by ProfessorElk

Summary: They were not dying, and they certainly were not dead. He refused to believe that. Bruised and battered, he could allow, but not dead. Never dead. None had his permission.

Disclaimer: None of the characters mentioned below are mine and no profit has been made off of this story.

Spoilers: 9x24 "Till Death Do Us Part", and the promo for 10x1 "Extreme Prejudice"

A breeze caused loose sheets of paper to dance across the remnants of the street. Fire crews were busy running to and from the decimated building, some with shovels in hand, digging through the rubble looking for survivors. People pooled out of the building, supporting one another as they limped to safety, all covered in dust and most were injured to some extent. Paramedics rushed to reach the walking wounded, while others covered the dead with neon yellow tarps. He hurried through the crowd, stopping every so often as hands reached out to him, followed by voices asking if he was alright or if he had seen a certain friend or a loved one since the chaos began. He didn't brush them off like he would have before, instead stopping and taking time to answer each of their questions before again pushing his way to the front of the building. He needed to see it for himself. He needed to see what was left of his job. His family.

He slowed to a relieved halt as his eye caught sight of one of the members of his family as she stared sadly back at him. Breathing a sigh of relief that she was alive, Abby waved back at him to confirm that she was okay, at least physically. Smirking slightly that she could read his face and his concern for her so well, he could feel himself start to relax, just a little. One of his "kids" made it out okay, now he just needed to find the other three.

A voice called out to him and he turned, relieved to see the director walking toward him. They were far from friends, but after what they went through, he was happy that any of the people he worked with day after day were alive. The man who was usually so cool and collected seemed as dazed as the rest of his people, physically fine but mentally in anguish. Vance felt guilty. It was the director's car after all that exploded and caused so much destruction, and he could not find the words to comfort his boss, instead just merely agreeing with the statement of guilt.

Both turned when a new voice reached them, the SecNav, wanting a status report, wanting to know if anyone had died and how many. Too many, he thought. Too damn many. One of his own was okay, but what of the others? They could not be in the list of too many. He would not stand for it. He would not allow it. After veiled promises of retribution against the man who did this to them, he broke away from those who knew him, instead, staring up at the building that had become his home, where his family gathered day after day. Where his family still was, possibly hurt, possibly trapped, possibly dying…

Physically shaking himself, he willed that last thought to leave his head. They were not dying, and they certainly were not dead. He refused to believe that. Bruised and battered, he could allow, but not dead. Never dead. None had his permission.

He looked around, this time at the people, and saw that no one was paying attention to him. Abby was still with the paramedic, being led over to an ambulance, Vance still talking with military personnel, and Secretary Jarvis had disappeared back into his black sedan after procuring all the information he needed to make a passionate press conference. He was alone and he had work to do.

The front of the building housed a gaping hole, doors no longer present or needed. He was able to walk in easily enough, almost surprised that no one stopped him. The friendly front desk where Jack the security guard and Linda the receptionist always stood was no longer there, blasted away into rubble, and for a fleeting moment, he wondered if they got out in time. Linda with her always pleasant smile that she flashed in greeting every day and Jack with his hardy belly laugh, where were they now?

He walked through the metal detectors, much like he did every day, even this morning. Had it really only been a mere few hours ago? The machine failed to sound, even though he had his back-up knife still firmly secured against his ankle. Someone must have turned it off, or it had gotten destroyed in the blast. Too much had been destroyed by that damn blast. But not his family. They would be okay. He was coming for them.

Usually he took the elevator up to the bullpen in the early hours of the morning when he first arrived, but not right now. Now, he needed to climb the stairs. Passing by people still limping to the outside, he began his ascent. Each step took him closer to his home, where he felt the most comfortable of any place, even his beloved basement. Each step climbed closer to the bullpen, closer to where he last saw his kids.

Finally reaching the upper story, he stood in horrified awe at the sight in front of him. The once cheery bright bullpen, decorated with orange walls, and filled with the hum of people working for the safety and justice of navy personnel and their families, was dull, dark, and silent. The skylight above their desks had crumbled during the blast, littering the floor with long, sharp shards. Dust from the obliterated brick exterior stuck to the orange walls, dulling their color, wiping from them the warmth they once held. The glass windows overlooking the waterway were no longer standing, a massive hole where they once stood. Papers lay scattered in all directions, some soaked from the automatic overhead sprinklers doing their job and others curiously dry. Some desks had been thrown by the blast, no longer in their usual ordered places, and the large room felt wrong. Nothing was how it should be. Three heads should be popping over the divider, looking to see if he was coming, quickly trying to change the subject of their conversation before head slaps were doled out for veering off the topic at hand. They should be safe and whole, not hurt or worse. Not missing.

Firemen were along the back of the bullpen area, by the hallway leading to the interrogation rooms. They must have started from the back moving to the front, systematically covering all the areas, making sure no one was missed. They were bent over a prone body, talking softly to the wounded person. Someone was still alive up here, and that gave him hope that his people were still living.

Walking around the corner, glass crunching under his feet, he passed the bodies of people who had not escaped the terrorist's bomb. Julie and Rob had sat in desks next to his for the past fifteen years, only a small divider separating the three. Julie was a mom of three. The youngest was just about to graduate high school and the oldest planning her wedding. Rob was a navy veteran, surviving countless tours to Vietnam and the Desert Storm. His retirement plan had just about been finalized. Tears pricked his eyes. Julie's children would be missing their mother on their important days and Rob went through too much in his life to have it end this way. It was not fair. There was no silver lining to offer comfort and hope. There was just utter senseless destruction.

