Six Russian submarines emerged from the Atlantic's dark throat at dawn. They hit the Dreadnought class Navy vessel with torpedoes, and then waited for the crew to surrender. After a quarter of an hour, they spotted a white bed sheet fluttering in the morning breeze. Dozens of men on inflatable boats with small mobile engines went from the subs to the ship and boarded it with an entire armory of weapons. Their leader, Rage, had a scar on the tip of his nose, dark sideburns, small brown eyes and hair, and thick muscles in his neck. He got his nickname for a reason. He was never happy or sad. He never even got angry or frustrated. The man had two settings: neutral, and rage. He was in neutral mode when he watched his men escort the crew to the top deck. The four hundred sailors, thirty officers, and four NCIS agents stood still as they were stripped of their weapons and phones. When the entire vessel was searched, and Rage's target was nowhere to be found, he ordered his men to find their mole, a young petty officer called Griffin.
The slim, ginger-haired Griffin was ghostly pale. He knelt in front of Rage like a servant before a king. "Sir, I'm s-so s-sorry," Griffin stammered. "I heard my CO say his name and I – I just assumed it was him."
"Where is he?" Rage asked. He spoke the words with a nursery rhyme lilt to his voice. "Where is the admiral?"
"He – he isn't here, Sir. He isn't here."
"Your orders were to contact me when Admiral McGee boarded this ship. I received your message, summoned my fleet, rushed here from Russia to get my revenge, and now you're telling me that there is no McGee here?"
"No!" Griffin said. "I mean, yes. Yes, there's a McGee here. Timothy McGee. The wrong McGee. It's the admiral's son." Griffin pointed towards a group of people standing on the starboard side of the deck. "He's standing right over—"
The gunshot cut off Griffin's sentence. Rage's lips curled and his nostrils twitched when the officer's bloody face landed on his freshly shined black boots. Calmly, he pocketed his gun and wiped his shoes off on Griffin's uniform. The group that Griffin pointed at consisted of the captain, his first mate, the ship's physician, and the four NCIS agents. Rage gestured for a dozen of his men to surround them. He approached the captain and gave him a sincere salute. "Captain Neal. Sorry about the torpedoes. I hope you won't sink."
Captain Neal, a blond man in his forties, didn't even try to suppress his fury. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded.
"I am a man with one question to ask," Rage said. "Where is Timothy McGee?"
Half a moment of silence, and then a silver-haired man in one of the dark blue NCIS jumpsuits stepped forward. "I'll tell you where he is."
Rage cocked his head to the side, and his eyebrows towards his hairline. "Splendid. And you are…?"
"Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I'm Agent McGee's superior." Gibbs didn't even blink when Rage stepped into his personal space. "Agent McGee is in Arizona. Utah, maybe. He's on leave this week. Went on a road trip out west with his sister."
Rage gestured at Griffin's body. "My source told me that he's here. I came for Admiral McGee, of course, but it looks like I'll have to settle for his son. A silver medal is better than nothing."
Gibbs shrugged. "Wish I could help you."
Gibbs didn't respond.
Rage slipped a calloused hand into his front pocket. "You're a good man, Agent Gibbs," Rage purred. "A kind man, protecting your agent like this. I'm trying to be kind as well, so I'll kill you quickly." Rage pointed his gun at Gibbs' face.
Two men and one woman appeared, lightning-fast, between Gibbs and the bullet. "Stand down!" Gibbs barked at his agents.
"You don't have to protect me, Boss," one man said. He took his baseball cap off and tossed it to his feet. "I'm Tim McGee. I'm the Admiral's son."
Rage lowered his gun. "You're McGee."
"My friends call me Timmy." The agent flashed a movie-star smile. "I graduated from MIT – computer forensics and biomedical… uh, biomedicals. I'm a novelist. I have a grandmother named Penny and a dog called Jethro. I hate superglue. My life's greatest ambition is to meet Leonard Nimoy."
The sun's rays highlighted the redness spreading up Rage's neck and across his cheeks. He'd be neutral for another minute, tops. "Tell me, Agent, if you're McGee, why does the patch on your uniform say DiNozzo?"
"Does it?" The man yanked his shirt up to his eye line. "Must have mixed up my uniforms with Special Agent DiNozzo's. Subconsciously, I probably did it on purpose. It's an honor to wear that man's clothes. I really admire—"
Neutral mode no longer. Rage pointed his gun at the woman's leg, and fired. She shrieked and crumpled and hugged her bleeding knee. "Ziva!" Gibbs shed his overcoat and wrapped it around the wound.
