Friday, February 22, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 16

McGee centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 16. Up Against the Door Quickies and Love Poems

A long time ago, when he and his sister still lived in California with their parents, Tim started reading Dave Barry.

He remembers one of the books, Marriage an/or Sex, maybe? Probably... Anyway, in one of the books Dave was talking about how people behave differently before they have an affair and during. Before, they joke, and flirt, and play up the sexual tension. After, they suddenly become all courteous and professional, doing nothing even remotely out of line, and by suddenly acting that way, they might as well post on Facebook that they're sleeping together.

This thought is going through his mind because he's getting dressed for Jimmy and Breena's belated wedding reception.

It's a Saturday, and they have the day off of work. If it had been a work day, he probably would have given Abby a lift, and then "dropped her back at her car." But it's not a work day. And he lives nowhere near Abby. So he's not giving her a ride.

In fact, he's giving Ziva a ride, because she lives ten minutes from his place, and carpooling makes sense.

But Abby will be there, and he's trying to figure out how he would have acted before they started sleeping together, so he can do a good job of mimicking that. He's fairly certain he wouldn't have spent the entire night dancing with her.

He knows they've been to Christmas parties before, and memory has it they'd usually dance with each other about a third of the time. He'd get more dances than the rest of the co-workers, but not all of them, or even most of them. And he's also fairly certain that there were no soft, slow, cling to each other sorts of dances. Let alone the sort of fast, sexy, make out with your clothing on sorts of dances.

And, of course, this is a wedding reception, so the music might be a tad less... constrained... there's a good word, than what gets played at work Christmas parties. So there will probably be options for fast, sexy dances, and slow cling to each other dances, and honestly, he doesn't want to sit them out.

But he can't for the life of him think of a good way to not sit them out, and keep his relationship with Abby a secret.

He pulls his tie snug, and slips into his jacket. He wonders what Abby will be wearing. The original wedding was formal, and she was supposed to wear some sort of strapless black gown.

But the reception isn't as formal, and he doesn't know what she'll have on, but he's enjoying imagining the possibilities.

His phone chirps, telling him it's time to get going.

The ride to Ziva's is fast. Fortunately there's not too much traffic this time of day. Late afternoon on a Saturday means Silver Springs is pretty dead, and fortunately, when they get into DC it should be pretty slow, as well.

He knocks and waits for a moment. She comes to the door, pulling a coat over a flouncy purple dress with a deep v-neck.

"Hello, McGee."

"Hi, Ziva. You ready?"

"All set."

"You look nice." And she does. The color works with her hair and skin, setting off her brown eyes. Tim's always aware of the fact that Ziva's a very beautiful woman. But, like sunsets and mountain ranges, her beauty is something he appreciates on an aesthetic level from afar. There's a certain edge a woman needs to have for Tim's libido kicks in, and while Ziva's got edge a plenty, she doesn't have the edge he responds to. Basically, she's gorgeous, but not his type.

"Thank you. You do, too."

"I'm wearing pretty much the exact same thing I wear at work." Sure, he doesn't do a full suit all that often anymore, let alone a tie, but his current get up of a dark gray suit, with a maroon and gray striped shirt and black tie isn't really all that different from how he usually looks.

Ziva looks down at herself. "I once wore something kind of like this to work. I was undercover as a cabaret singer."

"You can sing?"

"I can sing."

Tim smiles. "Cool. Why were you pretending to be a cabaret singer?"

"You did not hear this story?"

"If I did, I've forgotten it."

"I think you'd remember it..." Ziva began to tell him about her last operation for Mossad, and after about ten minutes, when she got to the infiltrating part Tim started nodding. That part he was familiar with. By that time they were well on their way to the Adam's House Hotel, favorite haunt of Tony DiNozzo Senior, and location for the Palmer wedding reception.

They chatted about random bits, the last case (Captain Wescott), slightly belated Thanksgiving Dinner at Gibbs' house (who knew Fornell could cook?), and her mystery date (the opera for her sister.) That got them to about ten minutes from the hotel.

At a stop light, Ziva says to Tim, "I always love weddings. There's such a sense of hope."

"Yeah, I suppose so."

"There's so much possibility at a wedding. So much that can happen." She's looking intently at him, and he's flummoxed, not sure what she's trying to tell him.

