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It’s late Saturday night when Sarah calls. The team just finished a case and Tim’s tired. He knows immediately why she’s calling and stares at the phone longer than is necessary. It’s horrible but he wishes he were still at the office. That they were still working a case. That he legitimately couldn’t answer the phone because they were in the middle of a take down or an interrogation.

But he isn’t so he answers, “Hey Sarah.”

She’s crying so hard that the only reason he understands what’s she saying is experience.

“I’m on my way.”

_________________________

 

He procrastinates as long as he can. But there’s only so long he can run. Especially with Penny and Sarah taking turns calling him.

Tim looks briefly at the phone and thinks about calling Delilah or Tony. Or Gibbs. Maybe Abby. Only, it’s two in the morning. Delilah’s amazing and the team didn’t look at him badly when everything happened at the Gala but still he can’t take the chance. He might cry in front of them. He can’t lose their respect. He just can’t. No matter how much he just wants to feel safe.

Finally, Penny calls and says, “Timothy we need you. I need you. My son is dying and I need you here.”

And damn if she doesn’t know exactly what to say to get him to the hospital.

__________________________

 

It’s just after four in the morning when Gibbs phone rings. He sits his tools down to answer with a pointed, “Yeah, Gibbs.”

“Sorry to wake you Jethro,” Comes the wary voice of best friend.

“You didn’t.”

“Yes well, anyhow, I received a call not five minutes ago from the lovely Penelope Langston,” Ducky starts sleep still rounding the edges of his voice.

“Yeah.”

Luckily Ducky knows him well enough to hear the question he can’t ask because he answers quickly, “Timothy is unharmed. The Admiral, however, is another matter.”

“How bad?” Gibbs asks running a hand over his face.

“Penelope says a few hours.”

“Damn.”

“My thoughts precisely. The Admiral is in Bethesda, room 327. And Jethro? You may want to hurry. Penelope says Timothy is refusing to enter the room.”

“Yeah, Duck. I’m on my way.”

____________________________

 

Tim has been standing outside the door to room 327 for two hours. He can’t go inside and he hates himself for it. Sarah and Penny keep asking him to and he knows that he should. He might not get another chance but there’s a voice in his head, a feeling in his stomach that’s telling him that he can’t do it. He can’t go in there and face this.

____________________________

 

The parking lot at the hospital is well lit and only half full at a quarter after four. Gibbs takes the time to pull his phone out and press and hold the 2 button.

Tony answers with a groggy, “‘ello? Boss? Case?”

“Nah, no case. McGee’s old man, what do you know?”

Gibbs can hear the blankets moving as Tony sits up to answer, “Not much. You know McPrivate. Keeps all the real stuff close to the chest. I overheard them on the phone a few times. So I guess they’re talking. Talked to Abby at lunch yesterday and she said he isn’t talking to her either which isn’t a good sign. I talked to Delilah day before yesterday for our weekly Timmy-check and she said all she could get out of him is that the Admiral is “like that” and that his condition getting worse.”

“You could say that.”

“Damn. How long?”

“Few hours. Bethesda room 327.”

“On my way.”

“Bring coffee.”

_____________

It isn’t difficult to find room 327. The hospital is quiet right up until the elevator opens and Gibbs looks down the hall to see Tim, back to the wall, hands at his sides looking to anyone who doesn’t know him to be stoic. Gibbs takes a moment to ask himself when that happened, when did Tim grow up?

Sarah is next to him, looking frustrated, with tears in her eyes. She pulls away from him and goes into the room. Penny comes out a moment later and walks up to Tim, runs a hand over his shoulder.

Gibbs gets close enough to hear her say, “I know this is difficult Timothy. All things worthy of being done are. But you must go in there. You won’t get another chance.”

Penny looks up and sees Gibbs, nods and then says, “Maybe you can talk some sense into him.”

Tim looks up and meets Gibbs eyes, snorts and says, “What are you doing here?”

Gibbs scoffs and sends a pointed look after Penny.

“Boss I’m sorry I told her not to call you,” Tim starts.

Gibbs throws up a hand, “She didn’t. Ducky.”

Tim sucks in a breath and nods. They stand in silence for a few moments. Gibbs watches his youngest struggle. There’s a panicked look on his face and normally Gibbs would push it out, maybe even laugh. He certainly wouldn’t save him. McGee had to learn after all and it wasn’t actually hurting him. But well, it wasn’t getting them anywhere either.

“Coffee?”

Tim looks up and smiles nervously, “Sure.”

