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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:21 am
Posts: 1071
Location: Wales
Name: Erica
Aliases: Conuiren, Cerci Dweeb
Gender: Female
Do not go gentle into that good night
Characters - The Team, Sarah McGee, Penelope Langston
Genre - Drama/Family
Warning - Character Death
Rating FR13

*Possible slight spoilers for Season 9*

Summary A serious road accident brings tragedy for one of the MRCT, how will they cope and how will the team react?

This story was written for the Family Crisis Challenge and is my first attempt at an NCIS fiction. The title comes from the poem of the same name by Dylan Thomas, one of the few poems that has made an impression on me. The story is actually finished, so I'll be posting chapters when I get the chance both here and on the storyboard.

As it will be a multi-chapter fic - if anyone wants to comment I've set up a discussion thread.

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Chapter 1

Special Agent Tony DiNozzo stood at the window of the squadroom and gazed at the wintery scene outside. They weather guy had warned about this on the news this morning, and now the snow outside was falling steadily, with no likely let up for the next few hours. Below, the military staff on base were outside trying to keep the roads and walkways relatively clear of snow, while he knew that the snowplows would be out in force on the highways, but he didn’t relish the thought of driving home, or a call out if this weather carried on.

The elevator dinged to reveal a cold Ziva David as she returned from her lunch break with coffees for them all. To her, snow was a rarity that still held some charm to someone who had grown up in a desert land. She enjoyed being outside as it was falling, although the days of ice that often followed could be distinctly annoying, even to her.

“It will not stop simply because you stare at it Tony.” She said as she held out the tray of coffees for him to take one.

“Thanks Ziva.” Tony replied, taking the coffee. “I just hate driving in this stuff.”

“That is why I took the Metro this morning.” Ziva replied.

“You don’t live near the Metro.” Tony observed.

“It is not that far to walk Tony.” She chided as she walked into the bullpen, over to where Timothy McGee was tapping away at his keyboard, apparently oblivious to the weather outside. “Coffee McGee?” she asked.

“Huh?” he mumbled, looking up from his screen. “Oh, sorry. That’s very kind of you Ziva, thanks.” He then noticed her damp coat and hat. “Is it still snowing?”

“Very hard.” Ziva replied.

“Will the buses run in this do you think?” he asked. “If it doesn’t stop I might leave my car here.”

“I do not know, but the Metro will.”

“You don’t live near the Metro.”

Ziva laughed and walked away, while Tim looked up at Tony, bemused.

“She walked all the way to the station.” Tony replied. “Like to see her try it when this stuff turns to ice.”

Tim grimaced, since he lived nearer to the station than Ziva did, but never contemplated walking there even in good weather. If he didn’t drive, he usually took the bus.

“The personnel on base are doing a good job of keeping the roads clear; I do not foresee any problems getting home later.”

“I do if there’s a call out.” Tony observed, sitting down at his desk with his coffee.

Ziva took off her coat and hat before sitting down at her desk. Picking up her bag, she turned to place it on the unit behind her when her eyes were caught by a report on the television screen behind her.

Tony looked up at her hushed voice as she muttered something in Hebrew. Following her gaze, he looked over at the screen to see a pile of mangled car wreckage in the snow on a highway. The report scrolling across the bottom of the screen showed that this was a recent accident, and so he wonder over to the screen himself. He nearly swore himself when he read the report.

There had been a fifteen car pileup on the Anacostia Freeway, so far reports of casualties were sketchy, but there were five confirmed fatalities. The live feed was frightening viewing with the smashed vehicles now little more than a mangled heap of smoking wreckage. Tony hoped that the dead had lost their lives quickly, rather than roasting alive in the conflagration.

“This is dreadful.” Ziva said, softly. “So close to Christmas too.”

“Damned weather.” Tony agreed. “I guess I’ll be leaving my car here today.” He returned to his desk to call up a metro map to work out his route home.

At that moment, Leroy Jethro Gibbs walked into the bullpen to find Ziva still watching the screen.

“Got no work David?” he asked as he passed.

Ziva jumped a little, but covered it reasonably well.

“I have work Gibbs.” She confirmed hurrying back to her desk.

By this time, Gibbs had noticed the images on the screen, like Ziva before him; he stopped to view the carnage with a mixture of shock and sadness.

“How long ago did this happen?” he asked.

“I do not know Gibbs.” Ziva replied, looking up from her desk. “I only just noticed the story myself.”

“It happened about two hours ago according to the online reports.” Tony said. “I guess the fire crews didn’t want the news guys filming the immediate aftermath.”

“Yeah, journalists do nothing other than get in the way.” Gibbs replied bitterly, before going to his desk.

Tim read over the story for himself, deciding not to watch the news stories. He hated viewing car accidents after his own wreck so many years ago. Although he had no memory of that day, the police had tried to make him recall details by bombarding him with pictures of the car wreck. He had never forgotten those images, which still came back to him whenever he had to view the results of accidents. He closed the stories down, shuddering at the recollection.

They thought nothing more of the accident as work took their attention, until it was nearly time to leave for the evening. Gibbs could see that it was still snowing heavily, and so decided to send them home early. Already the non-essential staff had left, and a call to Vance gained him permission.

“Get going.” He said. “Be careful getting home.”

“Okay Boss.” Tony grinned, glad for the early release.

“I’ll be leaving my car here over night Boss.” Tim said. “I’ll report it to security on the way out.”

“Good, now get outta here.”

At that moment the elevator dinged and the doors opened to reveal to uniformed Police officers. Seeing the three agents walking towards them, they stepped forward.

“We’re looking for Special Agent Timothy McGee?” One said, nervously.

“That’s me.” Tim replied. “Is there a problem?”

“Can we speak to you in private please Agent McGee?”

“Excuse us.” Ziva smiled. “We will see you in the morning McGee.” She then dragged Tony towards the elevator.

“Something’s wrong.” Tony said as they descended. “I’m going back.”

“I am sure that it is nothing.” Ziva scolded. “You are just being nosy again.”

“Two cops don’t just show up for ‘nothing’ Ziva.” Tony insisted.

“Then wait in the lobby, if McGee wishes to tell us anything we can speak to him when he comes down.” Reluctantly, Tony agreed.

Gibbs saw the two policemen with Tim and hurried over.

“Is there a problem?” he asked, his voice firm.

“It’s probably nothing Boss.” Tim replied.

Gibbs looked at the two visitors, seeing from their faces that this wasn’t the case. He looked around at the nearly empty squadroom, before gesturing to them to follow him up to the conference room. Tim felt a little embarrassed that his boss had all but taken charge of the situation, but the two officers were more than willing to fall in with Gibbs and followed without question.

Once inside, the two officers sat down, with Tim opposite them. Gibbs stood back, but made no attempt to leave the room, even when the officers looked up at him. One look told them that he was well aware of their reason for being there, and so they decided not to ask him to go.

Only when he noticed that Gibbs was staying did Tim begin to wonder exactly why the officers had come to see him. Being used to dealing with the police on a professional level, he had assumed that they had come to see him about a case, but now he was beginning to worry.

“I’m afraid we have some difficult news to tell you.” The older officer began. “Concerning Mrs Penelope Langston.”

Tim was pale by nature, but everyone noticed what little colour there was drain out of his face as his eyes widened in fear.

“What?” he asked, his voice almost inaudible.

“She was involved in a major accident this morning on the Anacostia freeway…”

“The pile up?” Tim gasped, panic invading his eyes. “Is she okay?”

“She has been seriously injured Agent McGee.” The officer replied, gently.

“Where is she? I need to go to her…” Tim was already standing, hardly realising what he was doing as the horror that his beloved grandmother was hurt.

“McGee.” Gibbs said, firmly. “Sit down.”

Almost in a trance, Tim obeyed the order, allowing the police officer to continue.

“Her injuries were extensive, and she was in surgery when we last checked in while on our way to find you. With the weather as it is, I would advise that you do not attempt to drive to the hospital, we have a four-wheel drive vehicle, so we will take you there.” With that, the officer stood up, followed closely by Tim.

Gibbs could see that his young agent was shaking, trying to take in the awful news and listen to the officers at the same time. He was in no fit state to really understand anything that was being said to him, and could easily miss information that he was being given. There was no way that Tim should go to the hospital alone. He decided to abandon any thought of going home and turned to the officers.

“I’ll come too.” He said, softly. “I’ll get my coat on the way.”

“That might be a good idea.” The officer nodded. “We haven’t been able to contact any other family members so far.”

“I believe that his parents are currently posted abroad, his father may even be at sea.” Gibbs replied. “We can have them traced from here if necessary.”

“It may well be necessary, the doctors may need to speak to the next of kin.” The officer’s voice was little more than a whisper so that only Gibbs could hear it. It was obvious to Gibbs now that the situation was well beyond serious. No doubt the full truth of the situation would be left in the hands of the doctors that Tim would need to speak to when they arrived.

They left the conference room to find Vance just leaving MTAC.

“Ah Gibbs.” He said. “Need you right now, conference with SECNAV about the current security position.” Only then did he see the two officers with Tim. “Is there a problem gentlemen?” He asked.

Gibbs stepped close and spoke very softly.

“McGee’s grandmother has been critically injured in a road accident. They haven’t said outright, but it’s likely that she won’t make it.” He said.

Vance nodded, and then glanced back at the door into MTAC. While he sympathised completely with his two agents, he knew that Jarvis wouldn’t care a hang about this when he had the security of the Navy to think about. He could not release Gibbs, and the man knew that right away. With a sigh he nodded, and turned back to the officers, his attention only on Tim.

“I have to stay here Tim.” He said. “I’ll call Ducky and see if he’ll go with you.”

“There’s no need.” Tim mumbled, hardly aware of what Gibbs had actually said to him.

At that moment, Gibbs felt his phone vibrate, and was annoyed to see that Tony was calling. What could his senior agent want now!

“Gibbs.” He snapped as he connected.

“Sorry Boss, just wondering if McGee is okay.”

For a moment, Gibbs was quiet, wondering whether to let Tony know what had happened. He could sometimes treat Tim with little more than casual rudeness, but even Gibbs had to admit that, when the chips were down, no one stood up for Tim more than Tony did. He nodded to himself.

“No, he’s not.” He replied. “His grandmother was in that pile up, the cops are going to take him to the hospital, but I can’t go with him as Vance needs me in MTAC.”

“I’ll go.” Tony replied, without hesitation. Gibbs could tell by the tone of his voice that Tony was utterly serious.

“Where are you?”

“In the lobby, we haven’t left yet.”

“Okay, tell Ziva to go home, I’ll need her here tomorrow if you two are still there.”

“You got it Boss,” Tony replied as he disconnected.

Gibbs turned back to Tim, who simply looked dazed, wishing that he could go as he had originally planned, but glad that at least someone was going to be with him.

“McGee.” He said, his voice now firm and commanding. “I don’t want to see you here tomorrow, you got that? Family first, I’ll sort any time off with the Director.”

“No need.” Vance said from behind him. “Get going Agent McGee, I will approve any leave taken when you return. Keep in touch with Agent Gibbs, our best wishes to you and your family.”

“T..Thank you Director, Boss.” Tim mumbled, before following the officers down to the bullpen and then to the elevator.

“You really think that Ms Langston is that badly injured?” Vance asked, once they were gone.

“The cops said she was in surgery when they arrived, but they want to speak to the next of kin urgently. They’ll want them there to be ready to make some very tough decisions.”

“Do we know where the Admiral is right now?”

“Cops couldn’t get hold of him, so may be overseas.”

“I’ll get him traced the minute we finish this meeting.” Vance promised, before leading Gibbs into MTAC.

Tim could only watch them, numbly, before he led the two police officers out of the building.

___________________________
Words in this post: 2421
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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


Last edited by Ceridwen on Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:13 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:21 am
Posts: 1071
Location: Wales
Name: Erica
Aliases: Conuiren, Cerci Dweeb
Gender: Female
A/N - My experience of medical matters goes no further than episodes of Casualty and ER, so I apologise for any factual errors :blush:

Chapter 2

“What happened?” Ziva asked as Tony ended the call.

“Those cops…they came to tell McGee that his grandmother was in that pile up.”

“You mean Penelope Langston?” she gasped, horrified.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. “Gibbs was going to go with Tim to the hospital, but Vance needed him for a meeting with SECNAV, he asked me to go instead.”

“What about me?”

“He wants you to go home…”

“No way! I am coming to the hospital as well!”

“Gibbs said no. He wants you here tomorrow. I think I’m still gonna be at the hospital.”

“Is it that bad?”

“Must be.”

“Very well, I will go home, but I want to know any news right away.”

At that moment the elevator dinged and Tim came out, flanked by the two police officers. He saw Tony, who immediately walked towards him, followed closely by Ziva.

“You okay Tim?” Tony asked.

“No…Tony…I…I’m really worried.” Tim garbled, his eyes wide with fear. There was no question now that he had grasped how serious the situation was, having come to the same conclusion as Gibbs over the need to contact Tim’s father.

“She’ll be fine.” Tony assured him. “Come on, let’s go and see her eh?”

Ziva stepped up to Tim.

“I wish that I could go with you too.” She said. “I will pray for you both tonight.” She kissed Tim’s cheek and stepped back to allow the men to leave, half wishing that she could just ignore Gibbs’s directive and go with them.

The wind was biting and the snow was still falling heavily as they left. The officers had not been kidding about the heavy duty vehicle they had come in. Despite the weather, Tony was confident that they would get to the hospital safely, although he feared that it would take them far longer than Tim would want.

He looked over at his friend and tried to think of something to say. Although no one had really said it outright, everyone seemed to be pretty certain that the outcome of this would not be good. Tony had only seen glimpses of just how close Tim was to his grandmother, but it was clear to him that her loss would be a devastating blow to the younger man. Tim, by contrast, had no desire to speak, or listen to anyone else, preferring to be alone with his thoughts until he could get hold of more concrete facts.

As Tony had feared, the journey was tortuously slow, not so much because of the weather, although that was bad enough, but more because of the abandoned cars that seemed to litter the roads ahead of them. The snowplows were doing their best to keep the roads clear, but with vehicles left at odd angles in the middle of the streets made their jobs almost impossible, and forced the travellers to make several detours on their way.

In the end, it took more than an hour to reach the hospital, by which time Tony was becoming frantic, worried that they might not get Tim there in time to be with his grandmother if she didn’t make it. Tim, on the other hand, was utterly calm, hardly noticing the length of time that had passed for their journey. All that he could think of was the possibility that they might not be able to reach his father, leaving him in charge of everything. If things were as serious as he thought, he wasn’t sure he had the strength to deal with this.

Part of him wanted to speak up, but he was so used to keeping his own counsel that he hardly knew what to say. Behind him, Tony was sitting there, quite willing to listen, but he could not quite bring himself to trust his senior co-worker. He knew that he could trust Tony in most things, but his deepest fears and emotions were usually not shared with anyone. The rational part of his mind knew that Tony would do his best to help, after all, who had been the only one to offer him support after he shot Benedict? Against that, though, he could not forget the times that Tony had teased him about his phobias. It was irrational, but where emotions were concerned, Tim had never been the most rational of people.

They pulled up outside the doors of the emergency room, where Tony got out and went round the car to open the door for Tim. Now that they were there, it was as if he was afraid to leave the car, perhaps thinking that, if he stayed where he was this would not be real.

“Come on Tim, we need to go in.” Tony prompted, as the officer that had not driven joined him.

Reluctantly, Tim got out of the car, and followed the others into the hospital while the driver went to park. The ER was quiet at the moment, although there were obvious signs that this was the calm after the storm. Most of the victims of the pile up had been brought here, and the staff were still dealing with the last of the walking wounded, mainly keeping them there while they waited for relatives to transport them home.

The police officer escorted Tim to the reception desk, but Tim found that he could not utter a single word as the clerk looked up at him expectantly.

“This is the grandson of Penelope Langston, she was in surgery when we were despatched to contact relatives.”

