Epilogue

Four Weeks Later -

Gibbs paused in his sanding as he heard the familiar purr of a German made engine pull into his driveway. He'd expected this, had hoped Tim would come to him. He had reminded him of his open door as they left the service earlier that day. He knew that Tim had insisted on riding along when Tony had driven Tim's mother and her husband to the airport after the service today. Now he waited for the man he thought of as his younger surrogate son to get himself from car to house. After several minutes, he headed upstairs and stood at the front door. When Tim spotted him, he finally moved from his car. As his boss suspected, his eyes were red and swollen, and the young man looked like he'd been through hell. This was true, really, considering the whirlwind of events over the last several weeks.

Penny, facing the loss of her only child, obviously felt every one of her years as John battled his last fight. Sarah, too young to be losing her father, barely functioned. It fell to Tim to handle not only the death of the father with whom he'd just reconciled but also those last wishes they had talked about at the cottage. Gibbs and Ducky saw what was happening and arranged a rotation so that Tim always had someone to support him, whether it be sitting in the Admiral's room, making sure each of them left the hospital for some fresh air every day, bringing the family food or accompanying them to the cafeteria, even just being available by phone.

Gibbs had worried about Ziva participating in this with her own father's recent death, but she had insisted and Ducky thought it might be good for her, to allow her some way to express some of her own grief. Tony was right there with his friend; as often as he could be he was there with Tim. He stopped by in the mornings on a rather circuitous way to work, bringing Tim coffee and his favorite donuts with sprinkles. Vance had offered to help in any way he could, however he soon realized his own grief was too fresh to allow visits to the hospital, his young children needed him and the Director quickly found other ways to help. He handled the electronic searches on a few cases that required someone of Tim's expertise rather than Cybercrimes, checked in with Tim frequently throughout any given week, looked the other way when members of his top team came in late, left early or disappeared for an hour or so during the day and took the MCRT off rotation the last few days of John McGee's life. Ducky assured him that Tim would have been horrified to take any of the Director's little free time away from his children and that his help was greatly appreciated as given.

Ducky took some time off to support Penny; their special friendship still warm enough that she allowed him to help her. He and Jimmy also translated medical terminology for the McGees, keeping up with the doctors and medical staff on John's deteriorating condition. Breena pitched in with meals, supportive phone calls, running errands, whatever she could find to do. Abby, having lost her own father at too young an age did her best to reach out to Sarah, with some degree of success. Tim was relieved to have someone who could relate so readily to Sarah and Sarah was relieved to have someone who understood from a daughter's perspective.

Ziva, however, was Tim's constant; she was with him before and after work and frequently curled up with him to sleep on the lone sofa in the Admiral's hospital room. Gibbs noticed the change in their relationship; however, he decided to leave the issue alone for now. Who knew what would happen when John McGee passed away, they all had enough stress now as it was, he had no desire to make it any worse. The Team Leader also made it a point to spend time with Tim nearly every day, whatever time he finally made it to the hospital.

That first week, by the time Gibbs delivered Penny and Sarah from their long trek home, Tim had located the good coffee, much to his boss's relief. For years now, it had been a source of amusement to Gibbs that whatever differences there might be between the two of them, they shared a love for the rich dark nectar the others thought of as a close relative to tar. Unlike most areas of the hospital, the oncology department allowed family to stay, there were no set visiting hours as long as no one upset the patients or the medical routines. That helped the McGees' support team considerably as they could come and go depending on their workload.

The Admiral's death came quickly, although they had known for a few days that time had run out. By then Tim had made the necessary arrangements for both the services his father had requested. First there was a small service for the family, including the extended NCIS family, at the cottage where John had so recently reconnected with his son, leaving it nearly too late. There John McGee was laid to rest, in a freshly dug grave in the old cemetery, next to his grandparents.

A few days later a larger, public memorial service was held at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. That one had been expected by his Naval peers, including Secretary of the Navy Jarvis. While Jarvis had not visited, he had spoken with John a few times during his weeks in the hospital; Penny had asked him to speak at her son's final service. Speak he did, of the years he had known John McGee, of his dedication to his country and the service he was so proud of and lastly of the change in the Admiral recently, when he re-connected with his son. Jarvis told of his last conversation with John, how he had asked the Secretary to mention the pride John had in both his children and how humbled he felt that they had succeeded without much help from him.

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That public service had been held this morning and now Gibbs figured Tim could finally get some rest and let go. As he rested his hand on Tim's shoulder, he looked in the car and fished out Tim's go bag.
"You stay here tonight, Tim. Need to get some rest."
Tim just nodded, barely holding on through his physical and emotional exhaustion. He let his boss guide him up the stairs, into the house.
"You eaten anything since this morning?"

Tim shook his head, "Not hungry, Boss."

"You need to eat, son. I'll fix you some eggs and toast, something light."

Tim gave him a tired smile, "Thanks Boss, glad I could come here. Didn't think I could stand being alone tonight, wasn't sure I'd be decent company for…anyone. Know you don't care if I don't want to talk."

Gibbs put his go bag on the floor by the couch; then headed off to the kitchen.

"Want fried or scrambled eggs, Tim?"
"Scrambled, Boss, please, I'm like Tony, can't stand the yolks looking like eyeballs."

Stifling a laugh at his two boys, Gibbs quickly made toast and scrambled eggs for his youngest. While he was cooking, he thought of the irony of the team's two youngest members losing both their errant fathers within a few months of each other. While his father, the oldest of them all, kept chugging along quite happily. No dangerous or high stress job for him and he was going to outlive the lot of them. Gibbs made a mental note to ask Jack down soon for a visit; it would do both Tim and Ziva a world of good and maybe his dad would find out what was going on with those two. Abby and Tony would like it too, the two of them always found plenty to yak about with Jack.

Putting both plates, his mug of coffee and a glass of juice for Tim onto a tray, he carried it into the living room to find Tim sagging back into the couch, not quite asleep. When he didn't respond to his boss's presence, Gibbs gently set the tray on the coffee table and called out, "McGee, report!"

That got an immediate response and Tim sat up, eyes wide open. Gibbs smirked at him as he joined him on the couch and handed over his plate. Gibbs cleared his own plate and returned to the kitchen, in need of more coffee. When he returned, he found Tim's plate sliding to the floor, the young man slumped back on the couch, finally asleep. Gibbs caught the plate, putting it back on the tray and then carefully swung the young man's legs up onto the couch, tucked a pillow under his head, removed his shoes and noticed a blanket looking thing peeking out from Tim's go bag. Taking it gently out of the bag, he saw it was an old-fashioned quilt and noticed initials and a date embroidered on the back.

Sitting on the coffee table, he watched to make sure Tim had not wakened, softly rubbing his thumb in circles over his forehead. He thought about what John McGee had asked of him, he remembered telling him he would have done it anyway, but would be more than happy to reinforce the progress John had made in his own redemption.

Leaning forward, he whispered in Tim's ear, "You've been the best son anyone could ask for… your dad told me that and I'll tell you again when you're awake, as many times as you need to hear it. For now, let yourself sleep. So proud of you, son, you did good."

Reaching over, he covered Tim with the quilt. Tim, unconsciously feeling the warmth, smiled in his sleep as he dreamt of himself as a small boy playing at the edge of the water, watched over by his father from under the umbrella.

Final Phoof

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I hope you've all enjoyed this visit with Tim and our NCIS family. Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who reviewed, followed and favorited! You've made my debut as a posted writer a wonderful experience.