Gibbs nods down the hall and starts walking. Tim follows.

Gibbs sends a look to Penny as they walk by and she smiles with tears in her eyes. Gibbs reminds himself that she’s in the middle of losing her son and keeps walking.

They’re silent as the elevator takes them down the cafeteria but that, at least is normal. It turns out the cafeteria isn’t serving anything at the moment so Gibbs takes a seat and texts Tony to meet them there.

“So?” Gibbs prompts as Tim seats across from him.

Tim makes a move to shrug but then thinks better of it and says, “Not much to tell, Boss.”

“Uh huh.”

They sit for a few more moments before Tim cracks, “Boss, if I don’t wanna go in there I don’t have to.”

“No,” Gibbs agrees, “But you do want to.”

“No I really don’t.”

Gibbs just looks at him.

“Really. I don’t. There’s nothing left to say.”

Gibbs laughs, “See if you just didn’t want to go in there I’d say go on home. But now you’re lying to me.”

“No I’m not!” Tim all but screams and then look around to make sure he didn’t disturb anyone.

“Yeah yuh are.”

Tim looks away.

“See I think there’s too much left to say.”

Tim nods sadly and says softly, “What if he doesn’t say it? What if I go in there and he, well, you know?”

“No I don’t.”

“I thought things would change after the Squall but they didn’t. We tried, well I tried. But he still…”

“Well that’s no reason to give up!” Tony announced himself cheerfully, sitting a cup down in front of each of them.

“The last time I talked to him was last week. We got into a fight because I let Delilah go to Dubai without me. As if I could let her do anything. When I said that he said I should have followed her.”

It was Tony who spoke up, “She didn’t want you to follow her. She wants to relearn who she is.”

“You think I don’t know that? I think about following her all the time. But she doesn’t want me there. Not yet at least. And I’m not ready to be there yet either. I keep trying, Boss. I do. I keep trying to do what you said. To show him who I am. But he doesn’t want to see it. He has this idea of what perfect is and I’ll never be that. No matter how hard I try. Now it’s too late.”

Tony looks over to Gibbs and then looks back to Tim and says, “Timmy, I know this is hard. But right now you have to go in there. You have to say goodbye. If you need to say this stuff to him you have to do it now.”

“But what if he doesn’t say it?” Tim asks.

Tony puts a hand on Tim’s shoulder and Gibbs is grateful to have his oldest there. As hard as he tries Gibbs isn’t all Tim needs right now.

“Then he doesn’t say it and you’ll never know. Tim, if you want to hear it you have to go in there. You have to take the chance he won’t say it. Otherwise you don’t give him the chance to say it.”

Tim still looks iffy and Gibbs decides he’s finished with the soft and swishy routine. Tim has never responded well to it anyway. So he stands and says, “I’ll go in there with you. Come on.”

Tony looks sad but accepting, like he expected this to happen. But Tim responds just the way Gibbs expected him too. By standing and shouting, “No. I have to do this on my own,” And then turning and stomping to the elevator.

Tony grabs both of their coffees and follows him.

_______________________

 

It isn’t exactly a shock that Gibbs showed up at the hospital. No matter how vehemently he had told Penny not to call him. It’s even less of a surprise to see Tony once Gibbs showed his face. He can’t even be all that angry about it. Tim has never been able to keep a secret from either of them. They’d find out eventually. At least this way he isn’t hurting anyone.

It isn’t until he’s talking to them that he realizes why he can’t go into that room. He’s scared. Gibbs is right. There’s too much left to say. Not enough time to say it. There’s too much that he still needs to hear and he’s scared to death that the Admiral won’t get it. He’s terrified he’ll have to live the rest of his life knowing that his dad could never say the things he needs to hear.

_________________________________

 

When they get upstairs Tim practically rips the door off the hinges as he goes in to his father’s room. Sarah and Penny shuffle out a few minutes later, after Tony and Gibbs get settled into the waiting room just down the hall.

While they’re alone Tony says, “He was almost there.”

“It was taking too long.”

Tony nods and says, “A few more minutes and he would have been in a better head space. Now he’s in there screaming.”

“Maybe he needs to scream.”

That seems to stop whatever train of thought Tony’s on, and he says, “Yeah, maybe.”

Gibbs sighs and says, “I’m not going to mollycoddle him. I never have and I’m not starting now. He deserves better. He’s got some things to work out. He’s got to do that while he has the chance.”

Tony nods and picks up his phone, “I’m gonna go call Delilah. She was gonna try to get a flight first thing.”

Gibbs just nods as the girls come in.

