The First Message

Dear Timothy,

I write to the brother I sense in my enemy. Why can I not simply kill you? Why must I continually save you from of all people, myself? It cannot be that you love my sister. You have not even met her and yet…and yet. I watch you while you work side by side with my beloved Caitlyn.

You care deeply for Caitlyn yet, I sense it is more a brotherly love not a true romantic love. you are exasperated with the way Tony and Caitlyn treat you…yes you are their little brother are you not? So why do I not kill you?

It cannot be Ziva. She has never met you. You are tossing in your sleep and I can tell that you are troubled by the events of the day. Your innocence was tested today, and maybe that is what I sense in you; that sense of youth and wonder that neither I nor Ziva possess any longer. That sense of faith in those around you, so much like…like Tali…my baby sister.

Yes, now I know why I cannot and will not kill you Timothy McGee. To do so would be to kill the last remaining part of Ziva's soul. You note I did not say my own. I am not sure I still possess one. Ziva however, yes, you would do much good for my little sister.

She has a lot of scars, my sister does. Many are physical just due to being who and what she is; she is Mossad young Timothy and will soon be joining us in the United States. Her mission is going to be two-fold and she will not realize it until she is on her way here…our father is going to have her kill me…which will leave yet another scar on her soul.

Why would a sister kill her own brother? It will be for several reasons none of which I will recite to you. You need to maintain your innocence and you cannot do that if I reveal all to you.

Take care of yourself Timothy McGee. I will pray that you survive the weeks to come with little loss of that precious innocence.

Ari Haswari

Ari finishes the letter, puts it in a folder under some papers and glances at the clock. 02:33 reads the luminous numbers and the dark haired man sighs silently as he glances into the bedroom beyond. Tim McGee is still tossing and turning, his mind probably trying to explain what he could or should have done differently the previous day.

Ari picks up his bag and is about to leave when instinct makes him turn back. Something about Tim's tossing is bothering him; he glides across the room and enters Tim's bedroom. At first glance, Tim appears to be fine. Closer inspection reveals a fine sheen of sweat and flushed cheeks.

Ari sighs again and walks into Tim's bathroom. The tidiness of the room makes him smile. Yes, he could definitely see Ziva hanging her towel beside Tim's. The medicine cabinet reveals very little; a bottle of ibuprofen, Tim's shaving supplies and a skin conditioner.

Ari reads the prescription for the conditioner and nods in approval. It's top of the line and will definitely help for someone who has sensitive skin. He is a bit surprised to find out that Tim's skin is that sensitive, considering his job and wonders briefly about asking Ducky if he is aware of Tim's skin condition. Ari shakes his head at the direction his thoughts are taking him. He is not Tim's father or even his brother. He has no business interfering with Tim's life beyond what he's already responsible for.

He runs the cool cloth over Tim's face and the younger man starts calming down. When he'd checked Tim's bathroom, the medicine cabinet had provided a thermometer and Ari gently inserts it in Tim's ear. When the instrument beeps, Ari looks at it and mutters a soft curse at how high Tim's temperature is.

He was not Tim's doctor and he shouldn't even be here. Right now, Tim's temperature is worrisome. If it gets any higher the younger man could be in some real danger. He reaches over to the end table and finds Tim's cell phone. Disguising his voice slightly he dials Dr. Mallard.

"Ducky…can you…come over …I'm not feeling so good?" Ari crosses his fingers, hoping the gentle ME will be alert enough to read the caller id without necessarily recognizing the voice.

"Timothy?...what's wrong, lad? Ohh never mind I shall be right over." Ducky finishes dressing as he ends the phone call. Hurrying out to his trusty Morgan, he puts the car into gear and calls the one person he trusts to still be awake at this hour.

"Yeah, Gibbs."

"Jethro, has Timothy called you tonight?"

"No, Duck, McGee never calls me. Why what's up?" Gibbs doesn't bother hiding a yawn as he prepares to climb the stairs on his way to get his normal two hours of shut eye.

"He just called saying that he was ill." Ducky checks his speed as he talks and presses a little harder on the gas. Something about the phone call from Tim is bothering him.

"Your gut saying otherwise, Duck?"

"My gut says Timothy would have called you first Jethro; not me." Ducky hangs up and turns the corner, apologizing to his car for asking it to travel at such at extreme speed.

Ari lays Tim's cell within easy reach of the ill agent before heading over to unlock Tim's door. When Gibbs call comes in seconds later, Tim rouses long enough to answer it just before it goes to voice mail.

"He…hello?"

"You okay, McGee?"

"Not really…boss, I hear…Ducky…?"

Gibbs frowns when the phone goes temporarily silent. He can hear noises in the background and is only slightly relieved when Ducky picks the cell.

"Jethro is that you?"

"Yeah Duck, how bad is he?"

"He definitely won't be in to work tomorrow, poor chap. His fever's spiking at 103 and I need to get it down Jethro."

Gibbs sighs as he says, "I'll be right over Duck."

Tucked in a dark corner, Ari watches as Ducky bustles about Tim's bathroom. The elderly man prepares several cool washcloths and is in the process of wrapping one around Tim's wrist when Gibbs strides into the room.

"How is he Duck?"

"Quite frankly Jethro, I don't know. We'll have to see if we can get his fever down before I can make any real judgment."

"Do we need an ambulance?" Gibbs stares into the bedroom noting with concern the washcloths on Tim's neck, wrists and forehead.

"Not if we can get him to drink some liquids. See if you can find some bottles of water or juice in his fridge will you Jethro?"

