Nothing Extraordinary About It...
My SeSa gift for Dreamsweetmydear (Zainub)
The story was to be a 'must have TIM' with a preferrence pairing for McAbby. Of course I have the whole team involved.
As to the prompt: Timothy McGee is being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What was his heroic act and what were the events leading up to said act? It is set after Season 8, I'd say... No spoilers.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Awarded for: "An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
- -.-. -. . .
- Flashback -
The unthinkable just happened. A terrorist attack at the NCIS Headquarters. Right under the nose of NCIS's finest agents and despite the tightest security...
The moment the bomb detonated, was painfully well chosen. After lunch break, most employees were filtering in and queuing to get through security.
That moment, fate played a cruel game by coinciding with team Gibbs having returned from a crime scene, all eager to start processing the gathered evidence. Knowing this new case would have them at it till long after office hours, they'd decided to go fetch some take-away food before they would actually sit down to the job and thus they returned, loaded with food and some little extras – nothing like Nutter Butters to soften the tedious preliminary tasks of checking accounts and cell phone evidence, tracing calls, running Bolo's... Anything that would leave a tell-tale mark that would eventually lead to the perpetrator.
- End of flashback -
- -.-. -. . .
Timothy McGee stood in front of his mirror, his fingers fumbling at his tie. Why on earth was it so difficult to accomplish such a simple, day-to-day task as tying his necktie?
He gave a frustrated sigh and let his hands fall to his side in defeat.
He raised them and stared at the long fingers as he spread them. There was a slight tremor, he observed. Granted he was dead nervous. As further testimony to that nervousness, he brought his index finger up and wriggled at his collar as he felt like it was constricting him.
Air. He needed some air. His breathing got erratic and soon he found himself panting like he'd just run a marathon.
He tensed even more as someone sneaked up behind him, but relaxed – for as far as he possibly could – as he felt arms encircling him at the waist. Who else could it be but...
Tim closed his eyes, putting some breathing exercises into practice he'd learned long ago from Ducky.
Abby nuzzled his neck.
He gave a nod, eyes closed, not yet able to give a reply as he still felt a little lightheaded.
"Nervous," he thought. "What an understatement!"
She slowly turned her husband around and regarded him before she led him to a chair and made him sit down. Like a child, he just let her. Standing in front of Tim, she opened the top button of his starched shirt, followed by the others - taking her time - one by one. He started protesting but she would have none of it. She briefly brushed her finger on his lips and continued removing the shirt, leaving him in his undershirt.
He rolled his eyes and sighed. "Abby. Please, we don't have time for this."
"Shoo, Timmy. Let me. We still have ages to do this." And she planted a chaste kiss on his forehead.
She moved behind him and slowly and deliberately started to massage his cramped neck muscles and shoulders, dispelling some of the rigidness.
Knowing he had little choice in the matter, he sighed and tried to make himself a little more comfortable by leaning back in the chair, deciding he would rather enjoy this albeit short moment of relaxation. He did relish the magic touch of Abby's deft fingers working away all the stress from his muscles. Tim's neck and shoulders were those spots that were most affected when the stress was building up and he repeatedly stretched his neck this way and that, making it creak. It usually helped to shake out some of the kinks, though.
He moaned slightly at the sensation and was a little disappointed when she stopped the kneading and rubbing, finishing with a little tap on his shoulder indicating she was done.
When he got up, she moved to stand in front of him and started closing the shirt buttons and knot his tie. She gave it a little extra tug and stood back to give him a once over.
She liked what she saw. And, as ever, she'd compare this tall, handsome, athletic built husband of hers, to the one she'd started dating all those years ago. She smiled at the memory of the puppy faced, geeky young agent who still had a wealth to learn about people. He was such a rare one. A beautiful mind, but so naive, so innocent. The man with the child filling his big green eyes.
She'd always enjoyed how she could wound him around her little finger and with that she had a way in getting him do almost anything. And he'd obligingly jump to her every whim, at her every beck and call. Yep. Like a puppy.
"Just look at him!" She though, canting her head a little to the right and taking in his perfect, long frame, clad in made to measure black pants and jacket that seemed molded on his perfect body, the ultra-white shirt with cuffs sticking out a little at the wrists, hair neatly combed and silky. Oh how she wanted to ruffle it. Feel her fingers slide through it.
