Title: And He Runs, Still.
Rating, Warnings, and/or Spoilers: future!fic, angst,
He doesn't remember when he first started chasing Tony; he does however remember chasing after Tony on their first case. It took several years for him to realize one very important thing.
He would never catch Tony. Could never keep up with him. Tony was faster, had the long lines of an athlete, long legs that ate up distance, muscles; even with his medical history he routinely outdistanced all of them and could keep it up for miles.
Tony really had run the Boston Marathon like he told the Ambassador's daughter; sixteen times apparently. He never said anything to them but Tim had checked into it after the case. He tracked back the vacation time to the third Monday of April and the following Tuesday that Tony always took, matched it to the dates of the marathon and against the entrants. Although, it wasn't hard for him to see, it didn't take some type of leap of logic to realize what the days were for McGee thought wryly. Just police work that as Tony would say, even a monkey could do, a poorly trained monkey at that
Tony ran the Boston Marathon starting in high school once he turned eighteen. Twenty two years of eligibility. The six times Tony missed were easily traced back to significant moments in his life. A broken leg in college, an undercover operation in Peoria, stopping to CPR to a young man that had a sudden heart attack while on the course, Gibbs's Mexican hiatus that coincided with Tony's double life as an NCIS agent and leader of the MCRT and film Professor DiNardo, his time as Agent Afloat, rescuing Ziva in Somalia. Six misses, five if you count his Good Samaritanism as making the race; that makes 80% of his misses work related. Tony's best time was 2 hours 10 minutes 48 seconds and put him squarely in the top ten. It came the year Kate died - even with his recent bout with the plague and scarred lungs – make no mistake at what was driving him that year. His slowest time was 2 hours 32 minutes 42 seconds, just last year. Sixteen times of running the Boston Marathon coming in solidly in the top 100 every year.
Why couldn't they have seen it, why didn't they see before then that he really kept himself in great shape? Oh they gave him shit on a daily basis about his age and weight, Ziva even went so far one day to poke him in the stomach and make the Pillsbury Dough Boy sound, but it truly wasn't warranted. The softness in the middle was due to the slight rounding that comes with age or some times it was due to the layers he wore. His torso didn't look like he ran, with his broad, muscular shoulders. But his legs, oh his legs were fantastic. Prime specimens, textbook, according to Ducky. Tony was a big guy. Broad and foreboding at times, looking back it was so easy to see him as a football player but not a runner. But you couldn't discount that quickness; in his mind or in his legs. Twenty-six miles in one hundred, fifty-three minutes averaging out to just less than five minutes a mile.
They had been getting closer since he and Gibbs had taken the trip to LA that led to the change the landscape of their team once again. Funny how a city can do that to you. It wasn't anything much beer and pizza after work, maybe take in a movie, dinners out, baseball games taken in on days off; but it was everything and enough. Somehow they were living together, and it was working well. Tim's building had caught fire and one end burnt down. His apartment was spared but the building would be torn down. Tony had a three bedroom unit and offered the spare room to him. It was all over with little fanfare, hardly took more than a few hours at best.
Once the Ambassador's case was over, he confronted Tony with what he had found over a meal of Thai takeaway; slightly angry at the lie he had caught him up in and wondering why Tony felt he had to lie in the first place. Especially when they were working at this whatever this was.
Tony smiled that wide smile that Tim knew was mostly false as he moved to the far side of the room, "What would you have said if I told you? You wouldn't have believed me in the first place. And it isn't like you believe half the stuff I say anyway."
Tim was so angry he was spitting. He advanced on Tony stabbing a finger into his chest with each sentence,
"Because you act like a fool, an overgrown frat boy who doesn't think about anything further than the next piece of ass! Like you don't give a shit about anything real. Like love and family and friendship and honor and courage and all of that shit. And I know it's a damned lie. I've seen the real you and I like him and want to get to know him better but I CAN'T. Because you insist on covering up - you. And I want him."