"On it Duck…damn, there's nothing here, I'll be back." Gibbs heads for the door, stopping to listen briefly when Ducky says,

"Very well and Jethro, juices and water only not the Gatorade stuff."

"Copy that Duck."

Gibbs heads downstairs and drives off. Ducky waits a few seconds then says, "You can come out now. What are you doing here Ari?"

Ari smiles disarmingly and says, "I was checking out your agent and when I saw he was sick, I called you."

"I can see that, the question is why?"

"I'm not completely sure myself Ducky. I just couldn't bring myself to hurt him."

Ducky watches as Ari runs a hand over Tim's brow and whispers something to him in Hebrew that the older man doesn't understand.

"A quick healing prayer is all Ducky."

Ducky watches as Ari lightly touches Tim's hair and wonders at the tenderness he can see on Ari's face.

"Take good care of him Ducky."

Ari leaves and Ducky stares after him for several more seconds before turning his attention back to Tim.

"Well young Timothy, you've worked a wonder here tonight. Let's get you well now shall we lad?"

"Ducky?" Tim's eyes open and he stares at the older man in bewilderment. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh…ah, well, you called me young Timothy and asked me to come over here."

"Oh…okay…Ducky?...I don't feel too good."

"I know lad, you just rest and Jethro will be right back with some juice for you."

"Gibbs…Gibbs called me? Are we on a …call out?"

"No lad, he was concerned about you."

Tim finally goes back into a light fitful sleep and Ducky sighs with relief when Gibbs walks back in with a bag of groceries. The medical examiner hides his smile when he sees the assorted juices that Gibbs is unloading.

"Heavens Jethro, you bought out their entire line."

"No, Duck just…some kids can't drink certain juices."

"That is true my friend. Let me see, does Timothy have a laptop…well, this is a surprise."

"What's that Duck?" Gibbs heads into the bedroom more worried about his agent than what his old friend has discovered. Tim's still sleeping fretfully and Gibbs walks into the bathroom for a fresh washcloth.

"Nothing Jethro, I just hadn't expected someone of Timothy's computer background to actually use a typewriter. He has one sitting here on his desk."

"You find his laptop yet Duck? If nothing else he might keep a spare in his backpack."

"Good thinking Jethro. Ahh there we go and now to access our NCIS medical database for Timothy's records. Hmm…allergic to pineapple of all things." Ducky turns and heads into the kitchen. Gibbs stays in the bedroom, gently sponging Tim's face, remembering how he used to do this for a certain little redhead many years ago. Ducky holding a fresh glass of apple juice watches him in silence wondering about the bittersweet smile on his friend's face.

"Here Jethro, let's see if we can get him to drink this."

Working together they manage to get Tim to drink over half the glass of juice. Finally the young man pushes the glass away. Ducky notes with satisfaction that it's almost gone and doesn't argue when Tim says,

"No more."

"Okay, Tim, take it easy."

"Boss? You're still here?"

Gibbs exchanges a quick worried glance with Ducky as he admits that he's still there. "Yeah, Tim I'm here."

"Sorry Boss."

"Don't apologize, especially not for this." Gibbs soft admonishment does little to appease his young agent's troubled mind.

"Kept you from bed…from sleep."

"Sleep can come later, you're more important."

"Thanks boss."

"You're welcome.

Ducky watches misty-eyed as Gibbs draws the covers up over his young agent. It's fast becoming evident to the older man that Gibbs is not the bastard he claims to be. Under that hardened exterior is the living beating heart of a man who has been hurt severely at some point in his past. And Timothy McGee is breaking through those barriers.

"Gibbs? I don't think I'll make it in to work today."

"That's okay Tim. Just go to sleep now. I'll have Kate and Tony work on cold cases for the day."

"What about Ari?" Gibbs could almost smile if not for the concern he's feeling. Trust Tim to be thinking about a case even while battling his own demons.

"Not as important as you are Tim." Gibbs stretches out on Tim's bed and pulls the younger man close. "Go to sleep Timmy. I'll call us both in later…just…go to sleep son."

Gibbs strokes his hand over Tim's head, feeling when the younger man finally drifts off to sleep again. He fights his own battle with sleep and is unsuccessful. He can feel Ducky pulling a comforter up over himself and Tim and murmurs, "Thanks Duck."

"You're welcome old friend."

Ducky looks at the clock and isn't too surprised to see that it's almost five a. m. He glances into Tim's bedroom and smiles faintly at the look on both men's faces. Tim is finally resting peacefully and Gibbs…is actually relaxed; a paternal look on his face as he rests his head on Tim's.

Ducky pads over to the door and opens it to verify whether or not Ari is still out there. Although he sees no one in the darkened hallway, Ducky does state "He'll be fine my friend. We got to him in time."

Ducky shuts the door and sets all the locks before padding over to the couch. He's surprised by how comfortable it actually is and settles down to catch a few winks of sleep himself.

Out in the corridor, Ari Haswari breathes a small sigh of relief. He still wonders about his reluctance to kill the youngest agent on Gibbs' MCRT. Shrugging fatalistically he strides down the corridor.

Two years later:

Tim sighs as he looks at the clock...two a.m. He reaches for his folder containing the original manuscript for Deep Six. Thumbing through the typewritten pages he blinks back hot tears. He'd changed the book entirely after Kate had died. Losing someone he had loved like a sister, he'd been unable to even look at the original script until now. A handwritten sheet slips out and he pales as he reads the letter written to him by his enemy. He picks up his cell phone and dials Ziva's number.

"Umm…Ziva, can you come over here? I have something you need to see. I know that it's late but…I think you should see this...It's from Ari."

Fini-for now