She must've stared for quite some time, for by now he was positively fidgeting under her scrutiny, worry shining through in his big eyes.
"Abs? You okay?" He touched her arm lightly and she reluctantly came back to this world.
She smiled reassuringly and walked away to finish her own coiffure.
"You're way too sexy, Mr McGee. Nearly took my breath away."
There was no need for Abby to turn back to see him blush like she knew he would. She was just as sure about how pleased her words had made him and that he would be smiling, too.
The rest of the readying was uneventful and before soon, they were well on their way to the Medal of Freedom Ceremony.
- -.-. -. . .
They both arrived at the appointed time at the White House, where they were guided to the first floor and into The East Room. There would be 15 recipients of this distinguished medal and security would be tight.
Tim grinned at Abby as he gave her hand a little squeeze. He then rested his palm in the small of her back in a 'ladies first' fashion and followed her into the splendor of The East Room. He sat with her until the ceremony would start and he'd have go outside to be officially ushered into the room with all the pomp and ceremony and take his seat amongst the 14 other lucky persons who were awarded the medal.
More people were filtering in. In less than half an hour, the ceremony would start.
As they took their designated seats to wait, he thought back to that day when he had been singled out as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Even now, he couldn't believe that he'd merited this honor. It still felt so incredibly unreal, but he would manage just fine. After all, wasn't this proof enough he was doing well?
Oh no... Oh no-no-no-no noooo... His former resolve was crumbling...fast... They hadn't started yet and he was feeling lightheaded already. Panic rearing its ugly head, he swallowed the lump that suddenly began to form in his throat and quickly looked askance at Abby. Of course she hadn't noticed anything at all, her gaze roaming around the room and its other occupants. She was so excited about this. Now even more so, since this was happening to the man she loved.
"Abs..." He urgently whispered, giving her a little nudge with his elbow.
She swiftly shifted her gaze towards him, and instantly recognized what was going on in her husband's head.
"Tim? Don't worry. It will all go fine. It'll be over before you know it." Her hand found his and held it, using the link to transfer enough fortitude towards him to help him face this...what he experienced as an ordeal. He could be so transparent.
She found it a little hard to comprehend this fear of his. As a seasoned NCIS Field Agent, he had no problems going after criminals. He'd been in dangerous, life threatening situations. He'd been badly injured on more than one occasion.
But for this totally harmless social function to drive him to this state of absolute and overwhelming anxiety? No, this she couldn't quite understand.
He concentrated on her eyes. As green as his own and nearly just as familiar. They were smiling. And he felt the corners of his mouth lift in response. His anchor. That's what she was. That's what she had become the moment they committed themselves to wedlock.
Their little mind melding thing was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Tim's parents - Sarah, Tim's little sister, couldn't take time off from her college in England - and Abby's mother. They'd barely made themselves comfortable, then Tim's former team arrived.
Former team... It seemed like only yesterday that their team was expertly run by their charismatic team leader, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Their team was like a well-oiled engine and the pride of NCIS.
- Flashback -
That fateful day, Tim was the last to enter the lobby, having had to catch up with the others when they left him at the shop to pay the bill.
As he drew nearer the security guards and screening area where he noticed his teammates were still waiting for their badges to be processed, he had a peculiar sensation as he saw a man patiently waiting in the queue. The object of his unease must've been in his early fifties by the looks of him.
The man, Tim noticed as he walked on, fumbling for his badge, carried a nondescript backpack. What did strike Tim as odd, was the way his quarry held the backpack: firmly in his arms, like he would hold something precious. Tim slowed down and jumped the queue to stand with his friends, who were chatting animatedly. En passant, he gave the man's face a flitting glance and he was instantly alerted by the absence of any emotion. McGee's eyes briefly scanned the backpack and the man's hands: any doubt he had was quickly dispelled when he noticed the man held a small black box in his hand which looked suspiciously like a detonator.
Rather than raising the alarm which would inevitably result in a panic situation, he whispered to Gibbs, who casually moved forward to alert the guards, hoping he didn't attract the man's attention.
It was not to be. Gibbs was caught out.
