Author's note: Hello everyone. This is my first original (not a tag) fic for NCIS. I've been writing in other fandoms for a while but I'm very new here. It's definitely different than what I'm used to. Interesting enough, this is the first story I've ever completely finished before posting. Yes, I am thoroughly pleased with myself in that regard. I mostly did it because I don't expect many reviews which, as much as I hate to admit it, really serve as great motivation to post regularly which also means writing regularly. Now, all I have to do is post so I'll definitely finish this one.

Basic info: This is not a romance fic. There is the slightest hint of it in a later chapter but it's nothing that isn't cannon. And like I said, it's just a brief mention. Mostly this is a character piece with slight undertones of a case. So, be prepared for wordy insights into the characters. Also, this is not a death fic. I don't mind saying that ahead of time because the purpose of this story is to not leave you guessing whether or not someone lives or dies. It's simply an insight into our beloved characters if they were put in such a situation and I know I don't read death fics at all (at least not with major characters) so I would probably stop reading immediately after a death is insinuated. If you are like me, don't stop reading because of that.

Finally, it's not beta'd so all mistakes are my own. I definitely tried to reread and edit it but I usually only have the time to write late at night which certainly increases the possibility for errors. And this story will be in four parts and a total of 10,000 words.

Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine. If they were, things would be just a tiny bit different ;)

Without further gabbing, please enjoy...

A Far Cry From Normal -Part I

McGee was certain that his heart was going to burst from its confines at any moment. Not that he didn't love being beaten and handcuffed in the back seat of his own car, because that was always a gem, but knowing that his next decision could likely be his last just put the cherry on top.

But he didn't have a choice… he didn't. There was a terrified little girl out there and God only knew what this animal had planned for her if someone didn't stop him. And, regardless of his apparent concussion and his hands being bound, he was fairly certain he was the only person capable of helping her at the present moment.

Besides, Copeland was just going to kill him anyway, so he might as well go out doing something worth dying for.

McGee quietly squeezed his hands together and felt the sweat on them. He was scared, of course, but it had to happen. Still feigning unconsciousness, McGee peaked and saw Copeland's eyes were darting around nervously in the rearview mirror. But more importantly, he saw the best course of action to stop the car.

He quietly brought his legs up as close to his body as possible so that he could easily leap forward. He took one last deep breath and relished the beating of his heart, suddenly realizing how he had taken its steadiness and reliability for granted for so many years.

He figured his life should be flashing before his eyes or perhaps he should be on the verge of tears. But, in all honesty, all he could see was young Natalia's frightened face and it only served to make him more certain of his impending actions.

With one last surprisingly steady breath, McGee focused all of his energy on propelling himself forward, grabbing the steering wheel and yanking it as hard as he could.

Then all hell broke loose…

Agent Gibbs rounded the corner into the bullpen feeling just as annoyed as before. This case was proving to be exhausting in every way and they couldn't seem to get a lead. He had just returned from interviewing the former C.O. of their latest victim, Lieutenant Marilyn St. Pierre, which had simply been a waste of precious time.

Gibbs sighed as he glanced at the empty desks around him. They were all working double time and had very little sleep. Even with the local FBI office working closely with them on this case, the team was spread thin to say the least. Ziva was helping Abby sort through boxes of evidence, McGee, in a last ditch effort, had gone to interview St. Pierre's neighbors and Tony was accompanying the FBI as they went through the last known movements of the deceased Lieutenant.

Gibbs squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. The intensity of this case was far more overwhelming than their normal case. It wasn't just a dead Marine this time… It was a dead Marine and her missing daughter. Seven-year-old Natalia St. Pierre was taken the same night her mother was shot and killed. They were unable to find any useful evidence from the house, St. Pierre was apparently loved by everyone and as a single mother, she did not exactly have an abundance of money. Her husband died overseas five years ago and she was killed with a 9 millimeter shot to the back of her head with no apparent signs of struggle. That's where the information basically stopped.

"Gibbs," Ziva sounded exasperatedly as she came into view, "We combed through every single piece of evidence and there is nothing. I am becoming more and more convinced that the Lieutenant was simply collateral damage and Natalia was the target all along."

Gibbs had to admit that he was beginning to feel the same way.

Cases that involved children were the worst kind. What that little girl had already gone through, what she may still be going through and, even if they managed to find her alive, her life would never be the same again. Gibbs felt the knot in his stomach tighten uncomfortably. He sighed deeply once more as he realized that his normally reliable 'gut' had been feeling off since this case began.