They’ve both got tears in their eyes and Penny smiles sadly at him and says, “Thank you Agent Gibbs. I used to know how to handle him but…”

Gibbs shrugs, “You’re losing your son. You’re allowed to be off.”

She smiles at him.

Sarah seems to be going a different direction and kicks a chair, “I don’t understand why I have to leave. He hasn’t been there. I have. I’ve been at the hospital for 6 straight weeks. I should be in there!”

Penny closes her eyes and lets her granddaughter scream and Gibbs is about to get up and follow Tony to the hall. If Sarah needs to be angry then, well, Gibbs gets that. But then Sarah says, “I’m losing my Dad and he doesn’t even care.”

“Hey!” Gibbs says sharply enough to stop Sarah mid-kick, “Is that what you really think?”

Sarah sends him a look of pure hate and if Gibbs were a lesser man he would flinch under her stare.

“His job always came first. Always. We never had birthdays or Christmases or Thanksgiving’s because he was always working!”

“Who? Tim or your Dad?” Gibbs asks calmly.

Sarah stomps past him and stalks out of the room. Gibbs knows he should back off but he’s never been good at that.

“Look, you wanna be angry be angry. I get it. Believe me I been there. But be angry at the right person. If you got unfinished business with your Dad you still got time to work it out. But not much.”

She stops in her tracks and Tony comes around the corner and says, “He’s right. You’ve only got a few hours left. Use them. Talk to him before you can’t anymore.”

She’s crying now, but she nods and walks back down the hall and walks into the room. The door closes with a inaudible click.

Tony looks over and says, “You just can’t leave well enough alone can you?”

Gibbs gives him a look and then walks back over to Penny. Tony’s close behind.

“Delilah’s flight leaves in an hour. She’ll be here tonight. I’ll call Abby, after, give Tim something else to focus on. The Duckman says he’ll be here around noon and he’ll call Jimmy himself.”

Gibbs nods but is otherwise silent.

Penny reaches over and puts her hand on one of Gibbs and looks at the two of them.

“I need you two to promise me that you’ll take care of my Timothy. He’s a good boy but he’s got the emotional range of a tree stump.”

Tony snickers but nods, “Of course we’ll take care of McGroot. I have always made it a personal mission of mine to watch after the probster.”

Penny gives him the first real smile Gibbs has seen from her all night and she says, “Anthony Dinozzo I have always known my grandson could count on you!”

Tony’s eyes light up just a bit, the way they so whenever someone seems to have faith in him. It serves to ground Gibbs because he knows that this is going to be difficult for all of them. It’s never easy when one of them is hurt.

Penny squeezes Gibbs hand and stands up with a long suffering sigh, “Sarah is a good girl too. She just has her own issues. I do thank you two for coming and for taking a bit of the burden. I was getting ready to yell at her myself. I better go stop them before there’s bloodshed.”

Tony laughs a bit and smiles his best smile at her, “Penny promise you’ll take care of yourself and we’ll handle Timmy.”

She smiles one more time before she goes to face the music.

_______________________

 

Tim storms into the room and says, “I need a minute.”

Penny nods at him and moves to grab Sarah who looks to be rooted firmly in place, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m the one who’s been here. I get to stay.”

Penny puts her hand on Sarah’s arm and says, “Now Sarah let’s give the boys a moment. I’m sure they’ve got some things to talk about.”

Sarah still looks ready to argue but the Admiral barks, “Sarah. It’s just a few minutes. Go.”

Sarah huffs and Penny pushes her from the room.

Tim slams the door as they leave. The Admiral looks up somewhat hazily. Tim is still breathing heavily and he says, “I’m angry with you.”

“Son, it’s good to see you too.”

“I am. I really am. I hate that you only see my faults. I hate that nothing is ever good enough for you. I hate that you think you dictate my relationships. I hate the way you treated mom.”

“Well, at least you got it out.”

“What?” Tim asks incredulously.

“It’s been there for a long while. I’m glad you finally got it out.” The Admiral choked out. His breath was becoming labored and Tim’s stomach dropped.

“That’s all you have to say?”

“Timothy what do you want me to say? I want you to be tough. I want you to be able to handle everything life throws at you. I want you to be a man.”

“I am a man. I’m a good man. I have a job I love. I have people that I care about. People who care about me. I do good work. I help people. I have a relationship with an amazing woman. I’m doing well but you can’t see that because I still don’t measure up to your messed up idea of perfect.”

