I had some trouble writing this chapter and that's why I got it in a day later than I said I would. Enjoy!
Chapter Six: See for Yourself
John McGee was not intimidated by Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs saw this. He didn't mind. He had met people who weren't intimidated by him: at first at least. And so far, he had never met a relative of any of his agents' who was intimidated by him. Well, at least it was proven that there was some ounce of courage in the genetic code; even if he thought that his agents were still braver than any of their family members. And not for any physical reason: any fool could run around with a gun. But more importantly because of the decisions they had made in their lives.
So, it was safe to say that Gibbs didn't give a rat's ass that the man he was shaking hands with was a retired Admiral. He only cared that this was Tim's father, and was trying to see how this was going to affect Tim.
At least he came to the hospital to check on his son, thought Gibbs. That was more than what could be said for Tony and Ziva's fathers.
Gibbs had to remind himself that Tim had been talking about mending his relationship with his father. He had talked to his parents on numerous occasions since the case involving Penny. Gibbs was hoping that the relationship really was on the mend. He did admit to himself that he was a little eager to meet the McGee family. He had been looking forward to the lunch at the McGee household. If there was any specific reason to have been looking forward to it, it was because he wanted to aid in Tim getting closer to his family if he could. If that mean having a nice team and family dinner, then so be it. He could be a nice man when the time arose.
Right now, though, in the hospital hallway, with two agents injured and a long day out in the field, Gibbs' nerves were frayed and playing nice wasn't a priority. He just wanted to know if the Admiral was there to actually care for his son or not.
"Admiral," greeted Gibbs as they broke off the handshake. "Who called you?"
"A Ms. Sciuto," answered John, drawing the name out to make sure he was saying it correctly.
"Abby Sciuto," perked up Ziva from beside Gibbs. "She is our forensic scientist. She is a very good friend of Tim's and the team, of course." She held out her hand. "Special Agent Ziva David."
He shook her hand firmly, yet with a gentlemen's touch. "Of course. I should've known. Timothy has told us all about his team."
"Really," asked Gibbs. "Yeah. He's told us a few things about yourself as well."
John blinked at that and straightened his back some to rear himself to his full height. This was undoubtedly where Tim had inherited his height. Still, Gibbs wasn't that much shorter and definitely not intimidated.
"I guess with this lunch we keep trying to plan," started the Admiral. "Family must come up a few times."
"A few," agreed Gibbs.
The pair went quiet and Ziva tried to be enthusiastic as she broke the silence. "Well, Mr. McGee, we were just waiting to go see Tim. Did Abby tell you what happened?"
"Yes," replied the retired Admiral, taking his gaze away from Gibbs and looking back at her. "I'm glad to hear that everything went all right."
"Where is Mrs. McGee," asked Ziva.
"She was on her way to visiting Sarah in Baltimore after Tim called us to cancel," he said. "Once I knew everything was okay here, I told her to stay there tonight and just come down tomorrow. I didn't want her driving if she was upset."
"Smart," said Gibbs.
"You really don't say a lot," remarked John. "I thought Tim was just exaggerating about that. He exaggerates a lot."
Ziva frowned. "McGee? I mean, Tim? He exaggerates?"
"Everyone exaggerates," said John.
"I do not think Tim does," replied Ziva. "Tony, yes. Tim, no."
"I guess you just don't know him as well as you think you do," said John, with a thin smile.
Ziva's eyes narrowed with offense, but Gibbs cut her off. "Is that what you think, Mr. McGee? Because I think that the first time you spoke to your son in seven years was just a couple of months ago and that you don't really know him as well as you think you do. And I don't think you even knew him that well even when you were talking."
John went stony faced. "Agent Gibbs, this is my son and—".
"All I want to know," Gibbs interrupted. "Is if you're here to care about your son and support him until he gets better and can return to his job, or if you're here to make a point."
That left John speechless. Ziva was still glaring daggers at him, and standing closely at Gibbs' side, leaving no question as to whose side she was on. Her welcoming mood had not been an act, but after John's remarks, this wasn't acting either.
The awkward silence that permeated through the hospital corridor was broken by Ducky and Abby exiting Tim's room. Ducky was silently closing the door behind him, indicating that Tim and Tony were still asleep inside.
