A/N: Although this is not the one I wanted to write next - due to the challenge it was written for- it became the one I needed to get done 1st.
I beg your indulgence as I skip ahead in our chronicles - I hope to go back and write the 1st two I had planned to write - soon.
And now - here's another chapter in what will become "Christopher's Chronicles".
March 27, 2009
Fifty- one days. Seven weeks . That's how long ago, Tim McGee's world had been severely rocked with the shocking phone call from an adoption agency, asking him if he consented to giving up all rights to a son, he'd never even realized he'd had. When the anger had begun affecting his work, the truth had come out. It turned out that the girlfriend who'd stolen his mail and taken out credit cards in his name a while back had given birth to his child six months ago without ever telling him. The whole pregnancy and birth had taken place while she was in jail after Tim pressed charges against her for the fraud. When handed this information, his Team Leader and Teammates immediately stepped up for him and helped him rearrange his life and even their own, to make room for the very much loved and wanted then six month old Christopher McGee
In the days leading up to the baby's permanent placement with Tim, his team helped him find a house and get it ready before the Court date for the final Judicial Degree that would give Tim legal and permanent custody of his son. Abby and Ziva had done all the baby supply shopping necessary with the relish of expectant Aunts, happily brandishing Tim's credit cards for the occasion. Tony, Jimmy and Ducky had helped Tim do the muscle work of getting Tim moved into the house and unpacked. Gibbs, meanwhile, had delegated himself to the task of building the baby's furniture, piece by piece, beginning with the crib. Through it all, they'd grown closer as a family unit that also worked as a team on the job.
Thirty days. That's how long it had been since Tim McGee's life had been turned upside down – in a very good way when he'd been officially granted custody of his son. Gibbs, in a surprising move, had given Tim two weeks off to get the baby settled into a new schedule that would coincide with the working schedule of his single parent. Those two weeks had been a godsend and had been put to very good use, with hours spent bonding with the baby and getting him used to the other people in Tim's life as well as Jethro, the German shepherd that, even with the rocky start to their relationship, had come to be very important in Tim's life.
For the past two weeks, since returning to work, Tim had attempted to do it all with the least amount of help possible, solely because he felt that's what he was supposed to do. Single parents managed all the time, he'd reminded everyone. With smiles of understanding, they'd all stepped back and let him work through it, knowing he'd ask for help if and when he needed it. After all, he'd made Gibbs that promise before Christopher had even been permanently placed into his custody and as they all knew, Tim never broke his promises.
Now here it was, the first Friday night, he'd had off since going back to work two weeks ago, and already, he was bone tired. It had been a rough two weeks with back to back difficult cases and they were all feeling the strain. Luckily, they had the weekend off. Remembering his mother's words from earlier in the afternoon, Tim McGee smiled down at his seven-month old son Christopher now, where the baby lay safely snuggled in his winter outerware and wrapped in a warm blanket to ward off the cold as he lay against his chest. With his protective arms securely around the joy of his life, the young man traversed the stone pavement walkway Gibbs had thoughtfully laid down just two weeks ago, between Tim's yard and the yard next door that belonged to his parents who had just moved in a month ago to be near their new grandson.
Bring me my grandson, Timothy. I want him for the weekend since your father's going away with some friends of his and I'll be here by myself. You don't get enough free time to shake a stick at, yourself, so this will do us both good.
Besides, you've barely given yourself a break from Christopher since you've gone back to work. You need this. Just come on in when you get here since I'll be up in our Little Darling's nursery, putting away his new clothes Sarah, Penny and I just bought him today before those two left town together for the weekend."
Smiling at the enthusiasm and unparalleled love the female members of his family and even his team members at NCIS had continuously bestowed on his son since Christopher's permanent placement in his custody, just four weeks ago, Tim carefully took one hand off the baby and opened the door to his parents' house, quietly closing it behind himself as he stepped inside. Soundlessly, he climbed the stairs, making sure to use the handrail with his free hand while still holding the little tyke securely against his chest with the other. Making his way down the hallway once he'd topped the stairs, Tim only managed to take a half-dozen steps before the sound of his father's' raised voice coming from the nursery further down the hall, stopped him in his tracks.