"I like weddings. Don't get to go to a lot of them, but I like them." Whatever it was, he didn't get it. He can see that from how she's looking at him.

"It's good you like weddings. I hope this will be a good one, for both of us."

Yeah, she's definitely trying to tell him something. And for a second he almost says, 'Do you mean with Abby?' but he can't quite say that, even if it does look like she's hinting in that direction.

"I think it'll be a good one. Food should be good. Palmer's got decent taste in music. Abby's going to give the Best Man's toast, so that should be amazing to see. We'll get to spend a day relaxing with people we love; there are a lot of worse ways to spend a day."

She squeezes his hand and smiles. "Yes, there are."

On the way in, it occurs to Tim that this is a hotel. As a hotel, it has rooms. And if it has rooms, at some point he and Abby could be in one of those rooms, either sneak away or maybe spend the night. Sure, he has to get Ziva home, but he can come back later...

"John!" he says brightly and waves at one of the guys at the front desk. The guy looks surprised, probably because his name isn't John and he's never seen Tim before, but he waves back. "Ziva, you go in without me. I'll be there in a minute. I know him from high school."

Ziva stares at him, looking like she isn't buying that at all, and then nods. He heads over to "John" and asks for a room. Five minutes later he's got two key cards tucked into his pocket.

Finding the ballroom isn't too difficult. There are two on this floor, but only one of them has a horde of NCIS employees milling about outside of it.

Apparently they're a little early. And apparently a little early is a common trait among NCIS employees because he sees about twenty people he knows. He drifts over to Ziva, Tony, and Gibbs, apparently Ducky and Abby are off somewhere with the rest of the wedding party, doing God alone knows what.

"So how does this work?" Tony asks. "Is it a wedding? Or a party?"

Tim knows the answer to this, having listened to Abby talking about it. "They're re-doing their vows for everyone who wasn't at the wedding, but skipping all of the readings/songs/church stuff. Which means we don't have to listen to Palmer sing Wind Beneath My Wings to Breena. Then there's dinner, dancing, cake cutting, party stuff. And after that they're finally heading off for their honeymoon."

"Where are they going?" Ziva asks.

"Abby tells me Aruba. Apparently they both like to snorkel."

"Huh. Didn't know that about Autopsy Gremlin."

"Me either," Ziva added.

"It's like a different world under there. All green and blue and cool. Everything is soft, rippling, fluid. Sometimes the fish come right up to you and nibble on your fingers."

All three of them stare at Gibbs in amazement when he says that.

He shrugs. "I've been on a lot of honeymoons. Snorkeling is a popular honeymoon thing to do."

The doors open, saving the three of them from having to come up with a response to that.

Jimmy, Breena, her maid of honor, and sister? maybe, she looks an awful lot like Breena, as well as Ducky and Abby are standing in a small semi-circle in the middle of the dance floor.

They wave everyone over to come join them.

Tim thinks he should be looking at the Palmers. He really should. But he's not. Abby's wearing a sleek low cut dress. It's green, deep and rich. Her hair is down, long and soft. She's wearing a snake bracelet, but it's subtle. It's very soft, and very pretty, very stylish and he can't pull his eyes away from her.

Several minutes go by while more guests file in and come to stand around Jimmy and Breena.

And, after a few more minutes, Ducky begins to speak. Tim's not really paying attention. He's getting the basic idea, that the point of a wedding is a public declaration of the vows. It's not just about the death 'til us part bit, but about letting the entire world know you intend to do it. Since the first time they did this, Ducky and Breena's parents were the only witnesses, they were going to re-pledge their vows to each other and in front of all of their family and friends as a sign of this as something everlasting and public.

The vows are long and flowery, and, honestly, sweet enough to inspire diabetic coma. Tim's not paying too much attention to them, either. Love, honor, cherish, forsaking, forever, that was really what it all came down to. Tim stares at Abby, and condenses it down further, making the promise in his own mind as her eyes caught his. As long as I draw breath, I will be here and I will love you. She smiles at him, and he doesn't know if she's got an idea of what he's thinking, or just noticing how intensely he's watching her. Either way, he smiles back. He's about to mouth, I love you, when Breena finishes her vows, the Palmers kiss, and everyone cheers.