In a matter of seconds, the man tossed the backpack towards the most crowded spot which was centered around the security desk. It also happened to be the very place where Gibbs stood, bodily pushing people away. Away from the backpack.
It all seemed to happen simultaneously. Tony and Ziva dropped their paper bags holding the food and took their sidearms. From the corner of his eyes, Tim noticed two more agents from another department do the same. All Sigs trained on the man. McGee threw himself at the man, hoping to get a hold on the detonator before the man pushed the button, at the same time hoarsely yelling for everybody to get down.
He didn't succeed. The detonator activated the bomb. Without a second – or even a nanosecond – of hesitation, Tim punched the man, thus bringing him down.
The explosion had him thrown backward to connect hard with the wall behind him. For a moment, he saw bright little spots dance before his eyes and something sticky and wet trickled down the side of his face. His arm hurt badly, too, as he'd fallen on it when going down rather inelegantly. His hearing was somewhat impaired, he realized: all sound was muted.
He hurrriedly scrambled to his feet, swaying a little, and surveyed the damage. He quickly cuffed the man. His injured arm wasn't making it any easier for him.
When he could, he checked on the others. Gibbs was down, and so were Tony, Ziva...and a large number of other people. There was rubble everywhere and a cloud of dust obliterated most of the scene as it dwindled down to settle on the victims of the blast.
- End of flashback -
Now, Timothy McGee was the youngest team leader in NCIS's history and rumours had it he stood the best chance to rise to the coveted position of Director. Tony had his own team at the DC Field Office with Ziva as his senior agent. Gibbs had retired 5 months ago. It was a forced retirement – for health reasons. He'd been badly injured during their last case and recovery had been slow and painful. Gibbs was a field agent at heart and would never do well riding a desk for the remainder of his professional career.
Pleasantries done, Tim left the others waiting together for the ceremony to begin.
- -.-. -. . .
As the first honoree was led into The Green Room, Tim felt butterflies in his belly. As the next was called, his heart rate went up a notch. At the third, he felt a tingling sensation in his fingers and a frog crept in his throat to take up residence there, rendering swallowing difficult. After the fourth, the nervous symptoms seemed to diminish as the inevitable drew nearer. Then...
"Agent Timothy McGee."
A female marine in dress uniform led him into the room and showed him to his place, while loud applause resounded. And, was that a whoop from one Anthony DiNozzo he heard? There were other voices, too, cheering him. He felt lightly embarrassed as he slowly sat down next to the Indian Surgeon Commander Nishan Jamwhal who contributed significantly to ensure peace and stability in Africa and Asia organizing the medical set-up on missions.
He recalled what he'd gleaned about this award: it wasn't only for meritorious actions by scientists or peacekeepers, artists... No. He'd learned he was not going to be the only federal agent to be bestowed this medal: a former CIA director had been awarded it before him. Hmm...thus he found himself in august company.
As soon as the President made his appearance, the room's occupants all rose.
He still found it hard to accept, but seeing there was little he could do about this situation, he scraped his throat and tried to loosen up a bit and enjoy this very special occasion as much as possible. It was to be his party after all.
Tim became all attention and sat listening to the President giving his welcoming remarks before embarking on a recital, listing a myriad of positive arguments on the 15 lucky individuals.
Then, before he knew it, the great moment had finally arrived as he heard his name being called.
He got up and walked over to stand next to the President, while a female voice narrated his achievements.
"NCIS Agent Timothy McGee. MA in Computing Forensic Science at MIT, and BA Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, is particularly praised for his leadership after the March attacks, in which he saved the lives of his team, in peril of his own. In the ensuing chaos and destruction, he was absolutely in charge and determined, and directed the rescue of many employees, downplaying his own injuries.
His intellectual acumen is matched only by his unwavering sense of righteousness, his equity, his determination and passion to serve and protect. He walks through life with faith and purpose, boldly fighting to enforce justice and seek the truth.
Furthermore, he stands a model for today's law enforcement agents in this era of computer technology. As a pioneer, he shows prowess at combating cybercrime and has worked out a number of computer programs to make crime solving more effective.
