Hey you all! I started writing in the NCIS fandom a few weeks back, and apparently I can't stop.
This will be a two-part thing focusing on McGee and Tony, mostly from Probie's point of view. I'm not a fan of Timmy here, but I tried to do him justice anyway.
Hurt & competent (heroic) Tony !
Leave me a little message if you like it or think some things could've been better !
EDIT : 12.31.2011. Thanks to Hanife2, I reposted this two-shots edited, so technically, punctuation/grammar/spelling mistakes should not bother you too much anymore. I do hope this makes it easier for readers to enjoy the story.
Hanife2, I know you've done all the hard work, so once again, thank you :)
"Shhh, it's okay. We're superheroes. Do you hear me? We're superheroes. And we're here to save you, but you have to help, okay? Tell him, McGee!"
Tim was near the window, peeking outside, his gun drawn, trying to guess how much time they had left before the group of heavily armed men that had been chasing him and little Samuel Collins would show up. How on Earth DiNozzo had found them in that old shed, he had no idea, but he knew they were not going to have the time for the story of this miracle.
"Tony, now is not the time-"
"Aww, McGee, I know you don't want to tell people our secret identities, but I think that Samuel here is worthy enough. Can you keep secrets, Samuel?"
Tony was talking to the kid as if he had no other care in the world. The little boy was transfixed by Tony's calm words when not five minutes ago he'd been half running half carried through the woods with (and by) a man that hadn't taken the time to introduce himself. McGee had had more pressing issues then.
Truth was, Tony didn't like kids. He didn't know how to act around them. He'd always hated it when his parents' friends had talked to him in the stupid, condescending, high pitched voice of adults that thought children were retards. They weren't. They could feel what was happening around them. So Tony wasn't pretending everything was peachy, as McGee thought he was. He was trying to make Samuel grasp the urgency of the situation. He explained to the boy what he needed to do, and the boy nodded with a determined look.
"McGee, with me," Tony said when he straightened up. And he was all business again. Tim didn't waste time. DiNozzo had that look on his face. He had a plan. With a shake of his head, Tony motioned towards a little trap door Tim hadn't even noticed before. He slapped himself mentally. The door was on the floor hidden by a carpet that looked more like a large rag thrown on the floor. It had apparently been under a large table that Tony seemed to have moved before his partner and Samuel arrived. When the hell had he done that? How had he found the hiding place in the first place?
"How on Earth-"
"With my X-ray Vision, Probie. Now listen to me." There was something in the senior field agent's tone that made McGee focus immediately. A sense of emergency, and the feeling that Tony was about to say something very important. "You're going to go under there. And they're gonna come and take me."
"What? Tony, there's no-"
"I'm not asking you, McGoogle. And when they take me, things will get ugly."
"Tony, you can just stop and start thinking something-"
"I'm your senior field agent and I'm pulling rank, Agent McGee. This is a direct order and you will obey. Now shut up and listen."
And McGee did. He was not used to seeing Tony like that. Tony was focused and tense, laying down his suicidal plan as if he was seriously considering it. Tim wondered for a second if this was all a bad prank. But his guts hurt with all the churning, there was a kid that had cried his soul out earlier and his ankle was swollen-he'd twisted it sometime between the running like crazy trying not to be killed by all the bullets aimed at his back and trying to do so while carrying an 8-year-old child. So if this was a joke, it was a bad one. Maybe Tony didn't understand.
"Tony, these guys aren't joking around. They are seriously dangerous terrorists. We have to go down there, the three of us, and wait for Gibbs to come with back-up."
Tony smiled as if he found McGee's idea cute and naïve. That's when they heard the roaring sound of an engine coming closer. They were coming. McGee gulped his panic down.
Tony turned around and opened the wooden trap door with a little more force than necessary. He motioned Samuel to come over, and the kid stopped in front of him.
"Remember what I told you?"
"What did you tell him?" McGee asked, going back to his previous position near but not facing the windows.
"It's a secret, McJealous."
The kid just nodded with the serious determination that just a kid could muster at that moment, and immediately started going down the small ladder that was attached to the little door.
