Author's Note: Hello again! So, let me start by saying that I don't really expect this story to be popular as it doesn't focus on the team and it's long and verbose. That being said, I think it's one of my favorites so I figured I'd share, even if only one other person appreciates it. So, here you go.
Basically, I apparently can't get enough tags/missing scenes to the season 10 opener, Extreme Prejudice, and this story can actually be seen as a prequel to my other story, Catching Heroes (though they can completely stand alone.) I always liked the Sarah character and I love doing character analysis so even though this is all from Sarah's point of view, I think it's mostly an analysis of Tim. Anyway, that's my opinion.
Warning: Spoilers for season ten and season four, I guess. Also a couple swear words but nothing you wouldn't hear in the show.
Disclaimer: A few of the characters are my creation but everything else belongs to others. Thanks for letting me borrow it.
Yep, that's about it. Hopefully some of you will enjoy!
Sarah McGee was happy. No, she was elated. The semester was officially over, all of her classes were passed with flying colors and it was a beautiful sunny day. Given that she had spent the last three weeks hiding out in the library, using every available moment to study, she had come out looking like Casper the Friendly (and highly disheveled) Ghost. With everything done and nothing more to worry about, she had finally thrown on her favorite bikini and was lying out by university's pool.
She had no idea how long she had been out there, nor did she really care. An hour? Maybe two? Regardless of the time, she had spent it alternating between her lounge chair and the refreshing water itself.
Now, as she sat in the chair blasting Take it Easy by The Eagles through her phone, she realized that this was true relaxation. She couldn't ask for a better start to summer break. However, just before the song was over, vibrations interrupted her song and her peace. Annoyed, she looked down but immediately changed her attitude when she saw her father's face staring up at her.
She frowned and wondered why he would be calling. He usually called her once a week but it was always at night, not in the afternoon.
"Sarah?" he answered suddenly, his voice laced with concerned. She now sat up in her chair, knowing that his timing plus his unnaturally worried tone could only mean something very, very bad was going on.
"Yeah," she said quickly, knots quickly growing in her stomach. "What's up?"
There was a pause on the other end, one that sent chills down her otherwise warm spine.
"Hello?" she pressed, knowing that calls from her dad were not always the most reliable given that he was usually in some Godforsaken sea.
"Sarah… haven't you…?" he responded, sounding both annoyed and troubled. "Just… have you heard from Timothy?"
Now it was Sarah's turn to hesitate. None of this boded well nor did it make sense. Why was he calling and why on earth was he asking about Tim?
"No…," she answered slowly, almost scared to continue the conversation. "Was I supposed to?"
Another pause, then, "Dammit. I've been trying on my end but everything is on standby and nobody is saying a damn thing."
"Dad!" she practically yelled, her heart now threatening to beat its way out of her throat. "What is going on?"
"The bomb, Sarah." Sudden cardiac arrest, she was certain of it.
"Bomb?" she reiterated. "What bomb?"
But she was already up and running. She tried to grab her items but had no idea if she had gotten all of her things. She didn't care. She ran directly into the nearby university recreation center where people were gathered around the television that was displaying the most terrifying images she had ever seen.
That was the NCIS building. The NCIS building on fire. That was her brother's building.
"Oh my God," she breathed, tears already forming in her eyes as panic tangled its way through every fiber of her being.
"I need you to remind calm," her father said, his tone returning to that of a decorated Navy Admiral. It almost annoyed her that he wasn't freaking out. "I can't reach anyone and I only have Timothy's desk phone number which was probably destroyed. Do you have his cell? I think I have his old one."
Again, Sarah overlooked her frustration at her dad's comment. Tim had had the same cell number for over eight years so the idea that her dad still had the old one was ridiculous. But that wasn't important right now.
She turned to least sketchiest guy standing beside her and quickly asked, "Can I borrow your phone?"
She wasn't sure if the dude was opposed to the idea or just surprised by the fact that a random half-naked chick was asking for his phone, but either way, he didn't answer fast enough.
"That is my brother's building," she continued quickly and with far more severity than she had intended as she gestured to the television. She then held up her phone and finished. "And this is my father, an Admiral for the Navy, wanting me to see if I can reach him. So please, may I borrow your phone?"
He nodded quickly, still thoroughly perplexed, but handed the phone over. Sarah immediately dialed one of the only numbers she had memorized without further thought and put the phone to her ear.
"Hi, you've reached Timothy McGee. I am unable to answer the phone right now so please leave your name and number and I'll get back to you as soon as I can."
