Here it is! The last chapter. A few chapters ago I evilly asked if McGee might live or die, and several comments were left insisting that he should definitely live. I thought this was pretty funny, because I already had an idea of what was going to happen. So, is this ending satisfactory?
Also, I'm not a doctor, so medical jargon and situations are purely for the story's purposes.
Disclaimer: not mine! playing around, etcetera etcetera etcetera!
Everything hurt. Timothy McGee couldn't remember a time when he had been in so much pain. But he wouldn't have been able to remember anything just then. The shock from the injury was like getting slapped unexpectedly: it wipes away all thought until you feel the sting.
He didn't know how it happened. Actually, he didn't even know what had happened. One moment he was looking for evidence, and the next he was shoving Gibbs out of the way of...something?
Breathing was suddenly very hard. Each inhale brought a huge stab of agony. Exhaling was even worse, and there was a rushing sound in his ears.
His eyes closed. What was the point of keeping them open? He was suddenly very tired anyway.
He fell backwards and hit something. There was shouting, and pressure on his chest. That hurt the most. What was going on? He just wanted to sleep...
But then he heard it.
"McGee. Come on, McGee."
After almost a decade of working with the man, it was a reflex to respond to an order from Leroy Jethro Gibbs. It was impossible not to! Even as his heart beat was fading in and out, McGee answered.
"B'ss?" he asked. But before he could even hear what Gibbs was saying, he lost consciousness.
This seemed to be a dream. But he wasn't sure. Either way, it was freaking him out.
He was in autopsy. It was dark and quiet, except for one light that shone on the last table. On it there was a body- he couldn't tell who it was, but he hoped it was someone he didn't know. Call it a gut feeling, but McGee could tell that he wasn't going to like what he saw if he found out who actually was on that platform. However, now he had to see for himself. He walked over to the steel bed, and pulled back the cover just so that he could see the victim's face. When he did, he had to bite back the shout of horror on his lips.
It was him.
Tim couldn't believe it, but he was looking at his own face, pale and still.
What had happened to him? He pulled back the cover sheet just a little bit more, to look at his chest. There it was, a gunshot wound, still with a small trace of blood.
The doors to autopsy swished open. Tim turned around to face the newcomer, and wasn't surprised to see Palmer and Ducky. They didn't see him, he realized, when Ducky walked right by him, not noticing him in the slightest. Palmer looked terrible. Yes, Doctor Mallard looked tired and grieving, but Jimmy's face was drawn and pale. He lingered by the doors, hesitant to go any farther. Ducky gave his protégé a sympathetic glance, and continued on towards the table. McGee panicked- there was no way he was going to watch his own autopsy! He stepped back, ready to bolt from the room, but Ducky did not move for any tools. He simply placed the cover sheet back over Tim's body so that his only his head was visible again.
Just then the automatic doors moved again. McGee glanced up to see Gibbs storm in. Never had he looked so furious. He hit the lights, illuminating the suite.
"Jethro," Ducky said softly. "I am sorry."
"Dammit, Duck! This wasn't supposed to happen."
"It's never supposed to happen," Ducky said with patience. Still, a hint of exasperation colored his tone.
Gibbs stood there for another moment, then turned and left. McGee noticed that he didn't look at the still form on the table- he looked everywhere else.
Ducky turned to Jimmy. "Mr. Palmer, I think that maybe we should go for awhile. There will be friends who will want to say goodbye."
The Autopsy Gremlin nodded and turned, knocking a book off of the table he was standing near. It clattered to the floor, pages fluttering as it fell.
"Sorry, Doctor," the assistant mumbled, picking up the book. The two left, leaving McGee alone again, perplexed. He tried to move for the door, but stopped when his favorite Goth entered. Her makeup was horribly smeared, and Tim felt a pang in his heart for her. She sniffled and hiccuped as she went to the end of the row, and stopped in front of him. He tried to get her attention, but she didn't notice him. She only looked down, and cried.
"Abby, it's ok," he tried to assure her. Tim walked right behind her, and put his hand on her shoulder. He was very disappointed when even his touch didn't make her notice him.
When she spoke, he jumped, thinking that she might be hearing him and actually responding. But then she started babbling.