To the surprise of just about everyone, himself included most days, Tim actually can dance. He's not particularly good at anything that requires fast, unexpected physical dexterity, but anything he can study and practice, he can pick up, and quickly. So, yeah, he was a bad dancer at first, and a bad shooter, and he sucks at most computer games for the first two hours if he can't customize the command keys, but once he knows what happens when, he's golden.

So, yes, if you drop him in the middle of a mosh pit, or say, most clubs, Tim will flail around with the spastic grace of an octopus being electrocuted. But, if you happen to have music that's in the range of speeds he can process easily (4/4 time or slower) or happens to be a dance he knows (Waltz, fox trot, rumba, swing, or salsa: he took ballroom dance for his gym credits at Johns Hopkins.) Tim is actually a decent dancer.

And well, a family wedding tends to have music in the range he can cope with, and occasional songs that are attached to actual formal dances.

Jimmy and Breena started off the dancing right away. And then vanish with the wedding party for photos. The dinner is a buffet, so everyone can eat or dance as they see fit, and in the first hour Tim mostly bounced between the buffet and friendly dances with Ziva, a few other co-workers, and two women he thinks are Breena's sisters.

Then Palmer came around, collecting him, Ziva, Tony, and Gibbs, for more photos. And sure, it could be the fact that if she's wearing heels (which she is), that Abby's the same height Tim is that has them standing next to each other, often with his arm around her, in all of the photos, or it could be something else, but somehow the photographer keeps sticking them right next to each other.

Which he doesn't mind.

He makes a mental note to ask for a copy of the goofy one where he's holding Abby, Jimmy's holding Breena, and Tony has Ziva, and they're all making faces at the camera. And, even though he isn't in it, he also wants a copy of the one where Gibbs has his arms around Abby and Ziva. He doesn't remember the last time Gibbs looked that happy. And yeah, it probably isn't the stealthiest move, but the photographer wanted one of him with Abby and Ziva, so he's got an arm around Ziva, and he's kissing Abby's cheek, both of the girls grinning. He categorizes it under flirty stuff he'd do if he wasn't sleeping with Abby.

Finally, the photos wind down, and he accompanies Abby back to a table. "Here, you sit down. I'll get you something to eat."

"Thanks, my feet hate these shoes."

He looks at the little black satin pumps. "They're cute."

"They are, but they pinch."

"Well, sit down, let your feet rest, and I'll be back with food in a minute."

And while it's true that he's being nice getting her some food and letting her sit down for the first time in two hours, he's also got an ulterior motive. He fishes one of the keycards out of his jacket, and palms it between his hand and her glass.

He hands her the glass carefully, and she takes it, slipping the key into her purse almost like they had practiced it.

"Four seventeen." He mouths it to her, not adding any sound, knowing that she can read lips well enough to get what he's saying.

She nods minutely and mouths back, "Thirty minutes," before saying out loud, "What did you get me?"

He pointed out the things on the plate, naming them. Okay, Chicken Marsala is probably hard to identify by sight, but she can probably figure out broccoli without him expounding on the concept, but he does anyway.

Jimmy and Breena came over, and exchange small talk with them. A song Tim knew he could dance to came up. So he asked Palmer's bride, "Can I have this dance?"

Breena lit up in a wide smile. "Of course."

He's pretty competently swinging with Breena to 'In The Mood' when she says, "Jimmy tells me that you're working on starting a relationship with Abby."


"How's it going?"

"Started up and going well."

"Not dancing with her is driving you crazy isn't it?"

"I'll get some dances in with her, too. Just not the ones I want."

Breena nods at that. "You know, there's a hallway behind this ballroom. You can hear the music, but there's no reason to be back there, unless, say, you wanted a moment or two alone."

Tim smiled at her. "You're a natural at this secret romance thing."

"Thanks. You two should join us for lunch some weekend."

"I think we'd like that."

The song wrapped up. The DJ started blathering away about this next one being dedicated to all the lovebirds out there. "Head back there, and she'll be waiting." Tim looked around and realized that Abby wasn't sitting at their table talking to Jimmy any longer.

"Amazed" by Lonestar is certainly a wedding song. It just wasn't one Tim was expecting to be gently reverbing though the back hallway, but as songs for dancing with Abby went, it was a fine one.

"Hi." He smiled at her, seeing her leaning against the back wall, hands behind her back, waiting for him.

"Hi, back." He steps in close to her and kisses her. She kisses him back and then breaks away. "Palmer's your partner in crime?"

"He's good with secrets."