Tears now freely rolling down her cheeks, she returned the guy's phone to him and placed her own back to her ear.
"Dad?" she spoke, her voice now filled with despair. "It went straight to voicemail. He never turns his phone off. Never. You don't think he's… he's…"
"Don't you start that, Sarah Rose McGee," he interrupted, his voice harsh. "Do you know any of his team's numbers?"
Sarah quickly tried to clear the fog that was building in her mind as she watched the flames burn and the chaos that had engulfed the Navy yard. She focused herself on the posed question and thought about her reply.
"Yes," she said finally, her heart beating faster. "Yes! I have Agent Gibbs' number. I'll try that and I'll drive down there to…"
"No," her father said quickly, causing Sarah to stop dead in her tracks. "Where are you now?"
"I'm at school," she answered, her face now growing hot as anger welled up inside of her. She was not far from the Navy yard; if she could just get down there, maybe she would learn something. "But dad, I should really be there. What if…"
"I said no," he responded, ending that idea. "I want you far away from any public facility and yes, that means the university. Do you have Timothy's apartment key?"
"Go there," he continued, his tone absolute. "Whoever bombed the building was after a large amount of causalities to make a statement so Timothy's apartment will be your safest bet right now. Go there and make your calls. Scan through the news channels and I will call you in an hour to debrief each other on what we know. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but I can't just sit there," she said, leaving out the part about it being Tim's apartment. As she continued to watch the newscast, she couldn't help but acknowledge the fact that Tim was probably in that building when it exploded and therefore he could very well be… gone.
"You can and you will, Sarah. I will call back in an hour."
And then he was gone. Sarah stood there, staring at her phone as though her father, or preferably Tim, would call at any second and tell her what to do. Give her a plan that she actually wanted to follow through with.
"Are you okay?"
Sarah frowned and looked up to see the guy with the phone she had borrowed looking at her.
"What?" she replied without thinking.
"Are you okay?" he repeated. "What you said about your brother and your dad… Did you get a hold of him?"
Sarah continued to stare, her eyes watering up once again and she was forced to relive the sad fact that she had no idea what state her brother was in.
"No," she answered before remembering what she needed to do. "I have to go. Thanks…"
"Wait. Let me help you," the guy said again, catching up with her. She looked at him incredulously; ready to bite his head off but she paused when she saw him rummaging through his gym bag. Eventually, he pulled out a badge. "See? I'm a cop and studying to be a federal agent. You're upset and I have a car. You don't need to be driving and I'm sure cabs aren't the best option right now so, please let me help you."
She stood there, frozen in the moment. She had so many thoughts and emotions coursing through her body that she ended up feeling almost numb. Part of her said that she needed to decline the guy's offer and leave but for whatever reason, she said okay.
As they made their way to his car, she managed to throw on the dress she had brought to the pool with her. When she sat down in his car, she was sure to keep one hand in her bag, wrapped around her jar of pepper spay and the other holding onto her phone, quickly searching through her contacts while giving directions at the same time. Finally, she found 'Agent Gibbs' and pressed the name to initiate the call.
Once again she felt her heart drop when the call went straight to the agent's voice mail. Clearly the guy realized that the call hadn't gone according to plan as he suddenly cleared his throat.
"No," she said simply, laying her head in her hand.
There was a slight pause before the guy began talking again.
"I'm Noah, by the way."
She looked up at him and realized that she had gotten in this dude's car without so much as knowing his name. She was sure her dad and Tim would have an absolute field day with this one if they found out.
"Sarah," she said finally. "I… thanks. I honestly can't believe I'm in a car with some guy I just…"
"Don't worry," he cut in, apparently noticing that she was struggling to form coherent sentences. "I swear I'm a cop. A good cop. And I don't usually offer this kind of help to random people but… I, well let's just say I understand what you're going through."
She looked at him, frowning and trying to hold back her anger. People always said they understood what others were going through but how could they? Especially now.
"I lost my mom in the World Trade Centers," he said quietly, no doubt picking up on her growing anger, which was immediate extinguished. "I spent days calling her number and, eventually, it was just to hear her voice. Of course it took me a long time to admit that. It's the reason I'm a cop. The reason I'm trying to work for the government. Maybe… maybe I can stop others from feeling the way we do."
Sarah sat there, speechless. Although a small voice in the back of her head still told her to be careful, she believed Noah completely. People could lie, people could even act but nobody could replicate such real emotion. Such vivid pain.
"I'm sorry," she said finally as fresh tears began to fall.
