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Characters this chapter: Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Timothy McGee, Tony DiNozzo,
Relationships this chapter: None
Chapter Warnings: References to Bad McGee and Bad Abby
Word Count: 2,681/112298
Chapter Summary: Gibbs has an unexpected visitor who is looking for guidance. Does Gibbs have the interest or the patience to give it anymore? Then a few years later, he gets another visitor. This time it’s Tony, and he’s reconsidering his thoughts on a former team mate. Should he stick to his guns, or give absolution?
Chapter notes: I hope you enjoy this. Another angsty one, but not too bad I think. Only two sections in this chapter, but I think they’re meaty enough that a third isn’t needed.
I have gone back and forth with the second section for months, and in the end felt that this is what needed to be told. I know it won’t make some happy. You’re not going to get all of the information you are hoping for. Just keep in mind, this story isn’t about Gibbs.
Chapter Seventeen: Time’s Already Run Out & Don’t Look Backwards
~~* April 2012 **~ * ~~* Time’s Already Run Out *~~
Gibbs was sitting in his basement when he heard the front door close, and someone crossing the wood flooring upstairs. It took him a bit to place the steps, because they hadn’t been to see him in almost two years. Once he did realize who it was though, he took his hand off the gun he’d pulled out and tucked it back into its hiding place. By the time the man was making his way down the basement steps, there was no indication he’d almost gotten himself shot.
When his visitor stopped next to him, Gibbs looked up making sure his face was blank. He didn’t want his true feelings revealed just yet. He wasn’t sure why this man was there, but if it was for absolution it sure as fuck wasn’t going to be given freely.
“Boss,” the man offered in greeting, and Gibbs nodded back not stopping the sanding he was doing on the gun box that he was making for Brian.
“McGee,” Gibbs finally offered back. He wished he could better see the expression on the man’s face. His peripheral vision wasn’t what it used to be though.
“I’ve been doing some thinking, boss,” McGee offered softly, and Gibbs could hear the anxiety in his voice. “I really fucked up. Didn’t I?”
“Yup,” Gibbs replied forcing himself to keep the steady rhythm on the wood.
“Ziva was a traitor,” McGee observed, and Gibbs could see him shifting his weight back and forth every so often. He was obviously not comfortable. Well too fucking bad because Gibbs wasn’t about to go out of his way to change that.
“Yup,” was all that he offered. Pausing his sanding to check the wood, he decided that it was smooth enough, and moved onto another small square he was using in the design.
“Abby was at the very least out of touch with reality, but possibly a little crazy,” McGee continued uncertainly. “She wasn’t… she was kind of a brat. Wasn’t she?”
“Yup,” Gibbs offered again wanting to shove the wood he was sanding through the little bastard’s throat, but instead he just kept sanding. He shoved down his own personal thoughts on Abby. He’d made peace with himself on that subject and had no intention of sharing his thoughts.
“I let Tony down, Boss,” Tim sighed looking down at the floor.
“Yup.” This one Gibbs really wanted to say more about, but there was a large part of himself that didn’t think Tim deserved his wisdom. Therefore he wasn’t about to offer it unless asked.
“I don’t,” Tim started, but stopped for a long moment before continuing, “I don’t know what to do now.”
This time Gibbs couldn’t keep quiet. He was a little incredulous, and was pretty sure McGee was either being obtuse, or lying all together. “Don’t know, or don’t wanna admit what you need to do, McGee? ‘Cause it seems to me you knew what the hell you wanted to do when you had Ziva backing you up.”
When McGee didn’t respond, Gibbs looked up to see the younger man staring at him somewhat shocked. It was that expression that broke his resolve.
“What? You think I didn’t fucking notice, McGee? You think that I didn’t hear all the crap that came out of your mouth aimed at Tony? You think I didn’t hear how quickly you puffed up your own overinflated ego with your piddly little degrees, and put Tony down because you thought his PE degree was worthless. Do you know what you can do with that, McGee? Huh? Did you ever think to check before you just put him down and crossed his accomplishments off as worthless?
“Chiropractor, Teaching, Athletic Trainer, Sports Management, Physical Therapist, Coaching, Sports Medicine… Those not good enough for you McGee? Those degrees not important enough for you McGee? You used yours to be a cyber-nerd. You’d still fucking be a cyber-nerd if Tony hadn’t convinced me to not knock your teeth in, and let him take charge of your training.”
Aggravated, Gibbs slammed his hand down on the workbench taking pleasure in making McGee jump. “On top of that McGee, Tony had six years of law enforcement experience before he joined the team including undercover work and detective work. What exactly did you have to offer that I couldn’t get Abby to do, or shit for that matter Tony to do?”