“Are you next of kin?” the woman asked Tim.

“N..no.” Tim managed to stammer out. “My father is…but he’s abroad at the moment I think…”

“Do you know where he can be contacted?”

“No…he’s…he may be at sea right now. I…I can’t remember.” Tim looked too freaked out to warrant any further prodding, and Tony found himself stepping in.

“Admiral McGee may be at deployed at sea.” He said, calmly. “We are taking steps to have him traced, but it isn’t likely we will get him here for at least 24 hrs.”

“And you are?” the clerk asked, unhelpfully.

“Special Agent Tony DiNozzo.” Tony replied, testily. “NCIS.”

“Erm…NC what?”

“NCIS, Naval Criminal Investigative Service.” He reeled out, with rapidly receding patience.

“Can I see my grandmother?” Tim suddenly asked.

The clerk tapped at her computer, and then shook her head.

“She’s still in surgery.” She advised. “You will need to go up to the OR waiting rooms.”

“Where are they?” Tim mumbled.

“I’ll take them up.” The officer cut in.

“Relatives only!”

“I’m his cousin.” Tony snapped. “By marriage.” He added, hastily.

The clerk clearly didn’t believe him, but shrugged and decided to let the OR staff deal with this.

The police officer led them to the elevators.

“Sorry about that.” He said, with a shrug. “It’s been a long day.”

***


The meeting in MTAC took longer than either Gibbs or Vance anticipated, but neither had forgotten the need to track down Admiral McGee when it finally came to an end.

It didn’t take long for the Director to get the details of the Admiral’s location, but the news was not good. The Admiral’s ship was taking part in top secret war games exercises out in the pacific, and not even Vance could persuade the commanders to contact the ship. Several phone calls later finally tracked down the location of Tim’s mother, but she was currently at Pearl Harbor, where the Admiral was presently based. Vance tried calling personally, but there was no reply, and no answerphone to leave a message.

Gibbs went through Tim’s personnel file to see if he could find a cellphone number for her, or a number to contact Tim’s younger sister, but there was nothing for either woman. They had to admit defeat for the time being.

The weather was now starting to relent, and so Vance decided to chance going home for the night, after a call to his wife confirmed that a snowplow had been down their street, and she and the kids had cleared the driveway during the afternoon.

“I’m gonna stay here and keep trying to contact Tim’s mom.” Gibbs declared as Vance collected his belongings.

“If word comes through that we can patch through to the Admiral’s ship while I’m gone, I’ll leave it in your hands to get the news to him.”

“Okay Leon.”

The director left and Gibbs pulled out his phone, deciding to chance a call to Tony for an update. The phone went to voicemail, so he left a message asking Tony to keep him informed about any news from the hospital. He then went out for coffee, before settling in MTAC to keep trying to contact Tim’s parents.

***


The staff in the OR were far more accommodating than the ER clerk had been, accepting Tony’s presence without the need to pretend that he was a relative. They were shown to the waiting room by a sympathetic nurse, who promised to fetch a doctor who could give them a progress report. While they waited, the police officer fetched them coffee, although Tim drank none of his.

Ten minutes later, a man in scrubs came into the room, and walked straight over to them.

“Timothy McGee?” he asked, as Tim stood up.

“Y…yeah.” Tim replied, his voice betraying his nerves.

“I’m Dr Marshall, I am part of the team working on your grandmother.”

“Is she okay?”

“I wish I could give you good news.” The Doctor sighed, gesturing towards the chairs. “Can we sit down?”

“Is she dead?” Tim blurted out, fearfully.

“Ms Langston was brought in this afternoon with extensive injuries. We were, initially, able to stabilise her, and moved her to the ICU while we attempted to contact her next of kin. Unfortunately, about two hours ago, her condition began to deteriorate and we were forced to take her back to the OR, where my colleagues are attempting to repair internal damage that caused a slow bleed that was not evident in the initial surgery.”

“Two hours?” Tim almost squeaked.

“At present, the time spent in surgery is not excessive for this type of injury, however, the damage that we have found is more extensive than we originally hoped. We intend to do everything in our power to repair the damage, but we may need to ask consent for certain surgical procedures.”

“I can do that.” Tim confirmed, without hesitation.

“We may also need to make some difficult decisions, which is the main reason why we need to be in contact with the next of kin.”

There was no need to question what those ‘difficult decisions’ might be, and Tim began to tremble at the prospect of being the one forced to make them.

“We are not at that stage yet Agent McGee.” Dr Marshall assured him. “We are still hopeful that we can contain the bleed and repair the damage, however I do not want to leave you in the dark about any aspect of the current situation.”

“O..Okay.” Tim mumbled, a little meekly.

“If you could continue to wait here, we will give you any further news as soon as we have it.”

“Thank you.” Tim nodded shaking the doctor’s hand before the man walked away again. “This isn’t good.” He murmured as he sat down.

“They’re still hopeful McGee.” Tony insisted. “Don’t give up just yet, I’m gonna call Gibbs and see if they’ve contacted your folks yet.”

“I need to call Sarah...” Tim said, absently reaching for his phone.

“Give me her number, I’ll call her.” Tony replied. “Better still, I’ll get the cops to go pick her up. Don’t want her trying to get here on her own in this weather.”

Without further comment, Tim held out his phone showing Sarah’s number, and Tony noted it down before going to speak to the police officer before he left. Both were still at the hospital attempting to trace further numbers to track down other family members.

“I’ve got a number for Ms Langston’s granddaughter.” He said as he approached. “Do you want me to try and call her?”

“Yes, please.” One officer nodded. “But tell her to stay where she is and we will go and get her.”

“That’s what I was going to suggest as well.” Tony replied, gratefully.

He dialled the number and waited for an answer, only to go straight through to voicemail. With a soft curse, he waited for the tone to leave a message.

“Sarah, this is Special Agent Tony DiNozzo of NCIS. Please call this number the moment you get this message. Your brother is fine, but I need to speak to you as soon as possible.” He disconnected.

“No response?” The officer asked.

“Nope.” Tony sighed. “I’ll go and see if McGee can tell me where she might be.”

Tim looked up at him hopefully when he returned.

“Left a message on her phone.” He shrugged. “If she’s not at home can you think of where she might be?”

Tim thought for a good while, trying to recall where his sister’s friends lived. She had stayed in DC after graduating in the hopes of launching a writing career but, so far, she had had little luck. Her life at the moment was a succession of low paid jobs and frequent apartment moves. He wasn’t entirely sure where she was working right now, since they had begun to lose touch after she left college.

“I…I think she was working at one of the bars on M street…” he mumbled. “I don’t know which of her friends she might be with if she isn’t home or at work.”

Tony nodded, deciding not to comment on the apparent drifting apart between the siblings. He recalled how close they had been, to the point that Tim was willing to abandon his career for her. It was sad if that closeness was fading away. He reached out and squeezed Tim’s shoulder, before turning and going back to the police officers.

As he reached them, his phone rang, and he pulled it out to see that the caller ID showed Sarah’s number. With a sigh of relief he connected the call.

“DiNozzo.” He began.

“This is Sarah McGee.” Came the reply “How did you get this number?”

“Your brother asked me to call you.” Tony replied, bristling at the hostile tone of her voice.

“Oh my God! Is there something wrong? Why didn’t he call me?” her voice lost the petulant tone at once, replaced with panic.

“He’s okay Sarah, but I need you to stay calm and listen to me.” Tony placated her. “Your grandmother has been involved in an accident. She’s in a pretty bad way and your brother is here waiting for news. We haven’t been able to call your parents yet, but I guess your brother needs you to be here with him.”

“I’ll come right away...”

“No Sarah, where are you, there are two police officers who will come and get you.”

Sarah hastily reeled off the address she was at, a friend’s house not far from her own apartment. Tony passed the information to the police officers, who left right away.

“What can you tell me?” she asked as Tony was about to disconnect the call.

“Not much right now Sarah, the doctor didn’t have much news when we got here. She’s in surgery right now. I’ll see about getting an update when you get here if they don’t come to speak to your brother before you arrive.”

“Okay…I’ll get there as soon as I can.” Her voice sounded as fearful as Tim’s.

Tony sighed as he shut off his phone, and returned to the waiting room. Tim was pacing, now worried about both Penny and Sarah, since she hadn’t answered her phone. He looked up as Tony came in.

“I’ve just spoken to Sarah, the cops are on their way to get her now.” He said as he pressed Tim to sit down. “You didn’t drink your coffee, do you want another?”

“I just want some news right now Tony.” Tim mumbled.

“I know, but I guess all we can do for the time being is wait, for as long as it takes.”

“What if she doesn’t make it Tony? What’ll I do? She means everything to me.”

“Don’t think like that Tim, she’ll make it, I know she will.”

“I hope you’re right Tony.” Tim murmured. “I really do.”

___________________________
Words in this post: 2770
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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:21 am
Posts: 1071
Location: Wales
Name: Erica
Aliases: Conuiren, Cerci Dweeb
Gender: Female
Chapter 3

Gibbs had been sitting in MTAC for almost two hours, patiently waiting for any word that the Admiral could now be contacted. His vigil was punctuated by regular calls to the number for Tim’s mother, which were still going unanswered. Part of him wondered how any of the McGee family kept in touch with each other if they all seemed to be unreachable.

His phone suddenly went off, making the two technicians jump in their seats, but Gibbs did not react, other than to reach into his pocket to pull the phone out. Tony was calling and so Gibbs answered right away.

“Have you any news?” he said by way of greeting.

“Not really Boss, other than we’ve managed to track down Tim’s sister. The cops are bringing her here. Ms Langston’s still in surgery. I was hoping you might have reached either one of his parents.”

“No luck yet. The Admiral is out of contact at the moment due to a military exercise, and not even Vance could get the radio silence lifted. Mrs McGee isn’t at home and there’s no answerphone.” Gibbs replied. “How’s McGee holdin’ up?”

“I guess he’s still on autopilot, He’s not saying much, just waiting for news.”

“Stay with him Tony.”

“No intention of doing anything else Boss.” Tony confirmed without hesitation. “I’ll call you if there’s any news from this end.”

“Same here.” Gibbs replied, before disconnecting the call. He then got up and walked over to the technicians. “Try that number again will you?” he asked.

***


Another hour passed before the officers returned with Sarah. Tony stood up as she walked into the room, looking far less out of sorts than Tim was being. She hardly acknowledged him as she made for her brother, and sat down beside him.

“Do you know what happened?” she asked, not even greeting him.

“There was a pile up on the Anacostia Freeway, that’s all I know.” Tim mumbled, without looking up. “They haven’t told me much.”

“I’m gonna find a doctor.” She snapped, standing again.

“Why don’t you sit down.” Tony suggested, blocking her path. “The doctor said he would come back when he had news for us, I don’t think he will have forgotten.”

“I need to know…”

“And you think your brother doesn’t?” Tony argued. “Sit down and wait here, I’ll get you a coffee.”

At that moment the two police officers came in, one with a coffee for Sarah, and told them that they would be leaving as they had to get back out on patrol. Both siblings seemed to be in their own separate universes, so Tony thanked them for their help, before returning to sit beside Tim while Sarah sat the other side of her brother and drank her coffee.

“Do you know where your mother might be right now?” Tony asked her. “We’re trying to call her number, but there’s no answer.”

“I think she was gonna go stay with a friend on one of the other islands this weekend, guess she must have left already.” Sarah shrugged.

“Didn’t she leave a number where you could contact her in an emergency?"

“She doesn’t usually.” Tim put in, absently.

“Do you have any details about who this friend is?” Tony asked.

“No, I guess my Dad will.”

“Not that we can get hold of him either.”

“He was going on some exercise for a few days, so Mom decided to spend that time doing her own thing.” Sarah explained.

Tony found himself thinking of his own father, who would disappear for months at a time, and then just show up at the most inconvenient moment. He had always assumed that the McGee family were close knit, judging by the way he had seen Tim interact with his sister in the past, and with his grandmother more recently. It had come as quite a surprise to see that Tim’s parents were as flaky at keeping their son informed of their plans as his father was.

At that moment, the doctor returned, having been told that another relative had arrived. He looked a good deal less hopeful than he had when Tony had last seen him, and he steeled himself to hear what the man had to say.

“This is my sister.” Tim explained as the doctor approached. “Sarah, this is Dr Marshall.”

“You have news?” Sarah asked.

“I do.” The man nodded. “Please could we sit down?”

Tony sighed, this was definitely not good.

“We’ve managed to stop the bleed.” Dr Marshall said, gently. “However, Ms Langston crashed twice during surgery. We were able to start her heart beating again, however there may have been some oxygen deprivation to her brain. We have moved her back to ICU, and have her on life support, but I must warn you that there seems to be little brain activity. I’m hoping that things will improve, however it would be wrong of me to get your hopes up at this time.”

“What does that mean?” Sarah asked, shaking. She hardly felt Tim grasp her hand.

“It means that she might not recover at all Sarah.” He said, painfully. He then turned to the doctor. “Can you be as honest as possible here, do you really believe that she will recover?”

“At the moment, if she makes it through the next twenty four hours, I believe she will survive, however her quality of live may be severely impaired.”

“I don’t understand…” Sarah cut in.

“Then you believe that she may have suffered severe brain damage?” Tim said, calmly.

“It is probable if current readings of her brain function do not improve. It may be that swelling is knocking the readings off, so we will have to monitor her closely…”

“While trying to keep her alive.” Tim finished for him. “Can I…can we see her?”

Dr Marshall nodded and stood up.

“If you could follow me.” He said, before turning and leading them out of the room. Tony did not think twice, he picked up his coat and followed them, knowing that neither sibling would be prepared for the sight that they were about to see.

The doctor made no objection to Tony’s presence as he led them to the ICU. If anything, he seemed relieved that there was someone present who was not directly connected to the family. Things were hard enough as it was without the added problem of the people who needed to make the most important decisions being out of contact. He had other patients to see too, and other families to deal with, so having Tony there would be a godsend.

He stopped them at the door and turned to Tim and Sarah.

“You need to be prepared for what you are going to see in there.” He warned. “Have either of you seen someone on life support before?”

“No.” Sarah mumbled.

“Not people that I know.” Tim admitted.

“Your grandmother will be surrounded by machines, which will be making noises. We have staff monitoring her constantly so you should not trouble yourselves over any readings or noises. I must insist that you wash and sanitise your hands thoroughly before you go in, and you will need to wear protective clothing which we will provide. Try not to show your concern, particularly if the sight scares you, as she may be aware and could pick up on any fear on your part.”

“Okay.” Tim nodded.

“I…I don’t think I can go in.” Sarah suddenly admitted, the doctor’s warning having freaked her out somewhat.

“Why don’t I go in first and then, if I think it’s okay, I’ll get someone to fetch you?” Tim suggested, which Sarah agreed to right away. He then turned to Tony.

“Do you want me to go in too?” Tony asked, “Or do you want me to stay with Sarah?”

For a moment, Tim looked at his sister, before shaking his head and looking back at Tony.

“If you don’t mind, could you come in with me?” he asked, blushing slightly.

“Sure Tim, it’s no problem at all.”

Tony looked at Dr Marshall, who nodded his assent before leading the two men into the ICU.

They reached the small alcove where Penelope Langston was being treated, cut off from the rest of the ward by a glass screen door. Tim let out a pain filled moan when he saw her, and Tony struggled not to follow suit. It seemed impossible to him that the vibrant, feisty and near impossible woman that he had met less than a year ago was lying there so close to death.

He had liked her from the moment he had first encountered her, so different to Tim, but also with traits that Tony could pick up in her grandson, even in the first years that they had worked together. She was outgoing and gregarious just as Tim was private and a little shy with strangers in social situations. At the same time, he could see where Tim had got his stubborn nature from too, as she had stood her ground for as long as possible, even against Gibbs, determined to protect her need to right a wrong, no matter what the cost.