I want the guy who picked on Kate gently, who teased her about being prim and proper without showing his teeth. I want the guy that held her when she cried when we all went to that *stupid* movie that I didn't understand but made both Kate and Abby bawl like they found someone drowning puppies."
I want the guy who was there for me and believed me when I wanted to open the case for Erin Kendall, who told me that I could second guess my self or catch the bastard, the guy who taught me that a witness or distraught family member would remember the kindness shown to them for years to come."
The guy that was there for me when Kate died, who helped me say good bye because he knew it was the right thing to do and I would regret have not doing it, who helped me feel not guilty about dodging the bullet from Ari before he turned on Kate."
I want the guy who showed up when I shot that cop and told an embarrassing story about himself to make me feel better, who drug me out of my apartment to get soused at a club then made me stay with him the entire weekend so I wouldn't have time to dwell on it."
I want the guy that put himself on the line and flew to the other side of the world to seek vengeance on a man for murdering his partner. That guy is warm and funny and intelligent and a good person."
THAT'S THE GUY I WANT!"
Tim remembers grabbing his jacket and stalking towards the door not knowing where he was headed since he lived there. Ten steps before the door Tony grabbed him and delivered a heart stopping kiss that was seared in his memory all of these years later.
After that everything snowballed even under the watchful eye of a highly suspicious Gibbs who knew something was up but never in a million years would he have dreamed of this. For a group of highly trained individuals not to mention just plain nosy people, no one they worked with noticed that their relationship had grown and evolved.
They got married six months after that argument. The proposal involved teeth and tongue and more than a little bit of jealousy. Tim learned early on in their partnership that he could manipulate Tony into doing what he wanted by ignoring him or paying more attention to someone else. To this day he had to struggle not to let the smug satisfaction that he had out maneuvered Tony bleed through when he thought about that day. Because he *had* been inching Tony along in that direction, he just thought it would take years. Because, really? Who knew that just by looking at Abby crosswise - in a completely indecent-for-work miniskirt - would be the get him pinned to the bed that night with a "We are getting married." It was everything he ever wanted.
They just walked in to the court house one afternoon, applied for a license, and came back on the designated day. There was a matching set of very tasteful platinum rings that they wore at home and tattoos for when they weren't. Tim's was an Italian cross and Tony's was an Irish Cross.
Their dads were their witnesses, best men if you will. They stood proudly at the ceremony and afterward they had a mini-celebration with a nice dinner out. Sr. even bought the dinner since he didn't pay for the wedding; with a toothy grin on his face he proclaimed it his right as the father of the bride. Tony grumbled about being called the girl in their relationship.
They didn't tell anyone at NCIS. There had been an 'incident' with Ziva and crying and Abby stomping her feet demanding an apology and Gibbs smacking Tony for no reason other than Ziva cried, even though she was the one who lied and broke their trust by lying once again, it was never going to be her fault. The team was fractured with Tony and Tim on one side and Ziva and Abby, and Gibbs by default, on the other and Autopsy was playing the role of Switzerland in this little battle. But as long as they hang on and could come together at the end of the day it would be all right for a little while longer. They were making plans.
A year after the proposal, they bought a house at a ridiculously low cash price. It was located, according to Tony, half way to the middle of Butt-Nowhere Maryland. And it really wasn't in the middle of nowhere; it was southeast of Frederick in the little suburb of Urbana to be precise just off of the 270. It was an easy commute, 270 to 495 to 95 and boom, you're at work.
The house was gorgeous and they fell in love with it coming up the driveway. The house was perfect, like it had been made for them. It was at the end of a cul-de-sac on a half acre and had an attached three car garage. It was wide open and airy but the entrance was killer with a grand staircase and chandelier. When the realtor had stepped outside to take a call, Tony demonstrated the proper way to successfully slide down the banister without injury or damaging the wood. A skill he planned on passing on to the next generation.