"You son of a bitch!" the man with the DiNozzo patch spat.
"Surrender McGee!" Rage bellowed. He cocked his gun again and pointed it at Tony's head. "Surrender him now or I'll kill you!"
"Stop—Stop! I'm right here!" a new voice shouted. The other male agent shoved his way to the front of the group. "I'm Tim McGee. Look, look!" He held up a laminated ID and pointed at the name and face. "Please, I – I'll come with you – just don't hurt anyone else."
"Dammit, McGee!" DiNozzo growled through clenched teeth. He grabbed his arm.
Tim shook Tony's grip off. He shared an apologetic look with Ziva, a resolute look with Gibbs, and then he raised his arms in surrender and walked up to Rage. "I'm all yours," he said through a slight tremble in his voice. "Now let the rest of them go."
Rage reverted back to neutral. His polite smile returned and his voice softened. "Brave boy. Like your father. Some would call it brave, what he did when he killed my brother. Why don't you give your daddy a call, Timothy? Have him meet us for breakfast."
Tim smirked. "Admiral McGee is in Arizona. Utah, maybe. He's on leave this week. Went on a road trip out west with—"
Rage stopped another sentence, but this time with his fist. A pair of pirates grabbed McGee by the elbows and dragged him to the side of the ship and the boat waiting below. Rage joined them after a final word with Gibbs. "If Admiral McGee doesn't make a public statement about his sins against my family, against Moscow, against all of Russia, I will execute his son. He has twenty-four hours."
Rage and his men returned to their submarines. Gibbs and DiNozzo watched them circle the ship like sharks for a few minutes before diving underwater to disappear.
Tim was gone.
Tony looked at Gibbs' icy face. "What do we do now, Boss?" he whispered.
Gibbs took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "We get Ziva to sickbay," he said quietly. "And then we get McGee back."
Timothy McGee woke up on his side in the middle of a four-square court made out of masking tape. His ankles were twisted, and one knee was folded over the other so tight that it cut off the blood circulation. Tim stretched his limbs out as far as possible and wiggled his fingers and toes until the sensation subsided. He blinked the dust out of his eyes and noticed, suddenly, that he was dying of thirst. The dark, empty room didn't care. It smelled like a church, but looked like an abandoned Kindergarten classroom. Piles of books, boxes of toys, brooms, paper, puppets, curtains, pictures, furniture, candles, and every type of writing utensil imaginable filled the place. "Church basement," McGee concluded. "Why am I in a church basement?"
"Because it is perhaps the very last place anyone would think to look for Russian pirates," a voice said. The man who called himself Rage strutted through the single wooden door. "Your friends, the ones you threatened me with, are undoubtedly searching for you everywhere in the world except for their own backyard."
McGee slowly sat up. "We're in Washington D.C.?" Rage nodded. "The Navy can track your submarines, you know."
"Oh, I'm counting on that." Rage found a dusty old wood chair and pulled it over to the four-square court. "You remember getting into my little motorboat, yes?"
"Before you knocked me unconscious, yes."
"Well, we didn't take that boat to a sub. You, me, and two of my men traveled straight to D.C. The subs spread out in every other direction." Rage smiled so wide that McGee could see every tooth. "They will never find you." Rage clapped his hands together and leapt to his feet. "Now, we need some entertainment to pass the time, don't you think?" Rage went outside and returned right away with a small television that he plugged in and turned on to a news station. He scooted the chair over to McGee and took a handful of zip ties out of his back pocket. "Did you know that a man can literally die from the pain of torture?"
Agent Gibbs wrapped his hand around the interrogation room doorknob, but didn't twist it. He tried, unsuccessfully, for the fifth time in as many minutes, to calm himself down. Today the world was reminding him that he never truly appreciated the people in his life until they were gone. His heart was rocketing out of his chest and his breaths were sharp in his windpipe. Gibbs imagined that the doorknob was the suspect's throat and he strangled it with all of his strength. Ziva limped into his peripheral vision. After getting patched up at the hospital she'd reported for duty against everyone's better judgment. "Gibbs, perhaps I am the one best suited to interview Sargent Roberts. You and Tony are both so emotional—"
"I'm fine," Gibbs hissed, louder than he intended. His desire to escape Ziva's concern overruled his dread of entering the interrogation room. Gibbs shut the door behind him quietly, lay the case file on the desk, and calmly sat down in his seat. The suspect, Sargent Roberts, would be instantly disliked by Gibbs even if he wasn't suspected of participating in the plot to kidnap Admiral McGee. Even the shape of his pointed nose seemed to shout arrogance. He lounged in the chair like they were two buddies about to watch a football game.