"Atta boy. Not even afraid of the dark. You know that Special Agent McGee here peed his pants in the dark until he was thirteen?"
"I know a lot of stuff, McGee. Now you get down there, and I repeat, this is an order. You do not go out. Whatever you see. Whatever you hear. Your mission is to protect the kid and to stay with him."
McGee understood the importance of protecting the civilian, but he didn't have to like it. On the other hand, he knew Gibbs was really on his way. Before he could protest any more, McGee found himself joining Sammy. There was little room under there, and he had to stay partially lying on his back. He couldn't help but swear at how dark it was. The only beams of light that came to them were immediately blocked by the large and heavy wooden table that Tony had somehow managed to push back in place. Samuel drew closer and took McGee's free hand in his, Tim looked down at the child.
"He's going to be okay," Samuel murmured.
"Yes, he is," McGee lied. His heart was pounding in his chest, and the kid had big doe eyes that were looking into his with more strength than he felt capable of. Doors slammed. Footsteps drew closer. "Now you have to promise not to talk. Not a sound." Samuel nodded fervently.
"Hey, Boss. Yeah, I got to them in time. They should be on their way to the safe house now."
McGee was about to ask Tony what the hell he thought he was doing, but another voice spoke first. "A safe house, huh?"
It was a heavily accented voice. McGee recognized it. After all, the man had yelled that he'd "serve his balls to the dogs" if he tried to escape (which he had). You don't forget the people who tell you such nice things. McGee hoped DiNozzo's balls wouldn't be served to the dogs.
"Put your gun down," another man said. McGee could hear the voices and the footsteps that made the wooden floor squeak over his head. There were more than three or four people up there. He closed his eyes a second and tried to calm his breathing. Tony was going to be fine. They were all going to be fine. Gibbs was on his way. The tiny hand of Samuel was squeezing harder. The kid had his eyes and mouth tightly shut. Maybe if McGee did the same he could make everything around him disappear?
"Oh, hey there. I see you've come more than prepared. Aren't you the good little scouts."
For God's sake, Tony, just shut up this time.
"Who are you? Where's the agent? And the kid?" the man that had asked Tony to give his gun added.
"Are we playing twenty questions? Can I ask one too?"
"Shut up and answer the question."
"Well see, I can't do both at once, this makes-"
"I said shut up!"
"Ahh, here you did it again!"
Did he have a death wish? McGee's knees were weak with what he had to admit was mind-numbing fear. And he was not even facing the guys with the guns. How could Tony talk that casually to them? Mocking what would probably be his captors as if he was in control? Hearing his voice, Tim could've thought he was just teasing Ziva on some American expression she misused again, on a boring day at the office. And then he remembered Tony was always the one going undercover. And he remembered how everyone always said that Tony was a cool-headed genius on those kind of missions. McGee had doubted that. Maybe he shouldn't have.
There was movement and the characteristic sound of something heavy hitting flesh. Tony's flesh. Tony just took a sharp breath.
"Don't break his jaw just yet, Raul. We want him able to talk for a little while longer," the first voice said. The leader.
"Well, that's awfully nice of you." Tony spit on the ground, probably blood, and went on, unimpressed, "Huh. I don't know your name, and you're not about to know mine. Oh, I know! We could use code names! I'd be Clark Kent, and you would be Lex Luthor. You know, bald and-"
Flesh on flesh. The sound was deafening with its violence. He could hear and see the shadow of Tony stumbling back a bit.
"Huh." He took a few seconds to breathe properly again. "Oh, I'm sorry, did I hurt your feelings? How rude I am. I meant to say shaved head, not bald, of course."
Someone on the other side of the room snorted.
"You are a funny man, you. I can see how you can seem to think you are going to resist us."
There was silence, and McGee guessed something was happening that he couldn't see. He hated it. Guilt was rising in his chest. His only mission was to stay cowardly hidden and keep his mouth shut. Tony had placed himself in the line of fire directly to protect him. An unknown feeling was slowly making his way in Tim's chest, but he didn't have the time to try and understand it.
"There certainly isn't a lot in here. And you wouldn't break if we keep hitting you, would you?"