"It's okay," he replied before taking a deep breath, which seemingly served to return him to his previous demeanor. "And I don't mean to say that you will have the same outcome as me. I mean, when things like this happen, everyone and their mother will be trying to make calls and that could overload the cell towers. Your brother may be fine but has no idea your trying to reach him. May have no way to reach you."
Sarah took a deep breath. He was right. There was a good chance that Tim was just fine. And even if his and Agent's Gibbs' phones had been destroyed, it didn't mean their owners were dead.
"Is your brother with the Navy?"
"Turn left up here," Sarah said and when he complied, she answered, "No. Well, he's technically a civilian but he's an NCIS agent. Not military."
Noah's eyes seemed to light up a bit at this fact but he seemed to tuck that excitement away. Given the situation, Sarah appreciated his self-control as now was definitely not the time to ask questions about being a special agent.
"His place is there," she pointed out. Slowly the car parked in front of Tim's building but Sarah did not get out. They sat there for a moment in silence while she tried to get a handle on her thoughts.
"I… I don't know what you want me to do," Noah began quietly. "Whatever you need, I'll do it."
Sarah may have just met the guy but she already felt like hugging him. She knew that he was being a gentleman by not offering to join her in the apartment but he still wanted to help her any way he could. She had never really thought people like him still existed.
Sarah focused again and considered her options. She knew what her father had told her to do, knew that she should probably obey, but she just couldn't fight the way she felt.
"I… I don't want to go in," she said finally, tears making yet another appearance. "If… if he's dead…"
"We can sit right here," he interrupted. "I have nowhere else to be. And here," he continued as he turned around and pulled out an iPad. "I can stream the news on here. You don't have to go in."
She nodded and tried to get a hold of herself again. Moments later, however, her phone rang, sending her heart to her throat. She looked down at the phone, hoping to see her brother's face staring up at her but she instead saw her dad's. Not quite an hour had passed since she last spoke to him so a part of her was terrified it was bad news.
"Dad?" she answered. "Please tell me you have good news."
"No," he replied as her swollen eyes slowly closed, "But I do have news. The building was cleared for entry about thirty minutes ago. That means that most of the injured people should be in the hospitals by now. They will all be busy but it'll be better than going through Navy lines. Start with Bethesda and see if Timothy's in any of the ones nearby. It may not give you anything but it's a start."
Sarah nodded and could feel Noah's eyes on her, no doubt wondering what was being said. Her dad's call was not the best she could have asked for, but it certainly wasn't the worst either.
"I can't stay on the phone much longer but I will be calling when I can for updates so keep your phone on you and charged."
"Okay," she replied, both excited and terrified about calling the hospitals, "But if I find him, I'm going to go see him."
She heard her father sigh before saying, "I know. Just… be careful. I'll call you soon."
"Fine," she said before ending the call.
She knew her brevity was perhaps ill-timed but she also knew the only reason her dad and Tim were in a fight was because Tim had finally had enough belittling, scolding and coldness from their father solely due to his choice of profession. If that wasn't bad enough, Tim's career not only meant everything to him, it was also a very noble and clearly dangerous one.
So now, now that the shit had finally hit the fan and had gotten her dad's attention, he wanted to be a father. He had always been okay her but she had always had his support. Tim never had that.
"Could you look up the number to the Bethesda hospital?"
Without speaking, Noah immediately began tapping away at his tablet before finally calling out a number. The phone call consisted of what seemed like hours of back and forth between the hospital departments, but she didn't care. She was determined and she knew they had likely been slammed.
Finally the awful elevator music stopped playing and a slightly frazzled voice filled her ears.
"I do have a Special Agent Timothy McGee in the system," she informed. Tears sprang to her eyes as she let them close; this time they were tears of relief. She didn't know what condition he was in but he was at the hospital, which meant there was a possibility that he was alive and would remain as such. Still, her reaction must have been profound enough for Noah to see as he was already starting the car and heading to the hospital.
"He hasn't been here long but he was listed in critical condition upon arrival," the woman continued. "Given the circumstances, his condition may have changed but there hasn't been time to update it yet."
"Okay," Sarah said absent-mindedly. Critical condition. She didn't know much about the medical profession but she was pretty sure that was the worst description you could hear. Well, second worst. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Is there anything else?"
"No," she said before hanging up the phone. She turned to Noah who was looking between her and the road, clearly curious about the phone call.
"Critical condition," she said simply.
"Better than the alternative."