"I'm so sorry, Timmy. I can't believe this and I just want you back andwhoisgoingtohackwithmeand understandwhenItalkcomputers andforensicsand..." she went on like this, and Tim noticed that she seemed to be having a very long one-sided conversation, like she was talking to an imaginary listener. Well, he was listening, wasn't he? Her voice got faster and her words blurred into one stream of sound, until she gave up and the words became sobs. She turned and rushed out, her pigtails bouncing behind her.
Tim felt a little hysterical himself. 'How did this happened to me?' he wondered. He knew that it wouldn't be long before he- or rather, the body on the table, he still couldn't consider it as himself- had another visitor. So, he sat and waited. He didn't have to wait for long until Ziva came in, her eyes red from crying. Neverbefore had he seen Ziva cry. But there she was, slowly making her way over to her friend. She looked at him, and said quietly,
"I never really appreciated your friendship until it was too late. I am sorry McGee."
She stayed there for a while, silent and still. McGee wanted to tell her that he knew, of course they were friends, and that he understood. But he knew she wouldn't hear him, so he watched her expression. It was an odd mix of sadness and rage.
"I believe I once told you that you were not just any partner, and that if someone hurt you I would make him regret the day he was born," Ziva said finally. Tim laughed at the memory.
"Get in line, Ziva," a male voice sounded. Both Ziva and McGee turned to see Tony, whose eyes were suspiciously red-rimmed.
"Ziva and Tony crying on the same day?" their partner said, amazed.
DiNozzo joined the ex-Mossad officer and pulled her into a hug. Ziva broke it first, and quietly strode out.
"This is getting weird," Tim muttered.
His friend paced the room, speaking in a low voice as he went.
"Geez, Probie, you're not supposed to get hurt. I'm should be the one to go first, you know- In first, out first."
"I'm pretty sure that's not the expressio-" the junior agent began out of habit, but Tony kept going.
"Out of all the friends in all the world for this to happen to, it had to be you..."
"Yeah, that's definitely not the quote," McGee said. "In fact that was pretty weak."
DiNozzo went on and on. Tim noticed that he was starting to babble like Abby. But he couldn't hear all that the SFA wanted to say, because the doors opened once again. Tony spun around to face the latest visitor.
"Boss," Tony said. "When is Ducky-"
"As soon as you leave," Gibbs cut him off. "Go home, Tony, get some rest."
The youngest man in the room looked at his Boss. There was no remorse, no sadness in the features. The Team Leader seemed very uncaring about the situation. McGee watched Tony hesitate, then brush past Gibbs and leave.
Ducky entered. "Did you get to-"
"Nothing to say, Duck," Gibbs snapped. He turned to leave.
"Boss?" Tim asked, hurt. Why didn't his Team Leader- his father figure- care? "Boss!"
"McGee? Tim, can you hear me?"
Tim's eyes snapped open. His vision was blurry- and there was something in his mouth. It was crazy uncomfortable and it made him gag. He heard some beeping in the background. There were figures of people rushing around him, but he still could not make out faces.
"Agent McGee," a calm voice said. "You're safe. You are alright."
Earlier that Day:
Gibbs looked at his team. For several days they had taken shifts at the hospital, not daring to leave their friend alone for a moment, in case he should wake up. Even at Brad's insistence that he would be asleep even after he was out of the coma for a little while, they stayed within fifty feet of the room. At Abby's request and Ducky's influence, Tim was moved to a room with an observation window, so they could see him even when he wasn't supposed to have visitors.
When Brad had told the group that he would be bringing their youngest agent out of his coma, everyone was relieved. After that they abandoned the shift routine, and all just stayed at the hospital. Four days after the shooting, Doctor Pitt came out to Gibbs and Ducky to discuss what would happen. The rest of the team sat on the other side of the room, talking quietly amongst themselves.
"We want to take out that ventilator before he wakes up, or he might panic."
"Of course," Ducky agreed.
"He should be awake soon, so we are prepping now."
"Will he be able to breathe without it?" Gibbs asked skeptically. It seemed like a stupid question, but Tim still looked so weak...
"Yes, I assure you, I have checked and double checked that lung- he should make a full recovery. His lung will have a little scarring and it will take a little while to get back to any running or exercise routine, but he's going to be fine," Brad said understandingly.
