A/N: One more chapter left. I had to inject a little humor here. I hope it works for you. Let me know what you think. Sheila
Grand Canyon Deep
Gibbs stared at the sun rising through the drawn shades of the hospital room. He was in the bed closest to the door so he had it at a bad angle but it was the only thing moving in the room other than McGee's breathing in the bed next to his.
McGee was 35 years old but to Gibbs he had always be the 'boy' on the team, the one who needed seasoning, but that was all over after last night. McGee had swallowed his fear and, and stayed in the game as well as any Marine Gibbs had ever seen in combat. He might still have the face of a kid, but he was all grown up.
The door to the room eased open, letting in light, and Leon Vance stepped in the room. Gibbs nodded at him, and then a shadow behind Vance emerged as Jackie Vance. She looked nothing like the confident woman Gibbs was used to seeing. It was clear that she had been crying. Gibbs tried to rise.
Vance was there. "Just relax, Gibbs. You took quite a knock to the head. We're just stopping in to check on you."
"Everything okay?" His intense blue eyes studied them.
"Yeah," Vance nodded. "The kids, all three of them, are eating pancakes cooked by Rusty Balboa as we speak. Everything is good."
Gibbs' eyes settled on Jackie.
Vance cleared his throat. "Sometimes, when I'm home and I get a report, I go into my study and put it on speaker so I can take notes. My dear wife came downstairs and eavesdropped on the report I took from DiNozzo last night."
"And I'm not at all sorry I did," she said, giving Leon a bitter look. "I think I have a right to know when two men almost die protecting my children."
Vance gave Gibbs a long-suffering look.
Gibbs winced at her. "There was a team on your house all last night. They wouldn't have gotten very far even if they had an address."
She ignored him. Her eyes had settled on McGee. He was sleeping deeply, one wrist in a simple splint and the other in a cast suspended above his head. "How is he?"
"He was in surgery most of the night. His right wrist was broken in two places."
"They almost set fire to him and he didn't tell them where Devon was. They threw lighter fluid on him and he said nothing." She gripped her husband's arm tightly.
"Jackie," Gibbs said slowly. "If he had said something, it wouldn't have stopped them from killing us. The longer we stayed silent, the better chance we were going to survive."
She looked at him. "So you're telling me that it was a purely rational decision to not say anything."
Gibbs almost smiled. Leon had married a very strong and intelligent woman. "If McGee had told them, we would've died. And then nine really savage men would've shown up on your doorstep. I figure the watch team could've taken out 4-5 of them, but that would've still left another 4 or 5 in the house against your husband with ten minutes before back up could arrive. A lot can happen in ten minutes. Our only chance of survival for all of us was hanging in there. Luckily, Abby was there to go for help."
"So this is the part where I thank you for my children's lives and when I say children, I include Devon, and you tell me that it's all in a day's work."
Gibbs looked over at McGee for a moment. "I won't do that to you."
She smiled. "Thank you, Jethro."
She walked over to McGee's bed and leaned under the suspended arm and kissed him on the forehead, and then she turned back to him, wagging a finger. "I won't embarrass you with the same, but I thanked God for both of you last night and I will do it every night because of what you did."
She started to tear up again and exited the room. Leon Vance visibly relaxed. "I got to learn to lock my study."
"She's right. McGee had a chance to go out a window and he didn't take it. I know it was to protect Abby, but he also wasn't going to leave me."
"Computer geek does good, huh?"
"I never gave him enough credit, Leon. I saw that soft, sweet exterior and just kept pushing. I wasn't sure who he'd be when the time came. Well, the time came, and he was…" Gibbs shook his head. "As good, if not better, than any man or woman I've fought alongside."
Leon nodded. "The son of an admiral. I've always imagined he had a lot to live up to. I've talked to the admiral in the past. If he had his way, Tim would be an academic at Stanford. Feels like he's wasting his talents as a 'computer tech' for a law enforcement team."
Gibbs' eyebrows rose. "I hope you set him straight."
"Have you ever met an admiral who listened to more than the sound of his own voice? The point is that McGee may look soft, but it was clear to me after five minutes with his father on MTAC that he knows how to fight a Goliath. Lord knows, he's lasted with you as his boss for eight years."
Gibbs grew the hint of a smile. "We going to find a commendation for him, right?"
"I got one in the works for both of you. Couldn't let Jackie hear this but I'll never forget either one of you for keeping that horror show away from my doorstep."
"Jackie still okay keeping Devon?"
"My wife grew up in the projects. She has some very personal feelings about that boy. The only trouble we're going to have is in getting her to let go of him."
Ducky held them off until late that afternoon. He wanted Gibbs and McGee to get as much rest as possible before the troops moved in. They finally all piled out of the elevator after a day of treating Gibbs' house as a crime scene. Tony carried a pizza followed by Abby, Ziva, and Ducky. They were moving so fast that they almost missed a strange sight in the waiting room. Gibbs was there in pajamas and robe, legs up on a chair and reading a newspaper. Everyone stopped short and Abby cocked her head. "What are you doing out here, Gibbs?"
He looked up at them. "How bad is my house?"
Tony shrugged. "A few broken windows, bullets in the wall, plaster on the floor: it's going to need a little work."
Gibbs rolled his eyes.
Abby frowned. "Is Timmy all right?"
He gave her a withering look. "The Elf Lord is just fine. He's in his room holding forth on all manner of topics."
Gibbs glared at Ducky. "They have to change his pain medication or I'm going to need another room. I understand you suggested that they add a bit of a mood stabilizer."
Ducky blinked. "Yes, I thought he might struggle as he did after the first attack. I was worried about a depression."
"Yeah, well, his mood ain't stabilized. I preferred a depressed McGee to this."
