What do you wanna talk about?" Tim asked quietly as he tried to shift in the chair. The brace, the sling and the cast made it difficult though and he ended up hissing with pain as the movement jarred him.
"Timothy, please. Keep still because you are doing nothing but aggravating your injuries." Ducky moved to his patient and friend, and rested his hand on Tim's good shoulder. "Do you want us to take you back to bed so you can take your medication and rest?"
Tim shook his head and smiled wanly at Ducky. "No. I want to hear what he has to say. You're nervous?" Tim asked and cocked his head slightly. "Why?"
Tom laughed and shook his head. "Do I need to know how you can tell. I was trained to hide my emotions."
"Trained or not, you're nervous. What do you want?" The sudden cold tone in Tim's voice shocked everyone in the room because it was the first time they'd ever heard the young man talk that way. Angela stood up from where she was sat, and moved closer to Tim to provide him with the loving, motherly support that he needed. "You...why? Why are you worried?"
Tom's guarded smile faltered and dissolved into a frown. "Damn straight I'm worried. One son turned his back on the world and killed himself in prison, and the other is facing life in a cell when he had a promising career. What do you want me to say? Yes, I'm worried and yes, I wish Jason hadn't roped Andy in. He was a good kid..."
"GOOD KID? HE WAS MY DAMN PARTNER AND LOOK WHAT HE HELPED TO DO!" Jim shouted from where he had stood up. Tim jumped and groaned at the loud, booming voice. "Sorry, Tim. Jesus, this is not happening!"
"My apologies, I shouldn't have come." Tom turned to leave but stopped at the firm grip that had grabbed onto his shoulder.
"Sit!" Gibbs commanded and pointed to the empty chair. "Now you've started this, you can damn well tell us why you're here!"
The commanding tone in the man's voice had Tom looking sheepish as he was guided to the chair. He sat down heavily and leaned forward so that his elbows rested on his knees with his head hung down low. To everyone sat in the room, he looked like the epitome of dejection and they knew, that his son had finally beat him down.
"Where do I start?" He asked softly and shook his head. "Why did I come here? I don't know. I guess..." Tom raised his head to look around the room and finally settled his gaze on Tim. "Guess I wanted to come and see how you were doing. I don't know why, but when I spoke to...well, I suppose you could call him a monster. I call him my son, but it doesn't mean I'm proud of him."
Tim frowned and sighed heavily. This wasn't the man that had done this to his family, all he had done was simply father Jason. "Okay. I'll...sorry, we'll hear you out, but please, be kind enough to get to the point because I'm overdue for my meds and I want to lay down to ease the pressure I'm putting on my injuries right now."
Gibbs turned his attention to Tim and frowned at his young Agents comment. A closer look At his the young man's face told Gibbs that the stoic aura he had built around him was crumbling and judging by the fine sheen of sweat and the tightened features, Tim was in a world of pain right about now. "McGee, we can do this another day if you want. You need to get some rest."
"Boss, please. We may as well get it over and done with and besides, he's here now. So, Mr. Geckler. Again, why are you here?"
Tom nodded sucked in a huge breath. "You know about Andy?"
"Oh we know." Tony snorted from where he had been sitting silently with Abby and Ziva. "I'm still trying to figure out how you managed to raise two boys to be like that and be so damn clueless."
Abby nodded and Gibbs saw the glaring look that Ziva sent Tom's way. "DiNozzo. Can it." He said softly with a slight jerk of his head towards Tim. Tony looked over towards his Probie and saw what his Boss had noticed and nodded.
"On it Boss."
"I didn't raise them like that and have no idea why they...Jason was the way he was. I always said he was unstable and Andy was the sensible one. When Andy washed his hands of us and came to us with adoption papers so that my sister could adopt him, it tore us apart. My wife, God bless her soul, couldn't take it anymore and killed herself. You know what I found strange? Jason didn't grieve. Didn't shed a damn tear over his mother and looked almost glad that she was gone."
"He was evil." Tim whispered into the silence that hung in the air once Tom had finished speaking. "Pure evil. I could see it in him when I interviewed him that time."
"Can't argue with you there. He was still my flesh and blood though and I loved him. What else could I do?"
"You could have got him help!" Jim said vehemently. "You could have taken him to the local asylum and got him sectioned in there."
Angela shot Jim a mild glare and shook her head at him. With a mumbled curse, he stood up, took Isabelle off of his wife and carried her out of the room. Anna sighed before standing up and following Jim out to make sure he was okay.
