Sitting in the car Gibbs felt uncomfortable, Tim told Gibbs his real address and they headed in that direction. Both men had their heads too full to talk to each other.
Tim was planning on how he could find out who was online pretending to be him, figuring out how he could use a back door he had created to get into the NCIS system and use their computing power to take this guy out and then erase any trail they had of Phoenix.
Gibbs was figuring out how to tell Tim he was his father. If it would help him, and would Tim welcome him in his life in that capacity? The letter in his pocket weighed him down.
They arrived at Tim's apartment and even though Tony had told Gibbs, what sort of place Tim was living in, it was a shock.
Luckily, Shana was not at her door as they went up, from the noises coming from her apartment she was busy working. Tim stopped at her door, "Wait a minute," he said, taking out a key unlocking her door and walking into the hallway, he reached under the table and putting the 'John's' wallet back into his coat. He left ten dollars in Shana's jar.
Gibbs looked at him curious.
"I help out," he said. He opened a door next to the hallway and called quietly "Tracey honey?" He took a sandwich out of his bag and handed it to the little girl who ran out. "Thank you uncle Timmy." She whispered, not wanting to bother her mother. She hugged him and went back into her room.
Tim quietly closed the door and left.
"Should we call child services?" Gibbs asked concerned for the little girl.
"No!" Tim said affronted, "Shana's a good mom; she's just trying to provide for her child. She loves Tracey." He defended them, "Not everyone has money Gibbs."
"Sorry Tim," Gibbs said "So you help them?" He asked.
Tim looked shocked at the apology, "I'm the only one in the building with a steady paycheck. I can help so I do."
"I thought you had royalties from your book?" Gibbs asked thinking Tim could afford better than this.
"I was helping mom put Sarah through college." Tim said. "And I had some bills to pay." Tim said.
OK, so being blackmailed by someone wasn't a bill but he had paid the guy ever since he had gone to FLETC and so far it hadn't come back to haunt him, the last twenty thousand dollars had gone to him and he'd been scraping by on his paycheck ever since.
Tim unlocked his door and let Gibbs in.
Gibbs was shocked but managed not to let it show. He was surprised by how small the apartment was, but also by the amount of computer equipment in various states of repair he had spread over a table.
"I do computer repairs," Tim explained.
"Coffee?" Tim offered. Gibbs nodded gratefully. Trying not to be nosey, he looked over Tim's shoulder and noticed how empty the cupboards were.
He felt a tug on his gut, he wanted more than anything to pick his son up and take him away from this place. Placing Gibbs' coffee on a free space on the table Tim accidently knocked his answer machine and it started playing the message from last night.
Tim scrambled over a crate of wires trying to reach the machine to switch it off. He hit the button but looked stricken at Gibbs, "God, Boss. I'm sorry, you shouldn't have heard it."
Tim looked at Gibbs' face, he looked mad.
Tim swallowed, suddenly scared. He took a swig of his own coffee to calm his nerves.
Watching the conflicting emotions on his son's face. Gibbs took a calming breath.
"How are you holding up Tim? What your father did to you was uncalled for." He said.
Tim laughed a hollow laugh, "Yeah but not unexpected, and apparently he's not my father, apparently that honor goes to some other son of a bitch!"
Gibbs flinched. This was not going so good.
"You heard the message; I'm not a McGee, Dunno who I am." Tim started crying as the emotions engulfed him again.
Gibbs tried to reach out and place a comforting hand on his son's shoulder but Tim flinched and moved away.
"Tim, just because McGee isn't your father, it doesn't mean your any less you than you were before you found this out." He reasoned.
"You're right," Tim gave that empty laugh again, "Instead of being the son of a bastard, I'm the bastard son of a guy who hated me so much he couldn't even stay with my mother. He must have really hated us."
Tim reached under the kitchen cupboard, pulled out a bottle of bourbon, and poured some in his coffee.
Gibbs sat there, one part of him wanted to stop Tim and tell him he was his father, the other half had just heard unedited what Tim felt about the man who fathered him. He was worried Tim would hate him.
"You get some sleep Tim, I'll come by in the morning and see how your doing." He told him and left.
He sat in his car and put his head in his hands. "YOU RAN AWAY!" he chastised himself.
He picked up his phone and hit speed dial.
"Ducky, I tried…..He hates me," Gibbs said.
"You told him?" Ducky asked him.
"No, he went on and on about how his father was an asshole who didn't care about his kid! I couldn't tell him it was me."
"Jethro, your boy needs you. Go back in there and talk to him." Ducky said.
"He's resting, I will go back tomorrow, I'm on my way back we still have this hacker to catch." Gibbs said. He closed the phone and hit the accelerator. Not seeing McGee watching him from the window.
Tim watched his Boss sit in his car, obviously upset.
"Great he thinks you're useless." Tim started talking aloud to himself. He ditched the coffee, grabbed the bourbon, and sat at his computer.
"OK it's time for the Phoenix to stay dead." He started typing code into his computer.
Within half an hour, he had most of his leads. He started hacking into NCIS to use their computing power to find out who was impersonating him and he needed to wipe all traces of Phoenix from their computer systems.
Tony looked up as Gibbs walked into the bullpen.
"Whaddya got?" He asked.
Russ from cybercrimes looked up from behind Tim's desk. "Er Sir, Someone's hacking our systems now, from the footprint he's leaving it looks like the Phoenix."
Gibbs walked up to the man.
"Can you trace it back to the source?"
"I'll try." Russ said. He typed furiously on the keyboard. "Damn he's good."
Russ concentrated on the computer, "No...No...NO!" He grumbled getting increasingly frustrated as the hacker covered his tracks.
"Boss, Maybe Tim would have more luck." Tony suggested and then clammed up as he received glares from both Russ and Gibbs.
"I can do this Gibbs, It's just…..this guy is really good!" Russ explained. "This is definitely Phoenix, I wasn't sure about the other Hack, but this is the real deal." Russ stopped and looked up. "Gibbs this is strange, He's hiding details of the real Phoenix but showing up obvious clues to the fake one,"
"Fake or not can you find him!" Gibbs growled.
"He's in D.C." Russ said still typing furiously "GOT HIM!" he said and wrote an address off on a piece of paper and handed it to Gibbs.