"Oh no, please, don't doubt your skills because of me. It's just that, you see, I know that hard-ass man that kinda ruined me for anyone trying to brutalize me."
Tony was making no sense. Someone chuckled. Probably Lex Luthor. McGee didn't realize that he was thinking of the supposed terrorist they'd been investigating for a month as Lex Luthor, comics supervillain. His real name was Santiago Munoz, and Tony knew that. Tony also knew how Munoz had killed five men in the last month after what Ducky had called "extensive sessions of torture, poor lads".
"You, call Diego and Juan. I want to know if they found them. Carlos, go with him and start looking for them, they can't be gone too far. Raul, bring that one outside and open the truck for me. We have no time to lose."
Truck? What was in the truck? Timothy knew that the whole point of Tony's sacrifice was to get Munoz and his goons away from Samuel and himself, but when he heard the different footsteps moving over his head and the muffled noises of a struggle, he hoped they wouldn't take Tony away. He didn't want his partner out of his sight. Well, out of his hearing range. Little did he know that he'd later regret his wish. And then there was a smacking sound that suddenly made Tim nauseous. The struggle stopped. The rattling sound that followed gave McGee a very precise picture of his partner and friend being dragged outside as dead weight, his head doodling lifelessly from side to side. And within seconds, there was no sound anymore. The silence was ear-piercing. McGee felt helpless.
Samuel slowly opened his eyes then, allowing himself the luxury of taking a deep breath. He could move more easily than McGee, and so after a nod from Tim, the kid started exploring their hiding place. It was larger than McGee expected, and he slowly made his way toward the direction Samuel had gone when he lost visual contact with him. Samuel was slowly moving boxes that were crammed there. Tim was about to tell him to stop when he saw what Samuel was trying to do.
"Well done, Sam," he whispered. There was no one in the room upstairs, but he didn't want to push their luck.
Moving some more boxes, they finally found it. The source of the few light beams that Samuel had found. There was a tiny little window. From there they could only see dirt and the wheels of two large trucks. Tim swore when he realized the window was not large enough for Sam to escape from there. They could do nothing but wait.
And then they heard it. Just a grunt. But loud enough that they could hear it from their spot. Tim realized Munoz was on the side of the house that they could see and, if they tried hard enough, they could hear someone talking. And then someone else. It was just a buzzing sound that they couldn't understand, but Tim knew it was Tony answering the questions he was asked. Or, more likely, avoiding doing so.
And then they heard different kinds of noises. Wailing sounds. Terrifying ones. It was Tony, trying not to yell. And then the silence again. Tim didn't know which one he preferred.
"What are they doing to him?" Samuel whispered.
Tim didn't answer. It could have been him out there. It should have been, if Tony hadn't popped up and taken the fall for his junior's mistake. He always did. Only this time it was not Gibbs's wrath Tony was deflecting on himself. The new and weird feeling invading his body and mind made his heart go faster.
A howling cry broke the silence.
Samuel was crying now. He had slid down a wall to a sitting position and was once again fiercely closing his eyes, this time pressing his hands to his ears to try and shut the yelps and cries coming from outside. Tim had to force himself not to do the same. But this was Tony having his back outside. The same Tony that was always joking around and making fun of him. The guy McGee had once thought was shallow and didn't deserve his Senior Agent position. McGee was ashamed of himself. He closed his eyes and let the sounds come in, welcoming them in the hope that he could alleviate some of Tony's pain by suffering with him.
Seconds became minutes, and McGee stopped counting when he thought he would go crazy. Where was Gibbs? Why wasn't he coming? Had McGee been more focused he would probably have remembered that last time he'd told Gibbs his position he'd been miles and miles away from this little cabin in the middle of the woods. Silence settled again. McGee wanted to cry in relief and throw up at once. The men outside talked again. A short question, and McGee had to prick his ears to try and hear the answer. But there was none.
Relief gave place to gut clenching fear. What had they done to him? Why wasn't Tony answering?
But then he could hear something. Coughs. And something else, closer. It got louder and louder. McGee couldn't believe it when he recognized the rhythm and, as it got clearer and clearer too, the lyrics.