"Why the hell not?" Charles McGee's voice boomed loud, clear, and unmistakably angry. "I'm sick and tired of living this lie, Meg! You and I both know the only reason we stayed married was so you could have your comfortable life without causing a scandal for me with my job because, after all, you needed me to go up in ranks in the Navy to keep you provided for, right?"
"No, Charles! I love you! I always have! Why can't you see that? I'm sorry you hate it here and I'm sorry you don't want to patch things up with Tim. But that doesn't change the fact that I love you!" Tim's mother's voice carried almost plaintively through the air.
"Love me?" The Navy Commander scornfully asked. "If you'd loved me the way you were supposed to all these years, you would have made sure your son did every single thing I ever told him to do. THAT'S what a loving wife does! But, instead, you went behind my back, conspired with my mother and encouraged him to find his own way – do whatever he wanted with his life! What kind of wife does that?"
"The kind who's also a mother who loves her children, Charles!" Tim's mother replied tearfully.
"Well, then let your children keep you company, because as of tonight, I'm history, just like this farce of a marriage. I'm moving back to New York!"
"Charles! No! We moved down here to retire near our children and our grandson! Why would you walk away from them?" Meg McGee's voice was angry now.
"You know damned well, I never wanted us to move here! Why the hell do I want to spend the rest of my years in my son's backyard, watching him raise a child he has by someone he didn't even have the decency to marry and who happens to be a criminal? What kind of life is that kid gonna have? Damn son of yours couldn't take the advice of his own father, what kind of father is that gonna make him? I tell ya, I'm not gonna stick around and watch that kid suffer at the hands of that stubborn fool who's too incompetent to take care of him and won't listen to a word I say!"
"Charles!" Mrs. McGee was outraged at her husband's words of cruelty regarding their son. "You haven't said anything to him in over three years!
"Why the hell should I have wasted my time talking to him? Come off it, Meg! We both know he's never done anything worthwhile in his life! He's not fit to raise a child and you know it! He can't even make good decisions for himself for cryin' out loud!"
As Christopher began stirring in his arms, amidst his parents' raised voices, Tim soothed him quietly and turned back to the stairs, going down them as quickly as he safely could while holding the baby he hoped would go back to sleep. Even as he kept going, his parents' continued fighting filled the air around him.
"Charles Allen McGee! I won't let you talk about Tim that way! It's not even true! You've always taken your disappointments in life out on him. Always blaming him when you two had nothing to talk about with each other, as if it was his job to keep you happy and follow in your exact footsteps! Well, I won't let you blame him for any of it anymore or for following his own path! He's not the failure you make him out to be and he never has been!"
"Oh, yes he is! He's all you and I ever fight about, too! Always has been! So while you're so busy getting attached to that baby of his; you might want to take a minute and relay the message to your son that thanks to him, his parents are breaking up the perfect picture!" The Commander instructed coldly. "I for one, will not sit here for another day, watching him be a contented single father with a less than decent job while you constantly fill his head with bogus praise for supposedly being a standup guy! I meant what I said, Megan! Expect to hear from my lawyer by the this time next week!"
"He's our son and he deserves to be loved as much as Sarah!" Tim's mom argued back angrily. "But you…"
Barely able to see straight for the unexpected blurriness in his vision, Tim somehow managed to escape from the house undetected. With the comforting warmth of his daddy's chest still supporting him and strong arms still holding him securely, little Christopher contentedly settled back into his nap as Tim reached the bottom step of the front porch. Once there, he froze, feeling momentarily lost and uncertain as the emotions that had infused his nerve endings blocked out his ability to think straight. Surprisingly enough, his feet soon seemed to move of their own accord.