It had six big bedrooms, four and a half baths, an office, massive kitchen and dining room with French doors that led to the deck, with a full walkout basement for Tony's entertainment system. The yard was fenced in with a row of trees along the back edge increasing the allusion of privacy. The main selling point for Tim was the den with tall airy windows that overlooked the back yard and custom made wall to wall bookcases. What sold Tony was an even split between the master suite and the wide open lower level already set up with a media room, built in shelving and a two bedroom in-law suite. The master bath had both a sunken jet tub and a tiled shower, each were large enough to hold both of them and the shower had a bench seat, dual shower heads and wand, and cubby for their shower essentials. Tim later joked that the previous owner was more of a hedonist than Tony because all of the bathrooms but the one on the main level had heated towel racks and all of the floors were heated.
Tony loved it because no one they knew lived anywhere close and there wasn't a Naval Base or Marine Installation within spitting distance. The house was located just outside the hour call-in distance. The neighborhood was a nice blend of multi-ethnic, mixed demographic families. All of their neighbors were friendly, outgoing, and welcomed them. The big plus was that they lived near enough Tim's family that they could pop in whenever they felt like it and it was an easy commute for Tony's dad.
They were in their house together thirty-three months, forty-two days, twenty-two hours, eighteen minutes before the accident, incident, thatwhichshallnotbenamed.
It was their dads discovering them a week after they moved in that made them realize they needed to be a lot more cautious if they wanted to stay together at work. Not that Director Vance would separate them; he was remarkably supportive of them and was not as oblivious to the fracturing of the MCRT as people would want him to be.
Tim had a soft smile on his face when he stopped to remember the embarrassment that was their lives at that particular moment in time; Tim in his boxers, rolling around on the kitchen floor, Tony was naked and laughing hysterically, fighting not too urgently to free himself, as Tim kept him pinned to the floor, pressing kisses to whatever spot of skin came open next. The mid-morning sun was shining through the windows highlighting his skin. They froze at the creak in the floorboards, and then turned guiltily at the sound of a cleared throat, only to find Sr. and Stephen McGee with almost identical looks of glee on their faces.
Their conversation took place as if their sons were not in the same room. Tim remembers his entire body being flushed by the realization that a) they hadn't locked the door; b) they forgot the family was coming over; c) they were practically having sex when their fathers walked in; and d) they were lucky it was just their family and not anyone from NCIS.
Stephen puffed out his chest with pride, "You see what he did there? You know that little move there? Tim learned that move in high school, went on to wrestle in college."
He scratched his head, "Not sure that was what his coach had in mind when he taught him it though. He went to state and won his division two years in a row. We still have the medals."
Sr. was not to be outdone, strutting past them to the refrigerator and grabbed two beers. "Really? Well, did you know that Anthony played football and basketball in college? All-American all four years. He even had NBA and NFL scouts looking at him, there was a great deal of speculation he was going to be the number one draft pick if his leg hadn't been broken in the Michigan game. He was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in his junior year, did well but wanted to get his education in first, got invited again his senior year. A lesser man would have caved, but not my son. I'm very proud of him."
The two men simply stepped over their sons, drinking their beers, and walked out the patio door, continuing their one-upmanship as if they didn't have a care in the world and they hadn't caught their kids in flagrante delictoless than twenty feet away.
"That's interesting. Did you know that Tim is considered to be something of a genius? He graduated from John's Hopkins, with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and he got his Masters in computer forensics from MIT, he started college at MIT when he was 16."
That pulled an even bigger grin out of Sr. ""Then our grandchildren will be very good looking and will someday rule the world. Did you know that in addition to his Bachelor of Health Science Degree from Ohio State, Anthony has an MBA from Harvard? His stock portfolio is killer. Of course he gets that from his mother. Sharp as a tack that woman was. For the longest time I thought he would become a professor or a doctor or leader in industry. Never imagined a cop though….you?"
Tim remembers Tony with his left hand covering his eyes, ring gleaming in the sunlight, banging his head against the floor, groaning. "DAAAD! Shut the hell UP! Nobody cares about that crap today. It was like, a hundred years ago. Forty years old and my dad walks in on me having sex. I'm having flashbacks to the 8th grade and Hugo Ramirez. Only back then there was much more yelling."
