Written and completed for the "Sequel" Challenge on NFA Community - 1/21/2012
Episode Tag: "Silent Night"
PREVIOUSLY ON NCIS:
Pain. Excruciating pain ran through his body; as the weapon worked against him. Caught in it's paralyzing grip; The young man could only writhe in agony and try his best not to scream. But, that took too much effort; so scream he did. As the poor agent lay caught in the grips of this unprovoked attack; his co-workers could only watch and pray. His miscreant teammate, somehow found a slice of humor in what he was deeming another "priceless" situation.
Gibbs and Ziva hurriedly chased; subdued and cuffed the culprit; while they waited for the shock waves of the tazor to stop. Helping Ziva muscle the bastard into the waiting patrol car; Gibbs cast his eye over his suffering agent; grateful to see that the shockwaves finally seemed to have stopped.
"You okay to sit up?" Gibbs wanted to take this slow; but not too slow.
"Yeah, Boss. I'm fine." McGee answered; not feeling fine at all...
"Jethro! How could you not take him straight to the hospital? Look at him! Cant' you see he's in trouble?" Ducky raged….
One hour later
"Jethro; I'm sorry; Timothy died on the table fifteen minutes ago."
As the world fell off its axis, the ability to breathe went with it. Four people listening on the other end of the phone on speaker through which those words have just been spoken felt time come to an immediate and screeching halt. After the initial cries of disbelief and the harsh sobs that followed, disbelief set in and the pain of their loss froze them all with shock and an overbearing wave of emotion that was beyond measure. Everyone one of them found themselves unable to think about anything but the torrid words that had broken their hearts and were now on constant replay in their minds. 'Timothy died on the table fifteen minutes ago'.
"What's going on?" The concerned question dropped into their midst, broke the freeze on time and Gibbs blinked at the sound of Jenny's voice. He wordlessly pointed to his phone, which was still on speaker.
Jenny frowned and took the phone off speaker, lifting it to her ear. so she could talk to the person that had shattered the MRCT team.
"This is Director Shepherd, who …?"
As she was obviously interrupted by Ducky, her face went white and only Gibbs realizing she'd need a chair, kept her from falling out into the floor by pulling one close enough for her to grab it. Now galvanized into action, Gibbs took the phone receiver from her and hit the speaker on his phone once more.
"Duck! You tell them I said they're wrong! Tell them to keep trying! Don't let them give up on him! I'm coming over there and they had better not have given up on him when I get there! I never gave him permission to die!"
"Jethro, I realize that you firmly believe your agents will obey your every command but I'm afraid that even you must bow to that which you genuinely have no control over. They are currently removing all IV lines and heart monitors. The only thing left for them to remove is the catheter. Once they have done that…." Despite Ducky's efforts at staying professional, his voice cracked slightly. "It has been twenty minutes, my friend. I am truly sorry." Ducky mournfully offered over the phone.
"I'll be there in ten minutes!" Gibbs reinforced his request that bordered on a threat toward the doctors who had treated and ultimately made the call on Tim's death.
As he ended the call, Gibbs looked around him at his broken team. This would shatter them for sure and truth be told, he didn't have the emotional strength to try and put them all back together again. This senseless tragedy, and so close to Christmas, would well and truly break his family, not just as a team, but as the tight family that they had become. People who each had a different kind of relationship with Tim, and none of them would ever be the same again. Needing a minute to gather his thoughts and find his mental equilibrium that had just been knocked off-balance, he sank back down in his chair.
Gibbs closed his eyes. What on earth was he thinking about? A young man had died! One of his agents had died and he was thinking of the ones remaining more than the one lost. And if he was to admit the truth, he did not want to contact Tim's parents; he did not want that load on his shoulders as well.
And they were not to see Tim again. If he wasn't going to hurry up, his orders would not reach the man who Gibbs had seen evolving to a great Agent. As if his orders, his will count this time; the one time Tim desperately needs them to, he thought bitterly.
What was it about excruciating pain that made everything around you seem blindingly white?
The light was so bright it nearly burned his eyes. While he didn't know where he was, he did know that he felt no more pain. That burning, agonizing pain that had resided in his chest for the last several hours was gone!
And once you adjusted your eyes to the whiteness, the pain left you? Whatever had happened to bring about that change, he was thankful for it.
It was strange being in a place he didn't recognize but yet felt completely safe and whole in. There wasn't a care on his mind or a pain anywhere within him. He hadn't felt like this for as long as he could remember. He could hear one of his favorite sounds in the world; the calm waves lightly crashing into the sands of a quiet beach. How did he get here?
"Hello, Tim." The soft woman's voice called to him on the wind just beyond the distance.
"Where am I?" he asked the voice he recognized just barely but not enough to put a name to, just yet.
"What? Whose?" he asked in disbelief.
"Yours." Came the voice that by now, had rifled through his memory banks and matched itself to a name; Erin Kendall.
How could he have forgotten her name or her voice? She'd haunted his dreams for what seemed like forever after he'd screwed up and gotten her killed during his first 'case' on the team.
