Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS and I'm not making money off of this. Cheers!
It was early in the morning on Monday June 6th when Gibbs strode into the bullpen, briefly informing them of a call out before striding to the elevator. Tim closed his weekly calendar, which he had been updating, and hurried after Tony and Ziva who were already halfway to Gibbs.
He slid in just before the doors closed and stood patiently in the close quarters as they descended. Gibbs was his usual gruff self, standing stoically in the background, still smelling of sawdust and Old Spice. He must have slept under his boat again, since the sawdust smell always lingered when he had spent a night in his basement.
Tony and Ziva were standing just to the back and side of him, making the claustrophobic-feeling increase. He had always hated small spaces; in high school he tended to lose his lunch money, good health and most of his dignity within them.
Thankfully before he could fall into memories and start to panic, the doors dinged open and they flooded out onto the garage floor. Tim climbed into the back seat of the sedan as Tony snagged the front with a smirk and snigger. Ziva sat next to him and Gibbs drove, as usual. Tim held onto the arm rest on the door and prayed that his boss would stick to the speed limit this time.
In short time they were zooming across the highway to Alexandria, where the body had been found. Local LEOs had reported a body burnt beyond recognition dressed in a naval officer's uniform. Hence the call to NCIS.
Tim idly wondered if the case would give him any ideas for his next book. Sometimes the best ones came from cases Gibbs' team solved. The car rocked back and forth as they hit a dirt road. The body had been left in the middle of a field.
He saw the flash of lights ahead and felt the drag as Gibbs slowed the car down. They pulled up next to a police car and got out. Ducky's van wasn't there yet, meaning he and Palmer must still be behind them. With the combination of Gibbs' speed and their ability to navigate together, the two M.E.s had a high tendency to get lost.
Gibbs barked out orders and Tim was to photograph the evidence. He set to work, letting Ziva and Tony putter around on their jobs as he did his.
Carefully he examined the body's position and the environment around it. The grass wasn't charred at all, indicating that the body was burnt and then moved to this location. The victim's uniform was charred too, but the insignia remained, as well as most of the fabric and material. It was the uniform of a Navy Commander.
Tim nodded to Ducky as the chattering medical examiner walked up next to him and greeted the deceased. He began a steady conversation about something or the other, but McGee tuned him out as something caught his eye.
One of the buttons on the navy officer's coat had been sewn on slightly above and to the right of its original position. Pausing at the coincidence, Tim swallowed and knelt next to the body. He silently prayed that he wouldn't find what he half-expected to be there as he ignored Ducky's protests and words and opened the coat to look inside.
On the inside of the uniform, on the edge of the left half of the coat, there was a patch of different material sewn into a small hole. Hands shaking thoroughly, Tim dropped the coat and violently jerked away from the body.
He looked at it with new eyes, gazing at the mangled, bloody and burnt hands and the face that was contorted in a scream. The tendons and loose pieces of flesh could be seen through the black ash that coated everything.
Face white and feeling faintly nauseous, he could barely hear Ducky's concerned voice as the doctor moved closer to him.
His stomach jerked violently and his breakfast rushed up his esophagus. Hurriedly, he turned and ran behind the perimeter, barely making it before throwing up. He coughed and gagged, unaware of the presences behind him unsure how to react.
When his stomach was twisting but there was nothing more to expel, he gulped air and swallowed through a sore throat. His hands were still shaking as he wiped the tears on his face and the sweat from his brow.
"McGee?" Tony's voice came from behind him, cautiously questioning his violent reaction to the crime scene.
Tim turned around slowly and met Gibbs' eyes. He answered shakily, praying that he was wrong for once in his life.
"I t-think… that's my dad."
He could read the sympathy and pity in their eyes. It spoke like words spewing from his typewriter with every clacking key. Ziva gave him those soft doe eyes, the ones that made her look so feminine, beautiful and compassionate. Tony's face looked older, like it always did in those moments when he acted his age.