They had a quick shower and got dressed, because even though they wanted to they just couldn't have sex with their dads knowing that that was what they were doing. By the time they reluctantly joined their dads, Tim's mom Georgia and his sister Sarah had arrived with groceries and goodies. The rest of the day was spent messing around the yard and doing odd jobs around the house. The day ended with a family cookout.
From that point forward they made sure the front door was firmly locked with deadbolt thrown and the curtains drawn in case *someone* looked in the windows because Tony was certain that his dad would be the one to do it. Or Gibbs. But mostly his dad. He seemed intent on catching them in the act and embarrassing his son. At both boys' insistence, their parents left some of their things in the in-law suite. Although Tim's parents just lived in Annapolis which wasn't that far, Tony and Tim wanted them to be certain of welcome and their place in the McGee/DiNozzo home.
Tony is a jealous, possessive bastard and Tim uses it to his advantage more often than not to get things the way he wants them. It wasn't hard at their two year anniversary to get him to agree with Tim's secret timeline. Just quite obviously look at pregnant women as they walk past him or mother's pushing strollers or holding babies, not the woman herself, but the baby, and ignore Tony. It only takes two weeks even though they are in the middle of a case. After all, Tony's a very intelligent man and 'coaxes' it out of Tim. When Tim seemingly reluctantly admits that he wants to have a baby with Tony but isn't certain how Tony would take it, he is pinned to the couch with a "We're gonna have a houseful of astonishingly good looking, little brainiac McGeeks terrorizing the neighborhood." They plan to make a baby. Not themselves. Obviously.
It was expensive but Tony had money from investments and his inheritance and Tim had money from his books and movie options that they had socked away even after the purchase of the house. Once they heard about the possible next generation, Sr. and the McGee's offered to help financially if needed. Tony was only partially joking when he said his father got money the old fashioned way, by getting married. They began the long process of finding a surrogate and egg donor and each of them provided samples, or as Tony said when telling the family "cups full of little swimmers just hoping to be victorious."
After six failed attempts with two different surrogates they were ready to give up. Half way through their second year in the house they found a new surrogate and tried one more time. One day they come home from a case that went to hell with a crappy outcome all around and there is a message on the answering machine. Congratulations. Several of their gladiators, as Tony has taken to calling them, were victorious. They implanted six fertilized eggs in the surrogate and it appeared that four have taken. Tony makes a three way call to the parents, "Congratulations Grandma and Grandpas. We have tadpoles. McGeek and I are very excited."
The day they first get the case that will change their lives, is their third ultrasound. The case drags out for a month. Work, home, work at home, sleep, back to work. Georgia and Sarah help Tony decorate. They have a nanny in waiting, Nadia who has experience with multiples and is used to working with high profile families so she knows how to keep things private, two sets of everything, and a storage room in the basement full of diapers and baby wipes and formula because Tony believes in planning ahead. They have a list of names, four boys and four girls each picking out two. Tim picks Anthony James, Micah Stephen, Caitlin Jorja, and Brenna Sophie. Tony picks Aran James, Oliver Timothy, Caitlin Jorja, and Lilly Hope. Tony wants to toss Anthony James but there are no veto's at this stage and if they only have one daughter she *will* be Caitlin.
This was the first year that Nadia didn't live in; she still came in every day and would until she quit. Tim would never get rid of her when she was the only one Tony approved of out of thirty-two applicants. She helped get them ready for school, did the housekeeper thing during the day, and helped drive them to/pick them up after school some days but left each night after she helped get dinner ready unless Tim needed to stay with the kids. The extra pair of hands was a blessing.