"I deserved that." Tom said sadly and hung his head momentarily. With a sad sigh, he looked up at Tim and fixed is gaze on the young man. "I'm sorry. You have no idea how sorry I am. I...when the boys were younger Andy would come home from school with bruises. When we asked about them, he'd say he fell or got into a fight. He didn't do that, but boys will be boys and I thought he was just getting into the wrong crowd. I sat him down and talked to him one night, but he stuck by his story and that was that. I talked to him, and he promised to try and stay on the straight and narrow for me and his mom."
Ducky stood up so he could go and crouch in front of Tim. "Timothy, how are you feeling lad?"
"M'oka...okay. Please. You're all worrying. Stop." Ducky smiled at the young man and shook his head sadly.
"We can't help the way we feel and right now, you look as though you need your pain medication. I shall go and get it and then we're going to move you back to your room so you can rest."
"No?" Ducky questioned with a frown. "Dear boy, really your health is impor..."
"NO!" Tim said with a little bit more force. "Please, just a little longer. I need to know."
"Need to know what." Angela asked and when Tim turned to look at her, he could see the sheen of tears moistening her eyes.
"I just need to hear what Mr. Geckler has to say. Just a little longer...please, continue."
Tom nodded and saw the fierce strength of character in Tim's eyes. "Agent McGee. I shouldn't have come. Please, do as your friends and family tell you and get some rest." Tom made to stand up but was stopped by a crutch being thumped down on the arm of the chair he was in.
"Sit." Jacob commanded and sat back. "If I know my son, and I can safely say I do, then I now he won't rest until he's heard what you came to say."
"Ok." Tom agreed and sat back once again. "Where was I?"
"Straight and narrow; get to the point." Gibbs growled out.
"Oh. Yes. Well, things were pretty good until I drove past their school and saw Jason beating on his brother just around the corner. He was really laying into Andy, so I stopped and got them both in the car. That was just after Jason got arrested. I knew then, that all the years of the bruises and the split lips had nothing to do with what Andy said they had, and were in fact the result of my eldest son being a bully. That was the day that Andy decided he couldn't take any more and went to live with my sister."
"What then?" Tim asked. "He said...he said I ruined him. How? He cou...damn!" Tim hissed as he tried to lean forward into the pain, but sucked in a sharp breath when the brace put pressure on his injured ribs.
"He could have taken a different path? Yeah, I know. Between Jason being interviewed, Andy moving out and my wife committing suicide, Jason went off the rails. I took him to the doctor and he was on medication for both his temper and his mood swings. I have battled with him for years, Agent McGee. I have tried as a father, to help him along the way but he was always blocked by a black mark on his record. It wasn't easy for him."
"It wasn't anything to do with what happened at NCIS. He was already on the wrong side of the law and needed help." Gibbs said firmly. "If you've come here to blame my Agent for what's happened, then the door's that way."
"No. I'm not blaming anyone but my son. I just want my life back and I'll be lying if I say that Jason's death isn't a relief. What I wanted to come here for, was to give you this." Tom pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it over to Tim. Tim reached out with his good arm and took it before being startled by Tom's firm hand on his good shoulder. "I am truly sorry about what has happened and I hope that one day, you and your family can get over your ordeal."
"Not likely, but thanks." Tim whispered so softly, only Mr. Geckler and Gibbs heard him. Tim silently watched as Tom walked out of the living room, leaving the house to go about whatever business he needed to take care of. "Wha...?"
Ducky reached over and plucked the paper out of Tim's hand before shining a light into his young charges eyes. "Timothy, are you with me?"
Ducky frowned at the pained quivering in Tim's voice. "Okay, young man. Time for you to go to bed and take your pain medication. No arguments. Jethro, Anthony. Please, would you do the honors and help Timothy to his room, please? Careful now, he's in a lot of pain."
"Shouldn't we give him his meds before we move him and wait til they kick in?" Tony asked as he took position beside his friends chair to help him back.
"No. I'm going to give Timothy the stronger medication tonight because I think this is just more than physical pain. He's feeling everyone's shock, anger and worry right now and if I'm not mistaken, it's causing quite the headache there."
Tim nodded once and groaned when Tony and Gibbs lifted him to carry him carefully back to the bedroom. Once they were gone, Angela finally let go of the sob that she'd been holding back. "Honey, if I could, I'd come to you, but right now I might struggle a lil bit with getting down there."
Angela chuckled through her tears and got up to go and let her husband's, strong warm embrace soothe her troubled soul. "Jake, he's not okay is he? He says he is, but he's not. I can see it in his eyes. He's not okay and this is never going to end. He's not strong but he won't admit it..."
