The White Hat Sneakers

Chapter 11: A New Morning

“Whoa!” Tony’s concerned shout had Gibbs looking up from Reams, just in time to see Tony catch McGee before the younger agent hit the dirt. Tim sprawled, long legs loose, his upper body totally limp. Tony was on the ground with him, half kneeling, both arms wrapped around McGee’s chest, holding him upright. As Gibbs watched, Tony shifted, getting more of McGee upright and twisting himself to take more of McGee’s weight against his chest. The two paramedics jogged up, one heading towards Reams, the other towards McGee.

Gibbs breathed out heavily when he didn’t see any blood on either Tim or Tony, and returned his attention to Reams.

Ziva backed up out of the way as the EMT bent down, the slim man touching a hand to Reams neck. It really didn’t need to be verified—Reams had more bullets in him than a range target. Between the combined weaponry of over two dozen law enforcement agencies, Reams was dead long before he hit the ground.

Fornell reached them then, moving slowly because of his injuries, but his face no less determined than it had been up at the house. The FBI Agent gritted his teeth at seeing Reams dead, and Gibbs could understand why—Fornell had wanted to do it himself.

The FBI Agent shook his head, then looked up at Gibbs. “Anyone else hurt?”

Gibbs’ brow furrowed briefly, and he turned to look at Tony and McGee. The EMT stood up, brushing her hands against her slacks. She saw the two lead agents looking at her, and gave a small smile.

“No bullet wounds,” she promised. “But he and the others need to get to a hospital now. I’d like to call in the chopper.” Gibbs gave a nod, and she jogged away, heading back to the ambulance to make the call.

With her out of the way, Gibbs could see that Tim was actually awake, staring listlessly towards Reams’ body with glazed eyes. Tony still had his arms around the kid, still holding him upright—which told Gibbs more than anything exactly how Tim was. The younger agent was not one for touching, rarely initiating contact himself. But McGee wasn’t even trying to get away right now. He didn’t even seem conscious of the fact that Tony was there.

Gibbs turned back to Fornell, but the FBI Agent had already gone, headed at a slow walk across the lot to talk to the rest of his team. The paramedic that had checked on Reams was following him now, looking a little annoyed that Fornell wasn’t stopping to get checked over. Ziva glanced at Gibbs, and he lifted his eyebrows. At the silent order, she jogged after Fornell as well.

With a soft sigh, Gibbs stepped around Reams and walked over to his boys. Tony watched him come, but McGee’s gaze didn’t shift from the body.

“Hey.” Gibbs knelt down next to them. This close up, he could clearly see how dazed Tim was and how tightly Tony was holding him around his shoulders, as if he were afraid the kid might break. “Hey,” Gibbs called again, keeping his voice soft, touching a hand to McGee’s knee. “Tim, you okay?”

Tim gave a nervous jump at the touch, blinking rapidly as if awaking from a stupor. It took a long moment before those green eyes finally met Gibbs’, appearing both too young and too old at the same time.

“What?”

“You okay?”

Swallowing, Tim gave a single nod.

“Yeah,” he said quietly. “I’m…” He swallowed again, and his gaze fell away. “I’m fine." He closed his eyes. “I’m a little tired.” He opened his eyes again when he was finished speaking, blinking drowsily, and returned his gaze to Gibbs. “Boss?”

“Yeah, Tim?”

Tim’s eyes drifted away—he was obviously having trouble staying focused. "Is Tony okay?"

Gibbs didn’t answer immediately, just patted McGee’s knee, but his gaze shifted meaningfully to Tony. His senior agent nodded.

He would look after him.

“He's fine, McGee,” Gibbs said, shifting his gaze back to Tim. "We're all fine. You did good."

But Tim had already lowered his head, eyes struggling to stay open. It was clearly a losing battle.

Gibbs stood up and turned his gaze once more to Reams’ body a few feet away. Frowning, he walked over to the body and studied the limp form for a moment. He wasn’t stupid—Reams last premeditated act hadn’t been to kill McGee. He’d been aiming for Tony. McGee had saved Tony’s life by drawing Reams’ attention.

He’d nearly lost them both.

“Gibbs,” Ziva called, jogging back over to his side. She stopped about a couple of feet from him, her skin wan in the half light, darkening the shadows under her eyes. Ziva hid her emotions better than any of them, but even she looked at the end of her tether. When she saw that she had his gaze, she lifted her chin slightly.

“The FBI believe they have found evidence revealing who hired Reams to break into the DOE. They got a hit on the names McGee supplied.” She frowned slightly. “They want to know how you want to proceed.”

Gibbs stared at her for a long moment, and then looked over at Fornell. His friend had walked over to the coroner’s van, watching as they loaded Tara Stokes into the back. He knew the tension in those shoulders, the anger still present in his friend’s attitude. Gibbs nodded.

“Tell Agent Fornell that NCIS is relinquishing the lead on this case. It’s his now, to go after those bastards as he pleases.”