At a small sound he looked up from his keyboard and his latest novel, no there are no more adventures for LJ Tibbs. This is a series of books, self-help gobbeldy guck that Tony surely would have made fun of, on living your life after. Tim has to quickly smother a grin. The six year old standing there was the epitome of DiNozzo charm and he was using it in not wanting to go to bed. They got lucky somehow. Their tadpoles grew and came in to this world announcing their arrival, with as much presence as their dad. Aran Timothy and Oliver Stephen were his while the rest were undeniably the evil spawn Tony; Anthony James, Brenna Hope, and Caitlin Jorja who was hiding somewhere in between the others. They came into the world on Tim's final day at NCIS after the sideways case.
Tim carried the little boy back to his bed. Sometimes it hurts to look at Anthony. He is brash and bold and far too cocky for his own good. With his snapping green eyes, dark complexion, lanky frame, and mop of unruly brown hair, he is the spitting image of Tony. Brenna shares her brother's coloring but her eyes were a bright sky blue, she is a feminine version of Anthony. Caitlin is the baby of the family there is no doubt. She is tiny and girly with a pale complexion and a heart shaped face framed by dark chocolate hair and large round eyes so dark they're almost black. If Anthony was Tony all over then Oliver was surely Tim, less the baby fat. He was the only one out of them with sandy blond hair. He was cautious and the voice of reason when Anthony wanted to do something….well, brash. Aran was dark haired with blue eyes and a fair complexion too. He was the mediator between the two other boys. It only stood to reason as he is the middle son.
Tim reflected on the call he received from the school earlier that afternoon and smirked. A visit was scheduled for tomorrow and he could only shake his head. Tony's three little hell-raisers couldn't help themselves; it was hard wired into their DNA courtesy of their father and the other two willingly jumped into the fray when it came to family. They were curious and had to snoop into everything - it was distressing the teacher.
Anthony had been caught three times today getting into her pocketbook. Tim snorted. All she had to do was put it in her desk instead of on the floor and it wouldn't be a temptation.
Brenna was caught after she mimicked her teacher, batting her eyes like she was having an epileptic fit. "Mr. DiNozzo, you are so good with them. Perhaps a feminine influence would be helpful? She's so stoo-pid Dad." The first time she did it behind the teacher's back, Tim almost choked on his tea. This time it was in front of the entire playground.
Caitlin had all of Tony's artistic talent and a lot of attitude in the elfin sized body. Their teacher had asked them to draw a picture of what they would do if they had the chance to live forever; Caitlin drew a row of brown boxes under a cloudy sky. When asked to explain she said she wouldn't live forever because then she would be left alone. The teacher insisted that she would live forever and to draw it. She promptly burst into tears and it caused a riot with her brothers and sister.
Aran was the peacemaker between Anthony and Oliver but at the sight of his baby sister crying, he wrapped her in a hug and promptly vowed that she would not live forever. He would kill her first and take her place as the last one so she would never be alone.
Oliver took the hamster and dumped it into the snake tank. His reasoning was that hamsters were a type of rat, rats carry disease, his dad got a disease that the rats carried, snakes eat rats, snakes don't carry disease. No more hamster.
Tim good naturedly groaned when he thought of the next day. He foresaw a long day at the school tomorrow discussing privacy, disrespectful behavior, refusal to follow simple instructions, threats of harmful actions to others, and the purchase of a hamster and corn snake for the classroom. He will laugh over it with the rest of the family when they get here tomorrow afternoon to spend the weekend celebrating the children's seventh birthday and quietly noting the still open hole in Tim's life.
The first and only time Gibbs caught him running on the track in the NCIS gym, between debriefings and mandatory counseling, was met with a solid headslap and a gruff, "Cut it out."
Tim started running the next day after thatwhichshallnotbenamed. Got a routine down in no time, run flat out until he puked and collapsed, call a cab, go home to fall in an exhausted slumber, wake up, run flat out until he puked and collapsed, call a cab, go home to shower and get ready for the day, deal with the family, lawyers, co-workers, doctors appointments, psychologist appointments, wherever the day took him, come home, change, start over again. It wasn't long before it was taking longer and longer to get to that point where he collapsed and he was further from home. Then he started running back home because a cab ride from just outside DC was expensive when you do it six times a week.
