McGee centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.
2. Code and Ink
At the hospital, they very gently peel off his jacket. The nurses in the emergency room don't bother to try to take his shirt off; they just cut it off of him. Then, with the glass still in his side, they wheel him into a dimly lit room with an ultrasound machine.
The ultrasound tech, who, he's sure, is gently using the wand to see how bad it is, but it feels like he's being pounded by a red-hot hammer, asks him about the tattoo on his left deltoid. She's probably just looking for a way to take his mind off of what she's doing or how much it hurts. Maybe trying to help him not think about the fact that they've got no idea how deep the glass is, and if the only reason he's not bleeding out is because it's still inside him.
He answers on automatic, barely paying any attention to what he's saying. "It's a bit of code I came up with a long time ago."
Tim's a geek. Tim has always been a geek, and he always will be a geek. That's just who he is. But, he's a geek who had already significantly rewritten his life twice by the time Tony, Abby, Kate, and Gibbs came onto the scene, and he had been looking for something to commemorate that. Because, though he was sure he'd continue to find new hats and adventures (for example, adding best-selling author to his list of accomplishments) computer guy is his core identity now.
So, on his shoulder, is a bit of code he wrote for his Masters Dissertation. It's in Python, and though it's not exactly cutting edge now, it was when he came up with it. And it was that bit of code, that allowed him to show his professors how to sort through literally millions of data points to find the pattern they needed to predict where certain sorts of crimes would happen, that set him on this path. Sure, other people had written code to do that before, and others did later, and better. But Tim was the first guy to turn thousands of lines of C++ into three tidy lines of Python, and he was the guy who took it from being a job that took days into a job that took minutes.
Every third sailor has Mom tattooed on his ass. That was the first, quickest lie he could think of when Tony asked because he was sure Tony would have scoffed at what he really got done. (And five years later, when Tony did actually see his tattoo, he did scoff, asking if it was part of his Elf Lord persona, because for all Tony knows about code, or elves for that matter, his tattoo could have been in Elvish.)
And, he didn't get the tattoo just to impress Abby, though that was certainly the final push in that direction. He'd been thinking about it for months at that point. But it did impress her. Which he was very thankful for, because, well, Tim's never been what anyone would call a fine example of male physiology. He's not now, or ever, been known for rippling, sculpted musculature, and even at his fittest, he's tended toward pale and skinny, not buff. And he was not, by about 30 pounds, at his fittest the first time Abby saw that tattoo.
And well, half-naked with a beautiful girl he really hoped to impress isn't exactly Tim's strong suit, either. So, yes, when she saw it, shortly after taking his shirt off, and stopped everything to spend twenty minutes discussing it with him, not only was it a way to impress her that didn't involve sucking in his stomach and desperately trying to look like he'd worked out at least once in the previous year, it also helped him to relax, and both of them had a better time in the long run because of it.