"And apparently he and Breena thought we might want one romantic song to ourselves."

"Yeah. So, would you like to dance with me?"

She grins, a wide, bright Abby smile, one that makes him feel light and bubbly from his toes to his ears. "Yes, I would."

He takes a step back and offers her his hand. She takes it, and he pulls her to him. His fingers twine with hers and settle against his chest. His other hand anchors at the small of her back, and her free hand lands on the back of his neck.

She's ditched the heels, so she's a few inches smaller than him now. Just enough so that her head can rest against his shoulder, and he can rest his cheek on hers.

There's nothing particularly fast or complicated about this. They're mostly just two stepping. Tim's humming along with the music, only half-aware that he's doing it, but it seems fitting somehow.

It's a fairly short song, and it wraps quickly, leaving them alone in a hallway with some loud peppy music blaring away.

He looks up and says, "You know, unless I'm mistaken, that's an elevator over there."

She looks over, still pressed against him. "That does look like an elevator."

"I bet it could get us to the fourth floor."

"I'd imagine it could do that."

"Wanna go upstairs?"

Another huge smile. "I've got to give the best man speech in twenty minutes." He grins at her and kisses her forehead. She pulls his head down to kiss her lips. "This is so naughty. Yes!"

The elevator takes approximately forever and a half to get down to them, and then get them back up to the fourth floor. And of course, their room is on the opposite side of the hotel. They hurry through the hall, holding hands, his index finger rubbing against her wrist.

He slips his key into the door and swings it open. It's a suite. He didn't pay much attention to that when he reserved it. Mostly he was just thinking, place to get naked with Abby, and all other details were rather moot. They're in a sitting room. There's a sofa, tv, minibar, coffee table, no bed.

And then that didn't much matter because he's back against the door with Abby pressed against him kissing intently.

"How long do you think we can stay?"

She looks away for a second to find a clock. "Ten minutes? I've got to get down there for my speech soon."

"I can do ten minutes." Tim grins.

"Somehow I figured you could." She unzips him while he turns them. This'll work a whole lot easier if she's back against the door.

He kneels in front of her, pushing the skirt of her dress up. Tugging off her panties off with his teeth lets him use his hands to grab a condom and get it on. He stands quickly, lifting her, pressing her back against the door, and slipping into her.

If it wasn't for the fact that the searing pleasure of doing it has wiped all thought out of his mind, he'd be pretty proud that he managed to pull that off in one easy move.

It's not a position he can hold for long. She's smaller than he is, but she's still a good hundred and thirty pounds, if not more. Her legs are wrapped around his hips, and his hands are holding her under her ass. They're kissing frantically, moaning, and his thrusts are slamming her into the door. Anyone on the other side can figure out what's going on in this room.

And all of that adds to it. It's got to be fast. It's dangerous and exposed and just, as she said, so, so naughty. Her feet are digging into his back, and her hands clinging to his shoulders, her teeth nipping his lips, making him feel wicked and sexy and just gloriously fine.

He knows he'll be done in less than a minute, and he suspects she's not that close yet. So he speeds up, goes full out, letting his orgasm sear through him, and bare seconds after his body stops pulsing he drops to his knees again, tonguing her, fingers replacing his dick, pressing her g spot, knowing that's his fastest option. He's awfully glad she's not wearing her shoes. As she climaxes,  the foot she has on his shoulder twitches hard, her heel pounding into him. With shoes he'd be looking at a ripped jacket and maybe a lacerated shoulder.

Having to miss the best man speech to get stitches would have done wonders for the whole "stealth romance" concept. He's smiling about that as he gently licks her a few last times, feeling her come down.

When she stops quivering, he stands up again, leaning against her, still breathing fast. "I've got the room all night, and tomorrow. Feel like spending the night with me? Getting room service breakfast? Lay around in bed all day? Watch trashy TV and make love until we can't stand up anymore?"

She kisses him, hard and long. Licking herself off his lips. He kisses back, sucking her tongue, reveling in her on him, and how ridiculously sexy it is that she's willing to do it after he goes down on her. Then she pulls back. "I'd like that."


"I've got to take Ziva home, but once I do, I'll come back, and we'll have the rest of tonight and all of tomorrow together." He pushes back, and leans against the wall, resting, his knees are feeling wobbly. Abby starts to straighten her dress, slipping on her panties. "Dresses are a lot easier than suits. You just shimmy a little, and you're back to normal."