"Yeah, well the lady made it very clear that could have changed already," she replied curtly. She sighed deeply and shook her head. "Critical is bad. And he had to have been in that building. His office was right by that bomb."
Noah apparently didn't have anything to say and instead just kept driving. Sarah was thankful for the silence as emotions and theories swarmed her mind. She tried to take a deep breath and not focus on anything until she had more information, but all she could think about was the fact that Tim had been in that building for over two hours if he had only just gotten to the hospital. That was bad. On the other hand, if he was still alive after being in there for that long, he had a good chance, right?
Sarah pulled herself from her own mind long enough to notice her surroundings. The nearer they got to the Navy yard, and likewise to the hospital, the more chaotic everything was. Sarah could see dark smoke hanging in the sky over the Navy yard and only the swarm of helicopters suspended above the scene overshadowed it. There was also way more traffic than was usual.
"Do you want me to go in with you?" Noah asked when they finally pulled into the hospital parking lot.
She sat there for a moment, trying to consider the question and how she felt. On one hand, if the news was bad, she didn't want to be alone. On the other, if Tim was awake, she didn't want to explain the presence of this strange guy, as it would probably give her brother an aneurism.
"I can leave now or I can wait long enough for you to see your brother," he continued as though he could read her mind. "I don't know you well enough to know which you really prefer so… help me out here."
She smiled sadly and answered him the only way she knew how. "It's up to you. You've helped me enough. I'm a big girl and I can face whatever's in there but, if you want to come, you can."
With that, she grabbed her bag and got out of the car. A part of her wanted to run in those doors, the other part wanted to run away. So, she walked at a brisk pace and willed her heart to beat at a somewhat normal speed. Before she got even ten feet from the vehicle, she heard a car door shut and Noah came jogging to meet up with her.
He shrugged when she looked at him. "I have to know what happens to the girl with an NCIS brother and a Navy Admiral dad."
She smiled inwardly, the one flash of positivity she had in the past hour or so, and walked through the doors. She waited in the crowded room until she got to the desk and was told where her brother was being held.
The ICU. But at least he was alive.
"Timothy McGee," Sarah said as she came to the ICU desk, noting that this floor wasn't quite as busy as the emergency room. "He's an NCIS agent who was brought in recently."
The nurse nodded and toyed with her computer for a moment before answering. "Are you family?"
"His sister," she replied with a nod.
"Well, it looks like the doctor may be with him right now but I will let him know you're here, okay?"
Sarah looked at Noah who cleared his throat, "Do you know how long it may be? Or what condition he's in?"
He kind of glanced at Sarah with apologetic eyes, apparently afraid that she would be upset with his questions. On the contrary, she was finding it hard to piece together coherent thoughts let alone ask the right questions.
"I'm not sure how long. He's only been here for a half hour or so and he was just downgraded to serious condition," the nurse replied. "Dr. Romaine will be able to explain it to you better, though. If you'd like to have a seat right other there, someone will be out as soon as they can."
Sarah nodded, getting the hint that the nurse was done with the conversation. She wandered silently over to the chairs and sat down. A part of her had always known that this day would come and honestly, she wondered how it had taken so long. Between her dad being in the Navy and Tim being a federal agent on a major crimes team, she was surprised that she had never really been in this situation before. Of course, her dad was pretty well protected given his high status and Tim was a good, careful agent.
Still, when you skirt death on a weekly basis, you're bound to get in a few swipes at least. And, as she looked at the tragic scene of the Navy yard playing on the waiting room television, she knew death had definitely had a good day.
Sarah sighed and wished her mom were still alive. Even though she had died giving birth to Sarah, Sarah knew everything would have been so different with her around. She felt more tears warm her sore eyes but blinked them away. In an attempt to keep her mind occupied, she began making small talk with her companion.
They quickly discussed the next plan of action, which entailed Noah leaving if/when Sarah was allowed to see Tim. He was sure to put his number in her phone, however, so that she could reach him if she needed anything. She had smiled and put her number in his phone as well.
Then, over the course of a half hour, she learned that he was four years older than her, from Florida and had three sisters. He said that they had all moved up north about a year before the September 11th attacks because his mom had been offered a really good job in New York. He had seemed sad when he looked back on it, but he held his composure. She assumed twelve years of healing would do that.
"Family of Timothy McGee?"
Sarah leapt to her feet and met the woman. She was vaguely aware that Noah had stayed behind and she was okay with that.
"I'm his sister," she answered quickly, her arms wrapping tightly around her as an odd chill radiated through her body. "How is he?"
