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Written for Ancients Zines - Gear Up - A NCIS Gen Zine. Many thanks to Annie for the beta and encouragement in what was a new fandom for me and to Judy for taking a chance.



Choices

“You belong to me now.”

Those words, from someone armed with a steely glare that could drop a man at forty paces, should have struck fear into Tim McGee’s heart. Instead they warmed him. It felt like coming home. Home hadn’t been a welcome place for a very long time. It was somewhere he avoided being. Until now.

His father hadn’t been nearly as happy with the news as Tim had hoped he would. Good ol’ Dad didn’t see working for NCIS as a field agent as a step up the ladder of success. Tim could sense the familiar disappointment that seemed to ooze from the phone.

“Gibbs, isn’t it? He the man in charge?”

“Yes, sir,” Tim replied. “He’s the best. He was a decorated vet too,” he added.

His father snorted. “I thought you were finally going to do something successful with your career, Timothy. Why not stay at Norfolk? You have a far better chance of promotion there. I could talk to Admiral—“

“No!” Damn! His right eyelid was twitching again. It had been at least a year since that had happened. His therapist had guaranteed the biofeedback program was faultless. Pressing a finger against the offending upper eyelid, Tim held back an aggrieved sigh. Why had he even bothered to call? He’d known his father would only find fault with his choice once more. “Dad, I’ve been working toward becoming a field agent for NCIS from the beginning. It’s where I want to be. I can make a difference in people’s lives. Catch the bad guys—“

“It’s not a TV show, Timothy!” his father cut in curtly. “Still, it’s your life, your career. You’re not going to change your mind, I can tell. Not that you’ve ever taken my advice.”

“If I’d never taken your advice, I wouldn’t be working for the Navy,” Tim reminded him softly.

“Being a field agent for NCIS is not the naval career I had in mind for you,” his father said huffily. “Damn it, Timothy, you’re intelligent, clever… You could have had the world at your feet in a few years.”

“This is what I want,” Tim replied firmly. “I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you again, Dad. I’m sorry I can’t be the man you want me to be. I’m not you… I’m sorry…”

~o0o~

“McGee? You with me? Come on, Probie, no sleeping on the job.” A not quite gentle slap to Tim's cheek accompanied the words and his eyes snapped open. Blurred, vaguely familiar features swam into view. Tim frowned. He knew that face… didn’t he?

“McGee?”

“Tony?”

Tony smiled. “Of course. Who else is going to save your sorry ass yet again? You want to stay awake though, McSleepy? We’ve still got a ways to walk.”

“Walk?” Tim struggled to sit up, finally managing to do so with Tony’s help. “Walk where?”

Tony sighed in a way that reminded Tim of his father. “You got kidnapped by that crazy son of a bitch, Marantes.”

Tim’s thoughts were finally becoming a little clearer. “If I got kidnapped, how come you’re here too? Wherever here is.”

Tony shrugged. “Well, I couldn’t let the Probie go on his own, could I?”

“He kidnapped you too.”

“And you should be damn grateful he did,” Tony added. “Or else you’d still be stuck in that decidedly smelly cellar out in the middle of nowhere waiting for Marantes to blow your head off for daring to try and arrest him.”

Tim looked around, blinking a few times to clear the final fog from his vision. His head thudded painfully with the movement and he put a hand to his forehead, surprised to feel wetness. Glancing down at his hand, he saw blood on his fingers. “He shot me?”

“No, he whacked you on the head with his gun when you tried to handcuff him.”

“Oh.” Tim nodded slowly. “I think I remember that.” Everything still seemed pretty hazy though and he gazed around again at their surroundings. Trees, lots of trees, bright blue sky, sun shining – Tim squinted against the glare – so it was daytime. “Looks like we’re still in the middle of nowhere.”

“At least we’re not in a smelly cellar, thanks to me,” Tony replied. He stood and held a hand out to Tim. “Time to move, McLazy. There’s a road over that way. Let’s see if we can flag down a ride into the nearest town.”

Tim accepted the proffered help and staggered to his feet with a groan. His stomach rebelled and nausea surged. He leaned over, breathing slowly and deeply. It seemed like he’d already failed his duty in Tony’s estimation. No way was he going to add to his humiliation by throwing up.