"Sometimes it's good to be a girl." She checks her makeup in the mirror and touches up her lipstick. "Presentable?"

He stands up and kisses her, gently, lips barely brushing hers. "Perfect."

"Okay, gotta get back down there and find Jimmy. Almost time for me to toast the happy couple."

"I'll be down in a few more minutes. Don't start without me."

"Never. I want you to hear it."

Abby looks over her shoulder, blows him a kiss, and heads into the hall. Tim pulls off the condom, knotting it tidily and tossing it in the wastebasket. He wipes off, rights his clothing, makes sure he's not covered in her lipstick, and notices something. There's a table next to the wastebasket, and next to the phone on the table is a notepad.

For Tim, writing is as much a tactile experience as a mentally creative one. It's an entirely different headspace than the rest of his life, one centered on the merging of a creative mind and a physical effort. He works on a keyboard pretty much all the time. He keeps his notes on his phone. Almost his entire life revolves around manipulating digital information, so when he writes, he goes old school, totally divorcing that part of his life from his work life.

The feel of the keys moving under his fingers, the rhythm of hitting the return lever, manually advancing paper are all part of putting him in the place he needs to be to create fiction. It's a physical meditation that binds and encourages narrative flow.

But for poetry he goes another level further back. For free writing, for associative verse, thoughts and phrases that depend as much on sound as meaning, for that, he goes for pen and paper.

He wasn't planning on writing when he got to the reception. But as he's tucking his shirt back into his pants, he's feeling like he might want to at some point, so he grabs the pad, and heads back down to the reception.

It doesn't look like anyone noticed he was gone. He gets a drink, scotch neat, and settles in at the table his crew claimed as their own. He's the only one sitting at it right now. But, as Abby stands next to Jimmy and Breena, gently clinking her ring against her glass, getting the attention of the other guests, Gibbs, Ziva, and Tony drift back and sit down.

"I understand it's normal for the best man's speech to take a few kind-hearted shots at the happy couple, but... Jimmy was just too easy a target, and I couldn't narrow it down to just a few. So instead this'll have to be sincere." She turned to face Breena. "The day after your first date, Jimmy walked into my lab and said, 'How do you know if you're in love?' I told him, 'Can you imagine the rest of your life without her?' and he said, 'No.' So I kissed his cheek and said, 'Congratulations, you're in love.' About a year after that, he floated down into my lab one day, all glowy, and told me that you loved him, too." She caught Tim's eye, held it long enough for him to know this bit was for him, too, and then put her arm around Jimmy. "And since then, Jimmy's been a glow. You walked into his life, and it changed for the better. You've brought him a sort of happiness I don't think he even imagined could exist. We're pretty close knit at NCIS, and by loving our friend, brother, you've made him happier, and you've made all of us happier as well." She kissed Breena's cheek. "Thank you. And welcome to our large, somewhat bizarre, family."

Everyone clapped.

Then the caterer brought the wedding cake over to them, and Jimmy and Breena cut into it. He fed her a piece nicely, no cake shoving. And she placed a small piece between her lips and kissed him with it, much to the delight of everyone in the crowd.

Abby returned to their table a few minutes after that. Tony and Gibbs praised he speech. Well, Tony praised her; Gibbs kissed her forehead as he stood up to get some more bourbon. But for Gibbs that's praise.

The caterer brought around cake, and all of them ate, chattering away about the wedding, the food, the music, how happy Jimmy and Breena looked. Traditional wedding chatter. Tim stayed quiet, content to just eat and watch, enjoying being surrounded by people he loved.

Abby finished and the music kicked back up. She headed off to dance, and the rest of the crew drifted off.
Tim watched them, made sure they were all busy, and then he leaned back, took another sip of his scotch, and settled in to watch Abby and write.

For Abby: Dancing

Everyone else is busy right now.
Ziva and Tony are dancing with each other.
Gibbs is trying to fend off Jimmy's father-in-law.
Ducky's telling a story.
Jimmy's dancing with Breena.
Vance is dancing with his wife.
And you're dancing, too.

None of you are watching me
which means I can sit back, sip my drink, and watch you.
You're dancing like you own the music
like the reason music exists is to bow down and worship at your red tipped toes.
(I know you think I don't notice details like that
but I do)

Ducky joins you, and you're both swinging through a fast song
setting the floor alight.
For a guy who had a heart attack less than half a year ago
he can really move.
You both look happy.
He's grinning.
You're laughing.

