Title: Left Behind
Main Character/s: Timothy McGee & Jethro Gibbs
Summary: Ziva is left behind in Israel. Can Tim forgive Gibbs? Can Gibbs forgive himself?
#14 in McGee's Zeeper series.
It's all gone to hell.
Tony killed Michael, Ziva almost killed Tony in return, and then four went to Israel. Three came back. Not even a warning.
That was it.
He looked at Jethro for answers but he wouldn't even look his way as he passed the bullpen and followed Director Vance upstairs to his office. What happened? Why was Ziva still in Israel? She was supposed to come back.
Turning to his computer, he sent off an email to Ziva, asking what was happening and why she hadn't come back. He wouldn't ask Tony. He most likely wouldn't answer and Tim wasn't exactly in the best mood to actually talk to Tony.
Tim was still upset with the way Tony handled the Michael situation. Sure, he killed Michael in self defense, but he had gone to Ziva's apartment with the plans to confront Michael, without anyone. Without Tim or even Gibbs for backup. How else did he think the situation would go when going to confront a Mossad officer?
He had told Tony in confidence about Michael when he had been in LA with Jethro, and Tony said not to worry about it and that he would handle it. Tim didn't expect what happened to happen.
Now, Ziva was gone and didn't even tell him what was going on. Just asked him to keep Jett or to find him a new good home.
Just like that…Ziva was gone.
Gibbs sighed as he walked into the house and saw Tim curled up on the couch with a pillow and blanket, Jett laid out on the floor in front of him and letting Tim stroke his fur. Thankfully the German Shepard had been spending a few days at their home and wasn't in Ziva's apartment when it blew up.
He's been back from Israel for close to a month now and Tim's barely spoken to him. From the occasional good morning, good night, and the I love you that went with it, Tim didn't speak to him unless it was work related. And when he thought about it, which he did a lot, Tim also didn't talk to Tony unless it had to do with work. He didn't hang out with him at all anymore.
He knew Tim missed Ziva, he did too, but they had to start moving on. Ziva wouldn't be coming back anytime soon.
It was time for everyone to talk. That's why he motioned for Tony to stop where he was, so he was hidden.
He watched Tim freeze. "Enough what?"
"Enough of this."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"How long are you going to hate us?"
Tim sighed and sat up, turning off the television. "I don't hate you and Tony. I just…I'm pissed and I'm finding it hard to trust him."
Like being hit by a bullet, he remembered Ziva's words of not being able to trust Tony again and him leaving her right there in Israel without a look back. He glanced over at Tony who looked hurt though he tried to hide it. "Why?"
His lover scoffed at him and stood. "Are you serious? I talked to Tony when we were in LA and told him about my suspicions and he told me he'd handle it. I figured he'd do a little side investigating and then fill me in on what he found so we could figure out what to do. If not me, then at least tell you. But no! He just kept it all to himself and his "handling it" resulted in Michael's death, Ziva's apartment being blown up, and her gone. She's gone." Tim took a deep breath before letting out. "Tony not only didn't trust me, his own partner, with information on Michael who could have been dangerous to Ziva and our team, but he didn't trust me to have his back when he went there that night."
Tony couldn't hold back any further and came out and Tim glared when he saw him. Gibbs only felt a little bad for doing what he did, but he knew Tim. He wouldn't have said all that to Tony's face without motivation. And he'd rather it happen here than at work when Tim finally exploded.
They needed this. Not only for their team to get back on track, but to build this bridge of trust that was obviously broken between Tim and them.
"Probie, come on. I did what I thought I had to do to protect Ziva."
"And you don't think that I wanted to be there? Michael wasn't just a threat to you; he was a threat to our team, our family. You didn't think either Jethro or I would have wanted to be there?"
Gibbs silently took a seat and watched.
"I…I wasn't really thinking."
"Come on Probie."
"No, Tony. This isn't one of your pranks that I'm going to shrug and laugh off. You didn't trust me to have your back and now Ziva's gone." Tony opened his mouth but Tim shook his head. "No. I know you're not alone in this, believe me I know. I'm mad at Ziva too for not trusting any of us. But, Tony, you couldn't trust me for something so important, how do I know that you don't trust me in the field?"