"Where's that chick with the weird accent?" Roberts asked. He snapped his gum between yellow teeth. "I'll talk to her all day."
Gibbs opened the file and took out a picture. "Do you know his man?" he asked.
Roberts barely glanced down. "Nope."
Gibbs stared, his expression neutral, for so long that Roberts started to squirm. He rubbed one arm and scratched the other. The second that a single pore began to sweat, Gibbs spoke again. "His name is Special Agent Timothy McGee. He's Admiral McGee's son."
Roberts wore his smug expression like a twisted Halloween mask. "So?" He picked at nonexistent lint on his green t-shirt.
Gibbs laced his fingers and set them in his lap. "Where is he?"
"How should I know? I didn't kidnap him."
"We know," Gibbs said. "I was on the ship the day McGee was taken. You weren't there, but friends of yours were."
Roberts frowned, but his eyes still smiled. "What ship?"
Gibbs sat up straighter while Roberts sunk deeper in his seat. "We know that you're connected to all this. We have surveillance of you and petty officer Griffin talking about a Russian pirate called Rage." Gibbs took a deep breath and bellowed, "Where is McGee?"
Roberts almost jumped out of his skin. "Man, I don't know!"
Gibbs was on his feet. He gripped the table and leaned against his arms. "That man is a government agent," he spat. His face turned red. "He is on my team – he's my family – and you will tell me where he is right now!"
Roberts folded his arms in front of his chest and mimed zipping his lips shut.
The door flew open and Tony DiNozzo entered the room in a whirlwind. Before Gibbs could blink, Tony kicked Roberts out of his chair, tackled him to the ground, and punched his face until it bled. "You son of a bitch!" Tony yelled. "That's my best friend, you bastard!"
Gibbs was only able to pry DiNozzo off of Roberts when Ziva and Abby sprinted in to help. "Tony, stop – stop!" Abby cried.
"He is no good to us if he is unconscious!" Ziva reminded him.
Once they got DiNozzo into the hallway, Gibbs adjusted his grip so that he was holding Tony more than handling him. "Tony – Tony! Come on, son, calm down."
"Boss," Tony gasped, "you've got break him! We have to find him!"
Gibbs kicked the door shut behind them. He stood up straight and gestured to the girls. "Come here. All of you, come here." Gibbs wrapped his long arms around Tony, Abby and Ziva's shoulders and pulled the four of them into a tight group hug. "We'll find him. We will. I swear."
Just then, all of their cellphones rang simultaneously. Gibbs answered first. He listened for no longer than five seconds, and then snapped his flip phone shut. "Conference room, DiNozzo. Let's go."
"What's going on?" Abby asked. Tears hovered in her red eyes.
"Ziva, keep Roberts talking," Gibbs ordered. "We'll talk to the admiral."
Tony couldn't believe what he was seeing. His own father could be a heartless son of a bitch, but Admiral McGee actually was a heartless son of a bitch. He actually yawned while Vance explained the situation. He looked at his watch to see if it was lunchtime, not to check on Rage's deadline. His son was about to be executed and he didn't seem to give a single damn.
When he was fully debriefed, Admiral McGee leaned back in his chair, folded his hands in his lap, and said, "I bet that boy didn't even put up a fight. Probably cried and wet himself. What a mess he's gotten himself into."
Tony felt something in his head snap like a rubber band. He didn't remember jumping to his feet but there he was, towering over the admiral and yelling. "How dare you – you self-righteous, arrogant, impotent blowhard! Tim gave himself up to save me! He's in this mess because of you!"
"DiNozzo!" Vance yelled for the fifth time.
Admiral McGee stuck his chin out and said, "Get your agent out of my sight, Gibbs."
Gibbs slowly got to his feet and sauntered over to DiNozzo. "Step aside, Tony," he said.
"Boss—" Gibbs gave DiNozzo a look that shriveled up his insides. Shoulders shaking with fury, fists clenched so tight that his fingers turned white, Tony took a deep, steadying breath and retreated back to his chair.