"You must be Sarah," the lady said as she looked down at the files in her hand. "I'm Amanda, your brother's nurse. Dr. Romaine has been tending to him as well but he was called away for an emergency with another patient so I'm going to be giving you the scoop, okay?"
Sarah nodded and briefly felt anger build inside of her. She knew they were all busy but if Tim still needed his doctor, then the other patients would just have to wait. However, as she looked at the calm face of the nurse, she got the feeling that Tim was in no immediate danger.
"Great," she said with a kind smile. "Firstly, he is in serious, but stable condition. Now don't be alarmed by that; we are only saying serious because he has the potential to worsen. But as long as we keep an eye on him, the doctor doesn't expect anything we can't handle quickly and efficiently."
Sarah listened intently and apparently wore a troubled expression because the nurse stopped and said, "That's a good thing, Sarah."
Sarah broke herself from the fixation she'd fallen into and focused on the sincerity and encouragement that was coming from Amanda the nurse.
"So he's okay?"
Amanda half shrugged and clarified, "He's healing. There could be some setbacks but the point I want you to take from this is that we are confident he will be okay. The next couple of days will be critical to his overall diagnosis."
Sarah frowned and shook her head. "I don't get it. There are a million tests you can run, right? Why don't you know what's wrong with him?"
"We do know what's wrong," Amanda explained as calm as ever. "He was caught in an explosion and was hit pretty hard by the blast wave. In addition to the laceration from the glass…"
Amanda smiled again and held her hands up, "Don't worry. The stitches seem to be doing the trick so surgery probably won't be necessary at this point."
"Probably?! Why don't you know?"
"In blast wave injuries, the internal organs can be damaged during the explosion itself or they can be weakened to the point that day-to-day activities can result in serious complications days after the explosion. Now, unless there is a very slow bleed happening that hasn't quite registered on our tests, your brother's body was apparently just weakened."
Sarah blinked and tried to keep up with it all. Her mind and heart were racing and she suddenly found herself wanting to run away.
"I know this is a lot to take in but please understand that he was very lucky," Amanda went on to say as though she was reading Sarah's mind. "A lot of people lost their lives today or were seriously maimed. Apart from the injuries I just mentioned, Timothy does have two broken ribs and a mild concussion, but as I said, he was very lucky."
Sarah wanted to scream. Being blown up didn't sound lucky. Lying in a burning building for hours didn't sound lucky. And worse, Tim's team could be dead and she knew how much he cared for them. Yes, he was alive and she was eternally grateful for that but lucky? That was perhaps too far.
"Why don't I take you back there?" Amanda continued quickly. "He was awake when I left. He has some cuts and he's using a nasal cannula to help him breathe, but I think seeing him will help you out."
Sarah's breathing hitched at the idea of seeing him. She was scared, to be honest. Tim was the caring one, the only one in the family who had the bedside manner of a champ. Sarah knew he had gotten that from their mom but that nurturing gene had skipped over her. Instead, she usually found herself feeling awkward around injured or sick people. Felt like she would break them.
Still with one last look at Noah who gave an excited thumbs-up, Sarah was led through a maze of hallways. She felt her heart beating heavily in her chest and reminisced on how much of a workout the vital organ had received over the past couple of hours.
When they finally reached their destination, Amanda knocked quietly on the door and said, "There's someone here to see you."
Amanda then stepped aside and motioned for Sarah to enter before walking away. After taking a shaky breath in, she pushed away all thoughts of what she may find in that room and stepped forward. Despite the numerous machines hooked up to him and the areas that showcased white, though slightly bloodied gauze, the very first thing she noticed where his eyes. In the past, it had sometimes annoyed her how calm those green eyes always seemed but now she hated herself for ever feeling that way. They were open, as calm as ever and looking right at her.
"Sarah?" he asked softly, blinking a few times as though she would disappear. "What are you doing here?"
Sarah blinked back tears and scoffed, "What do you think? I turn on the news and see NCIS in flames… Can't blame a sister for worrying."
He sighed and relaxed into his pillows. "You didn't take a cab, did you? I'm sure everything is a little chaotic out there…"
"Are you really worrying about me right now?" she interrupted as she stepped further into the room. "Because from where I stand, me taking a cab is the least of our worries."
"There's nothing to worry about, Sarah," he replied steadily, though his voice didn't sound very strong. She assumed it was probably due to smoke inhalation, fatigue or both. "I'm fine."
"Yeah, you look it."
She frowned at herself and wondered why she seemed to have an attitude with him. She wasn't upset with him but every time she opened her mouth, it sounded like she was reprimanding him.
