Be kind, please! This is my first venture into writing a fanfic, so . . . constructive criticism is definitely appreciated, comments and reviews are welcomed, flames will be tolerated but not taken seriously. (My Momma taught me that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.) So . . . here goes.

Anthony DiNozzo, Jr. sat tiredly in the uncomfortable chair in a quiet hospital room, silently contemplating the puzzle laying in a heavily medicated sleep in the bed beside him. Almost of it's own volition, his hand rose, skimming lightly over the other man's forehead, mindful of the row of dark stitches and several colorful bruises contrasting the otherwise too-pale skin of Tim's face. Using the excuse of gently sweeping unruly locks of hair back from his friend's forehead, he again grounded himself in the reality of the younger man's presence. Rubbing the same hand roughly across his own face, he quietly told his partner, "We got them, you know. The information you provided led us right to their headquarters. They're currently in lock-up, pending transport to Gitmo under the Patriot Act. There will be no trial, but they will never walk as free men, ever again. You did good, Kid."

"Man, you should have seen the Boss and Fornell tag team them down in interrogation. I have seen him pull off some good ones, but this time . . . well, he was like a precision instrument tuned to just one thing, bringing them down. Vance was in the observation room with Ziva and me, and I really think that the Boss impressed even him."

"I have to tell you, you are looking better. Much better than you were a few days ago." Looking down at his hands, he said, "Damn, Tim, when we went to round them up, I never would have thought . . . it was such a screwed-up . . . We thought it was about over, nothing left but taking them in, but then Masters took down Fornell's man and brought up that gun . . . my heart actually stopped beating for a minute. I saw him look at you with such hatred, and I knew what was going to happen, but there was no time. Gibbs was under fire from one of Master's men, Fornell was trying to get in a shot at Master's, I couldn't get a clear shot at anyone from my position. I saw your face, and I saw that you knew . . . You could get the guy shooting at Gibbs, or you could try to defend yourself. You chose Gibbs. Then Masters fired, you went down, and Ziva let loose on Masters . . . You would have been proud of our Ninja-girl. She was awesome in her fury. I don't think Masters is going to forget that for a LONG while-at least until he heals. I got to you, and you were just laying there . . . your eyes were open, glazed, and for a minute I thought you were dead . . . there was so much blood, all over your head . . . you wouldn't respond to me, and when your eyes closed, I truly thought it was over then." Tony sighed tiredly, "You gotta hold on, Kid. You gotta come back to us, . . ."

Catching a movement out of the corner of his eye, his hand automatically started to his holster as he became aware of a silent shadow standing at the door of the room. Relaxing slightly in recognition, he motioned him in, saying quietly "Come on in, Boss. The doc has relaxed the "one person at a time" rule for him. He knows how things are with us, God knows he's had one of us in here under his care enough!"

Catching the aborted movement toward the gun, Gibbs moved on into the dim light without comment, bright blue eyes silently assessing the condition of both young men as he entered. Moving another chair from beside the wall, he sat it down so that he could keep both of them in view without much trouble. "How's he doing? What did Dr. Pearson have to say when he came in, Tony?"

"That things are looking better. His scans all came back "within normal limits", his vital signs have all stabilized, the wound "looks good", and that basically it's all up to Tim now. They took him off the vent about two hours ago. He hasn't woke up yet though, for any kind of . . . " his words trailed off as if he had lost himself in the words he was about to say. Looking up at his mentor, he quietly but forcefully choked out, "Man, I HATE this! I gotta . . . go stretch my legs or something, maybe get some coffee. I'll be back soon." Just as he was about to leave the room, he paused, giving a last look at both his friends. The look on his face was quiet, almost heartbreaking as he quietly stated, "If he don't come out of this one, Boss, I don't know if I can go on. This is getting too hard. I somehow survived losing Kate, but if we lose Tim. . . I can't . . . " He quickly left the room before the older man could reply.

Gibbs sat there silently, watching the youngest of his chosen family as he slept, hopefully healing. It was so hard, sometimes, carrying the responsibility for these young lives-his team. The ones who willingly placed themselves in the line of fire, sometimes on a daily basis, Tony, Ziva, Tim, and their support team, Ducky, Abby, and Jim Palmer. They had all worked together for so long, they functioned so well as a team-sometimes not even needing to speak to each other, knowing almost instinctively what was needed and when. The whole team was unusually close, but Tony and Tim-well, they were truly special to one another.

How two such polar opposites could have become as close as they did, was unexplainable. They were as alike as chalk and cheese, but had somehow meshed into a cohesive, well-matched duo. Hah, sometimes he wondered if they knew that Balboa's team called them Batman and Robin, they worked so well together. Somehow, these two men from completely different ends of the personality spectrum, had each found in the other something that they had each been missing all their lives.