“Tim you have the same job you had ten years ago. You have a job with no room for advancement. You have a relationship with a woman halfway across the world. Son I just want better for you than I had. I want you to be happy.”

Tim sucks in a breath and says, “I am happy. I’ve had that job for ten years because I love it. Because it’s good work. Maybe it isn’t as prestigious as being an Admiral. Maybe I’ll choose to move up later. But I like where I am. I’m happy here. And I’m going to hold on to it as long as I can. Whether you like it or not.”

They stare at one another for a long moment when the door opens and Sarah comes storming in saying, “I am so angry with you!”

John smiles and says, “Well don’t let anyone ever tell you that you two aren’t related.”

Tim smiles a bit but Sarah is undeterred.

“You were always working. Always. You never had time for us! No matter what. You didn’t come home when I graduated. You were never at my birthday parties. You didn’t even come home when Tim was in that big car accident. Why?”

John smiles at them and says, “I’m sorry I wasn’t what you needed.”

That seems to knock the wind out of Sarah’s sails and then she’s just crying and saying, “I’m not ready to lose you Daddy. I need more time.”

“Come here.”

Sarah goes running to John and he hugs her and says, “I love you baby.”

There’s a part of Tim that’s angry. So angry. He has never been allowed to do that. He’s never been allowed to cry. He’s never been allowed to show weakness. His father has never told him that he loves him. And even here and now he can’t bring himself to ask. So he stands back because he knows that Sarah needs this at least as much as he does. Maybe more.

Penny comes in a few minutes later and takes John’s other hand. The three of them talk in hushed voices and Tim stands in background and watches. Penny keeps rubbing a hand over his brow and his voice is getting more and labored. Finally John looks over and says, “Timmy? Take care of them. You’re the only one I trust.”

Just like that he’s gone.

Tim runs.

____________________

 

They sit for another hour or so waiting. Tony plays some game on his phone and Gibbs stares at the wall in front of him. They don’t talk much, other than Tony giving updates on Delilah’s flight.

“Do you wish you’d had this?” Tony asks breaking the silence.

Gibbs doesn’t answer.

A few minutes later Tim storms by the waiting room, straight to the elevator. Gibbs and Tony both get up and Tony says, “Show time.”

Tim is frantically pressing the down button when they get there but the elevator doors aren’t opening so he turns to go the stairs and runs right into Tony.

“Whoa there Timmy. Slow down and talk to Uncle Tony.”

“Move Tony. Now,” Tim says warningly and Gibbs can hear the tears in his eyes. Tony looks at Gibbs and he nods back. Tony moves out of the way and Tim slams past him.

“Tony! Go!”

Tony nods and turns to follow.

Gibbs goes back to room 327 and finds Penny holding Sarah, the two of them standing outside the door and watching as the doctors call it.

Sarah gives him a watery smile that doesn’t come close to hitting her eyes and says, “I guess I should say thank you. He said he was sorry and that he loves me. He’s never said that before.” Then she breaks down crying in her grandmother’s arms again.

Penny is as strong as ever. She has tears in her eyes but she isn’t defeated. She’s angry. At what Gibbs doesn’t know. Maybe at God, or the universe. Maybe at her son. Maybe at the world. Still he knows she has a long road but the grief won’t eat her alive the way it did him.

He puts a hand to each of their shoulders and squeezes and then heads towards the stairwell.

____________________

 

He finds them in the stairwell a floor down and he waits to hear what’s being said before he makes himself known.

Tony has an arm around Tim’s shoulders and the two of them are murmuring to one another. Tim’s hand is over his face and Tony is rubbing small circles on his back.

Gibbs leans over the rail to hear Tony say, “Delilah is on her way and she isn’t even mad that you didn’t call her yourself. She’ll be here in ten hours. As soon as you say I’ll call Abbs and get her here. Listen man, I know this sucks but you just say what you need and I’ll get it. You wanna yell you yell and I promise I won’t take it personally. You wanna sandwich? I’ll run out and get you one.”

Gibbs makes his way down the stairs quietly and says, “I’d take him up on it. You could probably ask for a new computer and he’d go out and spend his whole savings account on the best one in the world.”

Gibbs takes a seat on Tim’s other side and notices that the younger man is shaking, literally shaking in Tony’s arms. But he isn’t crying. Of course, knowing Tim he didn’t expect tears.

Gibbs puts a hand on Tim’s shoulder and squeezes only instead of giving the man reassurance it seems to wake him up.

“He didn’t say it,” Tim whispers.

“Damn Timmy. I’m sorry,” Tony offers quickly.