The admiral leaned towards the senior agent and said in a conspiratorial voice, "I want that man punished, Gibbs. I will not allow your agents to speak to me like that."
"Admiral," Gibbs began at a deadly whisper, "we have bigger priorities right now."
"I want to press charges!"
"Admiral, the one and only thing that we are going to do right now is rescue your son. I won't spare a single agent for anything else."
McGee snorted. "I love my son, Gibbs, but I can't imagine why you would devote the resources of this entire agency to one man – especially a man like Tim. Have the police look for him. Don't you have other cases to concentrate on? Something… important?"
Tony saw Gibbs' left eye twitch. He thought about taking out his cell phone to record what was about to happen next, but he didn't dare blink.
Gibbs leaned forward. He looked like a hawk zeroing in on its prey. "Tim is very important, Admiral, and you don't deserve him. You don't deserve a son like him."
McGee's face turned red. "Excuse me?"
"He is one of my finest agents," Gibbs hissed. "He's brave. He's brilliant. Everyone here respects him. He's ten times the man you are. I would be proud to call him son."
"Proud?" the admiral snorted. "Proud of that wimpy, nerdy little boy—"
Gibbs' fist hit the admiral's nose so hard that blood spurted across the entire conference table. McGee was in shock more than pain. He sat in his chair with his palms plastered to his face and eyes bigger than walnuts. Leon's mouth hung open. His eyes flickered back and forth between Gibbs and McGee but he couldn't find any words.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs took a tissue and calmly wiped the admiral's blood off of his fist. "I'll find your son, Admiral. I fight for my family." He dropped the tissue in the wastebasket, adjusted his jacket, and strolled out of the room.
Gibbs turned to see DiNozzo following him.
Tony grinned. "You're the greatest."
One corner of Gibbs' lips turned upwards. Just then, Abby came running up the stairs. "Ziva says she's got something!"
It was slow. Somehow that was the worst part. He probably would've slipped into shock if it happened all at once. The leisurely pace gave him plenty of time to think about exactly what the knife, the bat, and the blowtorch were doing to his body. Rage's voice was the sweetest thing in his world. Even when he switched to Hyde-Hulk mode his shouts remained a lullaby. It was soothing the way a splinter is compared to a stake through the heart. Rage ranted and raved about something the admiral did to his family in the 90's. Something about Russia's trade treaties with various South American countries, something about his family, something about the Navy ruining everything and McGee leading the attack. At one point Rage knelt in front of him, looked up into his eyes and explained the warped injustice of it all. How he would sleep better that night knowing that every bruise his family endured had been paid back. For the millionth time, Tim wished that Tony was there with a quick quip, with a one-liner that would make Tim laugh in spite of the situation. Tim wished that Ziva was there. If he could just see her calm, cool, confident face, maybe he would feel that way, too. Tim wished for Gibbs – wished for his presence – it was both the whip and the net. Both alarm and lullaby. Both "it will be ok" and "fight, dammit!"
Eventually the pain shifted from a sting in his knee, a burn on his elbow, a throb in his skull, etc. to an all-encompassing agony. The bruises, the burns, and the cuts all blended together. He started to drift, to disconnect from his body. That quivering, sweating, bleeding flesh could be amputated if he gave his consent. He wouldn't, though. That would disappoint Gibbs. The boss would give him a lecture about not giving up no matter how much pain he was in. "I'm not giving up, Boss," he imagined saying. "I'm just going to rest for a minute. Just one minute."
He imagined Gibbs' response: "Stay awake, Tim. Don't close your eyes. Just focus on that – focus on one thing and one thing only: do not close your eyes."
At some point near the next dawn, something hatched inside Tim's heart. Something with wings. Wings flying on a second wind. He didn't know what to call it, could barely describe it, so he pictured it – pictured an infant bird taking flight. The world came back into focus. He saw Rage wielding a red knife. "Your 24 hours are almost up," Rage said. The knife flipped over in his hand. Light reflected off the blood. "If you want to keep your life, now is that time to beg for it."
"Go to hell," Tim said, and he spit on the man's shoes. And then his chin slumped against his chest. He mentally apologized to Gibbs when his eyes closed.
Gunshots in the distance. Men shouting. Rage left the basement and didn't return. Footsteps – boots on concrete. Someone gasped. "Probie?" Hands on his cheeks, fingers against his throat, a dozen swearwords exhaled in a single breath. "I found him, Boss," said the familiar voice. "He's… he's alive."