The United States proudly honors this outstanding man for his dedication to his country, as well as for displaying a loyalty second to none towards the federal agency NCIS, which he's been valiantly serving for the past years and will continue to do so for years to come."
There was more applause as the President laid the royal-blue velvet ribbon with the prestigious ornate medal around McGee's neck and fastened it at the back.
The President then shook hands with the NCIS agent after which Tim went back to his seat.
The rest of the ceremony went on in a daze and before soon, the room started to empty itself. McGee stepped down from the small stage and joined both his real family...and his NCIS family and demurely accepted the congratulations, kisses, hugs, pumping of his hand till his arm nearly dropped off...
The sweetest moment, though, was when his Abby looked deeply into his green pools and gently took his hand to rest it on her belly. He frowned questioningly, and she nodded, a smile spreading across her face. He gave a small shake with his head, then tilted it as he usually did when uncomprehending. Again, she bobbed her head and mouthed a 'yes'. His face lit up as it suddenly dawned on him what she was mutely communicating to him. Time seemed to be standing still for the pair. They heard nothing, saw nothing or nobody beside themselves...they simply existed in their own cocoon. Enjoying the fact that they were now actually three to be present at this memorable event.
- -.-. -. . .
The White House medal ceremony and reception were truly over and the McGee's and party went to their home for a small private celebration, which pretty much meant talking about the experience.
"You did good, Tim." Gibbs said, with one of his rare smiles as he gave McGee's arm a gentle squeeze to make it sink in how strongly he appreciated his former agent. "You did really good, son."
Even after all these years on Gibbs' team, he still ended up tongue-tied. And Gibbs, sensing this, couldn't help but pull the younger man in a tight embrace, giving Tim's back a paternal pat.
Ducky, having had a chat with Tim's father, now joined both men.
"Ah Timothy, there you are! Let me put this to you: no one is more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom as you, my dear boy. My most sincere congratulations." And with that, he enthusiastically took Tim's both hands in his and gave them a firm shake. With a nod, he then walked to Abby, with Gibbs following.
Tony and Ziva were next in line and Tony pressed a glass of bubbles in Tim's hand. He was about to give his former co-worker a hearty slap on the back, but refrained just in time as he remembered he'd just offered his Probie champagne.
Tim took a quick sip which was more meant to moisten his dry lips. It took him one step towards the table to dispose of the glass before returning to his place between his two friends.
"Thanks, Tony. Ziva."
Ziva tilted her head a little and stared long into Tim's eyes. She then wrapped her arms around his middle and held him like this. Just long enough not to become too embarrassing for both of them.
"Congratulations, Tim, on this highest Civilian Honor. It was truly well earned." She gave a little sniff and quickly pinked away a tear.
"Look what you do to me, McGee." She laughed, albeit a bit shakily with emotion.
Tim's gaze dropped to his shoes as...he didn't really know what to say. But then, Tony's remark nearly cracked him up.
"I don't know what to say, Probie...Tim... Anything but that I'm so proud of you. You did really well, man. Of course it would've been so nice if I got one of those, too."
Abby came over to them, then, quite literally towing Jimmy behind her.
"In your dreams, Tony. In your dreams." She laughed, and Tim's eyes sought hers. Oh how he loved the carefree laughing. It made him smile with such contentment.
"You wouldn't give me the medal to put it in my drawer for safekeeping, along with the rest of my Gibbs' collection? ... AW!" Tony theatrically rubbed the back of his head where Gibbs had given him one of his slaps.
"Don't even think it, DiNozzo!" Director Vance faked a stern face à la Gibbs.
Tony pivoted around in abject surprise when he found who'd administered the famous Gibbs slap. And it wasn't the man himself! He winced.
That was another one...from the real Gibbs, this time.
"Okay, okay... Never say the...ah...'S' word... Sign of weakness yada-yada..."
"You got it." Gibbs chuckled cheerfully and headed for the delicacies which were displayed on the dining-table where Tony joined him, talking Gibbs' ears off.
Vance followed them with his gaze, until he turned to regard his man, a quizzical look on his face.
"So, how does it feel, now?"
McGee's gaze became unfocused as he shrugged and pursed his lips, thinking about it.
He passed his tongue over his lips and answered: "I don't know...Like graduation? Like I passed some test, maybe? No, I don't know how I feel about this. Overwhelmed. Yeah..."
