actual words.

From the day Anthony Junior had entered the Police Academy, his father expected to be taking a call like this some day. He hated and resented the fact that his only son had chosen law enforcement as his career. He had high hopes for his boy and spent his life acquiring wealth to ensure that he received a top-notch education and benefited from a high-flying life. His career choice was always a bone of contention between father and son. He now realised that as Tony matured and moved away, DiNozzo Senior had tried to put what he considered his son's failure to the back of his mind and sadly managed to put his relationship with his son there also. Without saying a word, he lowered the phone from his ear, emotionally numbed by the director's words. He just stared at the phone in his hands.

"What is it?" his lady friend enquired again and again.

"It's my son. He's been shot," he eventually told her. "He's in Bethesda Naval Hospital," he said, standing up. "I have to go," he said shakily, walking away without another word and leaving her to pick up the check.

He hurriedly checked out of his hotel and rushed to the train station. He had to wait only 40 minutes for the next train to Washington. He boarded the train and settled into a lonely journey to get to his son's bedside.

Meanwhile, Leon Vance sat back anxiously at his desk. He'd done his duty and informed the next of kin. Now what should he do? Another team of agents were processing the scene of the shooting. He wanted results and fast, but knew that nothing was going to change the fact that two of his agents were in mortal danger. He knew the seriousness of their injuries from the initial reports of the shootings. Sitting around in his office, waiting for news was torture. He felt absolutely useless. Both the injured agents were undergoing surgery. He should be at the hospital, he realised, knowing that was where the rest of Gibbs' team would be, so that's where he headed.

When he got there, most of Gibbs' team were waiting along a bare corridor, looking anxious and fearful. Abby was by far the most visibly shaken. She was sitting quietly, staring into space, which Vance found very disconcerting, as it was so out of character for the normally hyperactive Goth. Ziva was putting on her usual stoic façade, trying to hide her true emotions. Dr. Mallard and Jimmy Palmer both looked shaken and physically the worst for wear, their bloodstained clothes testament to their valiant efforts to save their colleagues. Strangely, there was no sign of McGee.

"Ah, Director," Ducky piped up, acknowledging his presence. "I'm afraid that there's no news as yet."

"That's okay, Ducky. I just thought I'd wait with you," he explained. "Where's Agent McGee?"

"Oh, Timothy was also wounded and is being treated in the ER. It's just a scratch. He'll be here soon," Ducky explained. "Did you manage to reach Gibbs' and Tony's fathers?"

"Yes," Vance replied. "They're both on their way."

"Good," Ducky replied, resisting the urge to say 'Let's hope they make it before it's too late'. Instead he just shook his head. It was enough to convey to Vance that it wasn't going to end well.

The director understood what he was intimating without him having to articulate it. He knew he was probably going to lose an agent today, possibly two. The scant conversation soon dried up. Everyone was too busy worrying and trying to deal with the situation in their own way. Hours passed and McGee rejoined them, his arm now in a sling. Eventually a surgeon emerged from the OR.

"Family of Tony DiNozzo?" he asked.

"Yes," several of them replied in unison.

"Okay," he said, looking curiously at the odd bunch of characters before him. "We've managed to remove the bullet from Mr. DiNozzo's chest. It was quite a tricky operation and he gave us a couple of scares in there, but luckily he's young and strong and he's come through it. His condition remains serious and he'll be admitted to the ICU for the next 48 hours at least," he told them.

"Does that mean he's going to be okay?" Abby asked innocently.

"Without complications, I would certainly hope so," the doctor replied.

"Thank you, Doctor," Ducky said, shaking the surgeon's hand. "Thank you. Is there any news on the other agent who came in with him?"

"I'm sorry, I haven't heard any update on Agent Gibbs yet," he replied, smiling sympathetically. "I'll send someone to come get you when Tony's been settled in."

"Thank you," Vance replied on behalf of the group.

And again they waited. A nurse came by a short time later and told them that one or two people could see Agent DiNozzo for a short while. Ziva went first. Her feelings for Tony, while well hidden, were undeniable. She managed to spend some precious time alone with him, willing him to be okay. All the while he lay there, oblivious to her heartache. When she left him, Abby sat with him for a while. The others maintained their vigil outside the OR. A couple more hours passed and the rest of the team took turns paying short visits to Tony, who remained unconscious all the while.

Eventually a grim-faced surgeon approached from the main door of the OR. Abby stood up when she saw him. She was overcome with a terrible sense of foreboding as he approached. Everyone saw what she saw in his face. No one said a word when he reached them. Ziva fingered the Star of David pendant that hung around her neck and prayed that Gibbs was going to be okay. They all held their breaths.

"Are you all here for Agent Gibbs?" the surgeon asked.

"Yes," one or two replied. The others just held their breaths.

"I'm afraid the news is not good," he said with resignation. "We've done everything we can. Agent Gibbs lost a massive volume of blood. We've transfused three litres so far. The wounds to his chest and abdomen were severe. To be honest, I'm amazed that he made it this far. We've managed to repair the damage and stop most of the bleeding, but he's very weak. He arrested twice during the surgery and we had a battle on our hands to get him back. It is likely that his heart will have suffered some damage as a result. I have to be honest and say that right now the prognosis is bleak," the surgeon explained to them.

"No!" Abby blurted out suddenly. She began to cry.

"I'm sorry. If he survives the night, then I might be a bit more optimistic," the doctor told them. "Let's just see how the next few hours go."

Abby's sobs echoed through the halls. No one else spoke. Ziva tried her best to comfort Abby, all the while struggling with her own sorrow. Vance sat back down, his head in his hands, cursing the price these agents had to pay for their country. Ducky had already been preparing himself for the news, having seen first hand his friend's injuries, but when it came, it didn't make it any easier. His friend was dying. His own heart was slowly breaking. Palmer knew what his mentor was feeling and wanted to do something to ease his pain. He could see the torment in the doctor's eyes but felt useless to do anything about it.

As this was unfolding, McGee, who had been down to the pharmacy for painkillers, emerged from the elevator down the hall. He could hear Abby sobbing and by the time he reached the group and saw their faces, he felt sick.

"Oh, God, who is it?" he asked desperately.

"Oh, McGee," Ducky said, turning when he heard the voice. "We've just received some bad news."

"Who's dead?" McGee asked sadly.

"What…no! They're both out of surgery," Ducky told him. "It's just that Gibbs isn't doing so well."

"Oh," he replied, relieved that they were both alive, yet scared for his boss.

There were no words to express his feelings upon hearing that. There were none of the usual reassurances that you would expect. No one saying, 'He's going to be fine'. The picture the doctor had painted was very clear. Gibbs' future looked bleak and it appeared Ducky was already accepting the inevitable. Maybe he should too. He walked over to Abby and Ziva and sat down beside them. Abby threw her arms around his neck and clung on tightly. It was going to be a long night.