Tim forced his eyes open and met Tony's. "About time," he croaked.
DiNozzo's hands trembled against his cheeks. "I'm going to get you out of here, Tim," he said. "Look at me. 'Atta boy. Look at me." Tim obeyed. Tony's eyes were wet – drowning. "You will not die," he whispered, repeating Gibbs' words from a lifetime ago. "You will not die." He took out a knife and sawed through the zip ties attaching Tim to the chair. Ankles first, hips second, and then his wrists. His arms collapsed to his sides and hung like an orangutan's. Tim didn't have the strength to keep himself from falling forward. His chin landed on Tony's left shoulder. His knees hit the floor. "I gotcha," Tony whispered. He wrapped his arms around Tim's body and twisted, adjusted him until he lay comfortably on his back in Tony's lap. "Easy, buddy. I gotcha."
More footsteps. A pair of boots appeared at the door. They froze – stood in the threshold for a half a minute. "Ambulance is on its way," Gibbs said. He padded forward and knelt beside Tim, examined the wounds, cupped his face and rubbed his thumb against Tim's cheekbone. "Hang in there, son."
Tim managed to summon a quarter of a smile before he passed out.
A short list of memories Tim McGee never wanted to have:
1. Waking up to that shriek-siren of the ambulance and seeing the paramedics shaking their heads in shock as they examined his wounds.
2. The sensation of porcupine quills in his lungs. Trying to cough them away but unable to find the strength.
3. Gibbs' face. Upside down. Leaning over him, he realized. The shallow water in his eyes. The infinitesimal quiver in his chin.
4. The breathing mask landing on his nose and mouth. It felt like a man's hand trying to suffocate him.
5. His father waiting under the awning outside the ER. Disgust on his face – at the wounds? Disappointment - at his son's inability to escape? "Dad," Tim croaked. He reached out for his father, palm up, but the admiral's eyes were on Gibbs. One of those eyes was swollen and black. "This is your fault, this is all your fault," Admiral McGee growled at Tim's boss. "Sending a fragile kid like him into danger. If he survives this he will never work for you again – I'll see to that myself!"
6. He counted white-clothed doctors and nurses like sheep: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7… Did he really need that many? Wasn't it a bad sign that he needed that many? He opened his mouth to ask a question and that's when he passed out again.
7. His mind was a haunted house. Nightmare after nightmare after nightmare. His father's disappointment and his mother's numb enabling. Sarah showing up at his apartment again – stabbed, choking, dying. Penny arrested at some protest and jailed for life. Gibbs firing him from NCIS, saying things like, "You never belonged here" and "I never trusted you." Abby inconsolable, Ziva insane, Ducky wasting away with Alzheimer's, Jimmy growing old overnight, Kate's ghost blaming him for her death, Tony forcing him to stand on a stage and telling the whole world what a worthless, wimpy geek he was.
8. Waking up alone in the dark. Bandaged up like a mummy, needles in both arms, his body all aches and thirst and itches. The only light in the room came from under the door. In the dimness he saw buttons on the side of his bed. Desperately he tried to reach for one to call a nurse. He needed facts: where he was, what day it was, what surgery they performed, were the others all right, did they catch the pirates…
He must have passed out again because when he opened his eyes he saw a window full of sunlight. "Finally," an exasperated voice mumbled. Tim heard a chair scrape across the floor. A moment later his father blocked the sun. "I've been waiting here for half an hour, Timothy."
"Sorry," Tim muttered, although he couldn't imagine what he was apologizing for. His father's eyebrows scrunched and Tim realized his mistake. "Sorry, Sir."
Admiral McGee adjusted his uniform and stuck his chest out. "Son, we need to have a talk about what you're going to say when people ask you about what happened – especially the media."
Tim shuffled his body backwards so that he was sitting up a bit in the bed. "Dad, there's water on the tray behind you."
"I don't want anything to drink."
"No, Dad, I mean – I mean I'm thirsty. Could you—"
"When they interview you, talk about how grateful you are," Admiral McGee continued, ignoring his son. "Say that I – mention me by name – that I made my son's safety the Navy's top priority. If they ask why you were targeted, say nothing about my prior relationship with Rage and his family. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and it's NCIS' fault you were kidnapped. Mention what a great role model I am and that I taught you to handle anything – including torture. Most importantly of all, Timothy, you must announce that you are resigning from NCIS because they are unreliable, untrustworthy, and disrespectful to their superiors. Say that you want nothing to do with Leroy Jethro Gibbs."