Vance, accepted a glass Abby put in his hands, and they both patiently waited, which wasn't really that long before Tim turned to them, his eyes refocusing in a blink.
"I still don't get it why I got chosen. There's nothing extraordinary about what I did. All I achieved is what any other agent in any other agency would have accomplished. I did no more than my duty. Okay, I worked to get there, but that's just what it was. Work. Nothing more, nothing less."
- Flashback -
Strange how he felt calm and in control. He pulled out his phone and dialed 911, rapping instructions. The next phone call went to Ducky. It didn't occur to him that the ME might already be underway from autopsy: the detonation must've been felt rather than heard down in the basement. Then he went to check on his mates. Tony and Ziva were unconscious but otherwise fine. Not much he could tell, at this stage, as he saw no obvious injuries. They were probably knocked out.
It was a different story where the bomb had fallen. There was blood everywhere and people were moaning. Gibbs half lay under one of the guards. Blood oozed from a nasty gash on the side of his head and his leg was...shattered? Oh no... Please God! No! Tim pulled off his belt and used is as a tourniquet on Gibbs' badly injured leg. That would stop the bleeding until the medics would take over.
He saw some employees and visitors just standing there, staring blankly at the carnage, while others were close to hysterics. He hurried over to the former, pulling them by their sleeves, by their hands... and instructing them to give him a hand in maintaining some order by helping the injured while he tried his hardest to calm down the others, smothering the rising panic.
Tim McGee was so pre-occupied he didn't feel the hand on his shoulders, at first.
"Agent McGee. Please. Let others do the job. It's okay to let others take over now. Stand down." Vance was speaking soothing words to Tim who squinted, his hearing not yet 100% back.
Only when he observed more people pouring in from different parts of the building to help, did he relax somewhat. Make that a little 'too' relaxed, for without further ado, he simply crumpled and, if Director Vance hadn't had the reflex to support him and lower his agent to the floor, he would've fallen to the ground like a bag of potatoes.
- End of flashback -
"Believe me, agent McGee, you did more than just that." Vance patted him reassuringly on the shoulder.
Needless to say, Tim still harbored strong doubts and he shook his head, staring gloomily into nothingness again.
Both Vance and Abby crossed gazes in exasperation and asked themselves where this suddenly dark mood sprouted from. Good heavens! The man was forever wallowing in self-doubt! Would he never really outgrow it, they wondered.
Even Gibbs' gut picked up the distressing signals and he sauntered over to the trio as unobtrusively as possible, hoping to find out if he could do something to alleviate the atmosphere. He knew his agent, like he knew certain things – certain character traits that would never change, even if the owner became more expert in hiding them.
"To you it may seem like you were doing no more than just your duty. More than anything, it's your readiness and dedication to those duties. Your courage in dire situations. The way you're driven by perfection. Don't underestimate your ability at leadership in the course of responding and reacting to on-duty incidents... dealing with such critical incidents like last March... Your resourceful use of your computing forensic training and background to help solving crimes is unparalleled. It's something we, who have been working with you, have taken far too much for granted. To some the geniality of that aspect of your job hasn't been that obvious... It certainly tended to be overlooked. It was a little more than just tapping in coordinates on your computer keyboard or running Bolo's."
Gibbs nodded in full agreement with everything the director had just said.
"Don't forget the way you've grown on the job. It's what's inside of you, McGee." To force his point home, Gibbs prodded a finger into Tim's chest. "It's who you are. It doesn't ask to be explained. It simply is."
By now, the others had also gathered around them.
"Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less." Tim's father softly spoke to his son.
"Robert E. Lee..." McGee quietly filled the others in on the quote.
Tim sighed, feeling the tension slowly fade. Glad that was over and done with.
He snaked his arm around Abby's waist and let his head down on her shoulders and felt totally great and more in command of himself again as she leaned her body closer to his. Both of them watching as their parents and their friends again mingled into conversation.
Abby gave him a little playful pinch in his arm. He responded with a broad grin and a tender kiss on her lips before they both joined the others.
The remainder of the evening passed with laughs and reminiscing and more laughs resulting from those...
- -.-. -. . .