Author's Note: I do not own NCIS.
James is fifteen.
James couldn't cope anymore. He ran out of the diner and across the road. He kept on running.
About twenty minutes later, he had calmed down enough to think rationally. He slowed to a walk and checked his phone. Yep, ten missed calls and five messages from Gibbs. He put it back into his pocket – he didn't want to know. He knew enough that Gibbs would kill him when he found him anyway. He realised he didn't care – he was way past being angry. The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. He started running again.
Another ten minutes later, he realised he was in the opposite end of town. McGee's house was fairly close. He hoped McGee would be in. Despite beginning to tire, he took off at full pelt. He ignored the confused looks from the passers-by.
James ran up the stairs to McGee's apartment and rang the doorbell. McGee answered after a few moments. His face looked concerned when he saw who it was.
'Hi McGee. Can I come in? Please?'
'Sure. What's up?'
'Gibbs and I got into a fight.' James eyes were wild. He looked shattered.
'Can I have a shower?' James asked. He didn't look at McGee. McGee went from concerned to worried.
'Yes, but not until you tell me what's wrong.'
James sighed, and looked at McGee. McGee realised he'd been wrong about his earlier assumption – underneath the fury, he was deeply upset.
'I'm hot.' James objected, as McGee gestured at the sofa.
'Doesn't matter. James?' he asked, more gently.
James gave another sigh. McGee was not going to let this go. 'Well, you know the boy from the case you've been working on? Harry?'
McGee nodded, but was confused. 'Well, Gibbs thought it would be good for him to meet me. Another abuse case with a happy ending.' James said sarcastically.
'Had he told…?' McGee left the sentence unfinished.
'Yeah. Gibbs told Harry everything. Everything.' McGee reached out to hug James. He was resistant, even more so than usual, probably due to the bad memories that had just resurfaced.
'I'm so sorry.' McGee stuttered. He couldn't believe Gibbs could be so thoughtless. How could he not realise what throwing James in like that would do to him?
'Boss, hi. I have James.' McGee got straight to the point, knowing Gibbs would be in a bad mood. Not that he appreciated small talk anyway.
'What? When? Where?'
'A few minutes ago. He turned up at my apartment.'
'Is he ok?' Gibbs sounded anxious and annoyed at the same time.
'Apart from the fact that he's been running flat out for forty minutes? Yeah, fine.' Gibbs didn't understand McGee's tone.
'Damn, I was worried sick. I was about to call you to track his cell.'
McGee stayed silent. Gibbs continued, 'Well, I'll come and pick him up.'
'He's in the shower.'
'He'll be out by the time I get there.'
'I don't think that's a good idea Boss.'
'What?' growled Gibbs.
McGee managed to keep his cool, despite Gibbs's intimidating voice. 'He's really angry right now.'
'So am I. I need to talk to him.' Gibbs thundered back at McGee.
McGee took a deep breath. 'Can I rephrase Boss? You don't need to see James. He's angry. At you.'
'I know, McGee. I'm coming to get him.' Gibbs hissed through his teeth.
Gibbs stalled at the authority in McGee's voice. He tried another tactic.
'McGee, he ran off. He didn't tell me where he was going. That's not right.'
'I'm not condoning his actions. But he doesn't need you yelling at him right now Gibbs.'
'Don't you dare take sides McGee. You know that's out of order.'
'I don't take sides Boss.' McGee insisted. 'He's fine here.'
Gibbs growled again. 'McGee.'
McGee took another steadying breath and gave up trying to be tactful. 'You don't seem to understand Boss. Underneath all the anger, he's hugely upset. You told a complete stranger about really personal things. I haven't seen him like this since…'
'Since when, McGee?' Gibbs asked. His tone was softer now.
McGee sighed. 'Never. Since never. He's all over the place.'
There was silence over the phone. McGee could almost hear Gibbs taking this in.
He tried again. 'Just give him a chance to cool off, Boss.'
'Yeah.' Gibbs muttered. McGee heard that Gibbs had accepted defeat.
'Good. Don't worry, I'll let you know if anything changes.'
'You do that.' Gibbs answered, and the phone clicked off.
James came out of McGee's room with a towel wrapped around his waist. He looked vaguely calmer. 'That was Gibbs, wasn't it?'
McGee hesitated. 'Yeah. I let him know you're safe.' James nodded resignedly. 'But you can stay tonight.' McGee smiled at the gratitude on James' face.
'Just shout if you want to talk some more.' James nodded again. Suddenly, McGee jumped up. 'I'll grab you some clothes.'
McGee couldn't help laughing when James came out in his clothes. They absolutely drowned him.
James grinned back – the laugh was infectious. 'Hey!' he protested. 'It's not my fault they're huge!'
Once he'd recovered, McGee said. 'I have a friendly mission online in a sec. Do you want to join help me thrash the Canadian's?'
'Please.' McGee chucked him a controller. He hoped James was slowly recovering.
They left the Canadian's suitably abashed. 'I'm hungry. You want some dinner?' McGee asked, shutting down the console.
'No thanks. Not hungry.' McGee nodded, he would like James to eat, but didn't want to push it.
'Ok. I'll just grab my own then.'
James turned the TV on and flicked mindlessly through the channels. He paused when he smelled something suspicious.
He came into the kitchen to see McGee microwaving some sort of ready meal.
'What is that?' he asked with mock disgust.
'Um, it's meant to be chicken pasta.'
'It's food!' McGee protested.
'Can I make you something better? Please?' James asked. He smiled when McGee pretended to think about it – 'It won't take long. Promise.'
Fifteen minutes later, McGee was tucking into broccoli and cheese pasta.
'As always, James, this is good. Remind me to cook for you some time.'
'The last time you cooked for me we had beans-on-toast.'
'You're British. You're meant to like beans-on-toast.'
James rolled his eyes, but not in a rude way. 'I do.' He reassured McGee. He didn't bother saying anymore.
'Are you sure you don't want some? There's enough.' McGee asked. James shook his head.
An hour later, they were both kicked out on the sofa. The TV was on, but they it wasn't being watched. McGee and James were discussing the specifics of a new Android operating system.
Silence followed, and the two of them began to actually watch the TV.
'McGee?' James asked, quietly.
'Thanks for having me tonight.'
'No problem.' He replied.
'James? How far did you run?'
'All the way from Ben's diner.'
'Jeez James! That's Ziva's side of town.'
James paused. McGee saw him struggling with his words. 'I was so angry McGee. I couldn't stop.'
'That bad, huh?' McGee asked, more gently.
'He was just so casual about it. He just threw it into the conversation, as though he thought nothing of it.' James replied quietly. McGee let him talk. Even after four years, James still found it difficult to talk about his emotions. He was making progress though.
James talked some more about how it had happened. Gibbs had started by introducing them both, and made some small talk before appealing to James directly to tell Harry about his experience. From what McGee gathered, James had managed to hold it together long enough – until Harry went to the bathroom. Then James had got angry at Gibbs and asked him, 'Why?' James lost it, and they had got into a shouting match before James had sprinted out of the diner.
'It was really painful.' James whispered.
'I know, James. I know.'
Author's Note: This is the first thing I've written for a long, long time. So please let me know what you think!