Book I: The Lover
There haven't been a whole lot of watershed moments in Tim McGee's life.
The shift from bio-medical engineering to forensic computing, that was one. He never quite fit in with the bio-med kids. Sure he got the basic ideas, and he was good at them, but while they were in love with creating new tech to extend life, he was more into the puzzle of how everything fit together. He felt like a physicist in a room of mathematicians. He spoke the same language, used the same tools, but he didn't want to do the same things with them. So, one night, long, long after the regular students had gone to bed, hung over or still drunk from epic parties, the sort he never attended, he was talking with another gamer, the conversation started with the pros and cons of tabletop role playing versus MUDs and whatnot and moved from there into what you could really do with a computer. That conversation pointed him in a new path. He began to fiddle with the computer he used mostly for gaming, took a few CS courses, and graduated with a 4.0. But, the night before graduation, he sent a note to Columbia, telling them he was declining the position he'd earned in their Biomedical Engineering combined Masters/Doctorate program.
That summer he started playing with a computer in a new way. He put the games down and began to program. It was the late 90s, hackers were the bleeding edge of geek culture, and he found a new home. He took a year "off," programmed until his eyes felt like they'd fall out of his head, and applied to MIT.
He fit in with the hackers at MIT a lot better than the bio-med kids at Johns Hopkins. Obsessive personalities with a penchant for fantasy made up the majority of his new peers, and for the first time in his life, he wasn't a minority.
When he finished his masters in forensic computing, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and IRS all courted him. He thinks it was just sheer perverse cussedness, and maybe a desire to get his father to actually notice he was alive and stop seeing him as a massive disappointment that got him to pick NCIS.
And it was there, during his first year at NCIS, that he really began to understand what he was doing. The shift from forensic computing as a cool way to prove to other hackers that he was better and brighter than they were to seeing it as a way to solve crime and help real, live, tangible human beings was, up until this moment, the watershed moment of his life.
But now, he's standing in front of his desk, sweltering, his head still ringing from the explosion, staring at the chunk of glass sticking out of HIS FREAKING BODY, and Gibbs, unflinching, unflappable Gibbs is looking worried, and touching him tenderly, which actually scares him more than THE GLASS STICKING OUT OF HIS ABDOMEN, he's thinking that this is actually the watershed moment of his life.
And it's time to see about making some changes.
Assuming he gets the chance to do so. Gibbs, gently, gets him sitting down, back against the surprisingly intact wall of his desk, tells him to stay put, and runs (RUNS!) off to get an EMT.
Tim looks at the glass again, and finds himself thinking that he's never properly told Abby he loves her, then he realizes that he doesn't know if she's okay... No, she has to be okay, Gibbs wouldn't have been just wandering about if Abby wasn't okay... and then everything sort of grays out and goes sideways.