Prompt: the Sun. Gen - Tim-centered (with the team). Casefile.
A/N – Big thanks to my beta Gottahavemyncis and to Donna and the girls for your invaluable support. Writing this story has been hard going due to illness killing my drive to write
The sun can never be hidden...
"Three things cannot be long hidden. The sun, the moon and the truth"
He took in the sights and smells of the courtroom with a heavy heart. The rich mahogany of the wood panelling that made up both the Judge's bench and the witness stand that sat you slightly lower at 'Gods' side should you fall prey to the clutches of predators that wanted your blood. At the other side sat the court reporter, hidden behind the protection of the desk, transcribing the statements on a stenotype computer that would provide the official court document that will be stored away securely.
He sighed at the thought of 'God' and realised that he'd just compared the judge to a higher being; truth be told, in this room with the Court clerks, the defendants' and plaintiffs' tables, and the grandeur, the judge wasthe higher being. His word, or in this case her word, was gospel in here. Sure, everyone else was there for a reason but the law was withheld by the stoic woman sitting holding a wooden gavel. With a heavy heart, he gazed around and scanned the jury before turning his attention to the hard faced criminal who had committed the torrid crime he had seen; the very crime that lay heavily in his heart and replayed night, after night in his dreams. His gut curled making him feel nauseated and clammy. He knew what he'd been told prior to coming to the court room but still, nerves were getting the better of him and right now he felt like he did when he started working with Gibbs, Tony and Kate all those years ago.
"Special Agent McGee." Tim looked up at the kindly face of the sick SOB's lawyer and knew that it was a ruse. No matter how nice they appeared, they wanted one thing...to discount his testimony and statement. "I understand you thought you saw my client on the night of the event. Ple..."
"Objection your honor. Agent McGee did not think he saw anything. He is here to testify, not have his character questioned." Tim glanced at the DA gratefully and sighed to calm his nerves.
"Sustained. Mr. Novachek, do not try and discredit the witnesses in such a manner."
"Of course. I apologise. Mr. McGee..."
"Your honor!" The DA looked furious at Novachek's obvious slight and stood there fervently trying to make the opposing lawyer toe the line.
"Mr. Novachek, you are trying my patience already. You know the witness' title and status so please give it the respect that it is due."
"Again, my apologies, it was a Freudian slip. Agent McGee, please go through what happened on the night in question."
Tim sucked in a breath and nodded. "On the night of the 4th of February, We, sorry, my team and I had been out for a team dinner. I was walking back to my car when I heard a commotion in the alleyway and went to investigate..."
"By investigate, you mean you walked down there. May I ask whether you were armed?" Novachek turned and walked towards the table he shared with his client.
"Yes sir, I was."
"Yes, Sir. That and the knife that I carry."The lawyer was thoughtful and remained silent for a moment. It was long enough for Tim to glance over at Gan Boontham and watched as the Thai gang member pulled at his shirt collar. As the starched material moved slightly and they were given a glimpse of the identifying tattoo as it shone through bright and clear. The sun...Why did they choose the sun? Tim thought and swallowed harshly at the fact that he was now a target for the Fai gang that had wheedled its way into Washington over the years.
"Agent McGee. Are you alright?" Judge Jenny McLaine was known for being ruthless but gentle and it occurred to Tim that he must have been sitting there lost in his own thoughts. "Would you like a short break?"
"Sorry? Oh...no. Thank you, your honor. Please can you repeat the question?" Tim directed at Novachek, painfully aware that he had become lost in his thoughts and missed what was being said.
"Of course. Please can you tell me whether or not you were drinking at the meal?"
Tim shook his head. "No sir. I very rarely drink. I had a glass of diet coke with my meal and the soda that Special Agent Gibbs bought for me. That was all."
"I see. So you didn't indulge in a glass of wine from the bottle that was purchased or drink the bourbon that I believe Agent Gibbs purchased for everyone?"
"No sir, I did not. The bottle of wine was shared between my other team members and Dr. Mallard drank my finger of bourbon. As I said, I'm not a big drinker and had plans to drive down to visit my family on the Saturday so I wanted to keep a clear head."
Novachek frowned and nodded his head. "Thank you for clearing that up. So what happened when you went down the Alley? You said you were armed, but mentioned a knife. Please can you explain?"
"I usually carry two knives with me but that morning I was in a rush and forgot to strap one to my belt. "
"And where to you carry the other?"
"In an ankle sheath and as I mentioned before, the other on my belt. I put the ankle sheath on with my socks and holstered my weapon. In my haste, my other knife was left in the gun safe I keep at my apartment."
"And did you unsheathe that knife or use it at any given time?"
"No sir, I did not."
The frown returned and Novachek made his way over to the stand that Tim was sitting. "So, you went into a situation blind despite having the resources to defend yourself there? Isn't that a tad impulsive?"
Tim felt himself bristle at that comment knowing that the lawyer was trying to un-nerve him. He shook his head. "No sir, in all honesty, what would it make me if I had ignored the pleas for help?"
"Understood. But still, you were unaware of any other people that may have been hidden and with only a Sig Sauer and a knife as your backup." Novachek sighed heavily. "Please tell me what you saw when you entered the alleyway."
The memories of that night came flooding back and Tim found himself describing what he had seen in a detail that mirrored his statement.