“You know I don’t get it. I mean he said he was sorry he wasn’t what we needed. He told Sarah he loved her. His last words were that he trusted me. But he couldn’t say it.”

Tim pushes himself up and away from their hands and Tony takes the time to ask, “What didn’t he say?”

“That he was proud of me!” Tim almost yells into a wall. He isn’t looking at them but he is pacing around the small landing.

“That’s all I ever wanted him to say. He didn’t say it when I graduated from MIT. He didn’t say it when I graduated Johns Hopkins. He didn’t say it when I joined NCIS or when I got promoted to the MCRT. He just kept asking about my love life. So I got a girlfriend. And he still didn’t say it. Why? Why didn’t he say it? I’ve done everything he ever wanted me to do.”

Tim’s leaning into the wall now, face first and Tony looks heartbroken as he gets up and places a hand on Tim’s back.

“Timmy. Timmy he cared. You know that. Some guys just can’t say things like that. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.”

Tony’s giving Gibbs a look and the team leader just sighs because he knows what he has to do. Gibbs stands with a sigh, pats down his jeans and walks up to the boys. He puts a hand on each of their shoulders and says, “You know, for what it’s worth I’d be proud to have a son like either of you. And I think the Admiral was proud. Maybe a little too proud. Didn’t know how to say it. But I know he felt it.”

Tim finally turns to him and says, “Really?”

Gibbs throws his head to the side in a are you kidding me look and says, “Oh yeah. He sent me a email.”

Tim and Tony both laugh out loud and Gibbs nods at them.

He pushes on their shoulders and says, “Penny and Sarah are both still upstairs. Bet they could both use some food.”

“Sarah hasn’t eaten since yesterday. Kept throwing up. But she needs to try. So does Penny.”

“Well, Tony call Abby and have her meet us at the diner down the road. Let’s go get the girls.”

______________________________________

 

It takes a few days to get the funeral together. The Admiral had, like in everything else, had a plan. He had left specific instructions for the funeral home. For the first time in a long while Tim was glad for his father’s foresight.

Delilah stays by his side, Sarah just opposite. Penny and his mother finish out the front row. He can feel Gibbs, Tony, Abby, Ellie, Ducky, and Jimmy behind him. Sarah’s newest boyfriend is there too. Off to the side looking out of place. His mother’s boyfriend is directly behind her. The site is small, in the middle of Arlington and Tim’s just glad that the multitudes of people that showed to the funeral home aren’t here.

Once the service is over and Tim is holding his father’s flag in his arms his mother walks over and pats him on the cheek. She reaches into her purse and pulls out two envelopes and says, “Your father sent these to me last week. He said to give them to you after. I don’t know what they say. But, here.”

Tim takes his with a, “Thank you,” and stuffs it in his pocket. Sarah puts hers to her nose and says, “It smells like him. Old Spice and seawater.”

Tim nods and says, “Well are you two gonna introduce me to your new boyfriends?”

____________________

 

It’s a long day, full of people giving their respects. They end up at a park near the Botanic Gardens where Penny works eating and telling stories about the Admiral.

Tony brings, of all things, a pot roast that everyone ends up loving. Delilah brings homemade potato salad that her mother spent all night making. Abby brings 3 cakes, a pie and a plate of cookies. Ellie shows up with four bags of chips and apologies for the two she ate on the way. Drinks just sort of appear and neither Ducky, Jimmy, or Gibbs will take credit but Tim knows it was all three of them.

Tim takes the time while Penny is telling a story about the Admiral learning to swim, and being spectacularly bad at it, to sneak away and read his letter.

He finds a spot away from everyone and starts to read.

Dear Tim,

I know I haven’t always been the father you needed. Or wanted. You’ll never know how much that pains me. You’ll never know how much I regret the time we wasted. All those years we didn’t speak.

I never wanted you to feel unloved. I never wanted you to feel unworthy. I just wanted you to be better. I wanted you to be strong. So you wouldn’t be hurt by the world.

When you were five I built you a sandbox. You played so long and hard that you fell straight to sleep. I carried you to bed that night and I just looked at you for hours. All I could see was how special you were. The next day you came home from playing with some boys on base and you had a black eye. You’d gotten in an argument of some kind. That’s when I realized that the world wouldn’t see that in you. I couldn’t let you face it helpless. I had to toughen you up. Maybe I was wrong.

It was never because I wasn’t proud of who you are. You became a good person in spite of me and that’s my biggest regret. That I wasn’t there.

For what it’s worth, I do love you.

