He sits in his car staring out at the night but not really seeing what's out there. If it wanted to his mind could easily fill in the familiar streetscape and the building up ahead but at the moment it is too busy repeating the events of the past few days interspersed with memories and snatches of the conversation he's just had.
He's not even sure, exactly why it is he's come here. After talking with his Dad he'd left the Navy Yard fully intending to go straight home. Needing to be in his place with his things around him. Alone yet not lonely. Maybe sit at his typewriter and do some free-writing. Just get into the zone and relax. Letting all the issues stirred up by the case and the conversation go for this one night. Penny is safe and that is the most important thing.
Penny. She'd always insisted she be called that. Hated the idea of being a gran, nan, granny or even grandma. She was simply Penny the main source of love in his childhood. Whatever she was doing or wherever he'd been dragged as a result of his father's ambition he knew he could count on her. To praise his triumphs and commiserate over his failures. To listen and hug him and laugh at his jokes. It didn't matter to her that he got seasick, was more of a nerd than a jock. He was her grandson.
Clearly his subconscious mind knew that being alone is not really what he wants as almost on automatic pilot he's driven here. He could have gone to Abby's. She would've have listened, made him laugh and almost hugged him to death. He'd told her all about his Dad back when they were dating and she would totally understand how he's feeling right now.
Of course he could also have gone to Ziva or Tony who would each have tried to make things better in their own ways. Tony's probably involving food and a movie. Ziva's probably involving some kind of physical activity like a run or session at the gym. They'd found out about his father during long nights on stakeouts and working cases. With their own 'daddy issues' they'd both understood perfectly when after the initial revelations he'd made it plain he had no desire to talk about it further.
A rapping on his window startles him and he turns to find Gibbs staring at him. He lowers the window.
"Boss how did you?"
"Went out the back way and came up on you from behind."
"Are ya coming in or are ya going to sit out here all night?" Without waiting for an answer he strides up the street to his house leaving McGee to scramble out of the car, lock it and follow him.
Entering the house he finds Gibbs standing in his kitchen holding two opened beers. He silently holds one out to the junior agent who takes it from him. "Thanks Boss."
Gibbs nods and walks away. Tim follows him down to the basement and sits on the steps watching as his mentor continues working a piece of wood at the bench in the middle of the room.
"She'll be okay McGee." Gibbs' attention is on the wood not his colleague.
"I know Boss. Penny's tough. Tougher than me. She'll be fine."
He pauses although he doesn't really expect a response. The silence that envelops them is not uncomfortable and Tim finds himself thinking that this may be the first time in his life he has been in a situation like this. Sure he's been in this basement many times, working the La Grenouille case for example but never like this. Not him and Gibbs alone.
Growing up he had rarely sat watching his father like this though sometimes he did. Working on his boat or the car or the lawnmower. Tim had wanted to help but was never quite sure how and his dad was hardly ever around to show him. It sometimes seemed he expected that his son should just know these things without needing to be shown the correct way and there always was a correct way things should be done.
He takes a swig of beer and blurts out "I called him."
Gibbs looks up and meets his eyes. It is obvious from the look on his face that he knows how hard doing so must have been and it occurs to Tim that what he's suspected for a long time is true. The Boss does know the whole story.
"The case. Penny. It was time."
"It was hard but it went well. I think. That is I'm trying not to over think it but it's hard. The memories. All this time. It keeps going round in my head. It's complicated."
"It's family McGee, of course it is."
Tim nods knowing Gibbs understands this better than anyone.
They sit in silence for awhile longer occasionally sipping their beers. Gibbs working and McGee watching.
"What ya working on Boss?"
Gibbs beckons him over with a tilt of his head. Looking at the pieces of wood Tim still can't see what they are being made into but he can see that each piece has been carefully and precisely worked on. He knows this is the way the Boss relaxes. He and the others have discussed it before.
"Like to try?"
"Ah. I dunno if I..."
"Just watch what I do." He hands the younger man a piece of wood and the evening continues with them working in companionable silence the only sound being wood shavings falling to the floor.