"And what about other damage to ribs or surrounding tissue?" Ducky inquired.
"Well we patched up any damage and we are keeping an eye on it. He is on a painkiller right now so he won't feel miserable."
Ducky and Gibbs thanked the doctor, and Brad rose to enter McGee's room when a frantic beeping came from within.
"Oh god," Doctor Pitt muttered, rushing into the room. Several nurses followed him, making the little family outside leap up worriedly.
"What's going on?!" Abby cried. But no one answered her, unsure themselves. Ducky caught the attention of a nurse who was leaving the room in a hurry.
"What is happening, my dear?" he asked.
"He woke up ahead of time. Apparently someone bumped his IV cart, so the tube was slightly pulled. He's only been getting the sedative until this morning, and it wore off."
"Why didn't anyone notice?" Gibbs demanded.
"Well, the nurse who was supposed to be on duty at the monitoring station left this morning in a rush- some family emergency. Then there was a crash situation in a room around the corner...but you didn't hear that from me," the nurse said.
Ducky thanked the nurse and she went on her way. Everyone began talking at once, trying to figure out what to do.
"Hey!" Gibbs said, catching them off guard. They stopped all at once. The team leader was about to speak when another nurse came out and addressed them.
"We need someone who is familiar to the patient to come in. It may help to calm him."
"Go, Gibbs. We will wait here," Ziva said. But Gibbs didn't hear her- he was already inside.
He entered to see several staff members assisting Doctor Pitt in holding down Tim, whose eyes were wide and who was lurching forward in confused panic.
"McGee? Tim, can you hear me?" Gibbs said, coming up to the side of the bed and putting his hand on his son's shoulder. When Tim began to calm down, Brad spoke. "Agent McGee, you're safe. You are alright."
This was starting to have its effect on the young man, who seemed to finally notice where he was. Gibbs put his hand on the side of Tim's head, making him notice the team leader. McGee turned to look at his boss, who remembered his experience of waking up with a ventilator down his throat. It's scary and uncomfortable. Gibbs could almost feel it as his looked at his son.
"Tim," Doctor Pitt said, getting his attention. "We are going to take the tube out of your mouth. Blink twice if you are ready."
"Ok, open you mouth, and keep it open. Stay calm. On the count of three. One, two..."
On 'three' the ventilator was removed, bringing a gag and round of coughs from Tim. A nurse gave Gibbs a cup of ice chips, and he fed them to his agent, who readily took them to soothe his aching throat.
"It's good to have you back, Tim." Gibbs said after a moment, which elicited a smile from the junior field agent. And was the team leader wrong -doubtful, of course- but did McGee seem... relieved?
After the doctor and his army of nurses were satisfied that Tim was comfortable and alright, and that there were lots of ice chips at hand, they left him with Gibbs. Brad had orders that only one person should be in the room at a time with the team leader, who was allowed to stay the whole time. (The doctor knew that arguing with the man would be useless- why bother?) He also apologized to McGee profusely for the IV incident, and promised that he would find who was responsible. Tim brushed it off, replying that he didn't suffer for the mistake, and that it really didn't matter, but Doctor Pitt was determined to find the culprit.
Ducky and Palmer went in again first and second, Ducky checking all of the monitors once again, and greeting Tim with a warm "Welcome back, Timothy." Palmer was happy to see his friend awake and aware, and told McGee as much. Tim responded with a hoarse and usually single sentence for his visitors, but his voice gained strength as time wore on and ice chips ran low.
"How long was I out?" he croaked to his Boss just as Palmer left. "And what exactly happened?"
"You were shot...pushing me out of the way of a bullet," Gibbs said gruffly. "Saved my life. Thank you, Tim."
"Of...of course Boss," his agent replied, embarrassed. "I'm just glad you're ok." Secretly, he felt a slight pressure lift from his chest. He would never make it up to Gibbs for pushing him out of the way of that oncoming car when the two of them were chasing that suspect all those years ago, but this helped ease the guilt a little.
"It happened on Monday, and you were kept in a comauntil Wednesday. Yesterday. Today's Thursday."
"Wow," Tim murmured. "And the guy that...shot me?"
"He was drunk. Apparently just lost some family member. He was tracked back to his house by Balboa's team. He threatened to shoot Agent Hitt- who he attacked and held hostage- until he was shot down. Balboa said it looked like a suicide-by-cop deal."