"No." She said as if reading his thoughts, which she probably did. How many times do we have to go over this, Tim? My death was not your fault! Besides, you're not here to talk about me or atone for anything in your past. You're here to make your own choice for your future."
"Is this some kind of a joke? Since when do we control our own destiny like that?" Tim asked angrily. He, for one, did not appreciate the humor. After all, death was not fun and dying wasn't either.
"This is no joke, Tim. And you do not have time to waste. You've only a short while to decide before it's too late!"
"Too late for what?" Tim demanded in confusion.
"Too late to go back. You have to decide if you want to live longer and do more good or give up now and come home."
"How many people are given this chance?" He asked wondering about her answer. Her answer would change everything.
"Everyone who offered something good, who tried to make a change."
"Were you offered the chance?"
She smiled and nodded.
"And you chose not to."
"Don't get me wrong Tim, but there was nothing left for me back there. My road to recovery would have been too long and difficult and I wasn't ready to face that. Besides, it was so quiet and peaceful here, I didn't want to leave." He stared at his hands while thinking his next question.
"Why would I want to live longer then? What is there for me to look forward to or even achieve that would be worth the effort?" Tim asked bitterly. "I can't even get a woman to treat me right or be seriously interested in me on top of everything else."
"That's something you'll have to discover for yourself. Look deep within yourself and decide if the good you set out to do is enough to make it worth the pain you will feel when you return." Erin told him gently. "Come, walk with me and talk to me. Why would you not want to go back and live longer?"
"I'm tired. I'm tired of my life always costing someone their life and the people around me never seeing me for the difference I'm trying to make. It seems my efforts mean nothing to everyone, including myself."
"Wow. What happened to the driven young man I met when I was in trouble? The man who was on fire for justice?" she asked in clearly voiced surprised disappointment.
"He's gone. Too many innocent people got killed along the way because of him." He stared back at the small young woman who had changed his world' view in only a few minutes. "Then again, maybe they did that to themselves." Tim muttered.
"You're right. I made my decision. It had nothing to do with you. And I have to admit my decision would have been the same even if I had known you'd beat yourself over my death, Tim. I was selfish and that's a human trait. When I was asked I thought of myself and not the others." Erin told him sadly.
"Still you can't take all the blame. If I had made things different maybe you wouldn't have been put in the position of actually making the choice. I was naive and thought I could change the world. All I did was screw it up more." Tim reminded her glumly.
"You, Timothy McGee always thought of others before yourself. That's the difference between you and me. The man I remember wouldn't back down on anything. What happened to him? Did he become a quitter?" Erin asked with a dose of scorn in her tone too angry to even address the other statements of jaded disillusionment.
"Not really. I'm just so tired, Erin. I'm tired of screwing up, really tired of not being wanted or needed around except for comic relief. That wasn't why I wanted to do this job! I wanted this job so I could make a difference!"
"And you're convinced that you don't make a difference anymore." Erin surmised sorrowfully.
"I'm convinced I never did." Tim admitted sadly.
"Sandy Watson and her mother would argue you that point. You stopped Greyson from killing Mrs. Watson and you helped track the money back to Captain Watson, putting the real bad guys behind bars where they belonged and reuniting a mother and daughter so they could have their lives to live."
"Okay. There was that case."
"Hmm. Mmm. Barbara Swain, Petty Officer Second Class, Jacksonville, Florida?"
'The team rescued her."
" Tim. YOU were the one to think to check for other missing persons on Florida Military bases before anyone else thought of it. You saved precious time on that case. You played an important part in your team getting to her in time."
"Hardly. But okay, I see your point."
"Good. I'd really hate to have to rehash every single case you've made a contribution to. They're endless."
"I'm so tired of seeing people die… on my watch." Tim said miserably."Because of me."
"Let me guess, you're still counting me among them." A new voice greeted him softly; this time from right behind him.
As he turned to look; his mouth dropped open. "Kate!"
"Yes, it's me. I've waited a long time to say this to you and I can't believe I have to say it under these circumstances. But, I want you to stop blaming yourself for what happened to me, Tim. Just because Ari shot at you first does not make my death your fault. It was never your fault. It was my own."
"Why would you say that, Kate?" Tim asked in confusion.
"Because I'm the one who had the chance to stab him; to hurt him and make him vulnerable to us. I had the chance and I blew it off, Tim. That's why I died." Kate announced angrily. "I died because I let myself fall under his spell. His eyes drew me right in and I lost my objectivity and I paid the price."
"Kate, I don't kn…" Tim attempted to soothe her obvious ire.
"Ari took me out deliberately to hurt Gibbs. He got bonus points for the way this has haunted you all this time. Why haven't you ever realized that?" Kate demanded. " You stopped blaming Ziva for her part in it as his handler, a long time ago. Why are you still blaming yourself? Stop giving him that! Who knows, if you let that go, you might learn to appreciate Ziva even more."
"Kate." Tim groaned painfully.
"What are you doing here, Tim?" She demanded without wasting anymore time.
