Saturday, March 2, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 22

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

Chapter 22. Gibbs, Rule Number 12, And True Love

So, on Friday, instead of driving to his own home, he turned his car toward Gibbs' place.

Gibbs' basement is one of the most male places Tim's ever been. And he's been in a lot of guy only places over the course of his life.

One of the things he likes about Gibbs' basement is that it's not aggressively masculine. It's not his dad or grandfather's offices, which were covered in images of things that kill people, awards for killing people, citations, praises, and headlines for killing people.

Gibbs kills people, too. In a more up-close and personal way than either his father or grandfather ever did. And Tim understands the necessity of it, the value of men who are willing to end life, as well as protect it. But there should be more than that. And, for Gibbs, there is. Here, in his basement, in the space where he does what he loves; he builds things. Here, in this basement, is masculine energy that creates, that tames chaos, and coaxes beauty out of everyday objects and the will of man.

Tim likes to think of his writing that way, as well.

Though Gibbs and his father are similar when it comes to the being the calm, quiet, deadly type, Tim prefers that Gibbs creates in his off time, while his father works on new ways to destroy.

He stands on the bottom step for a moment, watching Gibbs work a plane over a piece of wood.

Part of him wants to fluster and bluster and hide from this. Another part knows that Gibbs will respect blunt and to the point a lot more than any flowery words or excuses.

"Abby and I are dating again."

Gibbs looks up, and, like Palmer, he couldn't have been less surprised if he tried. "Yeah."

Tim waits for a minute, wondering if there'll be anything else. But Gibbs is just looking at him, almost daring him to break into a long, flustered chain of words.

"That's it?" Tim asks.


"Nothing about rule twelve, or possibly breaking up the team or..."

"McGee, DiNozzo's your partner. You two start dating; I'll have something to say about it. Abby's the love of your life. Now get out of here and go see her."

"Yes, Boss."



"Make her happy."

"Will do, Boss."

He's half-way up the stairs when two thoughts occur to him. One he decides to save for a little while, namely, if he's Tony's partner, who is Ziva's? The second thought is more personal.


"Yeah, McGee?"

He turns and goes down the stairs, leaning against the railing.

"May I ask you a personal question?"

Normally this is so far away from something he's allowed to do that he'd never do it, but especially after that very long chat with Diane, it occurs to him that Gibbs might have some real insight into this.

He half expects Gibbs to give him that 'back off' look, but Gibbs gives him that look that says 'go ahead.' It occurs to Tim that it's likely the only reason he's getting the go ahead is because this is related to Abby, and a lot of Gibbs' walls fall when it comes to Abby.

"When you got married the second, third, and fourth times, did you mean your vows?"

Gibbs looks very startled and quite annoyed by that.

Oh shit! Tim quickly adds, "I'm not calling you a liar, it's just... Look, you're a good guy. You're brave and loyal, and you put yourself on the line for other people all the time. From everything I can see, you're the definition of an honorable man. But you've got three ex-wives, all of whom you promised to love forever. Did you really love them, and did it just go wrong? Or did you know it wasn't quite right from the start?"

Gibbs puts down the plane, goes to his work bench, and pours two glasses of bourbon. He gestures and Tim comes closer. He hands one of them to Tim.

Tim holds his glass, waiting to see how, or if, Gibbs will answer. Gibbs shoots his back. Maybe some things can only be said slightly drunk.

"Truly loving someone is..." He lets that trail off, maybe he doesn't have a good way to explain what really being in love is, or maybe it really is just too personal to say out loud. "And when it's gone, you crave it. Not having it carves a hole so deep inside you; you'll do anything to make that go away. I made some awfully bad choices trying to ease that ache. And every time I got up there to say my vows, I meant them, heart and soul... just not to the woman standing in front of me.

"Did I know? Not then. But I know now. The thing is, you love someone like that, there'll never be another person to fill that hole. There are other people, who could be perfectly good partners, who could make you happy, but it can't happen if you keep trying to turn them into the person you lost."

Tim sips his drink. "I'm sorry you lost her."

"Me, too. So, now, take my advice, quit wasting your time. You and Abby aren't getting any younger."

"Yes, sir." Once again halfway up the stairs, he has to add another question. "Boss..."

"Yeah, McGee?"

"Who is Ziva's partner? I mean, if I'm Tony's..."

Gibbs smiles. "I am. And maybe one of these days DiNozzo will get up the nerve to ask me that for himself."

"Probably sooner rather than later. He's over at my place two-three times a week now."

Gibbs nods and then, finally, Tim leaves.


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