Ducky was quiet and kind, patting him on the shoulder and leading him to sit in the back of the van. He whispered his condolences and told Tim that he was always available if he needed to talk to someone.
Tim was sure that he thanked Ducky, but afterwards he couldn't quite remember the whole morning. He remembered staying behind the large vehicle, waiting for the rest of the team to finish processing the crime scene. Gibbs didn't want him involved on the case until and unless they confirmed his identification of the body, Tim figured.
And to be honest, he didn't really want to look at the charred flesh anymore. He didn't want to see the tendons and red muscles that used to be his father's strong hands and kind, smiling face. He didn't want to see the silent scream etched in the remains. If that was his dad, Tim didn't want to remember him like that.
Because a faint stirring in his gut reminded him that they'd had cases where they thought someone had died but it was really another person. There was a chance—and any chance fanned those flames of hope—that that wasn't his father. That his dad was alive and well at home.
Tim's breath caught in his throat. If that really was his dad, how the hell was he going to tell Sarah and Mom? Would Mom be worried about Dad already? He had to have gone missing last night…
It was as if lightning had struck his brain. He fumbled for his phone, desperate to contact his mother. He had to know…
The screen lit up and Tim hit the speed dial. But before it rang, he heard an error sound. Cursing, he threw his phone to the ground and covered his head with his hands, blinking tears out of his eyes. No service. His throat clogged up and he took a shaky breath. He needed to pull himself together. Dad would've wanted him to be strong…
"But Dad's dead," he whispered out loud, hating how shaky he sounded and mostly hating himself for saying those words. There was still a chance—he had to focus on that.
A sharp thunk startled him more than it should have, snapping him out of his grief. Palmer stood there uneasily, holding Ducky's kit. The young assistant apologized quietly and moved around him to place the box in the van. Tim sat there quietly, not wanting to speak or have to say anything to anyone. Not until he could call home.
Palmer hesitated, clearly wanting to say something but not finding the words. Finally, he looked down at the ground and then at Tim. "I'm sorry McGee," he said quietly. Feeling embarrassed, he scurried off.
Vaguely, Tim appreciated that Palmer had been nice enough to offer that much, but he didn't want to feel anything. Because if he felt comfort then he might feel pain as well.
Gibbs glanced back at the truck, hoping that McGee was doing alright. As a coworker and friend, he wanted to be there next to his agent, giving silent comfort or a person to talk to. But as an investigator, he knew that the crime scene would not wait for McGee to feel better. If they wanted to find the truth and catch the killer, they had to work quickly.
After Ducky had ushered McGee away from the scene, he had barked at Tony and Ziva to get back to work. He himself had picked up McGee's abandoned camera and continued taking photos. With half his brain he catalogued the scene, like had done with other crime scenes before. The other half whirred with questions and theories about the body.
Ducky would have to check dentals and Abby could do a DNA test to verify McGee's ID. For once he prayed that she wouldn't get a match; Tim didn't deserve the pain of losing a parent, a pain that Gibbs knew all too well.
But he knew, regardless, that either way, McGee's personal life was now involved with the case. Whether or not the body was his father's, his dad's uniform had somehow ended up at their crime scene. Which meant that either he had to take McGee off the case, or he had to trust his agent to do everything by the book so their killer wouldn't get a chance to escape punishment in court.
Gibbs trusted McGee; when his sister had been their suspect, McGee had handled it well — well, aside from letting the Director trick him into quitting. But his agent had let him run his investigation without interfering.
He knew from experience that McGee would do everything by the book; his only concern was if his agent would be up to working the case if his father really had been murdered.
It would be up to his agent and Gibbs would have to watch him carefully. He made a mental note to do so, taking a flashing picture of the victim's hands. Putting the camera down, he looked at the body and sighed.
What was it about the McGee family that had them inadvertently coming up in his case files?
A/N: I started this fic a while ago on the NCIS Fanfiction Addiction site and figured that I might as well post it here. :D