Most of all, he had been given an insight into the closeness between them, something that was alien where he and his father were concerned. There was no question that Tim trusted this woman more than any other person that he knew, and the thought of losing her was already beginning to break him. Tony began to wonder how Tim would cope if Penny died, particularly as Sarah would likely expect him to be the strong one. It was time to step up and be the big brother if Tim needed it.

Dr Marshall led Tim away, and the two returned five minutes later with Tim swathed in the plastic gowns and gloves that the ICU staff were wearing. There was no question of Tony going in too, since they were already pushing the ‘family only’ rule way too far. He was forced to stand aside as Dr Marshal slid the door aside and allowed Tim to enter, before closing the door behind them.

He watched as Tim, hesitantly approached the bed, before seating himself on a chair set to the left side of Penny. His face was obscured by a surgical mask, but Tony could see Tim’s eyes, as expressive as ever, as he struggled to stay calm at the sight of someone that he loved in such a situation. He reached down and took the woman’s hand, holding it against his cheek, and Tony tried to imagine what he was saying, no doubt pleading with his grandmother to hold on and get better. Even though he couldn’t hear what Tim said, Tony could sense the anguish in him and felt his own throat constrict. How would he react if that was his father lying there? He wasn’t sure, and that made him feel even worse.

Tim forced himself to sound hopeful as he talked to the unconscious woman before him, even though he just wanted to break down and cry. He knew that he should send for Sarah, but right now he could hardly contain his own misery, let alone try to deal with hers. Now, more than ever, he wished that his parents were here, so that he didn’t have to try and cope with this by himself. If the doctors needed a decision immediately, he did not want to be the one to have to make it, particularly if it resulted in letting Penny go.

Dr Marshall then came out of the room to give Tim some privacy.

“What’s the prognosis Doc?” Tony asked. “I need you to be honest with me.”

“I shouldn’t say as you aren’t a family member, but with circumstances as they are, I think you need to know.” The doctor sighed. “If there is no improvement in the next 24 hours, we are looking, at best, at severe brain damage. If things stay as they are, I may have to ask the next of kin to consider withdrawing life support. If you can get hold of Ms Langston’s son, he needs to be here.”

“If we can’t get him here?” Tony asked.

“Would Agent McGee feel able to make such a decision?”

“He would say no, but I think that he would be. He’s stronger than he likes to believe, and he’s got a good head on his shoulders, he won’t let his heart rule his head for too long.” Tony replied. “Can you tell him that I’ve just gone out to make a call? I’ll see if I can find out if we’re any closer to contacting Admiral McGee or his wife. I’ll come back as soon as I’m done.”

“Of course.”

Tony hurried out, needing to be away from the sensitive machines in the ICU before he could turn his phone back on. Sarah was outside, pacing as she chewed her nails, and hurried over to him when she saw him.

“Well?” She demanded.

“It doesn’t look good.” Tony told her, honestly. “Your grandmother is hooked up to a bank of machines, but I really think you should go sit with your brother. I need to make a call, but when I come back I want you to come into the ICU with me. Tim could really use your support right now because I can’t go and sit with him.”

Sarah looked as if the idea of her supporting her brother was a completely alien prospect. Tony wanted to bawl her out for her selfishness, but stopped himself. After all, it was quite possible she had been conditioned to think that way by Tim over the years. Instead, he left her with her thoughts and continued on his way until he was outside of the building.

Gibbs answered within two rings again.

“Have you been able to contact either of McGee’s parents yet Boss?” He asked. “The doctors really need to be able to speak to them.”

“Things are that bad?”

“At the moment we are looking at either severe brain damage or death.” Tony replied, bluntly. “If we don’t get through soon they may have to get McGee to make the decisions, I don’t want him to take on that responsibility if he doesn’t have too.”

“He may have to Tony. D’you think he won’t be able to agree if they decide to end treatment?”

“It’s not that Boss…you saw how close he is to her. He’ll do what’s in her best interests, but it will tear him up to make that choice.”

“Someone has to make it DiNozzo.” Gibbs replied. “If we don’t get through to the fleet, it’s gonna have to be Tim.”

“What if the Admiral finds out after the event and…well blames McGee for letting Penny die?”

“What if we contact him and he won’t consent to withdrawal of treatment? What if we contact him and he just says pull the switch before the doctors are ready to offer that option? What if he just drops everything to be with his mother, and his children? Don’t start speculating now Tony, it won’t help.”

“What else is there to do right now?”

“How about just being there for McGee to lean on for now?”

Tony sighed, and nodded, even though he knew Gibbs wouldn’t see him.

“You’re right Boss, it’s just so difficult being stuck on the side-lines, I wish there was just something we could do.”

“Unless you can get a medical degree and develop a miracle cure for brain injury in the next 24 hours, you can’t do any more than you’re doing now.” Gibbs counselled. “I’ll keep trying to get through to the McGees, you get back to Tim okay?”

“Okay Boss.” Tony sighed, before disconnecting.

He turned and gazed up at the hospital, shivering a little in the icy chill of the night. The snow had stopped at last, but it was so cold that the stuff on the ground was starting to harden into ice. Even if he wanted to leave right now, the idea of trying to drive on that stuff kept him from hailing a taxi. Instead, he squared his shoulders and walked back in.

Sarah was waiting for him, having been unable to pluck up the nerve to go in by herself. He could see that she didn’t really want to go in with him either, but he decided not to give her the choice. He stopped beside her.

“Come on then.” He said, calmly.

“I’m not sure that I want too.” She admitted.

“I’m not sure that your brother particularly wanted to either, but he put that aside because he wanted to see his grandmother. Is it too hard for you to do that too?”

She swallowed hard, wanting to refuse and walk away. Being the baby of the family, she had always been protected and cossetted by everyone in the family, including Tim. The thought of being expected to be strong for him was something that she had never considered. She didn’t like the idea, but she could see that Tony was expecting her to be with her brother while he sat with their grandmother. Without a word, she walked towards the doors to ICU, Tony pretty much at her heels.

From the moment that he had walked into the room, Tim had wanted to run back out again. He had never imagined that he would ever see his grandmother like this, helpless and on the brink of death. She had always been there for him, never taking sides when he had fallen out with his father, but now it seemed that it was his turn, and he hated himself for the fact that he didn’t want to take it. He wasn’t stupid, he knew that the outlook for her was bleak, even if she managed to somehow survive this. To have the one person in the world that he had always been able to count on suddenly taken away was something he just wasn’t ready to deal with.

He sat down and took her hand, holding it against his face as he tried to find something encouraging to say without bursting into tears.

“Please try Penny.” He found himself whispering. “I’m not ready to lose you yet.”

He willed her to respond, either to twitch her eyelids or squeeze his hands, but there was nothing.

“Sarah’s outside, she’ll come in when she’s ready. Gibbs…you remember Gibbs huh? He’s trying to get hold of Mom and Dad, so they’ll be here soon. I want you to be sitting up and sniping at Dad when he arrives. He’s gonna be mad at you for driving in this weather so you need to be up so you can tell to shut up like you always do.”

His eyes caught some movement outside, and he saw Tony leaving. A moment of panic almost had him chasing after his friend, thinking that he was leaving, but already Dr Marshall was in the room.

“Agent DiNozzo is just going outside to get a progress report from your Boss. Hopefully we’ll have some news about your parents shortly.”

“Where is my sister?”

“Still outside the ICU at the moment, give her time to work up to this, it’s difficult to see someone you love in this state.”

“I know.” Tim murmured, miserably.

A few minutes later, he saw Tony return, with Sarah in tow, although it was obvious that she was there because he had insisted on it. All his life, Tim had been expected to be Sarah’s protector, and it was a role that he had always cherished, even now that she was an adult herself. Perhaps he should have resented the fact that she didn’t want to have to face up to the situation like he had too, but such feelings were beyond him were his little sister were concerned.

Sarah looked at her grandmother, unable to say anything. Tony stood close behind her, both to act as a strong presence for her, and also to make sure she didn’t just turn and run out.

“Until your parents get here, all this is on your brother’s shoulders. Don’t you think he deserves our support Sarah?” Tony asked, quietly.

“Penny has always been closer to Tim than to me.” She muttered. “I’d feel awkward sitting there.”

“Does that really matter right now?”

“I…I guess not.” She shrugged.

Dr Marshall joined them.

“Are you ready to go in now Miss McGee?” he asked.

“Yeah.” She said, reluctantly, before following him out.

Tony stayed put at the door, wishing that he could just go in for a few seconds. He felt so useless, right now, even though he knew that Tim appreciated his presence. All he could do was stand there as Sarah finally returned and went into the room to sit with her brother as he kept his vigil.

Even though it was late, Tony decided to leave the siblings alone for a while and call Ziva to give her an update. He knew that Gibbs had sent her home to rest, but the chances of her actually being asleep were virtually nil right now. Once again he went outside, before hurrying back into the waiting area again after a few minutes in the biting cold. Switching on his phone, he found several missed calls, mostly from Abby, one each from Jimmy and Ducky, and one from Ziva. There were no calls from Gibbs, so he knew that the McGee parents were still out of contact. Both Ducky and Jimmy had left messages asking him to simply pass on their thoughts and prayers to Tim. Ziva had asked Tony to call if he had any news, no matter what the time, while Abby had left five messages demanding an immediate call as she was so worried about ‘her Timmy’.

He called Ziva first, deciding that a call to Abby would be so draining he wouldn’t want to call anyone else afterwards.

“Tony? Have you news?” Ziva’s voice was concerned.

“Not really Ziva, at least not good news, I thought you’d like to know anyway though.” Tony replied. “We managed to get Sarah to the hospital, and they’re both with Penny now, she’s not doing too good, and the outlook looks bad.”

“How bad?”

“Well, if she survives at all, she’ll be severely brain damaged.”

“How terrible! How is McGee coping?”

“I think ‘coping’ is about all he’s up to at the moment. We haven’t managed to contact either of his parents yet, and any big decisions may well end up on his shoulders at this rate.”

“I cannot stay here! I will come to the hospital.”

“There’s no point Ziva, we can’t do anything, McGee and his sister are with their grandmother, but I can’t go in as I’m not a relative. All you would be doing is standing outside watching them. Get some rest and go to work tomorrow. I’ll call if I have any more news.”

“Please tell McGee that I am thinking of him.”

“I will Ziva. Now all I have to do is call Abby and be screamed at for a while.”

“I do not envy you that! I will see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah Ziva, I hope you will.”

He then took a deep breath and hit Abby’s speed dial. The phone was answered inside one ring.

“Tony!” Abby shrieked, nearly deafening him.

“Abs! Calm down, I’ve only just turned my phone on.”

“Why is it off? You shouldn’t be unreachable!”

“It has to be off in ICU Abs, that’s where Penelope Langston is right now.” Tony explained. “Things don’t look good for her, so I need to make this quick so I can get back.”

“I’ll come to the hospital!”

“No Abs, the roads are way too dangerous now, it’s like a skating rink out there. The last thing McGee needs now is you getting into an accident as well.”

“I need to see him, see he’s okay!”

“He’s not okay Abs, he’s a mess, and he won’t need you there getting hyper outside the ICU.” Tony wasn’t usually so forceful with Abby, but right now, her brand of emotion would only upset Tim further. “Gibbs and Ziva want to be here, but they aren’t.”

“Why not?” Abby demanded. “Don’t they care?”

“Of course they do Abs, but they know that there’s no point in them being here when there’s nothing that they can do. I’m here to let them know if there’s any news, Gibbs is in MTAC trying to contact McGee’s parents, and Ziva is trying to get some rest so she can keep the team going while we do what we gotta do. You should do that too.”

He knew that Abby didn’t like being spoken too like this, but right now he wanted to be concentrating on Tim, not placating Abby.

“Look Abs, if there is any news, good or bad, I will call you. But you have to promise me that you won’t jump into that jalopy of yours and wrap it round a tree in a vain attempt to get here.”

“Okay Tony, I don’t like it, but if you put it like that…”

“I’m sorry Abby, I wish we could all just spend our time here, but the team has to keep running.”

“I guess I’d better let you get back then.” Abby’s voice now sounded somewhat chastised.

“Thanks Abs, I’ll tell McGee you’re thinking of him.”

“Thanks Tony.”

He disconnected with a sigh of relief, having expected a longer call, before turning his phone back off and going back to ICU.

He returned to find Tim and Sarah standing outside their grandmother’s room, clinging to each other as Sarah sobbed. Running over to them, Tim turned to him, his eyes wide with pure fear.

“She crashed again!” he cried, desperately. “The alarms went off and all hell broke loose, we just got shoved out.”

Tony looked inside and could only watch in silence as the crash team fought to keep the woman in their care alive.

Don’t die Penny he thought to himself, desperately. Don’t stop fighting now!

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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:34 pm 
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Chapter 4

Gibbs had all but given up hope of getting in contact with either of Tim’s parents when a call came through from the commander of the Pacific fleet. It seemed that Vance hadn’t left things alone when he had gone home for the night, and had managed to finally persuade someone to get the news out to the Admiral. Within half an hour, the satellite feed was established and the main screen lit up. Gibbs found himself face to face with Admiral McGee himself.

“Agent Gibbs.” The man said, with great formality.

“You’re a hard man to reach Admiral.” Gibbs said, by way of greeting. “I am sorry to have to give you some bad news concerning your mother.”

“Oh God! What has she done now!” the man’s voice was exasperated and, for once, Gibbs was thrown by the response.

“Er…she hasn’t done anything Admiral McGee.” He said, after a moment’s hesitation. “She was involved in a serious car accident earlier, and is currently in hospital here in DC. Her condition is serious and the doctors are asking for contact with her next of kin.”

This time the Admiral was silent, clearly debating with himself over how to respond. As he waited, Gibbs gazed at the man seeing a lot of Tim in him. They shared the same pale green eyes, although there was a hardness here that was completely absent in Tim’s. This was a man that you did not want to cross, and Gibbs began to understand why Tim had been so nervous and shy when they had first met.

“I…I wasn’t expecting you to say that.” The Admiral finally said, faltering a little. “I can’t get to DC, at least not until the exercise is over. Can you get in contact with my wife?”

“We haven’t yet been able to reach her.” Gibbs replied.

“What about my son, his name is…”

“I know your son Admiral McGee, he works on my team.”

“Oh…yes of course he does, I forgot.” The Admiral murmured.

“Tim is already at the hospital.” Gibbs confirmed. “His sister is there too.”

“I…look Agent Gibbs, there is no way that I’ll be able to keep in contact with the medical staff over this. I’ll put something in writing, but I’ll have to pass authority for my mother’s care to my son, since he’s there already.”

“Admiral McGee, you realise that he might have to make a very difficult decision, will you be willing to accept whatever he decides?”

“I haven’t got much of a choice Agent Gibbs.” The Admiral snapped. “I’ll get something wired to you right away.” the screen then went blank.

Gibbs stared at the screen for some minutes, forcing his anger down. He was certain that the Admiral would have been able to arrange for himself to be transferred back to Pearl Harbor, and then get transport to DC. There was no reason why the man couldn’t be there within 48 hours if he really wanted to be. Instead, he had dropped responsibility for Penelope’s care squarely on Tim’s shoulders. While he didn’t have the easiest relationship with his own father, there was no way that Gibbs would abdicate responsibility for his care if he were in the same position.

Ten minutes later, a faxed letter arrived handing over responsibility to Tim, although Gibbs wasn’t sure how legal it was. He walked out of MTAC and made his way to the squadroom, where he dialled Tony’s number, only to go through to voicemail. Tony had changed his voicemail message.

You have reached Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, I can’t keep my phone switched on right now, but if you leave your name and number I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

“DiNozzo, stay where you are, I’m coming to the hospital.” Gibbs said, before disconnecting. He couldn’t hang around waiting for Tony to get back in touch, so he decided to risk the drive to the hospital himself.