At that moment, the elevator rang and in walked DiNozzo looking just as disappointed as the rest of them. There was no joking for this case; there was no light-heartedness whatsoever.

Tony lightly threw his items on his desk and looked into Gibbs' eyes with a look that said everything: they still had nothing.

"I assume we are still as stagnant as ever?" Tony mumbled as he leaned on his desk. When neither Gibbs nor Ziva answered, Tony continued, "What about McGee? Anything with the neighbors?"

It was only then that Gibbs realized how long the young agent had been gone. Three hours… that didn't seem right.

"Get him on the phone," Gibbs said simply, knowing that it was odd for McGee to have been gone so long without checking in. Regardless, reprimanding McGee was not the first thing on his mind. All he cared about at this point was finding Natalia St. Pierre and her mother's murderer.

Gibbs noticed the puzzled glance between Tony and Ziva, both clearly surprised that their coworker hadn't checked it.

"Calling McGee, boss."

"That won't be necessary," came a new voice. Gibbs turned to see Director Vance standing in front of them with a look that had the knot in Gibbs' stomach pulling impossibly tight. Something was very wrong.

"My office," the Director said as he stared into Gibbs eyes.

"What's wrong with McGee?" Ziva questioned as she and Tony now approached them.

Director Vance continued to stare at Gibbs, his face somber but strong.

"Director…" Tony began.

Gibbs took in the director's expression and in that moment, he knew his agent was dead. He focused long enough to nod, indicating that Vance could tell them all.

Vance sighed, looking older and far more weary than Gibbs had ever seen him. He knew the director was particularly fond of McGee…

"I received a call from Washington Hospital," he began, his eyes moving between all of them. "Agent McGee was involved in a car accident."

Gibbs noticed the uncomfortable shifting from his agents and knew it was only going to get worse. But neither of them said a word.

"Agent McGee was apparently… killed on impact," he said softly, his eyes falling briefly to the floor before locking with Gibbs once more. "But his passenger was not and is out of surgery."

Gibbs felt the air catch in his lungs at the blatant comment on his newly deceased agent, but the question of who was with him when it happened couldn't be suppressed.

"Passenger?" Gibbs questioned quietly, suddenly sure that this was far more than an accident.

"The name is Andrew Copeland," Vance answered. "Does that mean anything to you?"

"Our victim's neighbor," Gibbs replied, his mind numb yet racing at the same time. So many questions were bombarding him, so many things they needed to do yet… Gibbs could hardly make himself breathe correctly. McGee… Timothy

"If he was escorting him here…"

"Yeah," Gibbs interrupted Vance, knowing they needed to get started.

"Boss…." Tony mumbled quietly, somberly.

Gibbs didn't want to look at his two agents, didn't want to see the pain that they were undoubtedly feeling. But he was still their leader and even though McGee's death would perhaps be the worst they'd dealt with in a very long time, Gibbs still had to get them through this.

Gibbs turned to Tony and saw how lost the younger man looked while Ziva simply had a distant look on her face with tears clearly forming in her eyes.

"I know," Gibbs practically whispered.

"I'll contact the FBI and let them know they are taking point," Vance began but Gibbs stopped him.

"Copeland is ours," he interjected pointedly.

He'd be damned if McGee's final act was passed on to another group. He took a deep breath and made quick decisions using as much rationality as he could manage.

"Ziva, get Ducky and Abby. I want our people handling the evidence and…," Gibbs ordered softly, not able to bring himself to say "body." He then watched as she nodded almost robotically and turned away. "Tony, call the hospital and have a guard posted at Copeland's door. We need him alive and awake."

"Boss," Tony said, his eyes wide and his breathing shallow. "His family… what do we tell his family?"

Gibbs placed his hand on Tony's shoulder, squeezing lightly. "Soon, Tony. Let's get him back here first."

Tony blinked back tears and then followed out his orders. Gibbs released the air from his lungs and closed his eyes. He needed to maintain control. There would be time to come to terms with this unforeseen incident. Time to grieve. Now was not that time, at least not for him.

However, for the few minutes it took to round everyone up, Gibbs found himself staring at his youngest agent's empty desk and fighting to maintain that composure he so desperately needed. After what seemed like hours, the elevator sounded and Gibbs knew it was time to lead for the sake of his people.

Special Agent Timothy McGee had always thought the process of waking up in the hospital was supposed to be slow and confusing. One sense returning at a time and eventually, if you were lucky, you would remember who you were shortly thereafter. That, however, was not the case for him.