Even as Tim carefully lowered himself down into the chair on the back porch deck he'd reached several minutes later, the baby did not stir, giving Tim reason to breathe out a sigh of relief. Settling himself comfortably in the chair and gently beginning to re-adjust his hold on the baby so that the little tyke was more comfortable, Tim was startled to feel the baby being lifted away from him.
As he immediately opened his mouth to protest, he almost as quickly snapped it shut when he found himself looking straight into the eyes of his son's honorary grandfather, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who now held Christopher as protectively as Tim had just done
"Hey, Boss." Tim greeted quietly as he breathed out a sigh of relief, this one deeper than the last.
"Sit" Gibbs replied gruffly as with a look Tim by now knew meant the older man was on the job with the baby, his boss silently took Christopher into the house and settled him into the portable crib now set up in the living room for him. Tim smiled softly as he remembered Gibbs showing him the crib the day after Christopher was permanently placed with Tim.
"Don't wanna be runnin' up and down the stairs with him. Specially if he's only visitin'.
Seeing Gibbs come back outside carrying two coffee mugs a mere two minutes later, had Tim's smile still locked in place even with his heart laying in pieces around him. He silently accepted the mug he was handed, drinking from it to soothe his nerves, although he couldn't help but notice his hands trembled as he lifted the cup to his mouth.
"Thought he was spending the night with your mother." The older man opened the conversation quietly since he could see his agent was more than a little upset about something.
"He was." Tim replied quietly. Almost on cue, his cell phone rang with the ring tone Gibbs knew Tim had attached his mother's phone number to. Just to be sure, the young man quickly looked at the caller id. 'Mom' With a deep sigh of sadness, Tim pushed the button to ignore the call, set the ringer on silent and put the phone back in his shirt pocket. There was no way he could talk to her right now. He wasn't even sure he could talk to her anytime soon.
Tim wasn't angry with her, far from it. He hurt for her so badly and felt so responsible that he couldn't even think of facing her without feeling sick to his stomach.
"Since when do you ignore your mother's calls, McGee?" Gibbs asked quietly but with a touch of authority, even as he noticed the guilt steadily taking root in the young man's eyes "What's going on?"
"It's all my fault." Tim spoke quietly before sipping his coffee. His gaze was still fixed firmly out to the scenery so it seemed as if he wasn't addressing anyone in particular. "All these years."
Gibbs sat down in the chair next to him to try and to prod the young man for answers. He could see that this wasn't one of those times Tim was assuming blame that wasn't his because he couldn't let go of something that was eating at him, like he was prone to do. This guilt was genuine and had obviously been placed there by something big in his life, something that had been goin on for a long time, judging by what little the young man had just said.
"What is?" Gibbs asked with genuine encouragement in his tone.
"All those years of fighting" Tim's answer was so quiet that it almost broke from whatever pain he was feeling.
"Your parents." The older man surmised.
"Now they're getting divorced. He's leaving her." His agent's voice remained quiet, almost as if he were simply stating the weather conditions, with the exception of the tremor within it underneath the strength he was obvious determined to hold onto.
"Tim." Gibbs breathed out sympathetically.
"And it's all my fault." The young man reiterated before he took a minute and drank the rest of his coffee down and set his cup down on the table beside him. "Always has been."
"Why would you believe that?" Gibbs asked calmly to draw out the details, despite wanting to head slap his agent for such thinking.
"Because he said so." Tim finally blinked and brought his eyes to the space between them for a heartbeat or two before looking directly at the man he counted on more than anyone else in his life, to tell him the truth and to set him straight when he needed it and tell him what he needed him to hear. "My father said so."
Getting to his feet, Tim shuffled towards the house after keeping the sliding door as quiet as possible as he closed it behind himself, obviously needing a minute alone.
Gibbs watched him walk inside and stop to watch his baby sleep. Reaching out, Tim stroked his son before withdrawing his hand and wiping his hand across his eyes. With sagging shoulders, he retreated further into the room where he could no longer be seen from the back porch.