When McGee snorted, Gibbs shot out of his seat, and had Tim pinned to the beam next to the workbench before the younger man knew what was happening. “Reality check, McGee, who the fuck do you think did all the damned computer searches before you joined the team? It wasn’t all Abby. She didn’t have time.”
Disgusted, Gibbs let go of Tim, and sat back down at the bench. “Since education seems to be all that you care about, just exactly what have you done to better yourself since you got your degrees at MIT? ‘Cause I know what the hell Tony’s done, and I have to say his current major in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology to go with the PE degree are pretty damned impressive for not just NCIS, but his new position. And, speaking of that… what are you doing again, McGee?”
The younger man hadn’t moved from where Gibbs had slammed him, and was currently studying the floor as if life’s answers would pop out of it. “Working in the IT department for a small company who manufactures vacuums.”
Gibbs snorted not bothering to hide his amusement. “Tony is currently the liaison working with the premiere Behavioral Analysis Unit out of Quantico. He’s lead on any case that involves any military personnel. My guess is when he finally gets tired of NCIS all together he’ll end up working with them full time. I would be willing to bet that someday he’ll have his own team of profilers. He’s in a committed relationship. He’s got a penthouse apartment with an amazing view. He has the job of his dreams.”
Gibbs stood again and moved to stand in front of McGee. “You have no relationship. You live with your parents. You fix computers for a fucking vacuum manufacturer. You fucked up. You got a big head, and let yourself be manipulated by a spy into an act that cost you your job. Hell! You didn’t even try very hard to protest! You wanna fix what you broke McGee? Shove your fucking hand down your pants, find your fucking balls, and USE THEM! You broke it. You fix it.”
Shaking his head Gibbs paced away, and came back. “My guess is your family still hasn’t a clue what you did. You wanna fix this? Don’t just be a man, McGee. Be a GOOD man. Be the man Tony believed you were when he went to bat for you with me. Be the man Tony thought you were when you shot that cop. Be the man he always believed would be his SFA when he took over for me when I retire. You wanna fix this? STOP TALKIN’ ABOUT IT, AND DO IT!”
Finally done, Gibbs moved back to the workbench and took back up his sanding. “Until then, McGee, you and I got nothing to talk about. I respect you, Tim. I eventually believed in you, but Tony believed in you first. I believed in Tony first. Stop wastin’ time, and fix it. You never know when your time will run out.”
He thought he was gonna have to order the younger man to leave, when he finally spoke. “I understand, boss. For what it’s worth… I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I let everyone down. I’m… You’re right. I’m gonna go talk to mom and dad then… I’ll make it up to Tony, boss. I don’t know how, but someday I’ll do it.”
Gibbs had no idea that would be the last time anyone at NCIS would ever see Timothy McGee alive again. Later he’d wonder if he would have done things different if he’d know. Later he’d regret that things had ended between them still unsettled. At that moment though he still had hope that eventually Tim would work things out. Unfortunately, he’d never have the time, because it had already run out.
~~* March 2014 *~~ * ~~* Don’t Look Backwards *~~
Tony walked into Gibbs’ house carrying some takeout Chinese, and a four pack of this Orange Cream soda that Spencer had gotten him hooked on. Normally he’d bring beer for one of his talks with his big brother, but he didn’t want alcohol to cloud the discussion he needed to have. He also wanted to be able to sleep with his boys wrapped around him that evening.
“Gibbs! Food!” Tony shouted as he set the bag on the kitchen counter, and began digging out plates and silverware. He was just getting sniffing the ice in the tray he’d taken out of the freezer when Gibbs came into the room. “How old is this ice?” Tony asked, hearing the snort of amusement from his brother.
“New enough it won’t taste funny. What do we need ice for?” He heard Gibbs ask. Nodding, satisfied with the man’s answer, Tony put ice in the two glasses he’d set on the counter, and handed one to Gibbs. “Spencer has me hooked on this orange cream soda. I thought you might be interested.”
Gibbs looked at him a moment, then shrugged figuring it wouldn’t kill him to try it. Following Tony to the table, he set down at the empty place setting, and plated the little box of sticky rice and the box of sweet and sour pork that he knew would be his. Opening the bottle he filled his glass and took a sip. “Not bad, DiNozzo. So, what’s up? Chinese food means you’re stressed. I thought things were better with JJ gone. Has that new woman… Callahan started givin’ you problems?”
Tony shook his head looking down at his plate of Orange Chicken with fried rice. “I… I feel like I need to try again with Abby.”