***


It took a nerve shattering 10 minutes before the crash team succeeded in resuscitating Penelope and drew back again. As soon as the door opened, Tim abandoned Sarah with Tony and hurried back to his grandmother’s side. Only as he sat beside her again did he finally let go of his own calm and let the tears he had been holding back fall. Tony had never seen Tim cry before, and was uncertain how to react. Should he go into the room, or stay back with the tear-sodden woman beside him? He wasn’t gowned up himself, but he hated the idea of Tim sitting there by himself, even as Sarah turned to him for comfort.

Dr Marshall looked as shell-shocked as everyone else, and walked out to where Sarah was clinging to Tony, still sobbing.

“This isn’t going as I’d hoped.” He admitted. “Can you see if you can find out whether Ms Langston’s son has been contacted?”

“Okay.” Tony agreed, disengaging himself from Sarah and hurrying outside once again.

As he reached the main doors, he was shocked to find Gibbs striding purposefully towards the main reception.

“Boss!” he called. “Did you contact them?”

“Yeah Tony.” Gibbs nodded, holding up the faxed letter. “They ain’t coming, the Admiral’s dumped this all on McGee’s shoulders.”

“What?”

“He’s giving Tim the responsibility for his grandmother’s care.”

“They nearly lost her just now, McGee’s in no fit state to hear news like that.” Tony warned.

“That’s why I came rather than wait for you to call me.” Gibbs admitted. “You’d better get me up to ICU now.”

Tony nodded and led Gibbs back to the elevators.

Dr Marshall was conferring with a nurse when Gibbs arrived. He could see at once that this new arrival was someone in authority, and turned to him right away.

“I’m Special Agent Gibbs.” Gibbs announced as he approached. “I’m Timothy McGee’s boss, and I’ve spoken to his father.”

“Is he coming?”

“No, he’s sent written authority for his son to have proxy for his grandmother.” He handed the letter over to Dr Marshall.

“I’m not sure that this is legal.” The Doctor said, with a sigh. “But the way things are at the moment, I’m not going to question it. It is possible that any decision over Ms Langston’s future will be taken out of our hands anyway.”

“How?” Gibbs asked, gazing at the scene beyond the screen.

“She crashed a short while ago, despite the life support systems we have in place. It could happen again at any time.”

“Except for the fact that you resuscitated her.” Gibbs observed. “Perhaps McGee will need to make one decision right now?”

The doctor nodded and looked back at the siblings as they stared at their unconscious grandmother.

“I guess I’m gonna have to bring up the possibility of a DNR.” He agreed.

“If you are gonna have that discussion, I’m gonna be present.” Gibbs announced.

“That isn’t possible…” Dr Marshall began

“Not an a option Doc.” Gibbs replied, resolutely. “He’s gonna want to talk to someone, and if his father won’t step up, the next option is me.”

Dr Marshall gaped at him for a moment, but as Tony said nothing to contradict that statement, he decided to just give in for now. He nodded wearily and beckoned to Gibbs.

“I’ll get you gowned up.”

Tim had stopped crying by the time Gibbs followed Dr Marshall into the room. Now he simply looked dazed and lost, trying to comprehend the probability that his grandmother might not make it through the night. It was Sarah’s gasp of surprise that made him look up and see that Gibbs was there, and he knew right away that something was wrong for his boss to have come to the hospital.

“I’ve heard from your father Tim.” Gibbs began, deciding to drop any hint of formality while the younger man was so vulnerable. “He can’t get to DC so he’s asked that you take over as proxy for your grandmother.”

“Me?” Tim gasped, his eyes widening with shock. “But…I can’t…what if I have to…Boss, no you have to tell him to come! Please!”

Gibbs was silent for a moment, knowing full well that Tim did not want the responsibility of possibly having to agree to the doctors allowing his grandmother to die. He could understand that, after all it wasn’t a decision that he would ever want to make about someone he cared for. To him, though, if it had to be anyone from this family, Tim seemed to be the most logical choice. They had all seen how much he cared about Penny, so he knew that Tim would make the right choice for her if the time came. Sarah would, no doubt, insist on them keeping her grandmother alive at any cost, while Gibbs was quite sure that the Admiral would just tell the doctors to do what they thought best, as long as they didn’t ask him to leave his ship.

He stepped a little closer to Tim and sat down in the chair that Sarah had been using.

“I can’t do that Tim, the fleet is back on radio silence so I can’t even contact him now.” He said. “I know that you don’t want to be the one to have to make the difficult choices, believe me I wouldn’t want to be either, but so far you’re the only person in this woman’s family who seems to care enough to deserve that responsibility.”

“I don’t want her to die Boss…”

“Of course you don’t, no one in this room does.”

“I can’t do this by myself…”

“You don’t have too Tim, your sister is outside, the doctors’ll help you. Tony’s not going anywhere, and now I’m here too. You don’t have to deal with this on your own.”

Tim stared at Gibbs for a moment, almost bewildered that his boss was actually offering to help him through this. In a way, Gibbs wasn’t surprised, after all Tim was the one member of his team that tended not to go to him if he needed someone to talk too. He wondered if Tim was even aware that the others were regular visitors to his basement when they had something on their minds. The surprise in Tim’s face then softened and he nodded.

“Thanks Boss.” He said, quietly.

They sat in silence for a good while, listening to the beeps and whirring of the machinery that was keeping Penny alive. Gibbs had seen people this badly injured before, some had recovered, others hadn’t. Looking at her now, he could see that there was little hope that she would even wake up again, let alone recover from the injuries that she had sustained. If the roads weren’t so dreadful, he would have called Ducky to come so that he could add his own wisdom to help Tim through the hours ahead. As it was, he had nearly crashed his car four times on the way, despite driving at ridiculously slow speeds. He wasn’t going to risk anyone else’s lives tonight.

Behind them, Dr Marshall gently cleared his throat so that they both turned to him.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, but we need to have a serious discussion.” He said. “Perhaps you could both follow me?”

He took them both outside to where Sarah was still standing beside Tony. Dr Marshall did not ask him, or Gibbs to leave, instead deciding to address them all.

“This is not going to be easy, and I am sorry to have to do this, but I think a decision needs to be made. The situation is more serious than I originally envisioned as Ms Langston’s condition is not as stable as I would have hoped. It is likely that there will be another episode like the one that we have just seen and I need you to consider whether it would be in her best interest for us to resuscitate her if it does happen again.”

“You mean a do not resuscitate order?” Tony asked.

“Yes.” The doctor confirmed. “I wasn’t in a position to consider this up until now because I needed to speak with Ms Langston’s proxy. Of course, that has now changed.”

“You want me to let her die.” Tim said, bitterly.

“No, Tim, he doesn’t want that.” Gibbs said, calmly. “You know that.”

“You are not going to just leave her if this happens again, surely!” Sarah cried.

“If she keeps crashing like this, it is a sign that her body is just not strong enough to sustain life any longer.” Dr Marshall replied. “Even if we succeeded in resuscitating her each time for a while, there would, eventually, come a time when our efforts would be unsuccessful. We need to consider if it really is worth putting her body through that if it will not help her in the long term.”

“What if she doesn’t crash again?” Tim asked.

“Then the DNR will not come into effect.” Dr Marshall replied. “We are only asking you to consider agreeing that we take no extreme measures to maintain life if there is little hope that it will bring about a positive outcome.”

“Just think of it as something she can scold you about when she gets better.” Tony cajoled.

Tim looked at Gibbs, helplessly. He could see that the older man was not going to tell him what to do, but his eyes held that look that Tim knew was urging him to choose the best course for his grandmother, not for himself. Turning, he went back to the screen and looked at Penny, still showing no signs that she was able to breathe on her own. He didn’t want to sign a DNR order, but they were right, if she kept crashing, and being brought back, it would only delay the inevitable.

“Okay.” He said, sadly. “I’ll sign the order.”

“No Tim!” Sarah cried.

“You saw how hard they had to fight to keep her alive last time Sarah.” Tim argued, bitterly. “If I thought it would save her life, I wouldn’t sign anything. Dr Marshall wouldn’t even consider asking me if he thought she would be okay.”

Sarah looked like she was going to argue, and Gibbs could see that it would easily descend into hurling accusations at her brother that she might not be able to take back.

“I think you need some air Sarah.” He said, taking her arm and hurrying her out of the room before she could open her mouth again.

He didn’t take her far, only to the waiting area just outside ICU, where he sat her down.

“I can’t believe he’s even considering this!” she snarled. “Does he want her to die?”

“Of course he doesn’t Sarah.” Gibbs replied, calmly, deciding to treat her like he would treat Abby in such a situation. “And a DNR doesn’t mean that he is giving permission for anyone to kill her either.”

“Dad wouldn’t let them do this.”

“Your father isn’t here, and it looks to me like he trusts your brother to make the right choices.” Gibbs wanted to accuse the man of not caring enough to bother showing up at the hospital, but this was not the time or pace for voicing his opinions on that, be they right or wrong.

“He should have come himself.”

“He’s out in the middle of the Pacific ocean.” Gibbs reasoned. “He knows how close your brother is to your grandmother, if I was in his position I’d have trusted him to do what was best for Penny.”

“What? Is letting her die the best option?”

“If need be, yes.” Gibbs replied. “If she’s gonna die anyway, why keep delaying the inevitable? I wouldn’t want that, and from what I saw of her when I met her, she wouldn’t want that either.”

“How can they know that she’s going to die anyway?”

“They can’t Sarah, but there has to be a point where you have to admit that the chances are just too slim. You can’t just keep her alive because you don’t want to lose her, you have to step up and put her needs first. If that means letting her go, then you have to accept that.” Gibbs paused with a sigh, and then looked hard at her. “Your brother may have to give permission for the doctors to withdraw life support and allow nature to take its course. If he has to make that choice, he’s gonna need your support. You have to decide now whether you’re gonna give that, because the last thing he’ll need is you making noises about deciding to kill his grandmother.”

“She’s my grandmother too!”

“Yeah, but you’re not the one who has to sign the paperwork. You have to trust the doctors here, they won’t ask to withdraw life support if they think there’s any chance that your grandmother will survive. Hell, she may get better and give your brother hell for signing the DNR, and I hope that she does. If she doesn’t, Tim needs you, and all of us, to stand with him and support whatever he chooses to do. If you can’t do that, I’m not sure you should stay here.”

Sarah was quiet as she stared at the doors to the ICU for several minutes. He hoped that she had listened to what he had said, not least because Tim needed her support right now. If Tim had to make the decision to end life support, he would already be thinking that he was being asked to kill his grandmother, if Sarah voiced that opinion, Gibbs feared that he wouldn’t be able make the right choice.

“I can’t say that I want this.” She said at last. “But I won’t argue with Tim over it.”

“Nobody wants this, Tim least of all.” Gibbs assured her. “He’s a good man, he won’t act without considering everything carefully, and he won’t do anything without talking to you first. He might have to put his name on the papers, but he won’t forget that Penny is your grandmother too.”

“Can I go back in now?” she asked, softly.

“Yeah.” He nodded. “Let’s get back to your grandmother.”

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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:20 pm 
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Name: Erica
Aliases: Conuiren, Cerci Dweeb
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Chapter 5

By some miracle, Penny didn’t crash again, and made it through the night. Tim never left her side, while Gibbs and Tony sat outside the room, silently keeping vigil in case they were needed. Sarah spent part of the time with her brother, but had to leave several times as her emotions overcame her.

Just after 7 am, Tony went outside to call Ziva with an update, while Gibbs went for coffee. He returned to find Tim outside of the room, having been persuaded to stretch his legs by his sister. The young man looked exhausted, but Gibbs decided not to comment, instead handing his undrunk coffee to his agent.

“Isn’t this yours?” Tim asked, wearily.

“You look like you need it more than me right now.” Gibbs remarked.

“Thanks Boss.” Tim sighed, before taking a sip of the brew. It was black and unsweetened, but Tim had grown used to it as Gibbs never gave him coffee any other way.

“Has the doctor been yet?”

“Not yet, I think there’s another doctor on call from 8 am. Dr Marshall said he would look in before he left.”

“How are you doing Tim?”

“I’ve been better.” He then yawned, before looking back at his grandmother. “This is a nightmare.”

“Can’t argue with you there.” Gibbs agreed, wishing that he could say something more positive, but giving false hope was something he could never bring himself to do.

At that moment, Dr Marshall came through, looking as tired as Tim. He consulted with the nurses and then checked the chart and machines for himself, before asking Sarah to join him outside so that he could speak to both siblings together.

“Looking at the readings, I’m afraid that there doesn’t seem to have been any general improvement in brain activity.” He said, sadly. “Of course, her trauma last night would not have helped matters, so I have left orders for observation to continue until this evening. If there is no change when I return in 12 hours, I will begin testing brain function.”

“What will that mean?” Sarah asked, even though she was quite certain she already knew the answer.

“I will check all aspects of brain activity to consider whether it is worthwhile continuing treatment.” Dr Marshall replied, honestly.

“Isn’t that a bit soon?” Gibbs asked.

“It usually depends on the circumstances.” The doctor replied. “In this case, I really don’t think it would be worthwhile, or fair, to delay for too long. From the readings we have so far, I would expect better results at this point, but there has been virtually no change. I wish I could give you better news, but it would be irresponsible of me to pretend otherwise.”

“So…you might need me to make a choice over this tonight?”

“No, I wouldn’t hurry you into making any sort of decision.” Dr Marshall assured him. “I think we should wait until I carry out the tests this evening before we discuss that.”

“But I need to consider it.” Tim pressed.

“Yes, it is something you will need to be prepared for.” Dr Marshall nodded.

Tim took a deep breath and turned back towards the room where his grandmother lay. He didn’t want this responsibility, but there was no way that he could escape it. Forcing himself to stay calm, he turned back to Dr Marshall.

“If…if I have to agree to withdrawal of treatment, will you do it right away or will my father have time to get here?”

“That will depend entirely on the situation.” Dr Marshall replied, evasively.

“I think now is not the time to be discussing this.” Gibbs interrupted, seeing that Tim was going to demand clarification. “We should wait until we have a better idea of what we’re dealing with, right McGee?” Tim looked at him mutinously, but then nodded and backed down, allowing Dr Marshall to leave.

Gibbs could easily guess that the hospital would have difficulty justifying the use of a bed for someone pronounced clinically dead just to wait for a relative to show up, particularly if they needed the space to save another life. The last thing the weary doctor needed right now was an argument with a distraught relative. He could see that, in the top level of his mind, Tim was thinking the same thing, and it was not sitting well with him.

As soon as the doctor was out of earshot, Tim turned back to Gibbs.

“What did he mean depends entirely on the situation?” he demanded. “He can’t just let my grandmother die without giving my dad the chance to say goodbye!”

“He might have too Tim.” Gibbs reasoned. “And, let’s face it, your father has already had the chance to drop everything and get here, but instead stayed at his post. It may be something that he has no real choice in, but if I were his commanding officer, I’d have stood him down and sent him home.”

“And your point is?”

“Your father gave responsibility for your grandmother’s care to you because he didn’t think he’d be here himself. I don’t think he’ll be expecting you to agree to withdraw treatment, and then keep your grandmother on life support ready for him to show up. If he wanted that, he could have just told them to keep her alive until he got here.”

“Would that really be too hard to do?”

“Not if they need the space for someone they could save.” Gibbs pointed out. There, it was out in the open.

“So they might want her out of the way to free up the bed…” Tim’s face darkened.

“Why not Tim?” Gibb’s replied, calmly. “The ICU isn’t an infinite place, there’s a limit to how many they can care for. Just be certain of this, they will fight for your grandmother as hard as anyone else, but you need to consider more than just your father’s sensibilities if you decide to withdraw life support.”

“It seems so cold.” Tim muttered, bitterly.

“Sometimes that’s the way life has to be.” Gibbs reasoned. “It isn’t always fair, and it sometimes comes and smacks us in the face, but it’s what it is and we have to deal with it.”

Tim closed his eyes for a moment, now feeling the effects of his long night’s vigil.

“You should rest.” Gibbs observed.

“I don’t want to leave my grandmother.” Tim replied. “I’m grateful that you’ve stayed here so far Boss, but you might want to get some rest yourself, you never know if a case will turn up.”