"I know sweetheart. I know." Jacob rubbed Angela's arm gently and glanced up at Gibbs when the team leader walked back into the room with Tony. They shared an understanding look, before Gibbs nodded once and turned and walked back to the bedroom to sit with Tim.
Gibbs sat in the chair by Tim's bedside waiting for his Agent to wake up. He'd been there for the better part of three hours now, and even though people came and went, he refused to move and instead, consoled himself in reading through the letter than now sat in his hand.
I don't even wanna know why you left, and I don't care. All I do know is that you have two choices in life right about now, and one of them is to help me.
I know what you do, and I know who you work with even though you don't, and no doubt, once you realize you'll come round to my way of thinking one way or another. Oh, by another I mean...you know what I mean.
You're partner is that NCIS Agent's cousin by marriage. Yeah, co-incidence or what, but hell, who cares? I'll take what I can get. Well brother dearest, let me tell you who you are partnered with. He is none other, than Timothy McGee's cousin. You remember him right? The asshole who interviewed me all those years ago and ruined my life! I can't do a damn thing right and then you go and leave me with them! Mom and Dad.
Mom, well hell, she did the right thing and killed herself, that's one down at least, but I'm not writing this to talk about them. I'm writing this to tell you now, that if you don't help me in what I want to do, then you can rest assured that I will make sure our good Aunt Laura and Daddy dearest meet their maker in a horribly, painful way.
So, what's it going to be? You watch them die, or you help me with what I need to do?
You know where to contact me, so drop me a line, bro.
Gibbs shook his head and sighed heavily. When he looked up, he was shocked to see two glassy green eyes blearily watching him from the bed. "Why?"
"Why what, Tim?" The team leader asked as he stood up and poured out a glass of water for his Agent.
"Why are you angry and sad?"
Gibbs paused for a moment before putting down the glass and helping Tim to sit. "I need a reason?"
"Especially you, Yeah..." Tim answered honestly. "What's in the letter?"
Gibbs sighed and shook his head before putting it down on the dresser. "Not the time. Talk to me. How're you feeling?"
Tim blinked tiredly at his Boss and groaned internally at the question. "Fine."
"Huh?" Tim didn't know what to say to that so he left it open.
"Don't lie to me, McGee. You think you're the only one who can read people? Well you're not. I can read all of my kids and if anything, you're the one who's the easiest. Talk to me." Gibbs finally admitted what had been on his mind for days and felt better for getting it out in the open.
"You tell me that you're fine one more time, and I'll head slap ya." Gibbs commanded firmly. He watched as Tim sighed heavily and mulled over the question. "That! Right there, that look in your eyes. You're so damn expressive that I can almost hear what you are thinking."
That was it. There was no way he could get away with telling Gibbs that he was fine so he may as well just get it out and let the older man make the decision to act on it or not. "I'm scared. I hurt everywhere and everyone's emotions are driving me crazy. If I don't pretend to be fine, I can feel the worry and hurt rolling off of you all and it's strong, Boss. Too strong for me right now. You know Sarah's on the edge? She's hiding it because she thinks everyone needs to be strong for me...FOR ME!"
The shout at the end and the admission shocked Gibbs, but he didn't let on. Sure, he knew Tim felt it, but right now there was nothing he could do about that.
"And you know what's worse? You're all walking around here trying to get some sort of normal routine going and my family all need help. Mom's hiding behind us and using the need to help us to get through it, Dad's...well okay, Dad's trying, but someone has to tell him it's not his fault. He knows how everyone is dealing with stuff and is trying to keep it together for their sakes but the guilt...Boss I can't. Between guilt, pain and suffering, I'm at the end of my rope. I can't..."
"Then why hide it? Why do what they're doin'?"
"Because it's all for me. They think I'm gonna break but what they don't realize is that whatever they are doing is killing me. I can't take it. I can't stand the internal, hidden pain and just want them to open up. You're all no better you know. You all think you can hide behind whatever walls you have up, but you can't. I know how you all feel and can feel every single memory of what happened when you do. Please...Boss, I can't anymore. I just can't..."
Tim's eyes closed and Gibbs could see a glimmer of relief at having his façade shattered. In a way, the room felt cleansed and the eggshells they had been walking on seemed to disappear from underneath their feet.
"I'm sorry, Tim. I don't know what to say. I'm sorry."
"Sign of weakness." Tim smirked and closed his eyes. Gibbs though he had drifted back off to sleep when Tim spoke again. "Sorry Boss."