But he couldn't hide the injuries; shin splints, stress fractures, sprained ankles, twisted knee, road rash from falling, and more. He noted their reactions when he doesn't conform to their expectations but just doesn't care. He has more important things ahead. The furtive looks he received from Palmer; the open assault by Abby, the speculative looks from Ziva; the lectures on his health from Ducky; the glares and head slaps by Gibbs. It all boiled to a head exactly four weeks after the accident, incident, thatwhichshallnotbenamed, on one Saturday afternoon when he is invited to coffee with Abby and finds the entire team there all shaking their heads at him, wagging their tongues about his changed appearance, mentality, the diagnosis of a form of survivor's guilt that according to Gibbs he should just shake off. He smiles now because although that part of the day was horrible, even then he could hear Tony's irrepressible laughter in his mind; see the sparkle in his eyes, the smile on his face, and laughter in his voice, "It's an interVENtion Probie."
An hour after the 'intervention', he quit. Packed his personals, walked up the stairs in the company of his attorney – the best money could buy, he was after all a very, very, VERY wealthy man - across the mezzanine, knocked on the door, and handed it in person to Director Vance. Tim thanked him for everything and said he didn't want to EVER talk to anyone from NCIS again. His attorney stated that any contact made towards the DiNozzo-McGee family would be considered hostile action against the person, the agency, the Director, and the SecNav himself. She handed him her business card and they left without Leon even saying a word, he was stunned to silence. Tim wouldn't go after Ducky but they didn't know that.
No matter how many miles Tim ran how fast he ran; it was always there in the back of his mind. He tried to ignore it. But he couldn't help himself; he was drawn back to that winding stretch of city streets over and over again. He got the route from the case file when it was all said and done. At the time he was just running as fast as he could, trying to keep up. By now he knows it by heart, like the path to his home. Start at the Southeast corner of Washington and 25th. Up Washington, left on 26th, over to West, up to 32nd, right back on Washington, then left on 34th. He stumbles every time on that corner. Every damned time. Rights himself. Sprints down the block, over West between two buildings to the warehouse. Scale the fire escape four stories up to the roof, around the air handler, over the short wall. Race is over; total distance just under one mile, time twenty-two minutes; no competition really for a guy that can run it in under a mile, consistently, on a regular basis.
It was a joint op with the FBI. Tony predicted when Fornell showed up the something was going to get fucked up and he was right. He and Tony had been chasing a suspect through the warehouse district of Newport News for the past twenty minutes and it was starting to get hard for Tim to keep up with them, he could barely see Tony's head. The very fact that the guy was high on something and his fight or flight instincts were in hyper drive probably had something to do with why he could sustain the bursts of speed and the amount of time he had just been alluding them; not to mention the fact that whenever he came across a civilian he would knock them into the path of his pursuers. Every time, Tony would help the person up, keeping his eye on the Yeoman. By the time the civilian was up, Tim had caught up to Tony only to have him sprint off again. Tim's footsteps pounded on the pavement in an even slap, slap, slap kind of movement, almost like he was keeping cadence and his breath sounded harsh in his own ears. Tim couldn't even imagine what it sounded like to the ones on surveillance detail in the van, some sort of porno from hell.
Tim tried to offer up details of the chase when he could push extra breath out of his lungs, Tony's position in relation to his own. Tim had a flash of irritation. Tony seemed to have no problem at all with his little monologue and didn't sound winded at all.
"He rabbitted Boss, made a left at the corner of 26th and Washington. – With all this traffic you'd think someone would run him over for us. – Why don't they ever take off running in flat open fields where nothing's around for miles? (Gibbs snorted in amusement) - The idiot just darted in to a building, never mind he came out another door. - If this is such a joint operation, where the hell is the FBI? I don't see anyone from the there flat footing it out here. - Come on Probie. - What the hell is this guy on? - Shit, he just knocked over a bunch of nuns. Running drugs in the church district and knocking down a flock of nuns, God's gonna smite you for that one jackass. Sorry Sisters, NCIS. Have a blessed day. (He flashed a grin and made a quick sign of the cross) - Faster Probie. – Does he even know where the hell he's going? He just made another left, anyone ever tell him four lefts make a square? - Warehouse at the end of 35th and West, second one in on the right. – Holy shit! He leapt halfway up the fire escape. I'm thinking meth Boss – We could sure the hell use some more backup here."