“You up to this?” Tony rested a surprisingly gentle hand on Tim’s shoulder. “I mean, you could wait here and I’ll send the cavalry to get you.”

Tim shook his head then wished sincerely that he hadn’t as the earth and sky appeared to swap places briefly. “I’m good to go,” he said through clenched teeth. “Lead the way.”

Tony wrapped an arm around Tim’s shoulders. “How about we do this together? Don’t pass out,” he warned, “I am not carrying you, McTubby.”

They’d made it to the road at last. Tim was actually beginning to feel a little better now they were moving, though staggering might actually have been a more apt description. He stared ahead. There was nothing in sight. Not a single car in the distance. “Where are we exactly?” he muttered. “I mean we’re still in Washington, right?”

“Far as I know,” Tony grunted back. “I mean, we were in the back of a van with no windows and we were driving for a while but not long enough to be taken over state lines.”

“So why’s there no traffic?” Tim asked. “There’s nothing. We could be walking for days and not see anyone.”

“Settle down, McGee. Someone will come along. Gibbs will be out looking for us by now and when he can’t reach us on our cells—“

“They can use the GPS trackers to find us!” Tim interjected, pulling to a stop. “So if we wait here, I bet they’ll be along in no time.”

“GPS only works with the phone turned on, right?”

“Yeah…” Tim didn’t like where this was going. He patted his pocket. “Where’s my phone?”

Tony smiled wearily and wiped the sweat from his face with his hand. “Same place as mine, crushed by Marantes size 14 boot and tossed into the garbage.”

“Of course it is.” Tim’s nausea was making a reappearance and he had no time to do anything but bend over and retch. By the time he was done, he felt cold and shaky and was barely aware of Tony lowering him to the ground. He pulled up his legs and rested his aching head on his knees.

Tony patted him on the back. “How about we take a break for a while?”

“Works for me,” Tim agreed tiredly. Silence reigned for several minutes then Tim spoke again. “Why’d you become an NCIS agent, Tony?”

“Gets me lots of pretty girls,” Tony quipped.

“Seriously.”

“You know I don’t do serious, McGeek, that’s Gibbs’ department.” Tony paused a moment then went on. “I worked on a case with Gibbs. We just fit together like we’d been partners all along. I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing on the force. Corruption, gangs, drugs. Seemed like there was nothing we could do to stem the tide. I needed a change but I still wanted to be a cop. Gibbs offered me a place on his team and I took it. You? I mean, let’s face it, McGeek, you’re a… nerd!”

Tim knew he should be offended by that but frankly he was too tired and his head hurt too damn much for him to care. All he wanted was some Tylenol, a hot shower, and his bed. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by a familiar and welcome voice.

“You two finished bonding or would you like to be alone some more?”

“Boss!” Both men spoke at once and Tim winced as the voices reverberated painfully in his skull.
Tony jumped to his feet then reached out and helped Tim up. Gibbs studied Tim critically.

“How’d you manage to get kidnapped by the dumbest murderer in NCIS history?”

Tim touched the gash on his forehead. “He pistol-whipped me, Boss.” He knew it sounded like he was whining. Gibbs merely glared at him. “That was a rhetorical question, wasn’t it?” Tim asked.
In answer, Gibbs turned his attention to Tony and raised an eyebrow.

Tony shrugged and gave a weak grin. “Had to tag along, Boss. I mean, he’s the Probie. Who’s gonna do my paperwork if he’s not around?”

Tim gathered enough energy to dig Tony in the ribs but he had to admit it felt good to be joking around and he’d never been so glad to see Gibbs before. “Where’s Ziva?” he asked.

“Searching further up the road.” Gibbs pulled out his cell and punched a button. “Found ‘em,” he said. “Come on back.”

~o0o~

Later that night, feet up on his coffee table, freshly showered, headache subsiding after taking a couple of pain pills and having his head wound cleaned and bandaged by Ducky, Tim thought back on his conversation with his father. He supposed he would make better money and have better career opportunities if he stayed at Norfolk. He was good at his job, he knew that, one of the best. But there were far more important things that being a field agent with NCIS offered that Norfolk hadn’t. People who cared about you as much as you cared about them.

Family.

The End

October 2013

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