"McGee. I apologize, there's a reason. You guys apologize, it's a sign of weakness. You remember that next time you wanna do it. Do something for me."
Tim opened his eyes and gave a slight nod. Gibbs took that as his cue and moved to sit on the edge of the bed so he could grasp Tim's hand.
"Don't hide it, Tim. You got that? We're doing it because we don't know what to do. You need to talk to people and you need to let your frustration out because it's just gonna eat at you."
"Boss, I can't talk to my family. They've got enough to deal with as it is without my gui..."
"What?" Gibbs pushed firmly and sat there glaring at his agent. Tim's face flushed with embarrassment and anger at himself for letting that particular cat out of the bag. "What the hell have you got to feel guilty for?"
"Boss, you know they wouldn't be in that position in the first place if it wasn't for me. If I had said something about what I was seeing in my nightmares the first time it happened, nobody would have gotten hurt!" Tim demanded with a burst of strength that he didn't think was possible in lieu of the way he felt.
It was obvious to Gibbs that this was the root of the problem, or at least a huge part of it and frankly, he should have seen this one coming. But, there was no way he was gonna let Tim spend another minute believing that about what could have been so he decided to take the bull by the horns and reprimand the young man so that he knew, that under no uncertain terms he was not guilty for what happened.
"Damn it, McGee! Why? You sit there and shoulder the damn blame every time without thinking about the fact that it wasn't you that did anything wrong! I've tried to beat it outta ya, but hell, you seem hell bent on wallowing in the crap and blaming yourself! It wouldn't have stopped what happened. You know that. C'mon, you've been on this job long enough to know, if a person wants to get revenge bad enough, they're gonna do it, no matter what."
Tim flinched at the harsh tone and shook his head. "Boss, I..."
"No! You listen to me, and you listen good! One more word of this bein' your fault and that promised head slap will be so hard, that you'll see stars."
"IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANNA DO, THEN DO IT!" Tim yelled and groaned when his chest, shoulder and back pulled at the effort his anger had caused. "You just don't understand..." He added quietly and settled back so he could breathe through his aches.
Gibbs huffed and shook his head. "You don't get it do ya? By protecting them, you're hurting them. They're dealing with it this way because they don't wanna upset you. This guilt you carry isn't good for any of ya so bite the bullet and talk to them, Tim."
"You want me...to talk to them about how responsible I am for everything they've just suffered through?" Tim asked incredulously.
Tim laid there and took in what his boss had said. Right now, some of what Gibbs had said made sense, but it wasn't something he wanted to deal with and trying to get rid of guilt like that didn't just happen, no matter how angry the boss got at him about him carrying it. "Thanks, Boss." Tim offered quietly as he closed his eyes in exhaustion. It was all he could say. He wasn't ready to promise anything. Frankly, he felt the boss was asking too much of him.
Gibbs looked at his agent and frowned. He knew he'd taken the harsh road with him on this and had hoped it would help plant the seed of doubt with that guilt that he stored. Obviously, there was still work to be done there, but for now, he'd let it go. "Good. It's getting late and you need to sleep some more before Ducky comes in and knocks you out with a sedative."
"Boss?" Tim's voice was laden with unasked questions. Gibbs just looked at him and cocked his head with his eyes narrowed.
"What's on your mind?"
"The letter." Tim opened his eyes once more and pointed weakly to the letter on the nightstand. "What was it?"
With a sigh, Gibbs reached over and grabbed it so he could read it out to Tim. Once done, he put it on the bed and shook his head. "Jason was disturbed. There's nothing you or any one of us could have done to help him."
Tim swallowed and nodded. Truth be told, it all made sense now. His Telempathy still wasn't under control and when Tom had walked in, there was more than just the grief of losing a son and the fear for another child. There was pure fear that shook the man to the core. Tim thought it was because he had walked into a room full of people that suffered the attack, but now...now there was something else. There was...
"Oh no. God, Boss, you need to go find Laura!"
"Huh? Laura, Geckler's aunt?"
Tim nodded furiously. "Yes. You need to find her. Tom was scared and it was deep. That letter...Jesus, Boss, I think Jason did something to his Aunt. You gotta find her.
Gibbs sat there stunned, but knew that Tim was right. The visit had been weird and even though it was played out for Tom to apologize, Gibbs' gut had churned. Damn it! Tim was right and it was something that Gibbs and the rest of the team had to do. The team leader stood up and leaned down to Give Tim's hand one last squeeze.
"We'll find her, McGee. You rest up and we'll be back soon."
Tim watched as Gibbs left and hoped that they would find Laura alive and well.