As Tim came around the corner and realized where they were he stopped cold, a feeling of dread chased up his spine, and couldn't help blurting out with all of the breath left in his body. "FUCK…Tony! STOP!" He remembers Gibbs and Ziva yelling at him for a status and location but doesn't answer. Instead, he remembers pulling himself up the ladder of the fire escape, unable to catch his breath but unable to stop either. Ducking and running across the roof line to see Tony. Tim remembers the sounds: metal clanging, gun shots, thuds, grunts, ringing.
Tim knows he has a faulty memory. He can't remember getting from the rooftop to the hospital or anything between those two moments. But in the scheme of things it really isn't that important. Is it? What happened before, during, and after; that is what matters. They tried to keep him away from the case, IA wanted to blame someone for it, and since Tony couldn't defend himself…. If they really wanted to keep him out of it they shouldn't have put it on the computer. Should they have? After all, anybody wanna guess what a guy, a highly motivated McGeek, can do with a degree in computer forensic? Anybody? Bueller?
He had his laptop before he'd been in his hospital room ten minutes, with his dad running interference on everyone, pulling up the feeds and recordings to find out what went wrong and why they didn't have a good recording going, and promptly backed it up to an online server so it wouldn't get buried. And it was a series of little things: bad transmitters on the wires they were wearing, a police cruiser traveling on a street where they had been cautioned away, repositioned security cameras, fallen ear wigs lost in the chase, and last but not least, a dirty cop in the form of a tech on the FBI side. Later, after he reads their reports and he has all of the information, he gives his report, fully edited and redacted. Gibbs knows it isn't the truth, not the whole truth, but he sticks to his story. All he has to do is remember that they tried to pin it on Tony before they found the real leak.
In the official version he falls, tells Tony to stop, Tony stops, he climbs to the roof, finds Tony, they search the roof together, find the guy after he jumps out from behind an air handler, he fires at them, they fire back, end of story.
The truth wasn't *that* much different. Really. It wasn't.
The truth is when he came around the corner he tripped on an unfixed pothole. And realized where he was immediately. He flashed back to a case with a car bomb, a threat on Gibbs' life, a bomb drone aimed at a pier full of people, a sniper, and a dead partner. He struggled to stand up - blurting out with all of the breath left in his body. "FUCK…Tony! STOP!"
That was the last thing anyone other than Tony heard because the fall knocked his earwig and wire. That wasn't the last thing they said though.
Tony was tense, "What's wrong? Where are you?"
Tim was huffing and puffing, gasping for breath, "Wait for me. I'm coming up the fire escape."
He ducked and ran across the roof to see Tony standing there with his hands on his hips, scowling. "I fucking lost him."
He nodded to Tim's torn clothes, "You okay."
Hands on his knees, Tim takes a few deep breaths before standing up, looking around. "Yeah, fell on that damned pothole. You'd think that in ten years it would at least be fixed. Do you know where the hell we are?"
Tony cocked his head to the side and looked at Tim with his eyebrow raised in question. Tim made the motion to turn around.
Turning around slowly, Tony noted the roofline before turning back and freezing. He jumped back from where he was standing and looked down at the dark spot on the roof. "Shit."
Tony held his hand while they stood in silence for a few minutes. Just as they started to head for the stairway door there was a clang and a piece of metal pipe went skidding across the roof in front of them. As one they raised their weapons. "NCIS. Freeze."
The Yeoman charges them from around an air handler, shooting twice. Tim felt like he was sucker punched and as he was falling, saw the hole in the middle of the Yeoman's forehead, and then Tony dropped. The sound of their bodies dropping was like dominos; thud, thud, thud. The church bells started to ring, dong, dong, dong.