"97 Bottles of beer, take one down and pass it around, 96 bottles of beer on the wall..."
Tony didn't stop singing at the top of his lungs. He was interrupted a few times, probably being hit to shut up, but he went on and on. McGee wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. This was so Tony. Then car doors slammed, and there was some rummaging. McGee went quickly to the little window he had left. He could see two sets of boots going to the car. And they came back with something. That's when McGee noticed that the floor was wet, though outside the sun was high. Had they been using water? He forced himself not to hurl the little he had inside his stomach.
The two men that had been going to the car and back passed in front of him again, and this time McGee could see wires coming out of something he couldn't see to the car.
Oh no. Tony, no. Shut up now.
A car battery. They were going to hook him to a car battery.
"93 Bottles of beer on a wall, 93 bottles-"
"Let's start again. What's your name?" a man yelled, louder than Tony to make himself heard. "Who are you?"
And for a few seconds, McGee's blood stopped running through his veins. Everything seemed to be in slow-motion as Tony finally stopped singing. Tell them, McGee prayed.
McGee hadn't known that electrocuting someone made that much noise.
This time he tried to shut the sounds off too. Despite his hands pressing with all his force against his ears, he still heard it. Focused as he was on the terror he felt, he didn't think to dry his tear-filled eyes. He hadn't cried since Kate.
It was too much. Too much. He was going up there. He was going up there and putting a bullet through the son of a bitch's head. McGee didn't realize how un-McGeely he was thinking. In his life, he had never been that afraid and furious at the same time. Maybe because it was not just about him anymore. They were hurting Tony. His partner. His mentor. His damn best friend. And so he tried to get up. Sensing the movement, Samuel whimpered and reached forward. Tim stopped in his tracks. They had momentarily stopped whatever they were doing outside.
"Stay here, Sammy, I'm going to help Tony," he tried to explain. The kid jumped on his hand, clutching it desperately and shaking his head frantically, mouthing "no"s like his life depended on it. Which it probably did.
"Don't worry. They won't know you're here."
"No, no. You can't go. He told me not to let you go."
"What? Who tol- Tony?" Sam started nodding furiously. "I'm going."
But he couldn't. Because Sam had jumped on him, and he'd stumbled back and found himself lying there with a trembling kid on his chest who had apparently decided not to let the older man go even if he had to use all of his kid's strength to do so.
The muffled groans and whimpers started again, getting more violently terrifying every second. Even if Sam didn't let his feeble grasp on McGee go, his body started trembling more violently. McGee reached up to the child's face and put his own hands on each side, blocking away the sounds that would probably give them both nightmares for long years to come. That's when he remembered the seriousness in Tony's eyes when he had given him the order not to move whatever he heard. God. Tony had known what they'd do to him. He had known and had chosen to do it anyway. McGee steeled himself in that position, clutching the kid to his chest and praying to God Tony would survive.
Tim didn't know how long they stayed like this, Sam's frail body progressively coming to rest against his. They had stopped the electrocution outside only to do it again a few minutes after that. And again. And again. And then they had just stopped. Doors slammed again, and Tim closed his eyes. Please let it be over.
It was. The engine roared, the cars started up, and McGee was sure he was only hallucinating when he thought he heard them pull away.
He got up (well, not entirely, he couldn't) as soon as he'd heard it, and there it was in front of his eyes: no cars parked outside. And no sound. No footsteps, no murmured voice. Nothing. They were alone.
He didn't need more precautions. He rushed past Samuel, only to realize that the trap door was now blocked by the large table Tony had pulled back on top of it.
"No no no. This is not happening." He tried to push as hard as he could, but there was nothing for him to do. He was trapped inside. And maybe Tony was out there, needing his partner on his six. For once.
He went back to the window and told Samuel to hide behind some of the boxes and shut his ears. There was one bullet left in the barrel of his gun, two tops. He aimed, and shot. The shot was still ringing in his ears when he ripped a strip from his jacket to use it to protect his hand from the shattered glass. Quickly, he finished cleaning the window open. He could pass his head and shoulders through the window frame, but no more. Wriggling his neck, he found what he was looking for. He couldn't exactly see Tony's face, but he could see a body lying a few feet away. His clothes were shredded, wet, and dirty. Tim could see the blood splattered on the floor. There was too much of it.