"Come here," he said after a moment of silence. When she was finally standing beside his bed, he pointed to his head. "My head hurts pretty bad and I had a piece of glass in my stomach but all it needed was a few stitches. Other than that, I'm sore and my asthma is giving me problems. But… that's it. Really."
Sarah sighed and looked away. "Yeah, but the doctors said…"
"I know what they said but it's all based on what could happen and besides, they have to say that for liability reasons."
"That makes no sense, Tim," she countered. "They said something about blast wave injuries and… You were blown up."
She ran her hands through her messy hair as she walked away from his bed. This was all too much. She now pictured him flying through the air with a huge shard of glass sticking out of him. Alone and bleeding in a broken building.
"You're being dramatic."
"Dramatic? Yeah, because I should be totally okay with my brother being caught in a bomb, taken to the hospital several hours later – which I still don't get, by the way – and then have his doctor say that he's not out of the woods," she rounded, utterly exasperated. But when she looked at him, she was greeted with a grin. He knew she hated being called dramatic which is exactly why he had said it.
"Look, I know today has been rough," he said softly after a few seconds passed. "And yes, I was near a bomb when it exploded but… all I got from it was a small scar and maybe some leverage."
He grinned again and answered, "Yeah. Like, the next time you ask to borrow the Porsche and I say no, I can bring this up and you won't get pissed."
"So, I won't be able to borrow your car because you got blown up one time?" she repeated incredulously, though inside she was laughing.
"See?" he said defiantly. "It's already in the past."
She chuckled then and felt some of the weight lift off of her. Anytime something bad happened, his first reaction was to try to make her laugh and it usually worked. Even now, as he was lying in the hospital bed, he still managed to make her laugh. And she thought visitors were supposed to make the patients feel better.
"Wait," he said with a frown, "What are you wearing?"
She looked down to see the sundress and bathing and sighed when she realized why he was asking. He had always been weird about her wearing anything more revealing that a turtleneck and sweatpants.
"A bathing suit, Tim," she replied, feeling more and more normal by the second. "You know, something females wear when they go out in the sun. It's officially summer break so I was laying out by the pool when dad ca…"
She trailed off when she comprehended what she had just said. She watched as her brother's eyes widened.
"What?" he asked quietly and, when she didn't reply right away, he continued. "Dad called?"
Sarah sighed and resigned, "Yes, Tim. He knew about it before I did and has been making calls ever since. It was his idea to check the hospitals."
They sat in heavy silence while Tim took in the information. Honestly, Sarah didn't know what else to say. In addition to the increase in his heart monitor, Sarah knew this was already a sore subject for him and she didn't want to push anything.
"Look, I know you and dad have problems and I totally get it," she finally said quickly. "But you know dad. He doesn't really show love but you know he cares about you."
He held up his hand as though he wanted her to stop talking and all of the sudden, he truly looked like a man who had just been blown up. His skin seemed more gaunt, his movements more pained and his face showcased fatigue. It was as though he had been putting on a façade for her that was immediately cracked wide open at the mention of their father.
"I'm sorry, Tim. I shouldn't have said anything…"
He shook his head and took a deep, though shaky breath. "No… our screwed up relationship shouldn't affect you."
She wanted to scream of course it affects me but resisted, knowing that now was not the time for that conversation.
"If he calls back, tell him I'm fine."
"Okay," she said slowly, "But you didn't hear him, Tim. I really think this time…"
"Sarah," he interrupted, though his tone was more pleading than harsh. "Trust me. Once he hears I'm alive, he will be satisfied and that's okay with me. He's an important man with important things to do so… just tell him I'm fine, okay?"
Sarah bit her lip and forced herself to keep her mouth shut.
"Okay," she replied finally. They sat in silence for a little while until her brother eventually fell asleep. She sighed deeply as she watched his chest rise and fall, the repetitive movement providing her with comfort. They had really dodged a bullet today.
She closed her eyes and laid her head in her hands as she felt pure exhaustion wash over her. She was completely drained from worrying, from crying, from searching…
Before she had a chance to compose herself, however, she felt her phone vibrate which sent her shooting up out of her seat. She looked at her brother quickly to see if the movement had woken him but was pleased to see his eyes still closed peacefully. She then turned to her phone and immediately walked just outside the room when she saw her dad's face.
"Dad?" she said quickly, a smile spreading across her face. "I found him. He's in the hospital but… he's okay. Basically, anyway."
