The internment had ended hours ago. Everyone had left the cemetery. Tim waved Penny and Sarah off, insisting they head back to the house without him. He'd catch a cab when he was ready. They conceded and left him.
A plastic marker was shoved into the dirt where the Admiral's grave stone would soon be. Tim sat against a neighboring grave stone, and stared at his father's grave.
"The fighting was stupid, Dad," Tim said softly, staring at the grave marker. "Being with you at the hospital, it was too little, too late." A tear slipped down his cheek. "I wish I could tell you I'm sorry… that we had time to make things right…"
He drew his knees to his chest, like he had often done when he was a child, when he was upset about something. Tears were forming in his eyes as he stared at the grave marker.
"I'm sorry, Dad… I should have been there more often. I'm such a stubborn bastard… I couldn't even be there for you."
Tim buried his head in his knees and let the tears fall. He'd been holding it together for Penny and Sarah, but he couldn't keep his composure any longer. He was alone now, and he could let it out. He cried until exhaustion took over, and he fell asleep.
Tim stirred when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He slowly lifted his head, wincing at the sudden return to daylight. Tony's face came into focus seconds later.
"Tony? What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you. Your grandmother called Gibbs screaming about an hour ago, when you didn't come home."
"How long have you been looking for me?"
"Just a couple of hours. Have you been here all day?"
"Yeah. Penny's going to kill me."
Tony sat down next to him.
"How are you?"
Tim scrubbed a hand over his unshaven face and looked down at his knees.
"I'm sorry for your loss, Tim."
Tony didn't say anything else for a few minutes. They just sat in silence. A memory suddenly reared itself in his mind-one he thought he'd forgotten.
"I ran away after my Mom died. Did I ever tell you that?"
"No, you didn't."
"It was the night after we buried her. I missed her. I ran to the cemetery and sat with her. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the longer I was alone, the more I realized that she wasn't really there."
"You were eight."
"Doesn't mean it was any easier for me."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"You remind me of me. It took my Dad three hours to find me. I was alone and scared. You don't have to be alone, Tim. "
Tim remained silent, his eyes still on the grave marker with his father's name on it.
"There's something else on your mind, isn't there?"
"I found out a year ago that he was dying… and I didn't make any time to go and see him. Not once. That stupid feud of ours… he took it to his grave. "
Tony could feel the guilt radiating from his friend. It would a long time for Tim to stop feeling this way, but for now, he could be there for him.
"Come on," Tony said, clapping Tim on the shoulder. "Let's get a drink."
"I don't feel up for getting a drink right now, Tony."
"You'd rather sit by yourself in a graveyard all day?"
"It's better than sitting in a noisy bar," Tim retorted.
"We'll go to my place then. I've got better booze anyway," Tony said, grinning.
Tim hesitated for a minute, and finally turned to Tony.
Tony smiled and got to his feet. He helped Tim up, and they walked toward Tony's car.
When the arrived at Tony's apartment, Tim fell exhaustedly onto the couch. Tony retreated to his study to pour them both a drink. When he came back, Tim was asleep on the couch. Tony took the drinks into the kitchen, and sat at the table. He pulled out his phone and called Gibbs.
"I found him."
"At the cemetary."
"Right where you said he'd be."
"Did you take him back to Penny's?"
"No. I invited him over for a drink, and he passed out as soon as he hit the couch."
"Okay. Let him sleep. I'll call his Grandmother and tell her where he is."
"Will do, Boss."
"Keep an eye on him, Tony."
"You know I will."
Tony hung up with Gibbs and went to retrieve his computer. He settled in at the kitchen table and queued up Netflix, while Tim slept in the living room.
Tim stirred and sat up. How long had he been asleep? He checked his watch.
"Three hours?! I have to call Penny…" Tim started to search for his cell phone.
"Your grandmother knows you're here, Probie."
Tim looked up to find Tony standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.
"You called my grandmother?"
"I'm sure she loved that," Tim remarked, smirking.
Tony moved into the living room.
"Not as much as Gibbs, I'm sure."
Tony saw a bit of a smile on his friend's face, but it disappeared just as quickly as he sank back to the couch. He decided right then that the best medicine would be to get Tim out of D.C., away from everything for a while. He joined his friend on the couch.
"What do you say you and me take a trip, get away for a while?"
"A trip? Now isn't really the time for a trip, Tony."
"It's the perfect time! We both have tons of leave saved up… it'll be fun!"
"I'm not sure I'm up for fun."
"You need a break, Tim, and I don't mean gluing yourself to your desk at work. You need a real break. We don't even have to go far… we can drive down to Virginia Beach for a week or two, get some sun. What do you say?"
Tim sat back and gave it some thought. After everything he'd been through in the past few weeks, a vacation did sound good. In fact, it sounded much better than hiding in the office.
"Okay, Tony. Let's do it."
"All right, Probalicious!" Tony said excitedly, clapping Tim on the back. "I'll call Gibbs, and then we can go to your place so you can pack a bag."
"Sounds like a plan."
Tony went into the kitchen to call Gibbs, and Tim sat back on the couch. It would take a long time to get over the Admiral's death. The trip wouldn't solve all of his problems, but it would be a welcome distraction.
"Gibbs approved our leave. He said we can sign the paperwork when we get back. He also threatened me with the mother of all head slaps if we turn our cell phones off."
"That sounds like him," Tim said with a chuckle. "What are you waiting for, Tony? Pack your bag!"
Tony practically galloped into his bedroom to pack a bag. Tim laughed and shook his head. Something told him this trip was going to be interesting.