"Tony! Tony! Please wake up! Damn it, Tony, I said please!"
For several long minutes, there was nothing but McGee's pleading voice, begging his partner not to be dead. "Com'on, Tony! You can't leave me here! I'm gonna end up eaten by rats. Isn't there a movie you know like that? With a man and a kid trapped a few feet away from their dying partner? Huh?"
Wake up, Tony. Wake up and tell me you're fine.
"What the..? Juan! Juan, come here! They're here!"
McGee hadn't heard the car pulling up on the other side of the house. He hadn't heard the footsteps coming closer. But he'd been heard alright. Two men finally appeared in McGee's narrowed vision, and he swore loudly, shimmying his way back into the room and yelling at Sammy to go back under the door. Fortunately enough, as they were in the foundations, they found walls behind which they couldn't be touched. Shots were fired, Samuel started yelling and McGee looked down at his gun.
"Let's go in there, there has to be a door," McGee heard someone say.
"They're coming! They're coming to get us!" Samuel was a white as sheets, and McGee prayed the kid wouldn't just pass out right here right now. He still had a gun. He could still use it. Even if this time there really was only one bullet left.
They could hear the wooden floor squeak again two seconds later. Quickly enough, the two men had found how to get to them through the trap door. McGee's heart was beating faster. Samuel was behind Tim, clutching the fabric of the back of his shirt.
"Sammy, you have to try to get out of here. Try the window."
Samuel was apparently about to protest when they heard the table being moved right over their head. Sammy flew, McGee following him, backpedalling not to lose sight of the trap door. He only turned around when he realized Sammy had actually wriggled and writhed half his body through the opening.
"Com'on, Sammy, kick your legs and pull with your arms," he started cheering, helping the kid by pushing him as hard as he could. Sam was crying, probably hurting everywhere, but he didn't stop trying. Despair was a driving force. The rattling sound stopped.
"Juan, do you hear that? The kid is trying to escape. Go!"
But Sam had already been freed, and he got up on the other side, limping a bit because he had grazed his legs with the glass. He got on his knees again, and McGee thought he'd lose it. The kid was trying to reach for his arm to pull him with him.
"Go, Sammy, go! Run to the-"
"Hey! You!" came the voice of one of the goons (Juan) that had apparently gotten out of the house. The other one had resumed his moving the table.
And Sammy did, but the other man had a gun and the first shot had him stumbling over his own feet and crashing next to where Tony's body was lying. McGee was desperate. He couldn't let this happen. He couldn't let Sam be captured or executed. He couldn't fail Tony. From his spot, the only shot he could take would probably miss. He had never been as good as Gibbs or Tony in the firing range. But he couldn't do nothing. He aimed.
"Where the fuck are you!" came the voice of the second man. He had opened the trap door.
McGee turned around, his gun pointing straight at the only way in. That shot he wouldn't miss. The man jumped inside in one quick movement and rolled on the floor to try and find some cover. But McGee had spent hours down there, and could sense where the other man was even though he couldn't actually see him. The shot rang, the man cried out. Throwing his now useless gun aside, McGee approached carefully. The light coming from the window didn't reach the man's body. Step by step, his heart pounding louder and louder in his ears, he drew closer. The man was dead.
Not waiting a second, McGee flew up the trap door and through the room upstairs. Another shot rang. No no no no.
McGee stopped dead on his tracks when he was welcomed by a gun pointed at him. Juan had an astonished look on his face. McGee had to stretch his neck and see past the armed man to understand why. His mouth dropped open. Literally.
Tony was not dead. No. He was there, in front of them. His breathing sounded like gasps, his face was pale and ghostly, his chest was burnt and bruised, but he was there, up on his knees with an arm thrown on Sammy's shoulders, behind his back. Had he risen up to protect him? The unknown feeling McGee had felt growing earlier was about to burst through his chest.
"You!" Juan called McGee out of his haze. "Move," he added, showing where to go with a shake of his head. Tim didn't think to protest. His hands held high, he circled around Juan, never giving him his back as he got closer to Tony and Samuel.