He finally admitted softly refusing to look up from his food. Giving himself an excuse not to speak immediately again, Tony shoveled a couple forkfuls of food into his mouth. Eventually though the silence from the other side of the table got to be too much, and he had to look up. When he did so, he found Gibbs studying him.
“I’m guessing that this has something to do with McGee and Ziva’s deaths?” Gibbs asked in confirmation, and Tony shrugged playing with the food on his plate.
“She’s getting out soon. Like… six months or something. I could help her get a job somewhere? Maybe let her stay in the guest room? She’ll need…”
“No!” Gibbs said softly, but firmly making Tony look up from his plate once more.
“Their deaths are not your fault. I am not letting you fuck up your life trying to rescue Abby over something that wasn’t your fault. Especially when it’s just adding to the reason she ended up like that. We never…” Gibbs stopped and took a deep breath rolling his head on his neck.
“Boss?” Tony asked biting on his lower lip, but now it was Gibbs who was studying his plate.
“I’m not going to cloud your judgment on Abby with my thoughts on the subject. I didn’t go into it with Tim, and I’m not going to do so with you either.”
“You… you spoke to Probie before he died?” Tony asked quietly shocked.
Gibbs nodded, and ate a bite of his food before answering. “I did. Had I known that it was the last time I’d talk to him, I’d have maybe worded some things differently, but I did. We talked about you actually. He was beginning to pull his head out of his ass about what he did to cause his situation at the time. My guess is he came knowing I wasn’t gonna pat him on the head and tell him it was all gonna be ok, and I didn’t. He had things he needed to make up for. I can tell you that he wanted to, but he just… he ran out of time. That conversation though does not mean that you should fucking have a dumbass attack and try and fix Abby.”
“Are you sure, boss? I just…” Tony stopped and began moving things around on his plate.
“Eat that, DiNozzo, don’t play with it. As far as Abby goes, I am sure. The issues between you and Tim weren’t yours to fix. They were his. The issues between you and Ziva weren’t yours to fix. In my opinion they weren’t even fixable and shouldn’t have been. The things between you and Abby aren’t yours to fix, and shouldn’t be. Honestly, I’m not sure if they could be fixed or not. I do believe though that they shouldn’t be.”
“I don’t understand,” Tony admitted stirring his food once more before shoveling a big fork full into his mouth.
“If one of you tries to fix the clusterfuck that your friendship ended in, it won’t be the right one makin’ the amends in the end. You’ll give in because you’re a damned good man, and more tenderhearted than you let on. You feel bad about Abby because you’re scared shitless something will happen to her. Even though you don’t want to be her friend, you also don’t want to go through the pain of Ziva and Tim again. I can understand that. You and I both know though that if you give her an inch she’s gonna take a hundred miles.”
Gibbs took a deep breath, and drank more of the soda before speaking again. “Abby has resources. Tim had resources. Ziva had resources, even if they weren’t the ones she wanted. Abby has her parents. She has her brothers, and the nuns who last I heard from Sister Margaret visit her every week. Forget for a moment the recording she altered. Forget the fact that she took Tim and Ziva’s side. Let’s think about what happened to get her arrested, and her bail revoked.”
Tony nodded shortly and took a deep breath. “She was stalking me.”
“Yes, she was. She had your phone tagged. Your new FBI issued phone. She had your new unpublished address. She had photos of you on her walls. She had emails from your work email address. She had Spencer’s cellphone tagged. She had his emails. She had his address. What do you think she’s gonna do if you give her an inch on this?”
“If she died, boss…”
“Ain’t gonna happen, Tony,” Gibbs promised feeling his throat start tightening as he held in the emotion wanting to let itself loose. “I can’t promise you, but my gut says it ain’t happening. Tim and Ziva they were… unrelated. Tim’s was a break in gone wrong. Ziva was killed by her own people. Even if it does happen, it will not be your fault. Unless you go nuts and kill her yourself, it won’t be your fault.”
Tony sighed and nodded feeling a little bit of relief at the words. His guts had been tied in a knot ever since Ziva died. He didn’t want to let Abby back into his life, but… he was more than a little afraid that he should. Like maybe others were expecting him to. Like maybe if he didn’t and she got hurt or killed people would blame him. It felt good having Gibbs shoulder some of the weight for once.
That night when he got home, Spencer and Brian were sitting in front of the couch watching one of the Star Trek movies. When they scooted apart to let him climb in between them, Tony stripped down to his jeans and did just that. With their bodies snuggled up next to him, he quickly fell asleep finding peace in those he loved, and who loved him in return.