“I’ll get going, but I’ll be back before Dr Marshall gets back on duty.” Gibbs promised. “If there is any news, call right away.”

“I will Boss.” Tim agreed. “Although Tony’s probably not gonna go anywhere unless you point a gun at him.”

“I don’t intend to do that. If he wants to stay, and you’re okay with that, I’ll leave him behind.”

Gibbs found Tony outside, still talking on the phone. The air was a little warmer that it had been before the snow came, and he could see that the roads were already starting to clear. The drive to NCIS wouldn’t be quite as treacherous as it had been last night. Tony looked up at him as he disconnected the call.

“That was Ziva.” He said. “She got into work just after 06.30 because she thought the roads would be real bad. They’re still icy up in Silver Spring, but she says that the city is much better this morning.”

“Good.” Gibbs nodded. “I’m gonna go into the office for a while, I’ll be back later ready for that Doctor to do those tests.”

“You do intend to sleep before then though huh, Boss?” Tony asked.

“Will you be sleeping?” Gibbs asked.

“No, I’m gonna stay here if that’s okay.”

“Yeah, I don’t have a problem with that. Try and get a bit of shut-eye if you can though, might be a long night tonight.”

“You got it Boss. Will you update the others if the roads are okay now, I’m sure Abby wants to come down.”

“I think Abby should stay put for the time being, if something goes wrong she’ll be worse than Sarah.” Gibbs shrugged. “I’ll speak to them all when I get in.”

“See you later then Boss.” Tony nodded before going back into the hospital.

Tony got back to the ICU to find Sarah lying on a row of chairs in the waiting area, fast asleep. Looking into the room, Tim was sat beside his grandmother, clearly beyond exhaustion, but unwilling to leave her side. Deciding that he was not going to remain stuck on the outside, he stopped one of the nursed and flashed his best DiNozzo smile at her, before asking if he could join his friend in the room. As he had hoped, she looked indecisive for a moment, before nodding her agreement and taking him to wash and sanitise his hands, before donning the plastic gown and mask that he needed to wear.

Tim looked up as Tony followed the nurse into the room.

“I thought you weren’t allowed to come in.” he said, wearily.

“Oh…if you don’t want him here…” the nurse garbled, nervously.

“No, it’s okay, I don’t want him to leave.” Tim assured her, before allowing her to withdraw, leaving Tony behind.

“It’s much warmer out there this morning.” Tony said as he sat beside Tim, “Gibbs should get back to the office okay, and he’ll let everyone know what’s going on.”

“It was good of him to come last night.” Tim replied. “It must have been difficult for him to bring that message from my Dad.”

“That’s Gibbs for you.” Tony grinned. “Never one to shirk away from the difficult stuff.”

“They should have the papers for me to sign in about an hour, I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing.”

“I wish I could give you a straight answer.” Tony said, honestly. “But for what it’s worth, I think you’ve made the best choice that you can in the circumstances.”

“If it was your dad lying there, would you sign the DNR?” Tim asked, almost fearfully.

Tony looked away for a while. It was easy to say that he would, since he was pretty sure that was what Tim wanted to hear, but unless he was put in that position, he couldn’t be certain. He then looked at Penny, comparing her situation to how she had been when they had met her. If there was no hope of recovery, how could he say that he would refuse to sign the order.

“I think…I think that if the situation was identical, if my dad was lying there, looking at the same odds as Penny, I hope I’d have the courage to sign.” He said, at last. “Look Tim, I can’t just say that I would when I haven’t been in that position myself, but I believe that you’ve done the right thing.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“Why?”

“What if I’m just doing this because it’s the easy option?”

“How would it be the easy option to potentially put your grandmother through multiple attempts to resuscitate her if her body isn’t strong enough to handle it? If she doesn’t crash again, the DNR won’t come into effect, so I wouldn’t call signing the order the easy option.”

Tim nodded and closed his eyes, too weary to really want to continue the argument.

“You should go get some rest Tim.” Tony urged. “You must have been up for over 24 hours by now.”

“So have you Tony.” Tim replied. “I’m grateful that you’ve been here, but you should go and get some sleep yourself.”

“Let’s wait until Sarah wakes up and then we’ll toss a coin. Whoever loses can go and sleep for a bit.”

“Okay Tony.” Tim nodded, smiling sadly.

The two men were quiet for most of the next hour as they waited for the papers to be brought. Tony could see that Tim was still doubting himself, and he wished he could reassure his friend that he had made the right decision. The problem was that he had never been in this position himself, so anything he said sounded hollow, even to his ears. Was it ever okay to sign papers giving permission for the doctors to just stand back and let a loved one die? To Tony, it had to be if there was no hope of saving a life, only prolonging the road to death. He hoped that, in the long run, Tim would see that too.

An administrator brought the papers with little ceremony. There had been a few legal questions asked as Tim was not next of kin, but the letter from his father had eventually been accepted, and now there was no turning back. Tim listened carefully as the administrator explained exactly what he was signing up to, and then asked him to take a moment to be absolutely certain. Tony had woken Sarah so that she could be present when Tim received the papers, but she made no protest as Tim finally agreed to sign and read through the papers. Only when he had read everything did he sign the forms.

As soon as the forms were signed, the doctors placed a sticker on her medical file, and tagged her chart so that any relief teams were aware of the situation. As soon as they were done, the staff withdrew again and they were alone again.

“That’s it then?” Sarah asked. “What happens now?”

“Nothing.” Tony replied. “Hopefully, they won’t have to act on it.”

Tim sank heavily into his chair, reminding Tony that they had to decide who should get some rest. He dug in his pocket for a coin.

“What are you doing?” Sarah asked, bewildered.

“Deciding who should go and get some sleep.” He shrugged. “You wanna call Tim?”

“Don’t be so stupid!” Sarah exclaimed. “You both go and get some sleep right now. I’ll sit with Penny!”

Tony looked at Tim, who was too tired to protest any further. Both men left the room and settled in the waiting area where they both dropped off within minutes of each other.

***


Gibbs had picked up coffee on his way into the office, and took a sip as he stepped off the elevator. Ziva was at her desk, with Abby stood in front of her, demanding any news. As soon as she saw Gibbs she hurried over to him.

“Is she any better?” She cried as she reached him.

“Not really.” Gibbs replied. “Docs will be testing for brain activity this evening, but they aren’t too hopeful.”

“I need to go to the hospital.”

“You can’t Abby, you have work to do, just like the rest of us. DiNozzo is with McGee, and he’ll call if anything happens.”

Abby looked mutinous, but even she knew better than to cross Gibbs when he had directly vetoed something. She followed him back to his desk, and then carried on to the rear elevator so that she could get back to her lab. She passed Ducky as he came into the bullpen.

“Have you been with Timothy all night?” He asked, his voice concerned.

“Yeah Duck.” Gibbs nodded. “Just got back from the hospital.”

“Have you any news?”

“Doesn’t look good, I left Tony there to keep McGee company, but I’m going back this evening.”

“I might join you.” The M.E. said. “Penelope was…is a delightful lady, has almost as many stories as I do, although I fear that most of them were about her grandson.”

“They are very close.” Ziva nodded.

“I suppose that comes with being in a family that is often parted through military service.” Ducky replied. “This will hit young Timothy very hard I fear.”

“We’ll just have to step up and be there for him then.” Gibbs said.

“If you have been at the hospital all night, and intend to go again this evening, I suggest you go and find somewhere to get some rest.” Ducky added. “I do not want to hear that you have crashed your car this evening because you fell asleep at the wheel.”

“Someone’s gotta work Duck.” Gibbs shrugged.

“There are no big cases at the moment.” Ducky countered. “If something comes up, Ziva can come and wake you. For the time being you are coming down to Autopsy with me and you will bed down in my office for a couple of hours. No argument!”

Gibbs made to protest, but the expression in Ducky’s face brooked no refusal. With a sigh, he nodded, and got back out of his chair. If he were honest, he needed to get some sleep, particularly if they had to deal with Tim having to decide whether to pull the plug that night. That wasn’t a decision he would wish on anyone, let alone one of his own team. The last thing Tim would need was any of them firing on half cylinders at such a moment.

***


Tony had been asleep for about two hours when he jolted awake. Tim was still out for the count stretched out on the padded chairs at the far end of the room, and he snorted to himself at his early return to wakefulness. Looking over at the room, he saw Sarah sat beside her grandmother, apparently reading something. He stood and stretched, before wondering over to see how she was doing. As he reached the door, the machines began making odd noises, which caused Sarah to look up suddenly from her book. She then looked up at Tony, panic in her eyes.

“Something’s wrong.” She gasped.

“Call the nurse.” Tony ordered, before hurrying over to where Tim was lying. He shook the younger man awake.

“What is it Tony?” Tim mumbled as he struggled to wake up.

At that moment, the alarms in the room went off as Penny crashed again.

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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Location: Wales
Name: Erica
Aliases: Conuiren, Cerci Dweeb
Gender: Female
Chapter 6

For the first few seconds, Tim was motionless, until he heard his sister scream. Sarah had jumped up, staring at her grandmother as the machines sounded, adding her own voice to the cacophony that brought the hospital staff running. Tim hurried into the room, with Tony hot on his heels, and pulled Sarah into his arms as he stood out of the way of the medical staff.

“Please!” She cried, painfully. “Do something!”

“They mustn’t.” Tim said, his own voice close to breaking. “We agreed to let her go if she crashed again.”

“I’ve changed my mind!”

The doctor turned to Tim.

“Do you want us to attempt resuscitation?” he asked, urgently.

Tim faltered for a moment, desperate to keep his beloved grandmother alive. He looked at Tony, desperately, but the older man simply returned his gaze calmly. Tony was right, he had agreed to the DNR for Penny’s sake, he couldn’t go back on that now simply because he didn’t want to lose her.

“No.” He said at last. “Please, let her go.”

Sarah began sobbing as soon as he spoke, and it was all that he could do not to join her. Instead, he edged her closer to the bed as the nurses began to switch the machines off to halt the noise of the alarms. As soon as he was close enough, he reached out and took Penny’s hand, holding it tightly.

“I’m sorry Penny.” He whispered. “I love you.” He closed his eyes to try and stop the tears falling, but nothing could hold back the grief for long.

He sensed, rather than saw, the medical staff withdraw to give them some privacy. Sarah was still inconsolable, although at least she was still clinging to him rather than pushing him away. If she turned on him now, he didn’t know what he would do.

“I can’t believe this.” He murmured, his calm beginning to crack. “I can’t believe she’s gone.”

Tony couldn’t think of anything to say, instead he reached out and put his hand on Tim’s shoulder. Now was not the time to be harping on about being in a better place, or how this was all for the best. Tim just needed to know that someone was there, and Tony knew that the silent gesture would be appreciated.
Only when he felt that the first shock was passing did he try to speak.

“Do you want me to go call Gibbs?” He asked. “I can leave it for a while if you’d like.”

“C…can you just stay here for a bit?” Tim asked, softly.

“Yeah, sure Tim, whatever you need.”

Sarah was finally managing to calm down, and so he sat her in one chair and settled beside her.

“What happened?” she asked. “Why didn’t the machines keep her alive?”

“I don’t know Sarah.” Tim replied. “I guess her body was just too weak to handle everything.”

“Why was she driving yesterday anyway?” she cried, her voice rising. “If she’d stayed home this wouldn’t have happened.”

Tony was about to speak when Tim shook his head a little, deciding to allow Sarah to have her rant and get it out of her system.

“Maybe she had somewhere important she had to get too.” He soothed

“Nothing is so important that she needed to risk her life!”

“She probably didn't realise how bad it would be when she set out. You know what Penny was like Sarah, always totally committed to her causes.”

“Yeah! And look what happened!”

“I know, but it wasn't like she went out that morning with the deliberate intention to crash her car. We can't just rant and rave over it like this, it just won't help.”

“We can't all be like you either.” She accused. “Some of us care that she ended up dead!”

As soon as that comment was out of her mouth she knew she had gone way too far, she felt her brother tense up and draw away from her.

“Tim! I'm sorry, I didn't mean that...”

He didn't reply, instead turning away and walking out of the room. Tony looked at Sarah for a moment, wondering whether he should stay with her, but he had seen the pain in Tim's eyes as he had heard those words. Right now, he knew where he should be and he hurried out after his friend.

Tim had not gone far, he was seated on a chair in the corridor outside ICU staring at the floor. There were no other chairs nearby, and so Tony knelt beside Tim rather than stand over him.

“Is that what everyone thinks?” Tim asked, his voice little more than a whisper.

“No Tim.” he replied, truthfully. “Not even Sarah really thinks that, she was upset and angry, so she lashed out.”

“Why did she have to say that of all things though? What makes her think that I don't care?”

“Maybe she thought you should be behaving like her?” Tony suggested. “I guess that some people don't understand that being calm doesn't mean being unconcerned.”

“I can't just fall apart Tony.” Tim insisted. “I have to be strong for Sarah right now, and I know that the hospital will want me to sign things and discuss what happens next. If I'm a wreck, who'll do that?”

“The staff here will be used to supporting grieving relatives through this.” Tony replied. “You've done enough right now, I don't think you really need to be strong for anyone, you need to spend a moment thinking about yourself right now.”

“This is really not the time to be selfish Tony.” Tim chided.

“Yeah, McGee, it is. If you don't accept that now, you'll find six months have gone by and you haven't had time to grieve.” To his surprise, he found himself gazing around as if expecting someone to sneak up on them. “Do you really want to find yourself, five years down the line, building boats and drinking bourbon?”

“Tony!” Tim gasped, although a small smile crossed his face. There was no question that Gibbs had never really dealt with his own grief after the loss of his family, and he could now really see what Tony was getting at. But putting his feelings and needs above those of his sister had always been alien to him. He couldn't even consider asking her to be strong for him, no matter how tempting it was right now.

“You don't need to be the strong one here right now okay?” Tony said, carefully. “There's a gang of us who can step up and help you get through this.”

Tim was silent for several minutes, almost debating with himself whether to let his feelings out. He was so used to keeping his emotions tightly hidden from everyone, trying to present this confident and strong persona, that he wasn't sure he could let that go in front of Tony. The older man could see it, and he reached out and put his hand on Tim's shoulder.

“Look, I know I rag on you all the time, but things like this...There's nothing to joke about here.”
As he had hoped, the stoic expression faltered, and Tim's eyes filled with tears.

“I can't believe she's gone.” he said, bitterly. “She meant everything to me, and now I have to go on without her.”

Part of Tony wanted to get up and walk away, since he wasn't that good at dealing with raw emotions, but this was too important to him. They didn't always get along, but there were few people in this world that Tony could trust to have his back, and Tim was one of them. It was second nature to him these days to do the same, and to walk away now when Tim was so vulnerable was impossible. Looking across the hall, he saw another chair, and hurried over to fetch it so that he could sit more comfortably. As soon as he was settled, Tim finally let go and broke down.

They sat there for nearly half an hour. Sometimes one of the medical staff would pass them, but they could see what was going on, give Tony a look that asked if he needed any help. He would shake his head in response and they would hurry on their way. Right now, Tim needed that apparent privacy to get the initial response to his grandmother's death out of his system before he had to deal with inevitable arrangements afterwards.

Eventually, he calmed down and wiped his eyes, before looking up at Tony.

“Thanks.” he said, softly. “You were right, I needed to let it out.”

“No worries Tim.” Tony replied. “Do you want to go back now.”

“I guess I'll have too.” Tim nodded. “They can't just hang around waiting for me to finish flipping out.”

“Yes they can, and I'll bet they will wait as long as you need.”

“I can't put this off any longer.” Tim objected. “I just want to get away from this place now.”

“Okay then, let's go back. Will you be okay for a minute, I need to call Gibbs and...well you know.”

“Yes Tony, I'll be okay for a while.”

He watched as Tim walked slowly back into ICU, before taking a deep breath and making for the exit.