Your Father,
John McGee

Tim’s hand squeezed around the paper, it crinkles in his hands. Suddenly there’s a hand on the back of his neck and his mother is sitting next to him.

“I didn’t read it. But I can guess what it says.”

He smiles at her sadly and says, “I needed him to say it. He didn’t. I mean he said he trusted me and I guess I should be happy with that. Now I’ve got it all here, right here in writing and it still doesn’t feel better. Why doesn’t it feel better?”

“Oh Timmy. You lost your father. No words can make that feel better.”

Tim nods and leans into her side. He can see Delilah glancing at him as she listens to Penny’s stories. He smiles back as his mother holds him. Tim waves to Tony who’s sneaking glances at him when thinks Tim won’t notice. Tony blushes but doesn’t look away. Abby’s hugging everyone she can get her hands on, which in this case is Sarah. His sister doesn’t seem to mind. Ducky and Jimmy are standing with Delilah. Gibbs is standing at the food table looking on like a bodyguard.

Tim sucks in a breath and lets himself go slack. Maybe it’s okay to feel this way. Like he’s drowning under the weight of his own emotion. Maybe life goes on. It’s a comfort he didn’t expect.

His mom puts her other arm around him and says, “It’s nice you know? Everyone together. I wish it were a happier circumstance.”

“Yeah, it’s nice.”

__________________

 

Later that night, once everyone has gone their own way and it’s just Tim, Delilah, Tony and Abby sitting around on Tim’s floor despite the fact he bought a couch for just this reason Tony asks, “So what was in the envelope?”

Tim looks up from his third glass of wine and says, “A letter.”

Delilah puts her hand on his head and pets him. He lets her because it feels good. “What did it say?”

Tim looks up at her goofily and says, “Something I needed to hear.”

Delilah just looks at him, smiles, and says, “Good. I’m glad. Now mister I think it’s time for bed.”

Tony, half drunk smiles and hoots, “Oh yeah, puppy pile in Timmy’s bed!”

Delilah gives Tony a tolerant look and says, “Oh no. Ever since you told me about the two of you showering together I’ve had nightmares about you running away together. You two can duke it out over the couch.”

Abby, half asleep on the floor snorts and raises her head, “You have those dreams too? I love those dreams!”

Delilah laughs and says, “Oh me too. Some of them are pretty hot.”

Tim chokes and Tony just looks amazed, like he’s learned something new.

“Um yeah, it’s bedtime.”

Tim stands and gets Delilah’s chair from the corner, waiting while she moves into it. He holds the chair in place but then leaves her to it while he goes to get ready for bed. Just before Delilah closes the door Tim hears Tony saying, “I’ll give you the couch if you tell me about these dreams.”

Tim just shakes his head.

Once they’re in bed Delilah moves to face him and runs a finger over his face.

“Was it what you needed?”

“I thought it was,” He answers honestly.

“And now?”

“I thought if he said it I’d feel better. Like I don’t know, it was the last thing I needed from him and if I got it I’d be ready to say goodbye. But I’m still not.”

Delilah smiles sadly and says, “Oh Tim. You’re never ready for that.”

He doesn’t say anything in response, just buries his face in her neck. She pets him again and continues, “But I appreciate you being honest.”

“I’m trying. I’m trying so hard baby. I’m not used to talking about this stuff but I don’t wanna be like him. I don’t wanna have to write a letter to my kids because I can’t tell them I love them to their faces. I’ll never lie to you, you know that right?”

“Timmy, you may try to weasel your way out of things but I know that you have never lied to me.” She moves closer and kisses his cheek, “And you won’t be like that. You’ve come so far in the last year and you don’t even see it.”

She puts her fingers to his eyes and wipes away tears he didn’t realize he was crying and says, “See, a year ago you wouldn’t have cried to front of me. Now you are. I wish I’d been here.”

“It’s okay. Tony and Gibbs came. I didn’t want them too. I was so afraid that they’d lose respect in me. But Tony’s class must be paying off cause he was, well, not the person he was last year either. And Gibbs. Oh man. He told me he’d be proud to have a son like me. I thought I was the one who was dead.”

Delilah gives him a sad smile, “Of course he is. You’re a great guy. And hell, Gibbs practically raised you. I am surprised he actually said it but hey, if he can say it then when it’s your turn you’ll be able to too. And I don’t think you give Tony enough credit. He really loves you.”

Tim snorts into her neck, “I know. And you’re right.”

“Of course I am. I’m always right. Now come on let’s get some sleep. We’re meeting your mom for brunch.”