It was brief, but Tim wondered, for just a second, which torture he preferred: Rage's bats and blades, or his father's selfishness. His jaw dropped and his mouth remained open in shock for so long that a bug could've flown in, explored his stomach, and escaped back out. In the distance a series of beeps got louder and faster. "Dad," Tim said, his voice low and dangerous, and borderline desperate, "I'm really, really thirsty. Please get me some water."
The admiral's face flushed red. Grumbling, he turned and, taking his time, poured ice water into a plastic cup. He handed it out but, at the last second before Tim's fingers touched it, he pulled the cup away. "You heard me, didn't you, son? If you did you can repeat it back to me. What will you say to the press?"
His body was bruised, broken, and burned, but somehow the thirst was the worst symptom of all. Tim summoned every ounce of determination in his heart and said, "I will tell the truth, Dad. I will tell them that I was kidnapped because of your mistakes, your sins. I will talk about how grateful I am that Gibbs lied to protect me, that Ziva took a bullet for me, and that Tony pretended to be me so that they would take him instead. I'll talk about how my team found me – fought for me – saved me. And, Admiral McGee, I will say that it is an honor to work for Leroy Jethro Gibbs and NCIS. Want to know what I feel for them? Love. Want to know how I feel about you? Ashamed." The Admiral's skin color shifted two shades past beet-red. "Now give me that water, and get the hell out of my sight."
Maybe it was because he was stunned, or maybe his son's words made him "see the light," so to speak, but Admiral McGee gave Tim the cup and, with a last glare, stormed out of the room. Tim collapsed back against his pillow and groaned in pain. He drank the first half of the water in a single, satisfactory gulp, then sipped the rest as slowly as he could. All the time he smiled. It didn't matter that his father wasn't proud of him. He was proud of himself.
New voices just outside his door: a woman – a nurse, maybe? A nurse and a man. "Only family are allowed to see him, I get it!" a familiar voice bellowed. "Now get this: I'm Melvin James Donald Leroy Leon McGee. I'm Timmy's big brother. Let me in!" The door slammed open and Tony DiNozzo slammed it shut. "Hey, bro," Tony said loud enough for the eavesdropping nurse to hear. "Good to see you, bro. How are you feeling, bro?"
"Not bad, Melvin." Tim chuckled, winced at the pain that caused to his torso, but laughed again. "Melvin? Really?"
Tony looked down at himself. "I don't look like a Melvin?"
"You look like an NCIS agent who hasn't slept or showered in 24 hours."
Tony picked up the pitcher and refilled McGee's cup with water. "Then I must look fantastic, because it's been 48 hours." Tony watched Tim drain the cup in one, and then filled it up again. "Saw your dad leave the room looking chipper as usual."
Tim suddenly felt tired. The background beeps began to slow down. "He didn't even ask me how I was. I was kidnapped, tortured, I can't feel most of my body which means that most of my body is on pain meds, and my dad couldn't care less."
Tony carefully sat on the edge of the hospital bed at McGee's right. "Buddy, I'd love to wallow in sorrow about our fathers' failures, but I'm just too damn happy that you're alive." DiNozzo pitched forward, wrapped his arms around McGee's upper body and gave him a brief, extra-gentle hug.
When Tony sat back up, McGee intertwined their arms and grasped his hand. "Thanks for finding me," Tim whispered.
Tony put his other hand over both of theirs. "Abby and Ziva figured it out. Gibbs and I just pointed our guns at the bad guys." Tony suddenly looked down at his lap, and struggled to swallow an invisible lump in his throat before he spoke again. "Glad you're ok. You are ok, right?"
Tim thought about it. "I'm not sure. Tony, I was brutally tortured for half a day. Can anyone be ok after that?"
"No." Tony said the word with finality. "But with surgery, rest, lime Jell-O, and good friends who smuggle in your PS3, yes. Yeah, Tim, you'll be ok. We'll help you through this, whatever the "this" is."
Tim nodded gratefully. "One question?"
"Do you know why my dad has a black eye?"
DiNozzo grinned. He took his phone out of his back pocket and held it up for Tim to see a preloaded video. "Tim, I would like to show you some Oscar-worthy surveillance footage, but you must swear to never tell Gibbs or he might punch me, too…"