Abby let out an excited gasp. "Oh! Mr. McGee! I'm so glad you're here!" She was practically skipping over to them, oblivious to the icy mood. "I'm Abby by the way. I was the one who called you. Timmy is asleep, but the nurse's said he might wake up soon. Of course, you could still go in there and sit down if you want." She turned her attention to Gibbs and threw her arms around him. "I missed you Gibbs! And you too, Ziva!" She quickly hugged the Israeli who acknowledged her with a one-armed hug around the waist. Finally, Abby sensed there was something amiss. "Ummm, guys?"
Ducky wandered over. He looked up at John and extended his hand to the retired Admiral. "Dr. Donald Mallard at your service. I am the head Medical Examiner at NCIS and also the resident translator for any medical situations that unfortunately arise. Your son is doing just fine and is in good hands. You have nothing to worry about."
John shook Ducky's hand with a stoic demeanor. "Yes, thank you. I'll just be going to see him now."
He nodded to Abby and ignored Gibbs and Ziva as he quickly walked past them and over to Tim's room. He opened the door slightly and then looked back at them. "There's someone else here in the room."
"Oh, that's just Tony," Abby replied in a stage whisper. "Don't mind him. He's supposed to be sleeping."
"Actually," said Ducky. "In an hour, would you mind waking him up and asking him a few questions like what is his name? and where he is? If he gives you answers that are completely wrong and very witty, then he is doing just fine. He got a concussion and he needs to be woken up every now and then." He gave John a sharp nod and encouraging smile.
John just nodded back his affirmation and went inside the hospital room.
Gibbs looked down at Ducky curiously. Ducky sighed.
"I picked up on your rather obtuse mood towards the man," replied Ducky. He let a wry smile come over his features. "Why not throw a drugged and unabashed Tony DiNozzo at him if he wants to really find out what this team is all about?"
Gibbs smiled back and Ziva snorted as she barked out a laugh.
Abby frowned. "You don't like Tim's dad, Gibbs?"
"I just want to make sure he's here for the right reasons, Abby," said Gibbs.
"Oh," sad Abby. "I guess that makes sense." She looked around. "Are you going to stay here?"
"Yeah, for now," said Gibbs. "Ziver, you should go home. Get some rest. Take tomorrow off. The paperwork can wait till Monday."
Ziva nodded. "Well, I will just go home and get a shower but I will come back tonight. Tony might wake up and need a ride home later."
Everyone knew that was a lame excuse to come back, but no one bothered pointing that out. Ziva knew it too. But they all knew that they just wanted to be there for their wounded.
"I'll come with you," said Abby. "Could you drop me off at home?"
"Of course," said Ziva.
Gibbs watched them walk off together and then turned back to Ducky. "What's on your mind, Duck?"
"Are you going to be civil with our retired Admiral," asked Ducky bluntly.
"Only if he treats Tim right," said Gibbs. He looked down at Ducky. "It has to be more than flesh and blood, Duck. Because this team is more than flesh and blood."
Ducky gave a curt nod. "I couldn't have said it better myself, Jethro."
John slowly shut the door behind him, trying to make as little noise as possible. His eyes quickly latched onto the sight of his son asleep in the hospital bed, and they never left him. He kept his eyes on Tim's face. He couldn't get over how young he looked. He had never seen his son so still and quiet; not since he was a little kid at least. That was when he had taken the time to go watch his children sleep at night, basking in the thought of being a father and loving his kids.
John dropped into the chair beside the bed wearily, putting his hands in his face.
"Shit, what have I done?"
When had he abandoned his son? Sure, he had never left the kid on the side of street. But he had abandoned him. He was beginning to understand Gibbs' words from earlier. He had abandoned his son by not supporting him. Maybe that wouldn't have stopped what happened today. But, if something had happened to take his son away from him…well, he would never have had the peace of knowing he had always been there for him.
The harsh words he had said to his son earlier that morning were now punching holes in his heart. He could only imagine what they had done to Tim. Tim had taken the first step in mending their relationship, and all John had done was push him away in the end. He was being selfish towards everyone in his family. Just because he was too proud.