"Where's Diego?" he asked.
"Who's Diego?" was McGee dumb but sincere answer.
"Who's...? Diego! Diego?" Juan started calling, turning slightly his head in direction of the house. A growl answered. Damn, McGee hadn't even killed the man. How could he have not checked? How could he have forgotten to at least take his gun on his way out? He wouldn't be hands in the air, facing two pissed of terrorists if he had. What an idiot, McGee mentally slapped himself. Diego had been shot in the shoulder and was now getting out of the house, tumbling and dazed.
"You okay, Diego?" the other man asked. McGee could have sworn he'd heard Tony comment "how thoughtful", but when he turned to take a look at his partner, the man was slowly falling on the ground again. He looked exhausted and unable to hold onto consciousness.
"M... M...Gee," Tony murmured; his eyes momentarily rolled backwards. Tim jumped to reach his friend, but a shot very near his ear stopped his sudden movement.
"Don't you move, fucker!"
The sound of the shot had woken Tony back up. He was obviously fighting the pain or fatigue to keep his eyes open, but his hand never wavered from its place on Sammy's shoulder.
"And who the fuck is that one?" Juan asked, motioning to Tony with his gun. McGee didn't say anything. "Who the fuck are you?" the man asked, coming closer now and talking directly to Tony.
That's when McGee realized who these two men were. He'd heard their names earlier. Juan and Diego had been the two men looking for Sammy and him when Lex Luthor had found Tony. They must have thought their boss was still there and come to regroup. They'd found a dying man and their two targets instead. Talk about dumb luck.
Still aiming his gun at McGee, who seemed the only one alert enough to try something, Juan got closer until he could reach Tony's head, grab him by his hair and make him look up. Sam whimpered. Tony's neck formed a weird angle, and McGee's mind was racing to try and find a solution. Wait, was that a car he heard? Tony couldn't even keep his swollen eyes open long enough to stare at the man. He'd probably fall lifelessly on the dirt if the man didn't hold him half up.
"I said, who are you?" Juan repeated, sending spit on Tony face. DiNozzo mumbled something in response.
McGee drew closer again. Maybe he could try and- Hearing movement from McGee's side, Juan shot again. The bullet grazed McGee's right shoulder and the young agent stumbled backward for a few steps before falling on his arse, a hand clasped on his now bleeding shoulder.
No one saw Tony's eyes shot open at the cry of his partner. The armed man couldn't even react before Tony rose up, slamming his head against Juan's nose in the process, and then half jumping, half falling back heavily on him. The gun had fallen out of his grip.
"Hey!" Diego yelled from where he was sitting, weakened by the still profusely bleeding injury McGee had inflicted on him earlier. He got up, staggering toward them with a gun. But McGee was still out of it and Tony didn't notice. He raised his fist to hit the man under him in the face, but Juan, lying flat on his back, countered it with one hand.
"Hey!" Diego said again, but his words were slurred and he couldn't walk straight or raise his gun high enough. He shot a first time, but missed. Tony tried to hit again, but with the little strength he had left, the struggling man under him stopped it again.
"What the fu- who the fuck are you?" Juan yelled, still trying to get Tony off of him.
"Tony!" McGee called.
Tony was not listening. He was on top of another man, fighting with all his might to keep his eyes open. He had to protect... he had to protect...
"-him," Tony mumbled, raising his fist again and again, "don't-"
In his haze, he hadn't noticed that Diego had gotten closer, nor that Juan's hand was reaching for the gun he had lost earlier. Sam yelled, and Tony did they only thing he could. He threw himself at Juan's face with his whole body.
Another shot rang near them. McGee had just gotten back on his knees and was crawling as fast as he could to help his friend.
"Get off of him, you animal!"
It was Diego, finally arriving. He kicked Tony, and the agent fell on his back with no resistance. Juan had his hands on his nose; his face was bloodied, but McGee could still see his eyes when he tried-and failed-getting up. They were murderous. The man looked around him, and McGee found himself doing the same.
What a bloody mess it was.
