Set about 2/3 of the way through Season Six.
A Shoulder to Lean On
"McGee, he's coming your direction."
The warning came just seconds before two hundred and seventy five pounds of drugged-out Marine plowed into him. McGee held on, even as he felt his shoulder give way once again. Their legs tangled and as the rest of the team arrived, suspect and agent hit the ground.
Tony was the first one to arrived and pulled the corporal off of him. "You know, Probie, usually when we take down a suspect, we're the ones on top. Always knew you were more of a bottom kind of guy."
"Shut up, DiNozzo." Climbing to his feet without help or without using his damaged shoulder took all of his effort, by the time he was upright, Tony and Ziva had Corporal Jackson handcuffed and were marching him out to the car. Gibbs just gave him a look before following them out, leaving McGee alone in the stairwell.
Taking a deep breath, he slammed into the wall, forcing his shoulder to pop back into position, before following the team outside. Jackson was transported to Bethesda where they'd determine exactly what he was on. The case couldn't wait until he was sober enough to be questioned, so Gibbs pointed at the computer the minute they returned to the Yard.
"McGee, start tracking his movements. I want to know everyone he saw, every place he went for the last week. I want to know every time he took a piss. Got it?"
"Yes, Boss." Knowing the reason behind the man's mood didn't make the pain any easier to bear. His shoulder had taken a beating over the years, starting with the case that had gotten him assigned to the team in the first place. Falling from the Watson's second floor window had left him with a hairline fracture. Pulling Tony up when he'd been knocked over the edge of a parking garage had partially torn a tendon along with the rotator cuff, which hadn't had time to fully heal before Damon Werth managed to dislocate his shoulder for him.
The several months he'd spent in Cybercrimes had helped his recovery, but all that progress had been wiped out during an afternoon of being held hostage in a women's prison. Now, with Gibbs and the rest of the team busy and not paying any attention to him, he quietly made a phone call to his orthopedist.
Gibbs just grunted when McGee handed him the time off request for his doctor's appointment, but since McGee had also handed him the identity of the dealer that was sneaking meth onto the base, he quickly signed off on it. The team left to follow up the lead and McGee was just shutting down his work station when Palmer arrived. "Hey, McGee."
"Hey, Jimmy, what's up?" Tim didn't pay a lot of attention as he struggled to slip into his coat, not until Jimmy reached over and held his coat for him before picking up his backpack.
"I'm your ride. Agent Gibbs called down and asked me to take you to your doctor's appointment"
Palmer reached out a steadying hand as McGee stumbled to a stop. "He did?"
"Yes, well, he actually asked Dr. Mallard to take you, but he's got a conference call starting in a few minutes that can't be rescheduled, so I'm your ride. I, um, I hope you don't mind. Agent Gibbs said it was okay."
Tim had thought Gibbs was mad about the disruption to the work flow and smiled in relief. "No, I don't mind at all." Unlike other members of the team, Jimmy had never bugged him to drive the Porsche, even though he'd seen the longing looks in the garage a time or two. Instead of walking to Jimmy car, Tim handed him a set of keys.
"Wow, really? You're sure?"
Tim started to shrug and then thought better of it. "Sure, why not? You're a good driver and I don't think you're going to get lost between here and the hospital."
"But I thought you never let anyone drive your car."
"Tony would just use it to pick up women, and Ziva..."
Jimmy gave a nervous laugh as he unlocked the Porsche. "Yeah, I wouldn't let Ziva drive my car either and my car probably tops out at eighty-five."
Laughing in agreement, Tim let Jimmy buckle him in when he realized he couldn't move his arm enough. "Exactly. This actually has a faster top end than the agency sedans."
"Don't even think about it."
They'd been discussing a surgical option for over a year now and one look at his doctor's face told McGee that the discussion was over. "Guess we have to do it, don't we?"
Dr. Yang didn't pull any punches. "Either that or you ride a desk permanently. It's your choice, Tim."
McGee hung his head. The surgery meant being benched for at least six months, which is why he'd resisted it for so long, but six months was better than permanently. "Yeah, okay, when can we do it?"
"Now we have a bit of a problem. I'm leaving at the end of the week for a medical mission in Africa until the end of the year. I can either refer you to another surgeon, we wait until I get back, or we do it tonight."
"Tonight?" McGee really didn't mean his voice to be that sharp, but he'd been more than surprised.
The doctor explained his reasoning. "I want all of my patients to be at least seventy-two hours post-op before I turn them over to another doctor for their follow-up care and the only opening left in my schedule is tonight. It was a cancellation, but the operating room is still booked for me which is the only reason I can squeeze you in."
Tim was very comfortable with his doctor and really didn't want to start over with someone new that didn't know nearly as much about his shoulder as Dr. Yang, but he also didn't want to ride a desk for over a year and probably lose his spot on the team. That left him with only one real option. "Okay, let's do it."
The next few hours were a blur of paperwork and blood tests before Tim found himself in a hospital gown, waiting for surgery and arguing with Palmer.
"They'll want to know."
"They're in the middle of a case." Tim shook his head. "They don't need the distraction and there's nothing they can do about it."
"What if Gibbs calls and asks?" When Tim just looked at him, Jimmy dug in his heels. "He knows I drove you down here."
"Middle of a case, remember? I've already called the Director and he's bringing in someone tomorrow to TAD for me. As long as that person can run a search and remember to laugh at DiNozzo's jokes, they'll probably never even notice I'm gone."
Jimmy didn't agree with McGee's assessment, but two orderlies arrived to take him to surgery, ending the conversation.
Tired and dirty, the three remaining members of the team stumbled back to the Yard at 0200. Once the evidence was secured, Gibbs called it a day to everyone's relief. "Go home, we'll sort the rest out in the morning." Ziva and Tony didn't have to be told twice.
"Good night, Gibbs. I will see all of you in the morning."
"Night, Boss. You going to make McGeek come in early since he had such an easy night?"
Gibbs didn't answer, just walked to his desk, sipping his coffee. "Good night." He wasn't planning on staying, but the light was flashing on his desk phone, indicating a message. He picked up the receiver and punched in the code to hear the message, wondering who didn't call his cell phone instead.
Agent Gibbs, Tim made me promise not to bother you, but you're not at your desk, so I'm not, right?
There was a pause and Gibbs instinctively leaned forward in his chair, his gut telling him to listen closely.
Anyway, umm, he's already in surgery. It was either do it tonight or he'd be out of the field for a year. He's worried that he wouldn't have a job to come back to, at least not the job he wanted, so he agreed to the surgery right now. I guess a TAD will be added to the team in the morning and everything's covered at that end – Tim doesn't even think anybody will notice. I don't know why he'd think that, I mean, you guys would, right?
I guess you kinda knew this was coming, I mean, his shoulder was in really bad shape – worse than I'd have thought with him still out in the field and all that, but I kinda felt funny about watching him being wheeled into an operating room with none of you guys here. I promised him I wouldn't call and bug you about him, but I'm just talking to your machine, so that's not the same thing, right?
I'm, umm, I'm going to stick around until he's out of recovery and everything's okay. I'll call and leave another message before I leave him alone, though. I hope that's okay. Umm, bye.
Gibbs listened to the end of the message and waited for the next one. When there was no second message waiting for him, he dropped the phone and headed for the stairs, not even bothering to grab his coffee.
This entry was originally posted at http://emerald-green37.dreamwidth.org/24