***


By chance, Vance was in the bullpen talking to Gibbs when his phone rang. Seeing that the caller was Tony, he looked up.

“I gotta take this Leon, Tony calling from the hospital.”

Vance nodded and stepped back while Gibbs answered the phone. Ziva watched her boss nervously, and one look at his face told her that the news was very bad. He asked few questions, only stating that he would leave for the hospital the moment the call ended. Had Vance and Ziva not been present, he would have done, but once he put down his phone, both were now standing at his desk.

“Penelope Langston died about an hour ago.” he said, simply. “I'm gonna go to the hospital.”

“Okay.” Vance nodded. “I'll get up to MTAC and put the message through to Admiral McGee. Tell DiNozzo to go home and get some rest, don't take no for an answer.”

“Okay Director.”

“The other matter can wait.” he added. “You need anything, call.” he then walked away.

“I will go and tell the others.” Ziva offered “I would then very much like to come to the hospital too.”

“Don't come to the hospital.” Gibbs instructed. “Stay here for now, when I know what's happening I'll call. Not sure I want him hanging round his apartment on his own.”

“He could stay at mine...”

“I'll suggest that, but I think you'll be more use away from the hospital. I'll call you when I know.”

“Very well Gibbs. I will go to Autopsy first, I would like Ducky to be present when I tell Abby.”

Gibbs nodded, that was not going to be a fun conversation.

There was still a good deal of melting snow and ice on the streets as he drove to the hospital, but the road ahead had been cleared. It made it hard to believe just how deadly the conditions had been only a couple of days previously. Gibbs wasn’t the most empathic of people, often struggling to show any emotions, but losing a loved one in tragic circumstances was something he knew all about. He had seen just how close Tim was to his grandmother, and understood that the young man would now be caught between wanting to withdraw and grieve, and having to hold it together enough to carry out the necessary arrangements that came at a time like this. Until Admiral McGee could be brought to DC, everything would be in Tim’s lap, and there was no way that he would want to leave Penny’s remains in the hospital morgue while he waited for his father to arrive.

Tony was waiting for him outside ICU, and looked beyond exhaustion.

“How’s McGee holding up?” He asked.

“As best he can right now.” Tony replied. “He’s talked to the doctors and signed some papers. The doctors are getting him details of local funeral homes, and they want to move the body to the morgue for the time being.”

“Where are they now?”

“Still in the room. The nurses came in and cleaned up the body, but Sarah won’t let them move it, and Tim just can’t get her to change her mind. If you ask me, he’s gotten to the point where he just can’t think anymore.”

Gibbs nodded. Now was the time to step in and take charge for a while. Someone needed to get things moving and it sounded like Tim had reached the stage where he had no energy left to do that.

“I’ll take it from here.” He ordered. “You go home and get some rest. I want you back in the office tomorrow to keep things running if I’m not there.”

“Boss…” Tony began to protest.

“You’ve done plenty already, go take some time out.” His tone brooked no refusal.

Reluctantly, Tony nodded and went to collect his coat, before calling a cab to take him home. Gibbs took a deep breath and went through into the ICU. The doctors were standing at the door of Penny’s room, with Tim and Sarah inside, apparently arguing. A quick study of the scene showed Gibbs that it was more Sarah arguing and Tim trying to reason with her, no doubt to allow the doctors to clear the room.

“They aren’t going to put her in the morgue right now Sarah.” Tim insisted. “They promised me that. They have set aside an empty exam room for us.”

“Yeah, for how long? Five minutes, ten?”

“Pease Sarah, this isn’t helping.”

“I don’t want her being moved around like a piece of meat!”

“They need this room for new patients…”

“Right now?”

“It could be at any time, they need to prep it.”

“And so we get thrown out like the trash.”

“Sarah!”

“I’m not moving!”

Tim closed his eyes for a moment, and then looked out at the doctors, as if wanting them to come in and force the issue for him. He saw Gibbs standing with them, and gave him a pleading look that he understood right away. The older man walked past the doctors and into the room. For a moment he looked down at Penny, to offer some respect, before turning to Tim.

“I’m sorry about Penny Tim.” He said, gently. “Vance is going to get in touch with your father. Is there anything else that you need us to do?”

“I…I’m not sure how much time off I’ll need…” Tim mumbled, exhausted.

“We’ll deal with that in good time.” Gibbs agreed. “But now I think the doctors need to come in here to get the place prepped.”

“Sarah won’t move.” Tim shrugged, his whole demeanour almost begging Gibbs to take charge. Gibbs nodded, deciding to oblige.

“It’s time to go now Sarah.” He said, his voice calm, but firm at the same time.

“I’m not leaving her!” she snapped.

“Not your choice now Sarah.” Gibbs replied, stepping forward. “Time’s movin’ on and they need the room. If you want me to pick you up and carry you out, I will, but you’re leaving now.”

“They just want to move Penny to a quiet room for now, until we leave the hospital.” Tim explained.

“No excuse for staying here then.” Gibbs added, looking hard at Sarah, clearly not willing to take any nonsense from her. “Are you gonna walk out of the room or will I have to carry you?”

Sarah looked scandalised for a moment, but then shot a harsh look at her brother and stood up. The siblings then followed Gibbs out of the room. Almost as soon as they were out, the staff hurried in, while the doctor gestured to them to go outside for a while.

“We have a trauma case just brought into the ER that may well need ICU, so we have to work fast.” He said, quietly. “Once we’ve set things up, we’ll take them back to their grandmother.”

“How long will you be able to keep her in that room?”

“As long as necessary, until Mr McGee and his sister go home. We’ll keep the body in our morgue for the time being until they have made arrangements with a funeral home to collect it.”

“Do you need either of them here to deal with any more administrative stuff?”

“The only thing left to do is to sign for the body when it is collected. They could leave right now if they wanted.”

“I think I’ll try and get them out of here sooner rather than later, they both look beat, and Tim needs to talk to his father soon.”

“That will be between you and them.” The doctor nodded, before going back though to oversee the clearing of the room.

As soon as the doctor had gone, Tim went over to a chair and sat down heavily, before leaning forward and laying his head in his hands. He was beyond tired, desperate to go home and try to figure out what he should do. Despite his need to get away for a while, he didn’t want to leave while his grandmother was still here. While he had tried to persuade his sister to leave the room, he had also wanted nothing more than to stay put and send the doctors away himself. Now, the thought of leaving her here while he went home to sleep seemed utterly cruel.

“You should both go home and get some rest.” Gibbs observed. “There’s nothing more than you can do here.”

“I’m not going anywhere!” Sarah announced, sitting down and folding her arms like petulant child. “I’m not leaving Penny here.”

“Do you think that’s what she would want you to do right now?”

“Have you lost anyone this close to you?” she demanded, which made Tim snap his head up in shock at her words. He glanced at Gibbs, expecting an explosion, but the man ignored her tone, understanding that this was her grief speaking.

“I have.” He said, quietly. “And I wasn’t here with them to say goodbye.”

Her face paled, and she opened her mouth to try and take back what she had said, but Gibbs held up his hand to stop her.

“I understand more than you think, not least the stupid things you say when you aren’t thinking straight.”

“I’d like to spend a little time with Penny without those machines around her.” Tim said, by way of compromise. “Then, we’ll both go home, okay Sarah?”

“Okay.” She mumbled.

Half an hour later, a nurse came for them and led them through to a quiet room where they had taken Penny. They had taken great care over the body so that, at first sight, she merely looked asleep. The two siblings were quiet for a good while, deeply moved that the staff had taken the time to hide all sign of the medical equipment that they had used to try and keep their grandmother alive. Gibbs watched as they sat down on chairs beside the bed, and then withdrew to give them some privacy. He trusted Tim to not stay there too long, and went back to the waiting area.

***


Tony decided to stop by at NCIS before he went home, just to make sure everyone who needed to know had been told what had happened. He found Ziva in the bullpen looking utterly miserable.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Not really.” She replied. “How is McGee?”

“Not that great, but he’s holding on. Do the others know?”

“Oh yes, they know.” Ziva groaned. “Telling Ducky was easy, he was deeply saddened, but in a way he was relieved since he knew what sort of future she would have had if she had lived. His only concern right now is McGee.”

“I sense a ‘but’ in there somewhere…”

“You are correct. Abby did not take the news as quietly as Ducky did, I did not realise that she actually knew Penelope from before we met her, although perhaps I should have.”

“You know Abby.” Tony sighed.

“I do, but I wish, just once, she would focus upon the person who has suffered the bad news, rather than turning the whole thing into a drama that she sits at the centre of.”

“That bad huh?”

“Oh yes, she kept speaking of how awful things must be for ‘Timmy’ but she could not stop going on about how she would have to be there for him and comfort him. I know that she would , naturally, consider herself to be the one closest to him, but it was as if she was…marking her territory.”

“That’s an interesting way of putting it…”

“Is that a wrong description?”

“Actually, I think it’s very apt.” Tony grinned. “Don’t worry about Abby, if she gets too soppy over everything, Gibbs will step in.”

“You are sure of that?”

“He doesn’t always show it, but he has Tim’s back as much as he has ours, if he thinks Abby is getting to mawkish, he will call her on it, hopefully before Tim does.”

“What will happen next?” Ziva asked.

“Agent DiNozzo will be going home.” Came Vance’s voice behind them. “Now.”

“Going home Director.” Tony said, turning and hurrying out of the squadroom.

“I have tried Agent Gibbs’s number, but his phone is switched off, I want you to keep trying every ten minutes until you get through and tell him to call me.”

“Of course Director Vance.” Ziva nodded. “Should I give him a message.”

“Only to call me.”

“Yes Director.”

Vance turned to walk away, but then stopped, realising that Ziva had a reason to know what was going on too. He turned back.

“I’ve spoken with Admiral McGee. He and his wife will be in DC within the next 48 hours.” He then walked away.

___________________________
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:23 pm 
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Name: Erica
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Chapter 7

Tim was as good as his word and led Sarah out to the waiting area within half an hour. A nurse was with them, explaining what would happen until they had received instructions over transportation to the chosen funeral home. Tim didn’t want to hear the details, but someone had to know about them so that they could pass the information on to whoever was going to pick the body up in the near future.

“You need a ride home?” Gibbs asked as the nurse left them.

“Do you mind taking us to Sarah’s apartment, she needs to pick up some clothes.” Tim replied. “She’s gonna stay with me for a while.”

“You sure you want to be by yourselves right now? Ziva said you could go stay with her.”

Tim wanted to say yes, but right now he just wanted to be away from everyone other than his sister.

“We’ll be okay.” He said. “I’ll call Ziva later and thank her for the offer.”

Gibbs nodded and switched on his phone to find five missed calls from Ziva, along with two from Director Vance. Clearly there was news, so he bypassed Ziva and rang right through to the Director.

Tim watched silently as Gibbs made his call, hoping that there was some positive news about his father. Once the call ended, he turned back to the siblings.

“Your parents will be here in the next couple of days.” He reported. “Vance is organising a hotel for them near to your place.”

“There’s no need.” Tim mumbled, although he could not hide his gratitude.

“They ain’t gonna all fit in your apartment McGee, and I think your top priority right now is sleep, not booking hotel rooms.” Gibbs replied, before leading them towards the parking lot.

The drive to Sarah’s apartment was silent, but while she went inside to pack, Gibbs and Tim stayed in the car.

“You okay McGee?” Gibbs asked, in a tone that demanded an honest answer.

“Not really Boss.” Tim replied. “I’m wishing I hadn’t signed that DNR now.”

“Why?”

“Penny might still be here. I thought it was the kind thing to do, but right now all I want in the world is to have her back again.” His voice cracked a little as he fought to keep his emotions in check.

“Nothing wrong with that McGee, if we had the chance to have a loved one back with us, I can’t think of anyone who would say no.”

“She might still be here if I hadn’t sold her out like that.”

Gibbs turned sharply and stared at Tim, looking him right in the eyes.

“Never say that McGee.” He ordered. “You did not sell her out. You made the best decision that you could, and you made it for her, not for you. It might feel like you let her down, but you didn’t. You stepped up and did the right thing, putting her needs before your wants. That’s a brave decision to make, and I’d have thought less of you if you’d refused to sign because you didn’t want to lose your grandmother.”

“I didn’t want to lose her.” Tim pointed out.

“Yeah, but you didn’t put what you wanted ahead of what she needed. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have regrets, but you shouldn’t berate yourself for what happened either. If I was in her position, I would rather not be here at all than alive but too brain damaged to function.”

Tim looked back at him, wanting to respond, but finding no words to say. In his brain, he knew that Gibbs was right, but in his heart, he still felt responsible for Penny’s death. What made things even worse was the fact that the one person he would go to for comfort and help when he felt conflicted like this was the very person that lay dead in the hospital morgue right now.

“You don’t have to go through this alone McGee.” Gibbs continued, his voice now calmer. “You have friends around who can be there if you need someone to talk to. If you can’t face talking to us, you can go to Ducky at any time.”

“I guess…” Tim mumbled, looking away.

At that moment, Sarah re-appeared, now with a case and a backpack, which she put into the back of the car before getting in herself. She seemed far less belligerent now, her anger replaced by subdued thoughtfulness.

“Are you sure you want to go to your apartment Tim?” Gibbs asked again. “You can stay with any of us if you want.”

“I need to be in familiar surroundings Boss.” Tim insisted. “I’m grateful for the offer, but I’d rather just go home.”

“Okay, but if you change your mind…”

“I’ll call someone.” Tim nodded. “I promise.”

The drive up to Silver Spring was quiet, Gibbs had never driven up to Tim’s apartment before, and so he had to have Tim navigate for him. As he pulled up outside the building, he debated whether to get out of the car and go with them to the apartment.

“You want me to come up?” he asked, eventually, deciding to leave the choice in Tim’s hands.

“You need to go get some rest yourself Boss. We’ll be okay.” Tim replied. “I will call if I need anything.”

“Keep in touch anyway Tim, I’ll square any leave with Vance, but I need to know what’s going on okay?”

“Yes Boss.” Tim agreed. He then closed the door of the car and stood back as Gibbs drove away.

The two siblings went up to Tim’s apartment, neither speaking as they went. Only as they reached the door did Tim realise that he had forgotten all about Jethro, his dog. The animal would have been shut up in the apartment for nearly 48 hours, likely without food or water. Guiltily he unlocked his door and opened it, switching on the light to check for any ‘accidents’ nearby that they could avoid walking through. A quick inspection showed that the dog wasn’t even in the apartment.

“Jethro?” Tim called, fearfully. “Jethro! Where are you?”

“Tim, there’s a note here.” Sarah said, holding up a piece of paper. Tim took it and read the note, left by his dog-walker, saying that she had Jethro and to call her as soon as he got the note. He snatched up his phone and went into the living area to make the call while Sarah looked around the room with something akin to despair.

He still had no couch, instead, half the room given over to computers and the other to his writing desk. The only ‘lounging’ space that he had was his bed, which was hardly ideal if he wanted to bring a date home. The only sound in the room was Tim telling his dog walker what had happened and apologising for not keeping her informed. The call ended with an agreement for her to hold onto the dog for a few days until everything concerning Penny was settled. He then turned back and looked at his sister.

“I’m really sorry Sarah.” He said, miserably. “I didn’t want to lose Penny like this.”

Sarah sighed and rubbed her eyes, sitting down on his computer chair.

“No.” she finally replied. “No, I’m sorry, I was so mean to you at the hospital. I guess I just didn’t want this to be real.”

“None of us did Sarah.” Tim sighed, walking over to her and leaning against the table beside her. “I think Gibbs was right when he said that we say stupid things when we’re upset.”

“I can’t remember half of what I said.” She admitted. “All I could think about was that Penny was gone, and everyone seemed to want to forget her right away.”

“Hospitals sometimes don’t have that choice Sarah.” Tim sighed, putting his hand on her shoulder. “They didn’t want to be disrespectful, but they have to move on to the next possible patient as best they can. I doubt you were the first relative to act up a bit, and you sure as hell won’t be the last.”