Neither one had much in the way of a family life-Tony's father being an internationally famous high-society business man and his mother having lost a long hard fight with cancer when Tony was 8 years old. DiNozzo, Senior had no use for a kid traveling with him in his high society circles, so Tony endured a seemingly endless progression of Nanny's, step-mothers, and boarding schools, until entering college and finally finding a place for himself at a fraternity. A Phys Ed major with a minor in Criminal Justice lead to a position on the Baltimore PD after graduation. While on a case one day, his path crossed with Leroy Jethro Gibbs, on undercover assignment with NCIS and they worked the case together. Gibbs was impressed with the younger man's potential, a job was offered and accepted, and the rest, as they say, is history. Tony thrived in the law enforcement environment, and under Gibb's tutelage was making quite a name for himself in the field.

Tim though, he was a living, breathing wonder. He completed high school at the age of 14, obtained two Master's degree's (one from MIT and the other from John Hopkin's) and several assorted certifications by the age of 20. Timothy (no middle initial) McGee had received lucrative job offers from every one of the "alphabet soup" agencies, the FBI, CIA, DOD, NSA, ATF, NCIS, and several private sector companies. He turned down many more prestigious and lucrative offers to accept a position at Naval Criminal Investigative Services. Tim had decided at a very young age that law enforcement was his goal, and that the best way he could combine law enforcement with serving his country was NCIS. While serving their country, Navy men and women could worry a little less about the safety of their families at home because of the dedication and service of NCIS. Tim was proud to serve them as they served their country, and it showed through the efficiency and dedication with which he performed his duties.

While working at Norfolk, Tim was called in to work occasionally with the MCRT, or Team Gibbs as it was sometimes not-so-affectionally called, on cases where computer savvy was required. His determination, drive, integrity, and steadfast loyalty were soon apparent to the team leader and coworkers alike. When Gibbs had first brought the younger agent onto the team-5 years ago now-Tim McGee had been so young, naive and inexperienced . . . it was almost like having a "kid" on the team. Snorting quietly to himself, Hell, it WAS having a kid on the team. Tim was only 22 when Gibbs had brought him aboard the MCRT, but was already showing such promise, such drive, that the team leader knew that he had not made a mistake when he "blew the younger agent out of the water" by quietly telling him "You belong to me now!" after he had arranged for his transfer to the unit.

Soon known to everyone from SecNav on down, and by the FBI, CIA, and NSA as "Gibb's Wonderkid", everyone that met him was impressed by the quiet, unassuming, intelligent, slightly shy young man, who quickly drew quite a following from the CyberCrimes Unit, AKA "the Geek Squad", as he was quite a conundrum to them-a "geek" that carried a gun, so to speak. A near genius with the quickest, quirkiest mind that Gibbs had ever personally known, Tim started out as Team Gibb's computer whiz, quietly but much more than competently filling the need for high tech wizardry on the team. Tony DiNozzo, Gibb's Senior Field Agent and second, was at first amused by the socially awkward young man and secretly awed by Tim's prowess with all things technological. Seeing the vulnerable spots in the younger agent's training, Tony stepped up to bat, loudly and sometimes obnoxiously "training" his Probie, trying in his own way to "toughen him up" without losing that valuable "something"-that almost-but-not-quite innocence-that was so much a part of the younger man's personality.

Tim, in turn, soaked up the training like a dry sponge absorbs water, practical jokes and sarcasm included, learning, remembering, and seasoning into his position as the youngest field agent in the history of NCIS. Gibbs and his superiors watched the young agent's progress with the realization that while Tony DiNozzo was destined to follow in Gibb's footsteps as a great Team Leader, Tim was perhaps headed for an even greater destiny-they could actually see him rising to the position of Director of NCIS.

Family life was . . . complicated for Tim. Descended from a long history of Naval career men, it was determined at a young age that Tim suffered from an inner ear affliction which produced terrible, almost life threatening, seasickness. A Naval career was NOT in the cards for the young man and therefore, he was "a disappointment" to his father and his grandfather. He was viewed as "soft", preferring to play with computers all day rather than have a "real career", a viewpoint that they never failed to drive home to him every chance that they got. His mother, a Naval officer's trophy wife, never failed to side with her husband on anything, and Tim was, at best, tolerated by his extended family. His sister, Sarah, was 7 years younger than he, therefore, although he was quite protective of her, they never had much of a relationship. His only real family was his grandmother, Penelope Langston, a true child of the 60's; feminist, activist, scientist, teacher, and respected author in her own right. She is the one that taught Tim that living up to his own potential-being the best that he can be at whatever he did best-was the most important thing in his life.

Being partnered together was the best thing that could have ever happened to the two men. Tony drew Tim "out of his shell", matured him, and helped him through self-doubt and social awkwardness. Tim steadied Tony's recklessness, toned down some of his brashness, made him actually stop and think sometimes, and brought out a protective streak in him that no-one, except perhaps Gibbs, had ever seen in him. The two were more than partners, more than just friends, they were brothers.

Bringing his troubled gaze back to the room's silent occupant, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, ex-Marine Gunnery Sergeant, sniper, Team Leader of the MCRT of NCIS in DC, and current surrogate father of two troubled and injured young men watched as his youngest fought a silent battle for his life, and his oldest fought a similar battle for his soul. He knew deep in his heart that the only good outcome of this situation would be the recovery of the man currently sleeping in front of him, because if the younger was lost, the older would never be the same.