3. The Nature of the Goth
In the movies, they might just yank out the piece of glass after discovering that it doesn't appear to be piercing anything vital, slap a few stitches on the wound, and the hero goes back to work, gently oozing blood, saving the day, and winning the girl.
But Tim's not in a movie.
The Ultrasound Tech now has a surgical nurse with her. The nurse eases out the glass, and the tech reports back that there are still something like fifteen little bits of glass in the wound.
The next three hours are a haze of pain, very powerful pain-killers that seem to be making everything in his world distort into drippy colors, and occasional updates as to what is going on with the rest of the team.
When everyone is reported alive and accounted for, he dozes.
And at some point Abby shows up, listens to what the doctor says about his post-recovery care, and takes him home.
He half-dozes, half-gazes at her as she drives to his place.
They didn't so much break up, as just wander apart. Nothing acrimonious, though to some degree Tim doubts anything that involves Abby can get that way. She's just so... Abby... that the idea that she'd be involved in a messy and hurtful break-up just doesn't fit in his world view.
They dated for a few months, slept together a half-dozen times, and then the cases kept coming, and they were working together more and more, and suddenly they were working together full-time, and then they were friends, which worked out pretty well, because at first glance they looked like the perfect couple, but they aren't, or weren't, not really.
Goths and gamers go together like peanut butter and chocolate, like Venn diagrams and Facebook updates, but, and it took a while for Tim to figure this out, Abby isn't a Goth, not the way most of the Goths he met before were.
For most Goths it's a lifestyle. A specifically chosen mode of dealing with the rest of the world, a set path and series of rules for carving out an identity, weeding out those who won't mesh well with oneself, and defining one's interactions with the people around them.
It's a layer of fantasy that protects the inner person, removing those who are likely to hurt or disappoint, by keeping them at arm's length.
Tim needs that fantasy shield. He's got several of them. Elf Lord, Thom E. Gemcity, half-a-dozen online personas, Probie, they're all variations on Timothy McGee, and allow him to experience life with a protective layer in place between him and it.
But that was nine years ago, and in the intervening almost decade they've learned each other well enough to see the real person there.
And in the intervening nine years, he's always assumed, that eventually, they'd get back together.
Tim and Abby. Abby and Tim. That's the default setting. Right now they're off messing about with other settings, trying them out, seeing how they work, but when it comes down to it, they'll go back to where they're supposed to be. After all, they have plenty of time.
Tim gently pokes the bandage on his side.
He's thirty-four. Abby's thirty-eight. (Though he's not supposed to mention that, and she's got most people believing she's perpetually 28.) And, as the pain from poking himself slowly registers through the haze of his medication, he's realizing he's not going to live forever. She's not either. And if I love you means let's get married and have kids and grow old together, doing something about it while you're still young enough to have the kids and growing old hasn't already happened is necessary.