A/N: Thank you all for your continued reading/reviewing. A special thank you goes out to Shelbylou - for her awesome co-writing of this - our final chapter. And now...
A special thank you goes out to Shelbylou - for her awesome co-writing of this - our final chapter.
At that moment when his agent was being his usual, polite self simply because the older man had finally taken the time to ask him about his relationship with his father, Ducky's advice about this came back to the Team Leader
"Jethro, listen to what I am telling you. Timothy found himself a spectator to your reconciliation with not only your father, but your past as well. And while I cannot divulge anything further, I can and will say that seeing that reconciliation take place, and how difficult it seemed to be for you, triggered something deep within him regarding his own family that he himself wasn't even aware of at the time."
Blinking as he came back to the present, he looked at Tim straight on and spoke to him with a genuine interest. "What about your mother? Talk to her often?"
Tim stood up and walked to the sliding glass doors that led to the deck are out back. For a long silent minute, he stared out into the darkness as though looking for solace beyond his reach. Not wanting to push too far, Gibbs kept his silence, knowing the young man would let him know which way this conversation needed to go from here. Sure enough, the pregnant pause ended just shy of three minutes later when Tim answered the question softly in a voice that was quiet and shaky, obviously timbered with the emotions his answer was bringing to the surface.
"I didn't realize it at the time, but she was saying goodbye to me that night. She took Sarah and left while I was still in my room trying to avoid my father until morning. I was leaving for college at 0800 and Penny said she wanted to be the one to drive me. I was supposed to be saying goodbye to everyone that night, anyway but still…" Tim trailed off knowing that no other words were needed for the explanation and waited for Gibbs to say something, knowing that he would.
"Ever have the chance to talk to her about it?" Gibbs asked gently as he walked over to his agent and stopped beside him where he stood.
Tim shook his head as he blinked away the tears that threatened to fall. "No. We never talked about my father when she called… and she called at least once a week. We always just talked about me, Sarah's newest news and the new things Mom had found to do to keep her busy. Dad's name never came up. I had no idea she'd even left him; much less started divorce proceedings against him. She died while I was in school that year, towards the end of the year. Drunk driver ran a red light and plowed right into her. We were told it was instantaneous and she didn't feel pain…"
At that moment, Gibbs felt his heart tug at the pain Tim had felt in his short life. No kid should ever feel the loss he'd gone through; the loss of a parent, especially not after dealing with their father's rejection. Tim started talking again and Gibbs pushed away the rush of sorrow to listen intently.
"She'd just come from dropping Sarah off at a friend's house for the night and was coming to see me. We were going to spend the weekend playing tourists together and talking. She'd called me a couple of days before to ask me if I could fit her into my schedule." Tim huffed out a bitter laugh and shook his head. "Like that was ever in question. I would have done anything to spend time with her."
"Oh, Tim." Gibbs whispered sadly as the hurt for Tim's past seemed to hit him fully. The emotions he'd pushed down a mere minute earlier returned leaving him stunned.
"Guess that's why I got so angry with you." Tim admitted suddenly. "I'd remembered when you'd told that gang leader that your dad had passed years ago. Then we met him. Sorry, Boss…and I know, apologies are a sign of weakness but it was really obvious he loves and missed you a whole lot , all this time."
"And it rubbed you the wrong way because your father's attitude towards you since that night came pretty close to how I had turned my back on my dad." The boss reasoned out calmly, showing no anger or displeasure about the truth Tim was sharing with him.
"Yeah." Tim breathed out as he looked back outside, his eyes closing for a minute. "I never should have opened my mouth, Boss. I'm really sorry."
"I get it, Tim." Gibbs was quick to reassure him. "Just don't let your emotions run away from you on the job again and do me a favour."
Tim looked at him with a frown but stayed silent. Gibbs just grinned and shook his head at the naïve innocence he never got bored of seeing in the young agent. "Quit apologisin'."
"Oh, So…" Tim huffed out a laugh. "Okay, I won't do it again. Or at least, I'll do my best not to let it happen again." Tim vowed seriously as he looked the boss directly on.
"I know." Gibbs reassured him.
Tim smiled weakly in appreciation for the man's unwavering trust in his character. "Guess I should be heading home." He rolled his neck and sighed. "I need to get some sleep. I'm tired."
"I've got a guest room, McGee. Even has a bed in it."
Tim smiled. "Thanks, Boss, but seriously, it won't take me long to drive home. I appreciate the offer though."
"McGee, if you think I'm lettin' you drive when you're dog tired, then maybe you need me to head slap you. I've done it for Tony, Ziva and Abby, and now it's your turn. My door has always been open to you. I get why you never took me up on it; you didn't trust that you were included, but now you know different."
Tim stood there stunned for a moment and sighed. "Thanks, Boss. Honestly, the thought of driving right now…"
"I know. It's gettin' late so why don't you head up? Shower's second door on the right. Your overnight bag in the car?"
"Of course. I learned that lesson the hard way." Tim smiled but it soon turned into a yawn.
At Gibbs' confused frown, he laughed warmly. "My first year on your team, I ran through a carwash, remember? I only had my gym clothes to fall back on. Since then, I've made a point of having a couple of fresh sets of clothes and my overnight kit just in case because you know how many all-nighters we've pulled over the years."
Gibbs grinned in return, at the memory of that day and shucked his head towards the door. "Attaboy. Go on, go shower if you want and get some shut eye. I'll wake you up in the morning."
"Okay. Night, Boss" Tim replied willingly. As he headed out of the room, toward the stairs, he stopped and turned back to ask the man a question. "Boss?"
"You said there was something you needed me to see?"
In response to the question, Gibbs eyebrows marched up to his hairline.
Taking a minute to think about what he had been shown since he'd gotten here tonight; dinner, the chance to relax in the boss' house, time spent in the boss' company without pressure or anything work related, the sympathetic shoulder and genuinely concerned ear along with the carte blanche to let it all out, and finally, that he was welcomed here as much as the rest of the team, finally, Tim got it and a smile of gratitude and appreciation crossed his face. As he opened his mouth to offer yet another round of gratitude, Gibbs shot him a warning look, not wanting him to say anything more on the subject, his eyes locked on his agent he warmed his tone up before he spoke, but made sure his words would not be forgotten easily.
"Don't ever think that my door's not open for you, Tim. You're part of my team and nothing will ever change that."
Tim smiled warmly at the extra confirmation and reassurance that he'd long needed to hear. Sure, Gibbs had said it twice now, but it was still nice to have it affirmed strongly that way. Before he could speak, Gibbs carried on and what the boss had to say next came as an even bigger surprise.
"Ducky's always tellin' me you're all my kids. Guess I should listen to him more often. Just don't tell anyone I said that because I'd never live it down." Gibbs couldn't hide his smirk and Tim appreciated the open honestly that came with a twinkle to the Team leaders blue eyes…though he did try to keep his voice just firm enough to be taken seriously.
With a huge grin that lit up his face and set his eyes sparkling with humor,Tim replied."I won't…Dad."