Tony flinched back as if hit and Gibbs was starting to see where Tim was coming from. He had thought Tim was just upset about Ziva leaving, he hadn't seen this. As if he could read his thoughts, Tim's green eyes found his and he had a feeling he was in trouble.
Tim's head jerked to Tony. "Did you agree with what he did?"
Going with honesty, he nodded.
"Of course you did."
"What does that mean?" he asked with a frown.
"It means that when it comes to Tony, you turn a blind eye."
"Uh, McGee, I think you're forgetting all the head-slaps I've gotten."
Tim shook his head. "I'm not talking about the little things. At first I thought it was because you're the senior field agent, and then I thought it was because he was compensating for the fact that he and I are dating. But you get away with way too much for that."
Gibbs frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"When Tony went undercover for Jenny, without telling anyone, and then we found out, you just gave him a head-slap. If Ziva or I had done something like that, we would have been chewed out and our loyalty to you would have been questioned. When Tony made me climb that ladder ten stories up, and you both knew of my fear of heights, you didn't say anything. Yet, if the roles were reversed, you would have head-slapped me and told me to do it. When we found out about what happened with Michael, you might as well have given him a high-five with how you reacted. If Ziva or I did what he did, not only would you being questioning if you could trust us, but also our position on this team."
He and Tony stared at Tim and when he really thought about it, Tim had a bit of a point. He remembered when they found out about Tony being undercover under Jenny's orders, and gave the man a head-slap, his first thought was, 'If that was Ziva or Tim they'd be in a world of trouble.'
Tim sighed again before petting Jett when he stood up beside him and nudged his side. "Look, I'm not saying I hate you but I also don't forgive you. You both just left Ziva in Israel without a look back. What happened to "no one gets left behind"?"
And with that, he headed to the door with Jett, grabbed the leash, and shut the door behind him.
Tony all but collapsed on the couch and rubbed his face. "What are we going to do Boss?"
Gibbs shook his head. "Hell if I know."
They were looking for a replacement. A replacement for Ziva. He didn't like it but it had to be done. Director Vance demanded their team have four and not three. He sat on the corner of Tony's desk as they interviewed this new woman. Tony liked her. But one look at her and Tim could tell she wouldn't last one minute with Jethro.
He, Jethro, and Tony have been…slowly getting better. It hasn't been easy, but they've been working at it. And he was no longer treated as a probie, but an equal.
His emails from Ziva were slow and minimum, but he always made sure she knew she could go to him for anything. Though, when he thought about it, he hasn't had an email from her in about three months. And he was worried. Very worried.
Gibbs stared at the elevator as his mind was blank. The news he received had literally knocked the wind out of him, and he was dreading telling the team. Especially Tim. Tony stood beside him, wondering what was going on but thankfully stayed silent and waited till they were all together.
The elevator opened and they headed into the lab where Tim and Abby were working. Tim looked over with a smile but it fell when their eyes connected. Abby looked over and smiled. "Hey Gibbs. We were just talking about how weird it is that Ziva hasn't contacted any of us, especially McGee. I mean, he's basically Ziva's duckling and she hasn't contacted him in months. So, we've been looking into finding her and we found out that she's been on a Jordanian freighter called the Damocles. Thing is, we can't find it. There's no record of it since May."
Tim stared at him and finally whispered worriedly, "Jethro?"
Abby looked between them and finally picked up on the fact that something was wrong. "Gibbs? What's going on?"
"Damocles went down in a storm, 28th of May. Off the coast of Somalia." He swallowed. "There were no survivors."
He watched Tim grab the lab table as if to hold himself up and wanted to reach out and hold him, but when he looked into those green eyes he loved so much, he knew his touch wouldn't be welcomed. Without a word, Tim straightened and walked out to the elevator. Gibbs motioned to Abby for Tony to stay with and quickly followed after Tim.
The minute Tim stopped the elevator, his head snapped to the side and he felt a strong sting to his cheek. When he looked back at Tim he saw tear falling down his own cheeks and his heart clenched even further at not only the guilt he was feeling with Ziva but with causing Tim so much pain.