McGee looked at his boss and noticed that Gibbs' jaw was clenched. He realized that this wasn't satisfactory to the team leader, and that he had wanted to make the man pay. This made the young agent uncomfortable, and he was going to change the subject when Tony walked in.
Tony came in giddy and talkative, supplying movie quotes and nicknames galore. He told Tim and the Boss that he Doctor Pitt reviewed the security tapes, and concluded that the malfunctioning IV was ironically knocked by the nurse who had come to fill Tim's sedatives in the first place. Ziva followed after, calmly and quietly telling McGee that she was happy he was alright. McGee knew her well enough to know that this was her way of not losing control of her emotions, of coping with situations, and happily replied that it was good to see her too.
In a characteristic (and polar opposite to Ziva) kind of performance, Abby swirled into Tim's room like a tornado, fussing over McGee and rushing towards him for a hug. Gibbs put out his arms to stop her.
"Careful, Abs," Gibbs warned. She looked at him with innocent eyes and raised brows.
"I wasn't going to hurt him, Gibbs," the Lab Rat said. "I was just going to...welcome him back."
The Boss looked at his favorite for a moment, looked at Tim, then silently stepped out.
"Hey Abby!" Tim greeted cheerfully. He tried to sit up straighter, but it hurt to move, and he winced.
"Timmy!" she said, moving to his bedside and pressing the button to gently elevate him into an upright position. "How are you feeling?!"
McGee thought about it, and answered honestly. "Not as bad as you'd think."
"Well, I guess that's better than it could be," Abby conceded. "Oh McGee, I was so worried."
She gave him a slap on the arm, the kind you don't feel but know to take as a scolding.
"What was that for?"
"For scaring me. For scaring us. Don't ever do that again!"
"I promise, I don't plan on it."
Unsatisfied, she sat down. They talked for a little bit, until her phone rang.
"Who was it?" Tim asked when she was done.
"Vance," the forensic tech said. "He needs me to run some tests on some evidence."
"Go, go," he shooed her. "I'm not going anywhere."
She gave him a kiss on the cheek and left. Gibbs reentered the room to see his youngest staring into space, with concentration etched all over his features.
"Something wrong, McGee?"
Tim snapped out of it and faced his boss.
"It seemed like everyone was...reserved. Like they were holding something back."
Gibbs thought of a good way to explain this, then spoke.
"If you could tell Kate one more thing, what would you say?"
McGee answered immediately. "I would tell her-" He stopped short, and realization came to his eyes.
"They were all worried about you. We all were," the team leader said. "They probably thought about what they could tell you if you made it. Now they want to. Wouldn't be surprised if they came in to tell you soon."
There was a moment of silence as Tim took this in. Gibbs absently glanced at his watch.
"Go home, Boss," McGee said. The older man inwardly marveled at how much the younger man sounded like him. "I'll be fine."
Gibbs smirked and turned to leave, the stress from the last few days lifted off his shoulders. He reached the doorframe when a hesitant voice called him back.
"...what were you going to tell me?"
Gibbs drew in a breath and turned to face his son.
"That I'm proud of you, McGee."
He didn't miss the beaming smile that Tim tried to hide as he left.
McGee was tired. He thought absently that for someone who had been unconscious for the last three and a half days, he was remarkably sleepy. But Gibbs' words came back to him, about what he would say to Kate, and what his team might say to him. So, he wasn't surprised when a small knock sounded at the doorway.
He turned to see the visitor, and was happy to see that it was Abby.
"Hello again," he smiled. "Done with the evidence already?"
She simply nodded and walked in with smaller steps than he had ever seen her take before.
"Timmy," she began...shyly? "I was doing some thinking when you were...in surgery. And..." He waited patiently, knowing that she would tell him in her own time.
"...I need to tell you something."
Well, that's it! I know it was a little weird, but I just kind of had an idea and ran with it.
So, the wonderful FredNeverDied suggested to me earlier that I might have Tim experience some parallels to what the other characters were feeling. I tried to fit several of them into the nightmare- and I made some more subtle than others. Didya get them all? :)
Just a big thank you to all the reviewers of this fic. You're all awesome!