"Everyone’s saying Hollis would have got much worse if you hadn’t pulled him out of the way."
Tim glared at the young woman in front of him. "He died, Laura."
"But his family can have an open casket and that means a lot. You were brave."
"I reacted. Badly," he scowled. "Just get those results to me as soon as possible, okay?" he requested, leaving the lab before she had chance to reply.
He had spent the past several hours going over the gunfight in his mind, trying to work out what had gone wrong. He had a perfect shot of Hollis’ killer and two seconds of hesitation would have cost him his life if it hadn’t been for the bullet-proof vest Horatio had made him put on under his shirt.
The brunette could hear the rumours starting to circulate already; he was either a dirty cop working with the criminals, or a sloppy CSI who couldn’t even take care of his own damn weapon.
If only they knew the truth.
Sitting on the rocks, dangling his feet in the ocean below him, Tim sighed and looked down at his gun.
He had read Calleigh’s report while Horatio had been out of his office. Her official conclusion was that the firing pin malfunctioned.
A new gun was waiting back at the station, ready to be signed over to him when he arrived to collect it. Horatio had handed him a gun-cleaning kit at the end of his shift. The redhead really thought Tim hadn’t been cleaning the weapon.
He could never know that Tim found stripping the barrel down and cleaning every inch therapeutic. Tim cleaned every gun he owned once every two weeks, just for the hell of it.
A gull crying out on the sea a few hundred feet away caught his attention and he glared at the bird for destroying his peace. Raising the weapon to his eye, he took aim and cocked the hammer back.
When he pulled the trigger and the bullet hit the bird, he had to laugh as the creature flopped back against the waves. That had shut it up.
A stone slid from its place next to him and Tim’s brown eyes followed it as it fell down the rocks, bouncing from one to the other before falling into the ocean with a barely noticeable splash, hardly causing a ripple.
He looked up when his companion sat next to him and began pulling his sneakers and socks off. "It’s getting dark," Danny commented, slowly sliding his bare feet into the cool water.
"I know," Tim replied quietly, not taking his eyes off the few feathers that were still visible as the leaded duck slowly sank. "That was a good shot, right?" he pointed at the bird with his gun.
Danny nodded. "You haven’t lost your touch," he agreed.
Making the statement wasn’t necessary; Tim knew he hadn’t lost his touch. Growing up in one of New York’s toughest neighbourhoods, meant they had to learn how to react in certain situations and how to defend yourself if worse came to worse.
Danny’s father had placed a gun in his hand when the blonde turned thirteen. His older brother Louie had spent all of the following week, showing him how to hold the weapon and how to brace himself against the recoil that accompanied the squeezing of the trigger.
Tim was older than his friend and had already been in procession of a gun for six years when a fifteen year-old Danny Messer had shown him it, seconds before the aspiring baseball star found a stray bullet tearing through his shoulder, severing his tendons and screwing up his nerves.
The brunette sighed and rested his head on Danny’s shoulder, watching the ocean move back and forth. It had been a long time since Tim had gone on a homicidal rampage, looking for the coward that shot Danny.
With a gun in his face, Michael Louaga had admitted he hadn’t meant to shoot the blonde; he had mistaken Danny for someone who has crossed him the day before. Tim hadn’t even blinked as he put a bullet through Louaga’s brain before going to the hospital to visit Danny, not looking back once.
"I heard what happened," Danny whispered, wrapping an arm around Tim and lying his head on top of his lover’s.
"H and Calleigh think my weapon malfunctioned because it was dirty," Tim informed him.
"That’s not possible." The blonde pressed a gentle kiss against Tim’s temple.
"They don’t know that. I’ve got a new gun waiting at the lab…" Tim shook his head. "I watched that guy put a bullet into Hollis and knew I had to do something to protect myself… but all I could think about was the look on Louaga’s face before I shot him."
Danny ran his fingers down Tim’s spine. "You did what you had to do," he reminded him.
"I could have taken him to the police," Tim argued. "I didn’t have to shoot him. And I didn’t have to enjoy it so much."
"You’re not a bad person because you made a few mistakes growing up." Danny put his hand under Tim’s chin, tilting his head up so he could look into the CSI’s brown eyes.
"We grew up in an environment where having a gun and using it was perfectly acceptable. Besides, the bastard had it coming," he added bitterly, thinking about how much pain and physiotherapy he had been subjected to as a result of Louaga’s actions.
"It doesn’t make what I did right," Tim whispered.
Danny covered Tim’s lips with his own, silently assuring him that as far as Danny was concerned, Tim did nothing wrong when he shot Louaga. He knew Tim getting a job as a crime scene investigator was his way of repenting for the crimes he had committed during his childhood.
He also knew, that given half the chance Tim would put another bullet through someone’s brain for his lover, without even a moments hesitation.
"Come on," the blonde whispered, grabbing his sneakers and Tim’s boots as he got to his feet. "Let’s get outta here," he added, taking hold of Tim’s hand and leading the other man back to their house.