"The only reason I'm not punching you is because we're at work. I…I can't even-oh God," he whimpered and broke down. Gibbs snapped forward and wrapped his arms around Tim, cradling him and holding on as Tim tried to fight him until he collapsed. "Why Jethro? Why'd you leave her?"
Gibbs sat down and leaned against the wall as he cradled Tim against him. He held Tim close and tried not to die of guilt as he sat there in the dark metal box.
Tim's tears slowed until he finally pulled away from Gibbs and dried them with his sleeve. "She's not dead," he declared and shook his head as he stood. "No. I won't believe it until you bring me hard evidence. Like her body."
"No. Unless I see her body, I won't believe it." Tim looked down at him. "Would you believe it if it was me instead?"
He had a point. Gibbs wouldn't believe the bastard who tried to convince him that Tim was dead unless he was shown the body. Nodding and standing, he helped wiped the tears Tim missed and pressed a hesitant kiss to his forehead. "She's not gone."
"No," Tim said.
"Then we get evidence."
"And if we get any?" Tim asked nervously and his bottom lip trembling.
Gibbs cupped Tim's cheek, and knowing what he would do, he answered, "We go revenge our teammate."
They were in Somalia. Tony was on the floor while he was tied to a chair, truth serum pumping through his veins. He finally knew what it was like to be Tony. Since Saleem started questioning him, he's been talking, and talking, and talking, and talking. He couldn't seem to stop.
When they had been taken, they had been roughened a bit and then they had tied Tony up and threw him on the ground while they tied Tim to a chair. He wanted to go home, but he wanted this bastard to die for Ziva's death first.
"You believe I am responsible for the death of this Ziva David. So, you travel halfway around the world to kill me. It is insane."
"I'm insane?" he chuckled. "You kill indiscriminately."
"Wars are measured in body counts. The news carries a running tally. You change the world with rivers of blood. There is no reason to kill just one person."
He smiled. "Oh sure there is." He'd like to pull the trigger himself.
Saleem folded his arms. "How did you find me?"
"Functioning normally wasn't optional after finding out that there were no survivors on Damocles. So, we worked and we dug and we kept on digging until we found it. Everything that was on that cargo ship was listed. NCIS in the desert were trying to find common things that your men need to survive in the desert. Like weapons, medical supplies, car parts, gasoline, food, drink. But we zeroed in on items of a more personal nature—various batteries, electronics, even music and entertainment. Like my partner Tony said, because you are human after all. Also on there was what we needed to break the code. We isolated the needle in the haystack—an anomaly, one specific characteristic."
He slowly smiled as he remembered how easy it had been. All for one simple thing. "A brand-name foreign import not easily available in Europe or Africa. Got it all the way from the United States at high cost, high difficulty." Tim grinned and he could feel his lips cracking more just from his lips stretching to grin. "Caf-POW!"
Saleem looked down at the canteen he had been drinking from during the whole interrogation and threw it against a wall with a yell.
"You had to have your Caf-POW!, didn't you?" He watched Saleem barge out of the room and couldn't help but throw out, "Maybe you picked that up at your American college!"
He may have gone to Yale but Tim went to MIT and John Hopkins. 'Don't mess with me bitch! ...Wow, this stuff is really going to my head.'
Once the door closed, Tim waited a second before looking down at Tony. "You okay, Tony? You awake?"
Tim chuckled weakly. Man he was tired. "Didn't plan for this to happen did we? Thought you were going to be the one tied up and talking."
"Don't worry about it McGee. You're doing good."
"Thanks." And that did mean a lot coming from him. "He's rattled. It might be our best shot."
"Not yet," he shook his head. "Just wait for my cue. I'll give it to ya Tim."
"I trust you." And he knew Tony believed him, besides the fact that he was dosed with truth serum.
Tony closed his eyes right when the door opened and Tim watched Saleem manhandle someone with a sack over their face into the room. "Questions are being asked in town about missing NCIS agents, concern that U.S. forces might mobilize." He pushed the person down in the chair across from him. "One of you will tell me the identities and locations of all the operatives in the area, and the other one will die."
Saleem pulled the sack off and Tim was staring at the face of his missing friend.
"I'll give you a moment to decide who lives," Saleem said and then he left.
Though he had known in his heart that Ziva was alive, a small part of him had wondered if he was just fooling himself and that he was setting himself up for more heartbreak. But there she was, staring at him in wonder as well.
