A/N: In the middle of my writer's block, this popped into my head, and voila! new WIP. Because seven wasn't enough for me. lol Anyway, THIS IS IMPORTANT: the stuff in italics in the center is not in order. All of it is a bunch of unorganized quotes from the past week, which I will describe in the next chapters, and none of them are directly connected; i.e., the second quote is not a response to the first, and the third is not a response to the second, and so on. Think of the montages they use on the show sometimes. I could list off ten movies with montages right now, but that isn't the point. Also, if you're confused by this chapter, don't worry. Everything will be explained. Enjoy, and PLEASE review! :)

Disclaimer: Has Tim McGee ever been shot, stabbed, kidnapped (other than in the women's prison) or married Abby Sciuto? No? Then obviously I don't own NCIS, or any of the characters mentioned in this fic.

XXX

There was no solace in the boat tonight.

He eventually gave up trying to find any measure of peace in sanding, ditching the mason jar and picking up the whole bottle of bourbon. For once, though, it wasn't strong enough. He groaned inwardly. All he wanted was to forget everything for a while.

After fifteen minutes, he bit the bullet and walked to the drugstore, buying two bottles of Jack Daniels Black Label. As he was leaving, his cell phone buzzed. It was Vance again.

He shut his phone and ignored the insistent calls. He had nothing to say to the Director.

The basement was dark and the whiskey was strong and hot in his throat. The scorching of the liquid didn't compare to the emotional hole in his chest, though, and he knew that at least three other people were going through the same thing somewhere in the city. He couldn't talk to them. He couldn't hear their voices or see their faces and stay composed and emotionless as they were so used to him being.

He couldn't show them how much this really hurt.

The first bottle was gone within ten minutes.

Now sufficiently drunk, but not acceptably numb, he couldn't stop the past week from flashing before his eyes.

"Abby, what did you do?"

"You're working with a murderer, Agent DiNozzo. We want you to help us take him down."

"He didn't do what they say he did!"

"How did they hack the Pentagon?"

"This man is a terrorist, Gibbs, and protecting him is a felony. Step aside."

"Is Timmy going to prison, Gibbs?"

"How can I prove you're innocent when you don't even believe it?"

"What happened to you?"

"I'm not getting a trial."

"I failed! There are no excuses for failure, Gibbs, not here!"

"You're abandoning us, right when we need you. How typical."

"You can't place your bet with stakes that high."

"Ziva, you're going to get yourself killed, and it won't mean anything."

"We're not talking life sentence. We're talking death row."

"There's nothing you can do!"

"They've got me down as an accomplice."

"How could you let this happen?"

"I'm not going to stand by and let a guilty man go unpunished simply because he's cracked a few codes."

"You aren't going to change my mind after it's made up. You should know that by now."

"The evidence is inexcusable."

"What's the point of trying if all you're going to do is lose?"

He drew a long, shuddering breath, eyes snapping open, head throbbing. Sunlight would have filtered through the window if it hadn't been boarded up. He felt the characteristic nausea and dizziness of a hangover, along with the exhaustion life had become over a short amount of time.

It took him a moment to realize that the pounding wasn't entirely in his head. It was a good thing ZNN didn't know his door was unlocked.

He sighed. He hadn't talked to the press yesterday or the day before, and he wasn't going to start now. Anything they got their hands on would be twisted and misconstrued beyond recognition. They had chosen which side to represent, and it was the wrong one.

Then again, this whole affair was wrong. It was all twisted.

He put his head in his hands. He should have known that sleep, even intoxicated, would be plagued with memories he didn't want. The ones he did want, the ones from when things had been better, were hiding away somewhere he couldn't reach. Only one surfaced, tinged with sadness.

"Boss, the threat of contamination is minimal."

"Go. That's an order. Now. Leave!"

"It's an order I'm disobeying."

His throat closed up, and though no tears fell - there were none to fall – a strange sound came from his mouth, like a dry sob or a cough. It was the sound of someone who didn't know what to do, or how to pick himself up.

No one knew how to come back from this.

To be continued…