“Yeah.” She nodded, with a sad smile. “I know that now, guess I should have thought about it then.”
“If it helps, I was pretty much thinking what you were saying.” Tim replied.

“Yeah, but you didn’t say it. I guess that’s why Dad chose you to make the decisions; you’re the one who actually thinks about what needs to be done. If it’d been me, we’d still be at the hospital with me refusing to let her go.”

“It wasn’t easy Sarah.” He admitted, his voice cracking a little. “I wish I hadn’t been the one to have to make it.” A small sob escaped. “It’s only been a couple of hours, but I miss her so much already.”

Sarah’s own eyes filled with tears, as she turned and threw her arms around her brother. Neither spoke as they shared their grief, perhaps for the first time since leaving the hospital. Eventually, there were no more tears left , but Tim didn’t let go of his sister, glad that she was there with him right now, just as he felt more lonely than he ever had in his life. For once, she wasn’t the first to break their embrace, as Tim drew back and stood up.

“Do you want something to eat?” he asked, trying to sound normal, despite his exhaustion.

“Not really.” She replied. “I’m just too tired.”

“Me too.” Tim agreed. “I’ll go get my sleeping bag.”

“I can’t be bothered with that.” Sarah groaned, walking past him and throwing herself onto the bed, scooting to one side with the expectation that he would lie on the other. Tim was too far beyond arguing over the rights or wrongs of sharing the bed, instead lying down beside her and giving into his own exhaustion.

There was nothing that anyone could really do while they waited for Tim’s parents to arrive in DC. Tim was grateful that Vance had taken on the arrangements on his behalf, since he had no idea what he was going to say when he finally confronted them. Although his father had authorised him to act as Penny’s medical proxy in his place, Time could not help but fear that the Admiral might disagree with the decisions that he had made.

He spent his time getting details of various funeral homes together so that his parents would have the information that they needed to organise Penny’s funeral. Everyone from his team made contact during that time, either by phone or in person, and he was grateful for that. Ziva came each evening with a freshly cooked stew for the siblings to eat, which both appreciated.

Tim was especially grateful since the team had caught a case that was taking up a good deal of their time. Ziva insisted that it took little time on her part to cook the stews, since she had recently invested in a slow-cooker that she could program before she left for work. Gibbs and Tony willingly took up the slack while she delivered the food to them, and each made time to call Tim during each day to see how he was doing.

The case did not involve a homicide, so Ducky was not too busy to come by the first day. He had enjoyed Penny’s company on the one dinner date that they had shared, and he was sorry that she had died in such tragic circumstances. As the others had hoped, Tim found himself confiding in Ducky over how dreadful he felt in a manner that he would not have done with them. All of them treated Ducky like a grandfather at times, and he was happy to take on the position for one of the youngest of the team.

Having the others around to talk to him helped Tim to find the resolve to be strong for his sister. She had friends, but most were still young enough not to have experienced the death of a close loved one and simply did not understand how she was feeling. He was able to sit and listen to her venting her grief in the knowledge that he could call any of the team to do the same later on.

Only Abby left him feeling exhausted and miserable. She did her best to comfort him, but she had a tendency to concentrate more on how all this affected them as a pair rather than just allowing him to talk like the others did. Nevertheless, he was grateful that she was there for him in her own way.

Those two days felt like the calm before the storm as Tim waited for his parents to arrive. As they were travelling on military transport, he was not required to go to the airport to collect them, but he needed to be present when they arrived at the hotel that Vance had found for them. It was a little awkward, since they could hardly expect NCIS to cover the cost of the accommodation, and Tim hoped that his father realised that.

He arrived at the hotel far too early, deciding to leave Sarah at his apartment. He hadn’t seen his parents for so long that he didn’t want her there to witness any difficulties that might come up. Once they were settled, he would drive them up to his apartment to see her and, hopefully, discuss preliminary arrangements. The thought that his father would now be here to take charge took a huge weight of Tim’s shoulders, and he could not help but look forward to their arrival.

Tim was waiting for nearly an hour by the time an agency car pulled up and his parents got out. He went out to greet them, but found he couldn’t think of anything to say as they turned to face him. They, in turn, stared at him for a moment, as if not recognising him.

“Timothy?” his mother asked, bewildered.

“Mom.” Tim replied. “I’m glad you’re here now, this has been so hard.”

“You’ve lost weight.” His father commented, just as surprised as his wife.

Tim looked down at himself for a moment, forgetting that they had not seen him since he had rid himself of what Penny had, perhaps optimistically, referred to as ‘puppy fat’.

“I…Yeah I have.” He replied.

“You look good.” His mother then smiled, coming over to kiss him on the cheek. “I’ve missed you Timothy, it’s such a shame that it takes something like this to bring us together.”

“I’ll…I’ll get you checked in Mom.” He mumbled, embarrassed.

It took very little time to check them into the hotel, since Vance had already made the reservations. Tim went up to the room with them, but said nothing until they were inside and the door was closed. Only then did his father turn back to him.

“What happened Timothy?” he asked. “I’ve heard stories of an accident of some kind, but not much else.”

“There was a pile up on the Anacostia Freeway.” Tim explained. “I don’t know why Penny was driving that day, but her car was involved and she was critically injured. The doctors carried out surgery to try and repair internal bleeding, but they found that there was very little brain function. The doctors were hopeful that she would survive initially, but weren’t sure if she would be brain damaged, so they wanted to have the option to withdraw treatment if necessary.”

“Did you give that permission?” The admiral asked.

“It didn’t get that far Dad.” Tim admitted. “She crashed not that long after Sarah and I got there. The doctors were able to resuscitate her, but they thought she could crash again at any time and asked me to consider a DNR order.”

“You signed that though?” the statement sounded almost accusatory.

Tim gazed at his father, his mouth opening and closing mechanically for several seconds.

“I…I didn’t want her to suffer Dad.” He finally managed to say, his face filling with distress. “If I thought she had a chance I wouldn’t have signed it. I…I’m sorry Dad, I only did what I thought was right.”

For a moment, the Admiral looked puzzled, but then seemed to realise how his words had sounded to his son.

“Hey, Timothy.” He said, walking towards his son. “I’m not saying for a moment that you were wrong to sign the order. I know we haven’t seen each other for a long time, but I know you better than you think. You wouldn’t have agreed to a DNR unless there was no other option. That’s why I asked for you to be the one to make the decision in my place. I trusted you to make the right choice, and I believe that you did.”

“It doesn’t feel like it.” Tim admitted, tears now spilling from his eyes. “Dad…why do I feel like I killed my grandmother?”

“You didn’t Timothy.” The Admiral replied. “It was a natural consequence of her injuries, you didn’t kill her.”

“Surely you haven’t been worried that we might think you had killed Penny?” his mother asked, shocked. “Oh Timothy! That must have been awful for you.”

“You don’t have to do anything now Timothy.” His father added. “I’ll sort out funeral arrangements, you just concentrate on grieving huh?” He then reached out and squeezed his son’s shoulder, an awkward gesture, but an appreciated one.

They called room service for some coffee before setting out for Tim’s apartment, mainly because his parents decided that he was in no fit state to drive them right now.

“How have you managed over the past few days?” his mother asked as they sat down with their drinks. “I wish I’d known sooner, I would have come right away, but I was at a spa retreat with a friend. I’ll make sure I leave contact details in future.” She berated herself.

“It’s been hard, but my friends have been really good to us both.” Tim replied. “They’ve visited and called, one even brought us hot food each night to make sure we were eating properly. I really appreciate that, since they caught a case at the same time.”

“I presume they will want to attend the funeral?” his father asked.

“I guess…I hadn’t really thought about that.”

“Make sure you offer them the opportunity.” His mother replied.

“They all met Penny in one way or another.” Tim nodded. “I think they’d want to be there.”

“What did the hospital say about arrangements?”

“They gave me details of some funeral homes, and I’ve done some research myself. I’ve got all the stuff at my apartment.”

“Do you have any preferences?” his mother asked.

“My neighbour said that one of them was really good, she’d used them for her mother’s funeral about six months ago. I checked them out myself and they have a good reputation, but I’ve researched the others too so you can decide when you get to my place.”

“We’ll do that this afternoon perhaps Timothy.” His father added. “For now, let’s just try and re-connect as a family before we move on to the bad stuff.”

Rather than have a drab lunch at Tim’s apartment, they drove back to collect Sarah and the Admiral took them out to lunch at a good restaurant nearby. It was the sort of place that Tim would never visit, being very expensive, but the Admiral decided that his children needed to be pampered a little after all they had been through. They had a good meal, and said much to each other to mend some of the broken bridges that had come between them over the years.

Perhaps for the first time since he had made the decision to sign the DNR, Tim didn’t feel as if he had committed a crime by allowing his grandmother to die. The knowledge that his parents respected and approved of his decisions in the hospital reinforced the support his friends had given him, and it helped immeasurably. He could not relax completely, since no matter how much he forgave himself for that decision, he still missed his grandmother more than words could express, but the tension in him was lessening as each hour passed.

Only as they were leaving did Tim realise that he had left his phone on silent, so he checked for any calls. There were several messages, one from Tony checking in with him, another from Pamela Cook asking him to call the director’s office when he had the chance. Two were from Ducky, the first much like Tony’s letting him know that he was thinking about him, while the second was a by the way type of message saying that he had recently bought a tablet computer and asking if Tim could drop by to help him get the thing working properly when he had a moment. There was a message from Ziva asking if they needed some food that evening, and another from Gibbs telling him that the Director had approved a request for leave, and would be contacting him soon see how he was. He sent a text to Ziva thanking her for her offer but letting her know that they would likely eat with their parents and that further food supplies, though welcome, would not be needed. He also sent texts to the others to acknowledge their messages, rather than spent too much time calling them.

As he finished his final text, his phone rang again and he noticed that it was Abby calling. Surprised, he answered.

“Hey Abs…” he began.

“Where are you?” she screeched. “I’m at your apartment, but it’s empty! Please tell me you’re okay!”
“Erm…I’m okay Abs.” He replied, bemused. “Is there a problem?”

“I don’t want you making yourself ill by wandering the streets like this!”

“Abs! I’ve been to lunch with my parents, we’re on our way back to my apartment now.” He could almost hear the wind taken out of her sails, and he tried not to laugh. “I’m glad you’re thinking about me though.” He managed to say without chuckling.

“Do you want me there while you deal with your folks?” she asked, protectively.

“Thanks Abs, but that won’t be necessary.” Tim replied. “We’re just gonna be deciding which funeral home to use, I really don’t think that’s gonna cause any problems.”

“O…Okay Timmy.” She sounded like she was beginning to realise that she had over-reacted - again.

“Do you want me to come by later?”

“I’ll see how things go, but I’ll call you anyway okay?” Tim said, knowing that he couldn’t just blow her off and expect her to sit quietly until he was ready to talk. He looked up and saw that the others were waiting for him. “I gotta go Abs, I’m driving and their waiting for me to unlock the car.”

“Okay…bye.”

He disconnected the call and hurried over to the others, apologising for keeping them waiting. To his surprise, his father did not say anything, other than to accept the apology, but he decided to say nothing as they returned to his apartment.

Tim entered his apartment first, and realised almost at once that he didn’t have anywhere for his family to sit, other than the stools at the breakfast bar and his desk and computer chairs. His mother noticed as well.

“Timothy!” she gasped. “Where do your guests sit when they visit?”

“I…well we manage.” He replied, since he didn’t have visitors that often. Usually, if he met with his co-workers it would be at bars or restaurants, so he had never thought to change how things were set in his apartment.

Rather than allow the comment to descend into an argument, his father went and sat at the breakfast bar.

“Are these the details you were telling us about?” he asked. “I think we should get this part over with.”

Tim nodded and left his parents to go through the details that he had put together while he made coffee. He had put the information together with his usual attention to detail, which seemed to impress his father. Rather than offer up his own recommendation, he decided to leave the decision in the hands of his parents, and they seemed willing to go along with that. While they drank their coffee, they discussed the different choices at length, with Sarah giving her opinion now and again, until they made a decision. Only then did they realise that Tim had said nothing throughout the entire conversation.

“Are you happy with our choice Timothy?” His mother asked. “You’ve been so quiet.”

“I’m happy to go along with whatever you want.” He replied, softly.

His mother was about to protest, but he just gazed back at her sadly.

“I want someone else to make the decision.” He admitted.

“If that’s what you want, we’ll go with it.” His father added, realising that Tim wanted to take a back seat right now. Too much of this had been left on his shoulders over the past few days, perhaps it was time for someone else to take some responsibility. “I’ll make the call.”

Tim retreated to his bedroom while his father called the funeral home to set up an appointment. In the quiet of the room, he sat on his bed, glad to be left out for a while. After the pressure that he had endured at the hospital, stepping back was just what he needed. They would need to go and speak to the undertakers, choose caskets and arrange the location for the funeral, things that, right now, he just did not want to think about. All he wanted was for his father to take charge and sort the whole thing out for him.

They left him alone for a few minutes before his mother knocked on the door and came in without allowing him the chance to refuse.

“I wish you could have said something out there.” She said, quietly. “Penny was your grandmother, so it would have been nice to have some input from you.”

“I know.” He sighed. “I just…I don’t know…I just want let someone else organise everything. I looked at all the funeral homes before you came, and Dad picked out the one that I thought was best anyway.”

His mother nodded, realising that her son had done over and above what they could have asked of him right now. He had been the one left to try and cope with the immediate aftermath of the accident, dealing with medical staff, trying to comfort his sister and choose the right course for his grandmother, all things that were not rightfully his responsibility. She could hardly ask him to take an active role now if he didn’t want too.

“We have an appointment at the funeral home tomorrow morning, will you come too?”

“I’d prefer to go to work.” Tim admitted. “I need to get out and do something. It’s too easy to just sit here and wish Penny was alive, you don’t need me around to organise things, so it might be better if I’m kept occupied for the time being.”

He waited for his mother to chastise him, but she just nodded and sighed.

“If that’s what you need to do.” She said. “You’ve done enough anyway, I can’t expect you to halt your life while you wait for the funeral.”

“I’ll get time off once I know when the funeral will be.” Tim promised. “If you need me to do stuff I can ask for the day before or after the funeral as well.”

“We’ll see how things go tomorrow.”

Tim stood up and ushered his mother back into the living room, where he told the others of his decision. His father approved of his choice, agreeing that if he wasn’t busy with the inevitable events surrounding a bereavement, there was no point in him sitting in the apartment brooding.

With that decision made, he called Gibbs and told him he would be back at work in the morning. Gibbs did not protest, other than to insist that he consider working shorter hours for the next week or so. Although he promised to consider it, he had no intention of reducing his working day. He needed that time at his desk to keep his mind occupied so that he didn’t end up dwelling on his grief. Penny would not have wanted him to wallow in misery in his apartment when he could be with his friends, allowing them to help him through the days to come.

They all went back to the hotel in the evening, and had dinner in the restaurant there. The Admiral hired a car through the concierge, which would be ready after they had eaten, so that he could take Sarah home while Tim could have his apartment to himself again. Once he had bid them goodnight, he called his dog walker, and picked up Jethro on his way home rather than spend the night without any company at all.
As soon as he got home, he began to regret agreeing to Sarah going home. Despite Jethro’s presence, he suddenly felt very lonely, wishing he had someone there that he could talk too. It was late now, and he would need to be up early in the morning, as would his co-workers. Perhaps he should just go straight to bed, but the silence was so oppressive, he reached for his phone before he even realised what he was doing. He hardly noticed which number he had selected as he listened to the sound of the phone ringing. It took a while but a familiar voice answered.

“Timothy?”

“Ducky…I’m sorry if I disturbed you…”

“You haven’t disturbed me my lad, what can I do for you?”

“I…this is gonna sound stupid…I just needed to talk to someone.”

“It is never ‘stupid’ to reach out when you need someone to listen to you Timothy. Would you prefer that I spoke to you face to face?”