There was a pause on the other end, followed by, "Okay, good. That's good. Well, thank you for your help, Sarah, and I will call you in a few days."
Sarah felt her stomach coil into knots as various emotions flooded her veins. "Wait, don't you want to know… more?"
"You said he was fine, right?"
"Yeah, but he's in the hospital and they want him to stay for a while," she replied, anger growing in her tone as it became more and more clear that Tim had been right about her father's reaction. "Broken ribs, stab wound and something about blast wave injuries…"
"Sarah, please," he interrupted. "The bomb didn't only affect Timothy. There is a lot of work I need to do and I've already wasted too much time with these phone calls. I will talk to you when I have a chance."
And then he was gone. She felt tears of anger spill from her eyes as she stared at the phone. How could he? Honestly, how could he? She really thought he cared for a moment and then she actually heard him say it was all a waste of time. She was tired of making excuses for him, tired of telling the same old clichés.
She felt her chest heaving and tried to decide what to do next. She needed to calm down before she went back to Tim. With her dad now out of the picture again and Penny on a cruise without reception, it was just her and her brother.
She took a steadying breath and looked up at Tim through the glass. She felt her breath get caught in her chest when she realized he was staring right back at her with a sad smile. She sighed and closed her eyes before reentering the room.
"I guess you know who that was?"
"Hate to say I told you so," he answered with a grin. "It's okay, Sarah. Really."
Sarah huffed and ran her hands through her hair. "No, it isn't. He should care. I don't know why he treats you so badly. I mean, he calls me at least once a week and it's always to check in. I just don't get it."
"You're his favorite," he said simply, his expression still light. Her initial reaction was to tell him he was wrong but she couldn't bring herself to do it.
"Yeah? Well you're Penny's favorite," she replied, continuing the light-hearted banter as she sat back down. Once again, his instinct to steer clear of these negative conversations and emotions had clearly kicked in and while she was far from over her dad's actions, she didn't mind sharing some happier moments with her brother. Besides, she didn't want to upset him further.
As sad as it was, he had evidently come to terms with the way their father was even if she hadn't.
"Oh stop. I'm not her favorite."
"Please!" she laughed, "Don't think I didn't know about her taking you to Paris while I was at summer camp!"
His eyes grew wide and his mouth dropped, "Really? I didn't know you knew. Well, who could blame her? Dad paid for your month-long horse camp while I was supposed to stay with Crazy Bertha for the summer even though he knew her fifteen cats would be the death of me."
She laughed out loud and could almost feel more anxiety and negativity leaving her body. They both shared this moment and Sarah found herself feeling all the more thankful that she was here with him. Every now and then reality would strike her and the 'what if's' would bombard her mind, but for the most part, she was beginning to believe that everything would be okay.
Still, there was one thing that had been bothering her. Something she wasn't sure if she should ask.
"Tim, can I ask you something?" she began quietly after the laughter had worn off.
He raised his eyebrows the way he always did, indicating that she could ask. She took a deep breath.
"Your team," she said simply, watching his face closely for any signs that she should stop. "Are they okay?"
He smiled, which made her feel a little better, and answered, "Yes. Well, they're all alive, anyway. I remember seeing Gibbs in the squad room and I could hear Tony and Ziva yelling in the elevator, neither was seriously injured. And I saw Abby outside when I was put in the ambulance. They were all standing, so that must be a good thing."
Sarah smiled but found herself wondering where they were. She knew they had become more of Tim's family than most of his actual blood relatives over the past ten years, so where were they?
"They're trying to catch the person who did this," he continued, though the statement didn't appease her. It excused their absence but the face that the man who did it was still out there frightened her. But she nodded and looked away.
She could feel the reality of the day beginning to catch up with her again so she quickly grabbed the remote and turned on the television, only to be greeted with more images of the dilapidated NCIS building.
She instantly froze and felt her chest lock up. Suddenly, all of the emotions she had been trying to hide throughout the day, all of the scenarios that could have happened now playing through her mind like horror movies and the beeping of Tim's heart monitor gave way and took over her every fiber.
For a moment, her sobbing drowned out all other sounds and she just let herself cry. Crying wasn't an often occurrence for her normally so the fact that she had spent the majority of the day doing just that probably wasn't helping the situation. And then the fact that she was crying in front of Tim upset her even more.
When she finally started to register her surroundings again, she realized that there were arms now surrounding her and she was currently leaning against her brother's chest. She took a shaky breath and raised her head enough to see that he had sat up in his bed and enveloped her in a hug.