And I watch.

I might be a little buzzed while I write this—
not from the scotch—
from watching you move
and the sense memory or your skin on mine

The music slows down, easier, classic, and Gibbs cuts in.
He loves you so much
he holds you like you're his north star.
Like he's the father of the bride, giving her away
(What do you think? Maybe a year or two from now?)

Lyrics: Yes you're lovely, with your smile so warm, and your cheek so soft,
there is nothing for me but to love you, 
and the way you look tonight.

Is it terrible that I want to cut in?
That I want this song with you.
Because you are lovely
and I love you
and the way you look tonight.
I want to hold you close, cup your face in my hand, and look into your eyes
while swaying through a slow song like this one.

Tony and Ziva are heading over,
so I have to stop.
But I promise, next time we dance as lovers, it won't be in secret.

He folds the paper in half quickly, tucks it into his pocket and gets himself back into small talk mode.

"What are you writing?" Tony asks as he sits next to Tim and takes a drink of his beer.

"Code. I just thought of a way to improve search efficiency by about ten percent when I go hunting through our archives."

DiNozzo shakes his head and slumps back into his chair. "Here we are, at what is likely to be the romantic highlight of our year, surrounded by beautiful women—" And with that he turns to Ziva and looks her over. She slaps his shoulder gently. "—and you're writing code?"

Tim shrugs. Gibbs and Abby come back to the table and for a few minutes they just talk, then Mambo Number Five comes up and Tim decides this one is fast enough that he can dance it with Abby.

He takes her hand. "Come on, dance with me." And leads her out. "Can you salsa?"

"I can learn."

He rests his hands on her hips and talks her through the steps, showing her with his feet and then they go for it. Sure it's a little clumsy and a bit off beat, but it was fun and they were giggling by the end of it. The music stayed fast, Dashboard by Modest Mouse (Tim wonders idly at the DJ's playlist, but it's working, so he's not going to complain.) so they keep at it, and a minute or two into that song, Ziva bopped out to join them. She apparently did know how to salsa, so she stood behind Abby, Tim in front, and the three of them danced together.

Gibbs joined them, spinning Ziva off in a quick and low dip followed by some footwork that, frankly, left both him and Abby stunned. Ziva rose to the challenge, and she and Gibbs left Abby and Tim in the dust.

"And that's what happens when he actually swallows the alcohol." Tim laughed. "I can't believe he can dance."

"I can."

"You'd believe he could fly."

"I would if he did it in front of us."

He smiled at her, wanting to kiss her very much.

An hour later, Breena tosses the bouquet and a minor scrimmage occurs among her various female relatives over it. From there things are starting to break up. Tim excuses himself and scoots back up to the fourth floor. They didn't even make it to the bedroom the first time, so he has to open a few doors before he finds the one that leads to it. Once he does, he writes Abby's name on the poem, and places it on the pillow for her.

Then he heads back down and finds Ziva, getting her coat. He grabs his own coat and heads over to her.

"Time to head home?"

"Yes, I think so." She looks around for a moment, and sees that Tony and Gibbs are heading out together, backs toward them.

"You know, I can get a taxi home."

Tim tucks his arm into his coat. "Why would you want to do that? That's a what, hundred dollar ride?"

"Just, if you wanted to stay late. You don't have to give me a ride home."

"Why would I want to stay late?"

Ziva stares at Abby, who is heading to the elevator. Tim turns and sees what she's looking at.

"That obvious?"

"Most people look at the bride and groom during the vows, not the best man."

"Wonderful. We're trying to keep this quiet."

"I know, and I will keep your secret. I doubt anyone else noticed. I doubt anyone else thought to look."

"Why did you?"

"You and I were driving to go get a suspect. I noticed you smelled like Abby. Then I thought about it and realized you had been in the lab right before we left. So I decided to keep watch. The next two times you came up from visiting Abby alone, you smelled like her. But when you came up from visiting her with someone else, you did not smell like Abby. So obviously it was not just a matter of being in the lab. You had to get very close to her to end up smelling like her."

"Thank you for keeping quiet. We don't want everyone talking, not yet, at least." He hands Ziva his car keys. "She can give me a ride back to your place. No need for you to get a cab."