"What are you talking about?"
He gestured with his head. "Go see for yourself."
Ducky went in search of McGee's chart while Tony, Ziva, and Abby ventured into the room. McGee looked up and smiled. "Hi guys."
Tony looked him over. "They have you all strung up here."
McGee looked up at his suspended arm as if seeing it for the first time. "Yeah."
"How you doing, Timmy?" Abby asked.
He smiled. "I love you, Abby."
Startled, she looked back at Tony and Ziva. "Well, I love you too, McGee."
"How is it bunking with the boss? I imagine it isn't easy."
"I love it. Boss is the greatest. I can talk to him about anything." His words had a mumbled, sleepy quality.
Tony looked at Ziva. "He loves everything. Who is this guy?"
Abby patted his bed. "So what did you talk to Gibbs about?"
McGee smiled at her drowsily. "I told him that I loved him and you and Tony and Ziva and Ducky and then I told him that we made love in his house and that it was the best sex ever. And then I told him about that thing you like where I put my hand—"
Unable to reach him easily because of his arm, Abby scrambled up on the bed, straddling him and covering his mouth with both hands. He struggled against her and she let go. He looked up at her with his brows furrowed in confusion, and then gestured toward Tony and Ziva saying, "Here, Abby? Ziva and Tony are totally watching us."
She turned his face back toward hers. "No, McGee! It is not happening here, and it isn't happening anywhere, ever again."
Tony collapsed against the wall trying to control laughter that was convulsing up from his gut. Ziva had a hand over her mouth, tears of laughter running down her cheeks.
The door opened and Ducky came in. "Abigail, get off of him!"
"Before or after I strangle him."
Abby climbed off of him and Tim turned his head. "Duckyyyyy."
This sent Tony into a new set of convulsions. Gibbs followed Ducky in and settled into his bed, glaring at all of them. "You all think this is funny? I am not having fun in the same room as Mr. Smut-mouth."
"Yes, yes, Jethro. Clearly, Timothy is a bit overmedicated."
"Where were you, Boss? I was looking for you. We were having such a nice talk." McGee drawled, his words running together.
Gibbs looked up at the ceiling. "Duck!"
Ducky helped Tim get a t-shirt over his head. "Ducky, I know you said it was a dream, but I totally remember saying some very inappropriate things to people, particularly to the boss."
"Nonsense! Pain medication can be like that sometimes. Your dreams can feel like reality."
"You don't understand. I am beyond mortified. If I really said what I think I said, I can't look the boss in the eye ever again. It was pretty awful. What am I going to do about Abby?"
"It was just a dream, Timothy!"
Ziva and Tony appeared in the doorway. "Is McPatient ready to go?"
Tim looked at him. "Tony, you were there. I said some pretty crazy stuff, didn't I? I really embarrassed the Boss and Abby."
Tony closed his eyes. The ammunition that McMedicated had gifted him with the other night was never going to come his way again. Ziva kicked him.
"McGee, all you did was mumble. If you said something crazy, nobody could make it out. You didn't embarrass anybody."
"You'd tell me the truth?"
"Are you kidding?" Tony gave him a crooked smile. "You know me. If you'd said crazy…inappropriate things, I'd…never let you live it down, would I?"
McGee narrowed his eyes at him. "You wouldn't, would you?"
"You know me."
McGee turned back to Ducky. "Can't they just take me home?"
"You can't dress yourself, Timothy. I'm afraid you're due a few days at the Mallard home."
Tony patted him on the back. "We'll have fun. I'm bringing all my movies."
Gibbs was sitting on the porch in a rocking chair when they arrived at Ducky's. McGee wasn't quite confident that his memories were all a dream. He couldn't meet Gibbs' eyes as he walked up the steps. Ducky steered him to a swing. "Sit down here, Timothy. We'll go and set up your room."
Tony and Ziva followed him inside. McGee cleared his throat after the door closed. "Boss, I think I owe you an apology."
Gibbs shook his head and chuckled. "You had a dream, McGee."
"That's the only response I'm going to get out of any of you, isn't it?"
"Abby's going to kill me."
Gibbs smiled as he looked out over the lawn. "Not if you do that thing with your hand."
"Oh God!" McGee dropped his face into his hands.
"Get it over it, McGee. The rest of us have."
Finally McGee raised his head. "What are you doing here, Boss?"
"I've been sequestered here until Fornell and his buddies have finished with my place."
"If Tobias wasn't so busy protecting Western Civilization, he'd be fixing up houses. Loves it. It's his weekend, and he's in his glory right now plastering and repainting my walls. Won't let me help though."
McGee looked down at his damaged wrists. "How's your head feeling?"
"Probably better than your wrists."
"Are you worried that I'll struggle again?"
"No, not really. The McGee I saw the other night is one of the strongest men I've ever met. You're a survivor. You might have temporary setbacks, but you'll never let this life beat you."
McGee blushed and looked away.
"All told, we killed four of them, four are in jail, and T-Bone is still in the hospital with a skull fracture. Not a bad bit of work if I say so myself."
Gibbs turned to him. "Tim, you put her out that window and you could've followed her, but you knew they wouldn't stop until they figured out who was upstairs. They would've found the two of you on that roof. You didn't follow her because it was the best way to protect her, and because you wanted to help me."
"Boss, you're accusing me of doing a great deal of complex thinking in a very short amount of time."
"Sounds just like something you'd be capable of doing."
"I don't remember it like that."
"I saw you at your very best, and it was quite impressive. You and I might not have a great deal in common; we might not know how to share our lives with one another, but we shared this and I know exactly who you are now."
"I was damn scared, Boss."
"Makes two of us."
McGee nodded. "Here's hoping we never have to go through something like that again."