The night was pleasantly warm with a breeze that flitted over his skin as he walked. It was perfect. 'The perfect end to the day' he thought as his mind took him back to the point that they'd found the murderous wife of a Marine who had been deployed a month before. The case was just awful though, with the victim being a young Private that had extra marital affairs with the deployed husband. Of course DADT would be in play now and came in the year before, but the wife had found out about the affair and gone after her husband's lover, effectively murdering him. She was now behind bars awaiting trial and the fact that the case had been cracked after a long 2 weeks. That was cause for celebration and an outlet was deemed necessary to help ease the frustration and stress that they'd all been under as the late nights caught up with them making them snipe at each other. Even the Boss had been with them and had bought them all a round of bourbon, which was unusual but strangely nice despite him handing it to Ducky. The boss had just smiled and stalked off to order him a soda and with a grin of understanding, handed it over and raised his own glass in a silent toast.
With a grin, he remembered the conversation he'd had with Tony. For the first time ever he'd rendered the clown speechless with a comment about the cross dresser he had tongued all those years ago. He chuckled to himself before frowning at the sound of a shrill scream coming from the darkened alleyway in front of him. With a start, he started to run, all instincts telling him to call for backup but not wanting to stop if someone needed help. Tim reached for his weapon and held it tightly in his hands as he ran in. What he saw as he rounded the corner made his heart stutter slightly; he had no choice but to watch as a blade glinting in the artificial light slashed deeply against the throat of the beautiful young woman before he could do anything to help.…
"The victim was murdered in front of me and I froze. I was too late to save her, but that hesitation very nearly cost me my life." Tim subconsciously rubbed at his shoulder where one of the bullets fired had sliced through the muscle.
"You were injured. Tell me, why didn't you fire your weapon?" Novachek did not miss the hand that went to one of the healing wounds and decided to use it to his advantage.
"I hesitated. I…I'll admit that much but there really wasn't anything I could do to save the victim. I was too late."
"So, had you arrived at the scene earlier, you would have been able to save her? Hmm..I have to wonder whether your hesitation did actually cost someone their life in this situation."
"OBJECTION! Your Honor. There is no way Special Agent McGee could have known what was happening before the victim screamed and he arrived as the victim was being murdered."
"Sustained. We are not in the business of guesswork, Counselor."
Novachek nodded slightly. "Withdrawn. Okay so you saw the victim being murdered. What happened then?"
Tim sucked in a nervous breath. "I announced who I was and realised that there were people waiting in the shadows. In total, I counted five but only recognise the defendant. There was one security light in the alley and the others were in shadow."
"Is it possible that you might have been mistaken? That you didn't really get a good look at the defendant?"
Tim shook his head. "No sir. The defendant is the man I saw murder the woman. There is evidence to that fact as well and evidence doesn't lie."
"Hmm…Okay. What happened then?"
"NCIS!" Tim didn't know what made him shout that out but it was all he had. He had to take down this murderous wretch and make sure he atoned for what he had just done. He glanced down at the woman with a hope that she would be okay, but the blood was spurting and it was obvious that the blood loss and the fact that she was not moving was a clear sign she was gone. "Freeze!"
Chatter…lots of it. It filled the alley with a language that Tim didn't understand and that's when fear gripped his heart. There was more than one of them and a moment later, he watched in horror as eight men moved towards him. The man that had killed the woman dropped her unceremoniously with a wretched grin and sharp words were spoken. One of the men; a big burly Asian man with the same tattoo that he'd noticed on the perpetrator's left shoulder peeking out of the confines of the vest that he wore. It was that distraction, which caused the first injury. He was so engaged in trying to figure out what the ink meant that he did not have a chance to react as the bullet tore through his right shoulder and knocked him backwards onto his backside…
"So when you were shot, what did you do then?" Novachek asked softly, deceptively so, and Tim couldn't quite bring himself to trust the man.
"I didn't have time to think so I raised my weapon and shot him in the shoulder."
"That must have been difficult given your injury taking out your shooting arm." The small sneer did not go amiss and if anything made Tim more at ease at correcting him.
"No sir, I'm left handed. I shot the shooter, but it didn't take long for the other members of the gang to surround me. The last thing I remember is someone pressing their foot into my shoulder wound before I was kicked in the head. I was knocked unconscious and don't know what happened after that."
Novachek nodded, his lips set in a thin line as he shook his head. "Thank you, Special Agent McGee. No more questions your honor."
Tim sighed with relief and hung his head slightly as his shoulder throbbed unmercifully. He missed the exchange between the DA and the judge, but soon found himself being dismissed from the stand. Rather than stay in the courtroom, the urge to be outside and in the fresh air overwhelmed him and after thanking the judge quietly, he made his way out of the courtroom and through the large doors to the courthouse. He finally felt relief at escaping the cloying atmosphere of the courtroom and sank down on the steps nervously.
"You alright, McGee?" Gibbs asked and sat down next to his Agent.
"Yeah. I'm okay. Just…Boss I'm a target more now than ever. If he's found guilty, the chances are he'll be sentenced to death or life at high security. Either way, the gang won't let it drop."
Gibbs nodded his head and watched as Ziva and Tony took point by standing directly in front of them. Ziva's eyes darted around the area before she turned and smiled at Tim. "And neither will we, McGee. We will not let them get to you."
"Thanks Ziva, but I'm not worried about myself. I'm worried about my family and my friends. You're all in danger too, you know."
"Then you know what we do, McGoo? Protection! We're not gonna let anything happen to you or your family…or to any of us, and we're sure as hell going to fight back if anything hits the fan."
Tim looked at Tony before glancing around at the rest of his team. All he saw at that moment was a firm resolve to keep him safe and he felt a moment of security and safety that only came from having people he trusted, to have his six.