"I'll be by Monday morning."

Ziva's eyebrows rise, and she looks pleasantly surprised. "You and I will talk about this again?"

"At some point. Without Tony."

"Agreed. McGee?"


"Were you really writing code?"

"I'm at a wedding watching the woman I love dance, you think I'm gonna write code?"


He nods. "Monday then?"


Abby didn't expect him for close to two hours, that gave Tim a little time to plan. For example, he'd already used the only condom he'd had on him, so restocking, which he would have done if he had driven Ziva home and then come back, was definitely in order.

He calls room service and orders breakfast for the morning, and champagne, roses, and chocolate covered strawberries for now.

He knows he's going overboard, but he's enjoying it. He's never had a girl waiting in a hotel room for him, let alone in a four star hotel when he's had enough money to spoil her.

They didn't get enough time to dance with each other, so doing something about that seems like a good idea, too.

He heads to the hotel bar, orders another scotch, he doubts he's going to drink all of it, he's already feeling pretty mellow, but he's not the kind of guy who can take up a seat in a bar and not buy a drink. Tim sips his drink and then takes out his phone. He spends a good twenty minutes setting up a play list for the weekend. Well, a series of playlists. There's sex songs, dancing songs, and just stuff to listen to in between.

Tim heads over to the gift shop and finds what he needs: toothbrushes, toothpaste, condoms, lube, and a razor.

The cashier smirks at him when she sees his purchase, and though he feels like he'd normally be flustered by this, the fact that he's completely anonymous here means that he doesn't care. He shrugs at her and says, "It's gonna be a good weekend."

She giggles while sweeping his credit card. "Have a good night, sir."

He smiles. "I plan to."

Tim heads up, and lets himself into the room quietly. Room service has already come and gone. He sees the champagne and chocolates are on a tray on the coffee table in the sitting area. The roses aren't there.

The door to the bedroom is open, and Abby's shoes are tidily sitting next to the door jam. He toes off his own shoes, leaving them next to hers, and drapes his coat and jacket over the sofa. He tucks the bag from the gift shop into his back pocket.

He peeks in, sees the flowers on the pillow, her dress, panties, and bra hanging on the closet door, and the poem is missing. He hears water running and sees the door to the bathroom is open, as well.

She's sitting on the edge of a tub big enough for them and three of their best friends, naked, back to him, the fingers of one hand testing the water, the other hand holding the poem, as she reads it. Bubbles foam on the water, kissing her fingers.

He loosens his tie, undoing the top button, leaning against the door jam, watching her. She's angled so he can see her face in the mirrors behind the tub. He settles in to watch her respond to the poem.

Abby's smile comes slowly, spreading across her face, gently. Her eyes are soft, a look of tenderness in them. He thinks he knows which one of the lines makes her close her eyes and inhale quickly. A few seconds after that she folds it closed, places it on edge of the tub, still smiling.

"You are so beautiful."

She jumps a good two inches when he does that.

"McGee, don't creep up on me like that!"

"I wanted to watch you."

"Like what you see?"

He crosses the few steps to where she is and kisses her gently. "Yes, very, very much."

She kisses him back, fingers unknotting his tie, and undoing the buttons on his shirt. "Did you mean that?" she nods toward the poem.

"Every word."

She nods again, kissing him again. "Then yes, I think it's a good idea."

He knows what she means. So he cups her face in his hand, looking into her eyes, and says, "I'll ask you properly one of these days."

She nods again, skimming his shirt off. "You're early."

"Ziva knows." She helps him strip out of the rest of his clothing while he explains what happened. He steps into the tub, and a moment later she's in his lap, touching his face, looking at him with a deep, gentle tenderness that makes him want to melt.

His one hand cups her neck, and the other rests on her hip. For a moment he sits there, cuddled with her in warm water and soft foamy bubbles. "It's funny, you know? I'm good with words. I mean, I get flustered, you've seen that, but I can usually find the one I need when I need it." He traces her lower lip with his thumb, which she nibbles gently. "But I can't find one big enough, grand enough to explain how this feels."

"Then tell me you love me, and it will have to be enough."

"I love you so much, Abby." He kisses her, trying to push the feelings into his touch. "So, so much."

She kisses him, and he felt that same desperate hope to push feeling into a tangible action in her touch. "I love you, too, Tim."


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