It seemed like reality slapped him in the face, immediately pulling him from the darkness that had consumed him from some unknown amount of time. Within seconds, he knew he was in the hospital, knew he was sporting an oxygen mask, knew he had been in a pretty bad car accident and knew exactly what had led to that moment. Honestly, he wished all of that had eased its way back into his mind but, at the same time, the information he had was of the highest importance and he had no idea how much time had already passed.

He soon tried to open his eyes but after the pain and pressure stopped him, he realized they were swollen shut. He inwardly sighed and instead focused on trying to get someone's attention. Despite the full-body pain that was intensifying by the second, Tim forced his left hand to move. Once he realized it was uninjured, he mustered the energy to lift it in the air, only to have it yanked back down by something.

Then it hit him. The undeniable dread that came with the knowledge of what had transpired. He heard the heart monitor beside him start beeping at a much faster pace and knew he was fighting off a full-fledged panic attack.

He was handcuffed to the bed. And, if he was handcuffed, that meant…

"Mr. Copeland, you need to calm down," someone ordered, confirming McGee's fears. "You were in a car accident and…"

Tim tried to speak now, tried to tell her that he was most certainly not Andrew Copeland, but all that resulted from his attempts was a muffled grunt and pain.

"Don't try to speak, Mr. Copeland," the nurse instructed kindly, "We have a mask over your mouth and nose which is helping you breathe. Also, I imagine talking will be difficult for you due to swelling around your vocal cords. But it is temporary."

Tim tried to get his breathing under control and tried to tune out the rapid beeping from his monitor. He had to tell her what he knew, had to make her understand that they had it all wrong. But he couldn't see, he couldn't move his hands and he couldn't speak. He had never felt so trapped in his own body.

Panic now rising through him like bile, he began thrashing his arm around, listening to the loud clanking of his metal cuffs on the metal railing.

"Watch it, kid," a new, tougher male voice ordered. Tim immediately let his hand fall to the bed and realized that the new voice most likely belonged to his guard.

"Officer, please," the nurse chided. "We do not know for a fact whether he's a criminal or not."

"With all due respect, ma'am," the officer sneered, "We found this clown handcuffed in the back seat of a dead NCIS agent's government issued car. I'd say it's pretty damn certain he's a criminal."

At this, McGee began patting the bed frantically and trying to speak again, despite the immense pain that the actions caused. He knew it probably wouldn't help but he was desperate. The fact that they didn't know his real identity wasn't even the worst part; a little girl's life actually depended on the knowledge he had.

"Mr. Copeland…"

"Yeah, you better squirm," the officer scoffed, "That agent's team is on their way and I imagine they won't be too happy you got him killed."

Tim's heart dropped. His team, maybe even his family, thought he was dead. This day was going from bad to horrific. He heard his monitor increase once again and tried to think of any other way he could get them to hear him. To know the truth. But the pain was becoming too much…

"I'm going to sedate him…"

He heard the woman move beside him but then heard the officer swiftly come towards them.

"Sorry, but I can't let you do that," the officer said. "There's a missing girl out there and this guy might know something about it."

For the first time since waking up, McGee actually agreed with the officer. The last thing he needed was to be knocked out. He didn't care how much pain he was in, he had to tell Gibbs and the others about the little girl from their case. He knew where she was, or at least had a pretty good idea, but no one was listening.

"His vitals are elevated, he's in extreme pain…"

"We've been ordered to keep him alive and nothing else until NCIS gets here, which should be any minute," the officer responded forcefully. "Until then he will just have to suffer through it."

The nurse huffed and placed her hand gently on McGee's head. He found the motion comforting and was amazed that this woman could be so nurturing to a man who may have kidnapped a child. Maybe she really did believe that people were innocent until proven guilty. That greatly contrasted the officer's attitude, although McGee didn't really blame him; he knew how things appeared and knew they had reason to believe he was not only Andrew Copeland but that he was also a criminal.

Still, as soon as Gibbs and the others arrived, they would straighten everything out. They would realize that McGee wasn't dead, they would find a way to communicate with him and, if all went well, young Natalia St. Pierre would be found safe. He just had to stay awake and remain Andrew Copeland for a little while longer…

End Part I/IV

End Note: There you are! Like I said, this story is already completely written so I will post the next part in a timely fashion. If you read it all and enjoyed it, thank you very much! If you have the time/energy and feel compelled to, please review and give me your thoughts. Constructive criticism is definitely accepted and even appreciated. Otherwise, thanks for reading and I hope you come by for more! To the US of A readers, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. To everyone else, I wish you a happy rest of your week! - L