He rolled over shaking his head to rid the ringing in his ears, "Tony. Tony!"
As he staggered to his feet, Tim unhooked the vest, noting almost absently that it held but there was something dark around the entrance.
The gurgle hit him first. It was as loud as a sonic boom compared to the cacophony of the wretched bells. He gently rolled Tony over to find a mess of blood and bubbles coming out his chest. The bullet that lodged in Tim's vest went straight through Tony's, armor piercing rounds, more commonly known as cop killers. Fuck.
Tim dropped to his knees, shaking his head back and forth while at the same time ripping open Tony's vest and putting pressure on the tiny little hole that's causing way too much damage. "No. No. We have a date to keep, remember?"
But the answer he wants to hear doesn't come. At that moment there's wheezing and shivering and rattling and gurgling mixed with those damned bells. And there's leaking, like a bucket of water was dumped out only it's hot and it's sticky and it's thick and it's soaking in to that same damned spot from ten years ago. And the smell of hot asphalt mixes sickenly with the smell copper and salt in the air.
And he knows he is crying. Yelling through the now broken mic that he needs a fucking ambulance, will someone fucking answer him? Yelling at God and anyone that will listen that he needs Tony here, for them, their family, because they're having babies and he needs to have Tony in his life, to teach their kids things about football and baseball and girls and cars and every other possible thing Tim can think of. And they are supposed to retire next month and grow old together.
He's holding Tony and crying, his heart is ripped out. And Tony opens his eyes and smiles. Tony looks at him with that little boy grin, the one that says he is really pleased. "I remember."
And for one all too brief moment Tim thinks it will be all right, they will make their appointment, maybe a little late.
Tony looks past him, "Oh. Look, Katie's here."
It doesn't hurt as much anymore, more like a pulled muscle than a gunshot wound. The knowledge that they were basically hung out to dry by their own team mates over something petty, their own agency in order to save face, the FBI 'for the greater good'. The one attempt to contact him was dealt with harshly some would say. When year four hit and a former team member didn't get anywhere with the parents, Sarah was given a sob story about how Tim has lost his grip on reality. Tony didn't get to where he was in life without learning to cover his ass and he taught Tim well. There were tapes, video and audio, of conversation, secret meetings, steps detailing the failings of NCIS and the FBI, copies of get out of jail free cards for hacking the CIA, FBI, and NSA, dead suspects in elevators suspiciously ruled an accident. Only a small portion was produced as warning to back off. They didn't know him. Not anymore.
And, after all of these years, he runs, still. The ghost of Tony is always running just ahead of him, looking back with a gleam in his eyes and a playful smirk on his lips. In his mind he can hear the whispered, "Come on Probie" and "Faster Probie" echoing around their bedroom and in every nook and cranny that Tony insisted they christen when they first bought their home. He hears it in his dreams at night. But Tim knows he will never catch him. Not even in his dreams when his fingers are just grasping at Tony's t-shirt and he awakens to find himself alone. Always just ahead of him, just out of his reach. Tony runs.
Tim stays the hell out of Norfolk. And LA. And the majority of D.C. No matter what his publisher says about his loyal fans. Some fucking places are just cursed.
Tim did the evening rounds as always; put away the things lying around on the floor, tidied the kitchen, made sure five little backpacks were lined up in the hall with the appropriate parent signed permissions slips in them, and locked the house up. He stopped in the living room and touched their wedding picture on top of Tony's piano, noting the happy carefree faces.
Tim knows his life is pretty good, not perfect, but you don't get everything you want. He shut off the lights and stood in the darkened den, listening to the echoes of the past. Laughter in a deep, rich voice that is growing fainter as the years pass.
He doesn't remember when he first started chasing Tony; but now, he will be forever chasing after Tony.
Tim swallowed the lump in his throat, blew a kiss, whispered, "Good night Tony."