Shoe-clad feet caught his eyes, and he tore his gaze from his fallen colleagues. Fearing that he was about to see another dead body of someone he knew personally, his heart stopped when his gaze traveled from the shoes up to the man's face and realized the man was one of his own. One of his kids was hurt. Bad.

Kneeling down beside the man, he reached out two shaking fingers and slid them against his neck. For a moment there was nothing, and his lungs refused to expand. Damn it, McGee.

His fingers twitched slightly, moving with his man's jugular pulse, and a breathy sigh escaped from his lips. His boy was alive. Far from okay, but alive.

Blood caked Tim's lips, a small portion dribbling down the side of his mouth. Face marred with cuts and tiny glass shards glistening from the meager light shining through the dust-filled haze, Tim lay ashen, chest barely rising and falling. The rest of him was unmarked, save for dust and slightly ripped clothing, but the blood running down his cheek told a different story. Internal injuries. Blast injuries. Deadly because they were near impossible to diagnose and treat in the field.

Coughing slightly, more blood trickled from his mouth, teeth stained red with blood. Cupping the young man's head, he tried to get his boy's attention by calling his name. Blue-green eyes slit open, not focusing on anything, only to shut tight in pain as another cough ripped through his frame. Blood from his boy's mouth was sprayed on his hand, but at the moment, a little blood was the least of his worries.

Telling his child to hold on, he called for help, trying to alert the fire crew a few feet away from him. They looked up, seeming surprised that anyone was speaking, before quickly coming over to him. They tried to look at the cut on his head, which ironically had not caused him any pain since this whole ordeal began, only to stop short when they saw his agent coughing weakly on the floor. Turning their attention to the younger man, one tried to assess the injuries while the other spoke into the radio on his shoulder, asking for assistance and a stretcher on their floor. Saying that they had a critically injured man who would die without immediate medical attention. Severe abdominal internal injuries. Possible damage to internal organs. In need of a medevac ride to Bethesda.

He stood dumbly aside as they worked on McGee, barely aware of thumping coming from the elevator shaft. The familiar ding sounded as the doors were pried open from the inside and this two remaining missing agents came tumbling out, landing hard on the floor on top of each other. Eyes shifting away from McGee for a moment, he smiled softly seeing Tony and Ziva carefully picking themselves off the floor relatively unharmed. Meeting his gaze, both smiled in return seeing their leader sound and whole, relieved he was alive.

Tony's smile fell first as he walked over to his boss, and Ziva's not long after, when they saw their teammate on the floor, looking broken and deathly pale. Ziva's hand unconsciously reached up to Tony's arm, grabbing it for support as she asked the dreaded question: was he still alive? He could only manage a slight nod, but even with the confirmation that their friend was alive, both of his family members remained tense and sad. They knew it was bad, could see it was bad. Could see that Tim was barely hanging on.

Additional paramedics arrived, bring a stretcher with them, which they used to quickly load Tim on to. An oxygen mask was placed over his mouth, only to be speckled with red as he shuddered and coughed feebly again. Both Tony and Ziva watched shell-shocked as Tim was wheeled away as quickly as possible toward the stairs, then carried down the numerous flights. In a rare display of affection, he walked up behind them and brought his arms around both of them, drawing them towards him in an embrace. Both allowed themselves to be hugged, taking his comfort and giving it back to him. The head slap for being in an elevator during a bomb scare could wait until later. For now, he was just overjoyed to be able to touch them and feel their warmth, feel that they were alive.

The trio made their way down the stairs carefully, and stepped out into the bright sun when they reached the bottom floor. Abby was back sitting on the large piece of debris where he first saw her after the explosion, Bert now cuddled in her arms. Someone must have gone and gotten him for her. Her eyes were large and round, staring at the temporary ambulance bay, and he cursed silently, knowing that she most likely saw McGee being wheeled past and into the awaiting air ambulance. They made their way over to her, and he called her name softly. She turned around and looked at him with eyes pooling with tears before she jumped up and into his arms. Tony hugged her from behind, arm outstretched to Ziva, inviting her to join, which she did. He breathed in deeply. Three of his children were safe. Now he just needed his fourth.

They were forced to stay at the yard for more hours than he would have liked, answering questions and giving unofficial statements. It was late evening by the time they all made it to the hospital to check on the last member of their little family. The waiting room was crowded with familiar faces, people they had never met before, but recognized from photos sitting proudly on display on desks or preserved on desktop screens. He managed to catch the attention of the nurse at the front desk and asked her for information on his agent. Her nimble fingers flew over the keyboard, typing the information in as fast as he was giving it, and was able to tell them in a matter of seconds that Tim was alive and in the ICU, which was located upstairs.

The elevators were right by the front desk, but without saying a word, they all moved down the hall to climb the stairs. No one would be riding an elevator again for a very long while.

The ICU waiting area was quieter, but still filled with too many familiar faces. Again, he approached the front desk and asked for information regarding his boy. The nurse was very kind, offering a smile of reassurance that Tim was alive and would recover. He was very weak, she said, after the emergency surgery he had needed because of the extensive damage that had been done to his organs, he would live.

He stood in the doorframe of his boy's room, watching Ziva gently and tenderly brush the hair off of Tim's forehead, which was relaxed in medically induced sleep, Tony resting his hand over Tim's blanketed knee, and Abby clutching Tim's hand. McGee would remain sedated for a few more days until he was strong enough to handle being awake and feeling his injuries. They would be there for him, before he woke up, and after when he started to recover, because that was what family did.

When Tim got stronger, they would all aid the FBI in hunting down the bastard that caused them so much pain. It was no longer about bombs and ships. Harper Dearing made it personal. He hurt Gibbs' family, and that was unforgivable.

a/n Thank you so much for reading this, and I hope you enjoyed it!