Ziva’s brow furrowed. “But--”

“We got our man,” Gibbs said quietly, glancing briefly at Reams. “I’m willing to let Fornell go and get the rest of them on his own terms. FBI is better equipped anyway.”

Ziva assessed him for a moment, knowing he really didn’t mean that last statement, but she nodded. Fornell still had demons to slay. She turned and walked away, heading towards the FBI Agent.

Gibbs lowered his gaze to the gravel lot, and then towards the east, in the direction of the Shenandoah Valley. The sun had finally cleared the horizon, and the peach sky was darkening to a healthy, beautiful blue. It was going to be a gorgeous day.

It was at that moment that a familiar NCIS truck pulled into the lot, sliding in between the barn and the black moving truck. Ducky behind the wheel and Palmer by his side. Gibbs just smiled. About time they got here.

“Boss,” Tony called quietly.

Gibbs shifted to look down at his two agents again. His smile broadened. Tim’s eyes were finally closed; he had succumbed to sleep, looking almost like he’d melted against Tony’s chest. Even from here, Gibbs could tell Tony was awkwardly positioned, half crouched, with Tim leaning heavily against him. The older agent looked about to fall over, but was clearly afraid to move for fear of waking the kid. Tony’s eyebrow lifted in plea as he looked up at his Boss.

“Help?”


Fornell, Redford, McGee, Angela and Cheevers, accompanied by Ducky, rode in the helicopter to a large hospital located down in the valley, while Gibbs, Tony and Ziva and Fornell’s team followed by car. Not happily, Jimmy was forced to take the bodies of Reams, Matthews and the dead goon back to NCIS by himself. He’d been vying to meet Ducky at the hospital, but Ducky insisted the bodies needed to be transported back sooner rather than later.

The doctors took good care of the three computer experts and the FBI Agents, whisking them away with confident smiles and promises that everyone would be fine. Ducky went in with them—it turned out that Tim had designated Ducky as his PCP, giving him better access. That was the only thing that gave the team from NCIS comfort during the first few hours of the morning.

Zelnitz’s commanding officer and Cheevers’ manager showed up not long after they’d arrived at the hospital. No one else came for the two hurt agents—which sadly corroborated why those two had been chosen.

Ducky’s face was grim but not unhappy when he returned after about an hour. He helped translate as the doctors ran through the various ills and issues of the three white hats. Unsurprisingly, each was suffering from various degrees of hypothermia and exhaustion, complicated by the injuries they’d sustained. Cheevers suffered from a hairline fracture of his leg—with a cast it would heal fairly quickly. Angela suffered from bruised ribs and various other bruises, mostly superficial. McGee had two broken ribs, infected cuts on his arms, and a small amount of internal bleeding from being hit in the stomach, the last of which they felt would probably heal on its own without surgery. The biggest concern for both Angela and McGee was that both had contracted a nasty cold—which, in their weakened states, could easily develop into pneumonia if not carefully monitored. It meant they were both going to need to be hospitalized for a while, until the doctors were confident they could be released.

As for transferring them, it was tentatively decided that they could probably be transported by Wednesday. Earlier for Cheevers, if he wanted to leave before the others.

Fornell refused to stay longer than it took them to stitch and bandage him up and get him back on his feet. He, Redford and Royce left with Sacks a few hours after arriving at the hospital, Fornell promising Gibbs quietly that he would not “push it” when he got back to D.C.

Gibbs didn’t believe him. But he also knew how strong his old friend was. Fornell would be fine. Plus, he had Sacks to look after him.

When nine o’clock Monday morning came and went without hide or hair of a computer virus, Abby put in for two days leave and drove out to the hospital, getting there just before noon. She essentially traded places with Gibbs, Ziva and Ducky. Against their personal desires, the three had to return to NCIS to brief the Director and formally hand the case over to the FBI. Jenny was reluctant to do so, despite what Gibbs had already done, but, when she learned that Gibbs had left Tony at the hospital as well—she gave in.

Not that it really mattered that Tony had stayed. McGee didn’t wake up during that first day. He first cracked his eyelids at about mid-morning on Wednesday, but they didn’t stay open long. He woke up a few more times that day, when he was poked and prodded, but, generally, he stayed down.

The doctors assured that it was normal after the trauma he’d been subjected to.

Tony paced, wrote reports, and watched daytime TV in Tim’s room. Abby slept, oftentimes on the same bed with McGee. Neither left.

By Wednesday evening, the doctors agreed that McGee could be transported back to a D.C. hospital. He was bustled into an ambulance that night. Tim did wake when they were prepping him, but he wasn’t very coherent. If he heard Abby and Tony promising they’d be following in Abby’s car right behind him, he didn’t make it obvious. He just gave them a tiny, delirious smile and closed his eyes again—and slept for the whole drive.

And so it was that Tim finally made it home
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