Tim had once again his hands in the air. Tony wasn't moving. Samuel had slid against the house door and had his head between his knees, crying. Diego was trying to keep his aim on Tony. Juan was taking his time getting closer to the animal that had attacked him. He kicked him once. Than twice.
"What were you telling me?" he said slowly, spitting blood on Tony's face while straightening up completely. "Don't touch him?" he added with spite and a little snort that had to hurt, considering the state of his nose and the wince he couldn't help. "Who don't you want me to touch, this guy?"
He was pointing at McGee with his gun. Again. Tony didn't move.
"Now you look, you fuck!" Juan yelled, taking Tony by his hair once again to make him look at where McGee was sitting. "Look at me shooting him."
And he pointed his gun at McGee. Tim's eyes briefly locked with Tony's half shut ones. And by God, Tim could've sworn Tony had winked at him. Or maybe it was the terror that was clenching his body that was making him see things. In seconds, it would all be over. He'd always thought he'd die of old age, or at last having a deep epiphany. But his mind was blank. McGee closed his eyes.
There was a shot then, and commotion. And another shot. But McGee hadn't felt a thing. He opened his eyes, only to find Diego's body lying just next to him, his unseeing eyes staring at the sky. Everything seemed unreal. There were black spots in Tim's vision and everything was happening in slow motion. He was about to pass out, he thought. And Juan shrieked.
Still in a daze and half sure that he was either dead or dying, McGee slowly and heavily turned his head to Tony. He could hear sounds, voices and cries around him, but it was all somehow rendered white noise, his attention totally focused on one thing. Tony had jumped on Juan again. He had attacked him, not with his fists, but with his own face this time, fighting like an animal.
Suddenly, things got back to normal. The sounds, the voices. There were cars arriving in number. And that voice. He knew that voice.
Yes, it was Gibbs. They were safe.
But Tony didn't hear or notice. Two men in uniform came running, and Tony let go of Juan, only to throw himself at them. "Don't touch..."
But this time he had no more strength left. He had given it all. He just fell, and the two men nearly fell with him.
McGee got a look at his face, and once again he thought this couldn't be real. Because Tony's mouth was bloodied and Juan was yelling something about his ear.
McGee moved his lips, but no sound came out. Far away, there was a kid crying, and something was telling him to save him. But nothing in his body could move, and he was cold. He tried to tell them what had happened. He thought he could recognize Ziva, kneeling in front of him and talking to him, and he tried to tell her everything, but the only thing that came out of his lips was that word.
He turned his head and here Tony was, lying on the ground, apparently unconscious, and yet immobilized by the two men in uniform that had to cuff his hands with theirs. His head went from one side to another, as if in a bad dream that he was trying to shake, and McGee wanted to tell them what had happened to him. But only his name came out. Over and over again. Maybe this was what going in shock was, because he was cold and couldn't think anymore. Gibbs was on his knees too, his hands on his senior field agent's face, trying to calm him. Or wake him; McGee didn't know. People were gathering around him, but more were around Tony, and he lost sight of his friend.
"Wake up," someone said, "wake up!"
And then, "Sir, do you know where you are? What's your name?"
The same questions echoed around him seconds later, but McGee didn't care.
There was a mumbled answer. Everyone around Tony went silent and McGee's heart was pounding faster because he knew that these people were friends, but something in his head was asking, no, begging Tony not to break now. Something in his head was yelling, Don't tell them! And there were tears in his eyes when he saw Tony's legs kick and try to break free with the pathetic strength of a baby. His head was doodling and his kicks stilled.
"Do you know where you are? What's your name?" someone asked again.
And then McGee knew what he had to do. He tried to get up and nearly fell back. But Ziva was here, and she was helping him walk. A few steps later he fell down next to Tony. Gibbs stopped the paramedics when they tried to make him leave. Everyone fell silent again. They were all waiting for a reaction. But Tony's body couldn't move enough to react. His eyes though... His eyes locked with McGee's again. They were both lying on the ground, both oblivious to the rest of the world. There was still movement, noise, questions being asked and cars pulling up, but they didn't notice. This time, McGee winked. And a small smile stretched Tony's lips, making him wince.
Both men said, in one voice,