And just like that, her face went blank. "You should not have come, Tim."
He frowned at the woman across from him. Really? That was all?
"Well then," Tony said from the ground, "we'll be going now. Oh, wait," he snapped his fingers as if he just remembered something, "taken prisoner."
"Are you alright Tim?"
"I'm just glad you're alive."
Ziva blinked. "You thought I was dead?"
"Yeah," Tony said while Tim shook his head.
"I didn't think you were dead."
"Then why are you here? I did not ask for anyone to put themselves in harm's way for me. I do not deserve it."
Tim hated the defeated and flat tone of Ziva's voice. It wasn't her. God only knew what she went through being prisoner here and for so long. Just the thought of what's happened to her, it made him want to throw up. This subdued being wasn't his sister and it just made him want Saleem's death more.
"Yes you do Ziva," he whispered and watched finally as a flicker of something passed through her eyes. "And you don't have to ask because it's a given that family will do anything for each other."
Ziva pulled back and closed her eyes and he watched her, flickering his eyes to see Tony's eyes on Ziva, and when he looked back at Ziva, that dead look was back in her eyes. No!
"McGee, listen to me. You tell Saleem everything he needs to know and you try to save yourselves. I am ready to die."
"I'm sorry Ziva, but that's not how it works."
"How what works?" she frowned.
"The plan," Tony answered.
"You have an escape plan?"
He glanced at Tony. "Tony's plan," he said and he added an eye roll.
Before Ziva could open her mouth, Saleem came into the room with a knife out. "Saleem, what's all the commotion?"
"Great. I'm not a fan of the room and I'm sure Tony would love to actually be awake sometime today."
"Not taking prisoners."
"Oh, cool, see you later then."
Saleem grabbed Ziva's hair and jerked her head back, putting the knife at her throat. "Wait," she said, "kill me and take them. American hostages make great leverage."
God, Ziva, shut up!
"I don't make bargains."
He saw Tony move and asked, "Do you make pizza?"
Tony swung his leg out and Saleem went down, his knife falling out of his hand. The two wrestled and Tim watched until Saleem got a hold of his gun.
"Wait, wait! I forgot to tell you something."
"Oh, yeah, what is that?"
"I-I didn't tell you about one more person on the team."
Saleem glanced at him before looking back at Tony. He slowly got up, keeping his gun aimed at Tony. "Who?"
"I told you about the muscle, the leader, the scientist, the doctor, and the politician. I didn't tell you about me."
He walked to stand beside him, his gun still aimed at Tony, before looking at him and smirked. "You?"
"You are the geek."
"Oh," he chuckled, "I'm more than that Saleem. You see, I'm sort of the baby of this little weird family. So that comes with certain things, like having an assassin partner who teaches you a few things. Comes with another partner who makes you watch movies all the time and continues to talk to you about them. I mean, seriously, does he have to talk through the movie every time? I would like to watch it once without him talking through it. Just once, and then he can talk the other times."
"You are rambling."
"Sorry. Truth serum stuff is really getting to my head. See, I'm feeling like this one movie Tony made me watch, True Lies, where Arnie's strapped to the chair and shot full of truth serum, then he picks his cuffs and kills everybody." He stared at up at Saleem. "You have 30 seconds to live, Saleem."
Saleem chuckled as Ziva looked confused and Tony smirked. "No. You are still bound. You are lying."
"I can't lie," he shook his head. "And I didn't say I was going to be the one to kill you. Remember when I told you my boss was a sniper?"
Five seconds later, a bullet blew through the window and hit Saleem in the head. He went down and wouldn't get back up.
Tony sprang up and quickly cut them each free, another shot hitting the man who came through the door. Both he and Tony helped Ziva to her feet and wrapped an arm around their shoulder, helping her out of the hellhole they had been in. Her prison for months.
They walked down the hall and turned the corner to see Jethro standing there. The next three words were music to his ears.
"Let's go home."
A/N: PLEASE REVIEW! They're appreciated.
Next in McGee's Keeper series - #15:
McGee: Ziva's Keeper - It was given that Ziva was Tim's keeper, but no one really realized that it worked both ways until after Somalia.