He painfully looked back to his son. He wondered if he should even be allowed to sit here next to him, taking up the space someone who had cared far longer should be occupying. He started to get up to leave the room and tell Gibbs that he should be the one to sit there. He reached out and put his hand over Tim's. His breath caught in his throat, though, when Tim weakly grasped it.
John watched as Tim's face scrunched up some and the monitor's beeping escalated just a little bit. Tim cracked his eyes open and blearily blinked a few times before staring up at the ceiling.
John remained still as Tim's hand held on tighter and he turned his head to his father.
"Dad?" His voice was thick with sleep.
John mentally winced as Tim's grasp slackened. He plastered on a weak smile. "Yeah, Timothy, it's me."
Tim withdrew his hand to rub his eyes. "What are you doing here?"
"Your friend Abby called me," he replied. "Told me what happened. I came by to see you. Just got in a few minutes ago."
Tim just stared and gave a slow nod. "Where's Mom?"
"She went to go visit Sarah in Baltimore," replied John, looking away. "She'll come by tomorrow she said."
Tim nodded again and tried to sit up. The pain in his abdomen, though, kept him down. When he grimaced, and let out a hiss, John jumped up to hover over his son. Tim relaxed into his pillows. "Bad idea," he murmured. He eyed his father's hand on his shoulder. "Gee, Dad, didn't know you cared."
Tim shot his father a glare, but felt guilty when he saw the hurt in his father's eyes. John masked it quickly, but Tim had seen it. He let out a sigh.
"Dad, I'm sorry—".
"No," said John curtly. "I am. What I said earlier…I…I know an apology can't take away. And I'm tired of saying 'sorry' and then just going back on it." He stepped away from the bed. "I'll let you rest, Timothy."
He made to go to the door when Tim called to him. "Dad. Please, just sit. You don't have to say anything. Just being here is enough."
John carefully sat down. He gestured to the hall. "There are some people here who also want to see you. Your team?"
Tim smiled. "Sure. But you're my dad. And we don't see each other very often. I see my team every day. They'll understand."
"They will," asked John.
"Yes," answered Tim. "Gibbs has always told us it's family first."
John swallowed. "Yeah, well, Tim, you were the one who said these folks were family."
Tim nodded. "I did. But that doesn't mean you're not."
"Well, certainly not as good as family as you've got here," remarked John. He gestured over to Tony's sleeping form. "Who's that guy anyway?"
"Tony DiNozzo," replied Tim. He smiled at the sight of Tony sleeping on top of the sheets of the other bed, fully clothed, down to the boots on his feet. "He saved my life."
"I hear you saved his life too," said John inquiringly.
Tim sighed, a worried look coming over his face. "Yeah. Something like that. I don't know. I just did what I had to do. And that's what Tony did." He looked back at his father, his features hardened. "We could never leave each other behind. It's just who we are. Don't you get that Dad? This is who I am. We might not be sailors. But we still risk our lives for our country and for each other. You said you knew what it was like to have people around you that you would do anything for. Well, this is it. And you need to respect that Dad. I know you wanted me to join the Navy, but that's just not who I am. I found my niche. Here. On this team. And I wouldn't trade that for anything."
John watched his son carefully, and finally bowed his head. "Thanks, for that Timothy."
"Thanks," asked Tim. "Why are you thanking me?"
"For telling it straight to my face," said John. "You shouldn't have to. But I'm glad you did. Because I do understand. And I promise not to forget that."
Tim smiled. "Well, you've never broken a promise. That's for sure."
John snorted. "Ya know. I used to be afraid of promising stuff to people. I was afraid that I would break it. But this…this promise I'm happy to fulfill."
"Dad," said Tim sincerely. "I know you. You wouldn't make a promise that you couldn't keep."
They both looked over at Tony when the man readjusted himself in his sleep. Tim looked back at his father with a splitting grin.
"You're lucky he's asleep," said Tim. "I think they gave him painkillers."
Hope I didn't build up the face off between Gibbs and the Admiral too much and then let y'all down. For those who wanted a DiNozzo-Admiral showdown, I just wasn't feeling it for this chapter. I thought there was enough content in there already. But there will be a chat later on.
Constructive criticism is welcomed and reviews appreciated.