“No, it’s late…I just…it’s so quiet here now that Sarah has gone home. Perhaps I shouldn’t…”

“Would you like me to talk or to listen? I am seated comfortably for either Timothy.”

“I really miss her Ducky.” Tim found himself mumbling, his voice thick with tears. “I just can believe I’ll never speak to her again. I really don’t know what to do.”

“Gibbs told me that you intend to return to work in the morning, are you really ready for that?”

“I need to be with people, and not spend all my time feeling like I do right now.” Tim admitted. “It hurts so much knowing that the one person I’ve always relied on won’t be there for me anymore. If I could have just a few hours where I could think of something else, just for a while, it will help, I’m sure of that.”

“From what you say, I think you are right. So…you are feeling very lost right now. I can understand that, I have lost loved ones over the years that I thought I could not bear to lose. It will be difficult right now, trying to comprehend a world without that person in it, but I promise you, the time will begin to come when you can think about that person with joy, rather than with pain.”

“I wish I could believe that Ducky.”

“You don’t have to for now Timothy, you have every right to your thoughts, no matter how much they pain you right now.”

Tim sat down, and then lay down on his bed as he listened to Ducky, grateful to listen to the comforting words of the older man. Of all the people that he knew, Ducky had seen the most that life could offer, having travelled the world and experienced more than Tim thought he would ever see in ten lifetimes. Eventually, he was half asleep when Ducky bid him goodnight and ended the call. Perhaps for the first time in days, Tim fell into a deep sleep.

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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:22 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:21 am
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Location: Wales
Name: Erica
Aliases: Conuiren, Cerci Dweeb
Gender: Female
Chapter 8

Everyone was welcoming when he returned to the office the next morning. Apart from short offers of condolence, his team gave him space to settle back into the routine of working and he was quickly up to his ears in computer searches and paperwork. As he had hoped, his mind rarely wandered as his thoughts were taken up with the evidence that he was searching for, or the reports that he needed to finish. He knew that the others were keeping a surreptitious eye on him, and for once he found that comforting rather than irritating.

Each evening, he would go to the hotel where his parents would tell him more details about the funeral arrangements. As soon as he knew the day and time, four days away, he told Gibbs and said that if any of them wanted to come, they would be welcome.

There were days when even work couldn’t keep him from recalling that he had lost his beloved grandmother. The others might find him gazing sadly into space, lost in thought, or he might suddenly get up and disappear to the men’s room for half an hour or so. Tempting though it was to Tony or Gibbs to go after him, both knew that he was looking for solitude at that moment. Instead, they stayed at their desks, ready for one or the other to go and find him if he was too long. He would, eventually, come back to his desk, where he would wipe his eyes, blow his nose and then get back on with his work.

The one time of the day that they would not allow him to be alone was the lunch break. If they did not have lunch in the squadroom, someone or, more usually, two or more of them would drag him outside for an hour to eat. When they went out, they allowed Tim to steer any conversation, rather than forcing him to talk if he wasn’t in the mood. Sometimes he would speak about what they had done in the morning, but every now and then, he would talk about Penny. It was sometimes heart-breaking to listen too, if he concentrated on how her loss was affecting him, but occasionally he would talk about an episode of his childhood where Penny had done or said something particularly funny, which made them all smile.

On the day of the funeral, Tim was absent from work for the day. Gibbs, Tony and Ziva all brought the clothes that they intended to wear to the funeral with them, while Ducky, Jimmy and Abby were already dressed in black when they arrived. The three team members spent a tense morning up to the hour that they were due to leave praying that there would not be a call out before they left. Tony was even tempted to crawl under Gibbs’s desk to disconnect the phone while he was out getting coffee.

Even after they had changed into their funeral clothes, and were collecting their belongings, they had their ears primed for Gibbs’s phone. Thankfully, it didn’t ring and they turned to go before anything could stop them. Vance was standing by the window to see them off.

“Give my best wishes to McGee and his family.” He said. “Don’t hurry back, I think he would appreciate it if you hung around for a while.”

“Okay Director.” Gibbs nodded, before leading them out of the squadroom.

The funeral was to be held in a large church near to where Penelope Langston had lived. The venue had to be large due to the number of people who were attending. She might have been a pain the ass some days, but there was no question that she had been a popular woman. The church was already full when they arrived, but Gibbs was surprised to find a row of seating had been reserved for them, not far from where the family would be seated. It felt a little wrong in Gibbs’s eyes that they had been given seats so close to the family when they had only met the deceased on one occasion, but he guessed that the family wanted Tim’s friends nearby, and he wasn’t going to argue with that.

The service itself was short and simple, with time instead given over to anyone who wanted to offer verbal tributes. There was no shortage of people who wanted to say something about the remarkable woman that had been Tim’s closest confidant. Although the Admiral gave the eulogy, Tim chose not to speak up, which surprised none of them as they all knew that Tim hated being the centre of attention at the best of times. When he was feeling this vulnerable, he preferred to be out of the way as much as possible.

They were in the church for over an hour, but the stories told were both inspirational and amusing so that no one felt that they had been there for too long. It was a ceremony of which Penny could have been proud, where those who had loved her gathered to celebrate her life rather than just mourn her death. There were tears, but also laughter too as everyone enjoyed their own memories of the remarkable woman that had been Penelope Langston.

The burial was to take place at a local cemetery, where numbers had to be limited, those not going on were invited to convene at a nearby hotel where refreshments had been laid on. As they prepared to leave, Tim turned to the team.

“I’d like it if you could come to the cemetery.” He said, softly.

“We’ll be there McGee.” Gibbs replied, on behalf of the others. He knew now that this was going to be the hardest part for Tim to endure, watching the casket being prepared to be lowered into the ground, separating him forever from Penelope. So far, the young man had held it together well, but his grief was simmering only just below the surface, it wouldn’t take much for it to spill over. The pallbearers then passed them, allowing the family to file out after the casket. Those who were going on to the cemetery followed behind.

The journey to the cemetery was quiet, Gibbs was driving with Tony sat beside him and Ziva in the back seat. Jimmy was driving his car behind with Ducky and Abby as passengers, and Gibbs could see in the rear view mirror that they were just as quiet. He decided to break the silence.

“It was a nice service.” He said.

“I liked that they got the formal stuff out of the way quickly and had so many people come up and speak. She was such a popular woman.” Ziva replied, warmly. “I believe that McGee will not have heard some of the stories that were told.”

“I wish he’d managed to get up and speak, perhaps tell the story about the red pumps…” Tony mused, with a sad smile.

“It is hard to get up in front of people and speak at the best of times, I am not surprised that McGee decided to stay silent.” Ziva sighed. “He seemed to like the stories though, he managed to laugh a little at one of them.”

“Perhaps we should approach some of them later and ask them to repeat the stories for us so that we can keep them for posterity.” Tony suggested. “Some of them were classics!”

“Sounds like a great idea to me.” Gibbs agreed. “But let’s ask them to contact us another time so we don’t spend our time interviewing people when we should be offering condolences.”

“That would be a wonderful idea.” Ziva agreed. “I am sure that they would be willing to do that.”

They arrived at the cemetery and took their places at the graveside. The family took their seats as the priest began the burial service at the head of the grave, and the change in Tim was evident as soon as he sat down. He glanced around, almost frantically, for a familiar face, and did not settle until he saw his team mates standing nearby. As they had feared, the finality of this moment was telling on him. His mother seemed to notice as well, as she reached across and took his hands in hers, squeezing them in silent support.

Just before the casket was to be lowered, the family stood to lay flowers on it. The Admiral was stoical, and laid a rose on the casket without a word. His wife muttered something as she laid another rose, but she did not step away as her son joined her. For several moments he stood there, struggling with his emotions, before leaning over to place the rose that he carried on the casket. As soon as he let go of the flower, he buried his face in his hands, giving into his misery at last, while his mother led him away. The Admiral stayed at the graveside while Sarah laid a rose, before he put his arm around her shoulders and drew her to the side so that they could accept the condolences of the other mourners.

Tim had just about pulled himself together again when the team reached the family. He managed to shake hands with Gibbs and Ducky without faltering, but the moment Ziva stepped up to him, he let out a soft sob, which was swiftly muffled as Ziva pulled him into a soothing hug.

“I am so sorry for your loss McGee.” She said, softly. “If you need anything, day or night, call me.”

“T…Thank you Ziva.” He managed to reply.

Tony stepped up and followed suit, since handshakes now seemed so overly formal. Jimmy hesitated, feeling a little awkward, but Tim accepted a hug from him too before Abby stepped up and enveloped him in one her most special hugs.

“I want to be there for you now Timmy.” She whispered. “Not for me, just for you.”

“Thank you Abs.” he smiled. “You’ll be coming to the hotel won’t you?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. “We’ll meet you there.”

There were others still in line to speak with the family, so the team moved off and made their way to their cars.

“Can we remember who spoke?” Tony asked as they got into the car.

“I can.” Ziva replied, with absolute confidence.

“Photographic memory…of course.” Tony sniped, with an amused smile.

Ziva recognised all of the speakers at the hotel, and approached them carefully during the afternoon, asking them if they would be willing to tell their stories again. All were more than happy to co-operate when told of the reason why, and took Ziva’s card to arrange to meet up at a later date. While she was doing this, the others concentrated on distracting Tim, both from Ziva’s activities, and from his own sadness. It seemed that there was no shortage of tales to be told, and by the time the afternoon was over, Ziva had acquired nearly thirty extra volunteers wanting to tell her about Penelope Langston.

With the funeral over, the McGees had to return to Pearl Harbor so that the Admiral could return to his ship. They stayed for two more days, while Tim and Sarah both took time off to spend those days with their parents. As they expected, the team heard nothing from Tim during these two days as he took the time to re-connect with his parents. Even Abby managed to refrain from checking up on him, trusting him to contact them if he needed anything.

Instead, Abby joined Ziva in the task of organising meeting up with the people that she had spoken too at the funeral. They decided to go to visit each one with a tape recorder rather than attempt to write out the stories from memory. Everyone was delighted to give their time, and some also gave them photographs of Penny, dating back as far as the 1960’s for them to scan and use as they wanted.

Even when Tim returned to work again they managed to keep their little project from him, bringing in some of the girls who transcribed interrogations to type up the stories for them. Abby then spent hours each night on her computer at home arranging the stories into what was becoming quite a little book, full of tales and pictures that she knew that Tim would treasure. When she wasn’t doing that, she was over at Tim’s apartment keeping him company if he needed it. When Abby wasn’t there, Ziva might invite him over for supper, or the team might go out for drinks together until Tim began to come to terms with the loss of his grandmother.

Once Abby was happy with what she had put together, she called Ziva and Tony, asking them to come over and give their opinions. The document was still on her computer as they sat down to skim through the general formatting.

“This is really nice.” Ziva said as she clicked through the pages of the document.

“Yeah.” Tony agreed. “If NCIS doesn’t work out you could go into publishing Abs.”

“Thanks guys.” Abby smiled. “I’ve a friend who knows someone in one of those self-publishing places who can make up a couple of copies for me. I thought Sarah might like one too.”

“That would be a lovely idea.” Ziva enthused. “I hadn’t thought beyond printing the pages out ourselves.”

“You know Abby.” Tony grinned. “Why take half measures huh?”

“Of course!” Abby declared “This is Tim we’re talking about! He’s worth it.”

Ziva and Tony smiled at each other, perhaps that was a little over-blown, but they knew what she meant.

Nearly six weeks had passed by the time Abby received the published books that she had ordered. As she had hoped they looked as good as they had appeared on her computer, with only a few minor changes needed to fit the format of the paper that the publisher had used. Each contributor had been credited correctly and each photograph correctly labelled, to the point that Abby wished she had had a third copy printed for herself. She read through the stories for herself that evening, enjoying them one last time before she handed the books over to Tim.

The following morning, Tim came in a little late, having slept badly the night before. After a delay, due to some legal issues, the will had been read the day before and it had brought back a good deal of the grief that he had been working through. Penny had left him all of the rare books that she had collected over the years, which touched him deeply, far more than the sizable sum of money that she had also gifted to him. That had resulted in an evening wallowing in memories by himself, which had ended up depressing him so that he could not sleep.

Ziva watched him sit down and went over to his desk right away.

“Are you alright McGee?” she asked, gently.

“Yeah.” He sighed. “Bad night last night, that’s all.”

“I am sorry to hear that, would you like to talk about it over lunch?”

“Not really Ziva, but I’d be happy to talk about something else if you’re offering.”

“I might even pay McGee.” She smiled as she returned to her desk.

Halfway through the morning, Abby came up to the squadroom looking very pleased with herself. She was carrying a canvas bag which the others guessed must contain the books. She had called them the day before to tell them that they had arrived, and she beckoned them over as she stopped at Tim’s desk.

Tim looked up at her, his eyes questioning.

“Hey Abs.” he said. “Is something up?”

“I hope so Tim.” She said. “We heard some of the stories about Penny at her funeral and they were so lovely it seemed a shame to leave them as memories in the church.”

Tim smiled sadly, some of those stories had been really good, but they had pretty much merged into each other by the time the service had ended.

“I wish I could remember half of them.”

“Tony thought the same thing.” Abby continued. “So Ziva went around and gave her card to anyone who wanted to tell us a good story about Penny, lots of people did so we recorded them all and…well we made these. I hope you like them.”

By now even Gibbs had come over to see what was going on. He had not thought that the others would carry this project through to the end, since their lives were so busy, so he was glad that they had produced something from it. He watched as Abby handed over the bag and waited for Tim to reach in and pull out the contents.

Tentatively, Tim opened the bag and reached in to pull out one of the books. He gasped as he looked at the professional finish of the soft-backed book. On the cover were several pictures of Penny over the years, including one taken with Sarah as a child, and another with Tim when he was small. Tim smiled at the pictures, and the title ‘Memories of Penny’ he swallowed down tears as he flicked through the book, counting just how many pages there were, and how many people had given their time to share the stories for his benefit.

“Do you like it Tim?” Abby asked, nervously, concerned at his silence.

“Oh Abs!” he murmured, through his tears. “I love it. Thank you so much for doing this for us.”

“There is a copy for Sarah as well.” Ziva added. “It was a pleasure to listen to those stories as we collected them.”

Tim stood up and walked around the desk to hug both Ziva and Abby, somehow catching Tony as well. Gibbs stood back and smiled a little, not someone who particularly enjoyed hugging anyone these days, but glad that the others were so connected. Tim then forced himself to put the books away and carry on with his work.

That evening, he went home, picking up some take out on the way and settled down to read his way through the book. He remembered some of the events and the recollections made him smile, most of the stories, though, he had not heard for himself and he was quite surprised by them. Penny was an outgoing, pushy and brash woman, but above all, she was modest about her achievements, and Tim felt proud to learn of some of the causes she had fought for, and for the good deeds she had done in amongst the more humorous stories.

After a while, he picked up his phone and called Abby.

“I’m reading the book now.” He said. “It’s wonderful, thank you so much for doing this.”

“We thought it would be good to record those stories for you, I’m glad you like it.” Abby replied.

“Are you busy right now?”

“No, not at the moment.”

“Do you want to come over and help me finish of some Chinese food and talk about the book?”

“Of course Tim! That would be great. I’ll leave right now. See you soon!”

Tim put his phone down and smiled to himself. The past few weeks had been terrible, but this surprise had just proved to him how lucky he was with his friends. They had really helped him get through the whole, dreadful, experience in a way that he had never thought possible. He still missed Penny, and there would still be difficult days, but at least he could rely on his friends to keep him from falling. It was Penny who had encouraged him to stick to his guns when he had told his father that he would be joining NCIS, and that had brought his friends into his life. Even if she had left nothing in her will, this had to be the best legacy she could ever have given him. He picked up his half-drunk coffee and raised the mug.

“Here’s to you Penny.” He said, proudly. “Rest in Peace.”


The End

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I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer - Douglas Adams 1952-2001


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