"Shouldn't I be asking you that question?" Tim asked her with a touch of sarcasm.
"You shouldn't be here! You're not supposed to be here!" She was actually getting upset.
"Well, I didn't' exactly chose to come here, Kate." He defended himself.
"You're wrong, Tim! You did chose to come here!" Kate snapped back.
"What? I did not!"
"Yes, you did! You're here because you made a choice, Timothy McGee!"
"What choice could I have possibly made that brought me here?" Now he was the one getting angry.
"The choice to give up!" She retorted hotly.
"Like you did?" He threw back at her without filtering his reaction.
"You're right, McGee. You're absolutely right. It was a choice that I regret to this day though. And let me tell you'll regret too. You gave up, McGee! The Tim McGee I knew wasn't a quitter, no matter what crap got thrown at him! But, you gave up!"
"I did no such thing! I don't know where you got that from; but you're wrong!"
"Cut the crap, McGee! You gave up when you lied to Gibbs when he asked you if you were okay; when you knew you were far from okay. That lie altered the course of your life. You never lie. You never once lied before! The one time during your sister's murder case does not count. Why on earth did you lie now?"
"Okay! Okay, Yeah, I lied. Wait, are you saying things didn't have to end like this? Is this the end? It doesn't matter now! What's done is done, right? I'm dead, right?" Tim demanded.
"Tim! I'm serious! This stops now! And this b.s. you're stuck thinking about – how you're not making a difference and you're not wanted or needed – what the hell's that?"
"C'mon, Kate – you know what…" Tim tried to defend himself. "And why haven't you answered my question? Is this the end?"
"I know how sophomoric Tony can be and I know what a bastard Gibbs can be; just like I know what a sweetheart Ducky usually is and how high-strung and stubborn Abby can be. What's your point, Tim?" Kate asked, ignoring his question yet again.
"Apparently, I don't have one that you understand." Tim answered with a touch of anger. "But then again why did you choose to stay here, Kate?"
"Wow! The un-flappable Tim McGee has a temper after all." Kate taunted. "Why don't you ever use it to stand up to them, Tim? Why do you let them treat you like they do?"
"Doesn't exactly matter now, does it?" Tim griped petulantly. "Not exactly alive to change that now, am I?"
"Is that your decision?" Erin intervened as she questioned Tim, her disbelief clear in her eyes.
"Don't you dare use your lack of backbone as an excuse to turn your nose up at a 2nd chance at life! We regretted our decision Tim! I know I regretted mine. I'm trying to not see you regret yours. You still have your chance. That's why I'm here. To lead you back among the living. You don't belong here. Not yet." She said slowly as if talking to a particularly dense seven year old. "Don't you dare make your decision based on assumptions, McGee. If you want to stay here, then stay. But first think of your family, your parents and sister and your own life and future.
Don't think of Gibbs and the team, if you think you are not respected there. It's in your hands to change that. Go back and find a new job for all I care. But go back. Cherish this gift given to you. Be the smart man I always knew you were, Tim. Make me proud once again. Make my decision to stay here to have a meaning. If I succeed to make you want to live…" She stopped talking and looked up, the white clouds decorating the blue sky.
Tim had the grace to look and feel abashed. "I hear you, Kate. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry, Tim. I know I look like a hypocrite. I ask you to be brave when I chose the easy way out. But now I know. And I'd have chosen differently if I had known back then." She gripped him by the upper arms. "You need to decide soon, Tim. Before it is too late."
"Whattaya mean, too late?"
"You're already gonna be in a whole lotta pain when you get back there. You wait too much longer and you'll wish you'd stayed here instead. Now go! Go while you still have the chance!"
"Thanks, Kate." Tim offered with a small smile. Deep down he had chosen to return back the moment he was given the choice. He didn't belong here and he knew it.
"You're welcome, Tim." She answered with a smile of her own as she stepped up to him and offered him a hug. "Go live your life for yourself now, doing what makes you happy. Don't let anyone who's not even down there with you anymore stop you for another minute. You can't care for others when you don't care for yourself. Never forget that."
"I won't." He vowed quietly, his eyes boring into hers as his heart thumped wildly in his chest.
As she let go of the embrace, she breathed into his face, a long cleansing breath that he couldn't help but take in.
Instantly, the light faded and in its' place settled excruciating pain that shot through his chest and pushed the air out of his lungs that Kate had just given him.
Tim's body shot upright in the bed gasping for air that his body desperately needed. The two orderlies that were currently disconnecting Tim from all the machinery froze in their tracks and the one lifting the sheet to remove the catheter let out a strangled scream. Thankfully a nurse who just happened to be passing heard the commotion and ran into the room. It took her a moment to realize what she was seeing because the last reports were that the young Agent had passed away twenty minutes ago, but once she did she rushed to the bed, pushed Tim down and grabbed at the oxygen mask on the wall. She was efficient and her shock didn't show as she held it to Tim's face and gently urged him to stay where he was when he struggled to sit upright once again. Turning to the badly shaken orderly, she loudly and briskly ordered her to go get the first doctor she happened to come across.