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Title: Shoulder the Blame
Pairing: Jimmy Palmer/Tim McGee
Prompt: 23, Defeat
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Jimmy Palmer or Tim McGee, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***Tim sat in the chair by Jimmy's hospital bed, his eyes on his boyfriend's face. He couldn't take his gaze off of Jimmy; he couldn't help feeling that if he did, the man he loved would melt away, vanish, and they would never see each other again.
He knew that was silly; Jimmy was safe here in the hospital. He wasn't going to simply disappear, and no one could get to him to hurt him again.
Jimmy was protected here, but Tim still couldn't hold back a sense of defeat. If he had been more watchful, more careful, if he had realized that they were being followed when they'd come home from dinner that night, then none of this would ever have happened.
If only, if only. The words rang through his mind like a mantra.
Realistically, Tim knew that there was no use going over and over the details of that night. It was over and done with; Jimmy was now back with him, safe and protected. But he still felt that it was his fault that his boyfriend had been through hell.
He should have been more careful. He should have realized that someone was tailing them, rather than letting himself become so lost in kissing Jimmy. He should have kept his eyes on their surroundings, not thought about taking his boyfriend to bed.
Tim knew that Jimmy, as well as everyone else on the NCIS team, would tell him time and time again that none of this had been his fault. But that didn't change the way he felt. He knew that he would be blaming himself for it all until the day he died.
The sense of defeat weighed heavily upon his shoulders; he couldn't chase it away, couldn't brush it off. He didn't think it was ever going to leave him; it would be there for the rest of his life, ready to jump out at him and force him to shoulder the blame.
He'd have to live with this sense of defeat. He had already accepted that.
It didn't matter what anyone else though, he told himself bleakly. Even though he knew that Jimmy didn't blame him, and neither did anyone else, he couldn't help blaming himself. The blame had to go somewhere, and Tim felt that he deserved the burden of it.
He would live a long and happy life with Jimmy. They would be together for all of their days, and beyond. He knew that. He didn't doubt it for a moment.
But the blame for what had happened would always hang over his head, like a sword of Damocles that could fall at any moment. Tim was sure that it would color the rest of his life, and cast a shadow over his future happiness, no matter how much he tried to push it away.