Memories of her childhood begin to play through her mind like old movies. Tim had basically raised her the majority of the time; he was the one who sat with her after bad dreams, the one who comforted her after her first little boyfriend broke her heart. There was nothing quite like a hug from him and even though every molecule wanted to remain this way, she knew she couldn't.
She gently pulled away from him and looked into his worried eyes.
"What are you doing?!" she choked out. "Lay back down!"
But he didn't move. He continued to sit there, his face slightly scrunched in pain, but his eyes did not waver in the least. "Are you okay?"
She chuckled sadly and wiped her eyes. "Yes! Now please lay down before they kick me out."
He didn't move right away, just continued to watch her but once she gave him one of her do as I say looks, he slowly began to lie back down. She stood up and supported his back until he was amongst the pillows once again.
She then sat back down and composed herself enough to realize that I Dream of Jeannie had replaced the news. She smiled and used a tissue to wipe her nose.
"You sure you're okay?" she heard him ask hesitantly and realized that he was still observing her closely. "I know this is all pretty difficult."
"Ya think?" she joked before shaking her head. "It's just… I was young when 9/11 happened but I still remember being so scared and sad. Today… today I finally understood what thousands of people felt like that day."
She then thought back to Noah and shook her head. She didn't even want to think about the possibilities of having a similar outcome that he did.
"I've never been so scared, Tim," she said quietly, her eyes on the ground. "Even when I thought I had killed someone. It doesn't even come close to this."
He was silent for a moment but she soon felt a warm hand cover her own.
"I remember that day, too," he began quietly, "I remember you asking me how someone could do something like that and why it had happened."
She looked up at him now and noticed his eyes were slightly watery. Tim never cried but this was close enough.
"I'm going to tell you the same thing now that I told you then," he continued and Sarah immediately tried to recall what he had said those many years ago.
"Sometimes, bad things happen; Things that we don't really understand. It's okay to be scared and it's okay to be sad, but you can't let that sadness and that fear become a part of you and keep you from living."
Sarah bit her lip as he spoke and let his words engulf her. She suddenly remembered him telling her this like it was yesterday.
"Today hit very close to home for us and yeah, I was scared," he admitted, which made Sarah shift uncomfortably in her seat. "One of the very first things I thought about when that bomb went off was that I was going to leave you alone. And when I woke up, I thought of you and my team… I was scared. And that's okay."
Sarah felt tears roll down her cheeks as she listened. She had never really seen this side of her brother before and even though he was admitting to being scared, this was the strongest she had ever seen him.
"It's okay because a month from now, when the dust settles and the NCIS building is as good as new, I will be back at work, attempting to solve crimes. You will go back to school and continue to learn and grow… We will move on, Sarah. But we will appreciate life and the people we care about that much more."
She smiled sadly as he finished and let her head fall as she wiped away fresh tears. He was right, as usual.
"Now, how about some I Dream of Jeannie?"
She laughed and nodded. "I would love that."
They watched the show and Sarah was gleefully swept away by its frivolity. They had only made it to the second episode when Tim fell asleep but Sarah had no intentions of leaving. After a while, Amanda brought her a blanket, a pillow and a pair of scrubs so Sarah had quietly moved over to the small sofa by the window and prepared to sleep herself.
Even though her body was rather exhausted, her mind was still too awake to give into sleep just yet. Instead, she continued watching the Jeannie marathon until she felt her phone vibrate.
She looked down and smiled when she saw that it was from "Noah the Good Cop."
She opened the message and read, "I'm sorry… I just couldn't resist. How is your brother? How are you?"
She sighed a sigh of relief and looked at her sleeping brother before turning back to her phone.
Fine, she typed truthfully. We are both fine.
She then thought for a minute and added, I told him about you. I think he'd like to meet you one day and answer questions if you have any.
She pressed send and decided she would tell Tim about this in the morning, knowing that he wouldn't mind helping Noah out as long as he didn't know how Sarah had met him. With one last glimpse at the sleeping form on the bed beside her, she turned off the television, said an extra long prayer, and promptly fell asleep.
End note: So yeah, that was it. The story really took on a mind of its own, especially with the Noah character. I had never intended on including anything like that but suddenly, he appeared and refused to go away. Also, the bits with the Admiral were changed slightly once I saw the promo for next week's episodes, Squall. I try to keep things as cannon as possible and the way I originally wrote the Admiral wouldn't synch up too well with Squall so... I changed it up a bit.
Anyway, I really do hope some people enjoyed this and either way, if you read it at all, I appreciate your time. Thanks and have a good one!