Monday, April 1, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 45

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

45. Moving Day

"Am I going to see anything I don't want to?" Tony asked as they packed up Tim's stuff.

"As long as you don't open any of the boxes labeled Bedroom, no, you won't."

"Good." Tony's piling boxes onto a hand cart. That's the first, only time he's mentioned anything about Tim's sex life beyond a bit of light, generic teasing about some mornings being better than others, since January.

"Thanks for helping with this."

"No problem. I ever move; you'll be helping me lug, too."

"Yes. I will." Tim puts one of his boxes on a pallet. He's got it worked out so it should only take them one trip for the boxes and then three more trips for the furniture.

"It's a good day for it."

May 23rd, 2013 had dawned beautiful and promised to be warm and sunny. "Yeah. The new place has a patio, and we've already got a grill set up for the after party."

"So how is it Abby gets Ziva, Autopsy Gremlin, Mrs. Gremlin, and Gibbs to help her move, and it's just you and I over here?"

Tim shrugs. "She's got more stuff than I do? Does a better job of looking helpless? They like her better? No idea. But I'm glad you're here."

Tony puts a box that says Books on it onto his cart. "I thought you had more books."

"I only kept the ones I really love in hardback. All the rest are on my Kindle."

Tony nods. "So, three bedrooms, huh? You know what happens when you get three bedrooms."

It wasn't that they needed a three bedroom place. There had been some pretty nice two bedroom ones they'd thought seriously about. But, when it came down to it, he felt pretty weird having an office all to himself—which he needed, he's a lot happier writing alone, with his music, than with an audience, even if that audience is her—if she didn't have a space of her own, as well. And since they could afford three bedrooms, they got them.

Granted, they aren't entirely sure what she's going to do with her room. But, they'll figure that out as they go along.

"I don't trip over Abby's stuff, she doesn't trip over mine, and neither of us has to use earbuds to listen to our music."

Tony seemed to think that was a good answer, but it didn't exactly get to what he was fishing at so he kept talking. "That, too. But babies happen when you get an extra room. Well known fact, if you've got a space for them, next thing you know you end up with one to put in that space."

Tim smiles, loading up a box of clothing. "Wouldn't mind if it happens. But I think the plan is to get married, or at least get a house, before she gets pregnant."

"You're not freaked out at all about this, are you?"


"It's not if you get married, it's when." Tony shakes his head a little at that. "You and her and the rest of your life and kids and... nothing... not freaked at all..."


"Forever, really?" Tim's wondering what exactly is going on here, because the look on Tony's face isn't so much disbelief as trying to figure something out.


"Seriously, a tiny person, entirely dependent on you for everything, and you aren't freaked?"

"She's not pregnant now, okay? And yeah, when it's real, I might get a bit freaked out by that, 'cause, yeah, tiny person entirely dependent on you is kind of scary, but right now, it's an idea, one I like. Abby pregnant with my kid, that's all kinds of good. A little girl with her smile and my eyes, I like that idea, too. Watching Gibbs with grandkids... Just take a moment and imagine that."

Tony laughs at that. "He'll turn into a puddle of goo or have them ready for the Marines by the age of seven."

"And possibly both."

Tony shakes his head again. "Gibbs making toys for your kid. Yeah, I can see that."

"Someone will have to teach them to sail." And then he looks at Tony for a long moment, "And how to dribble. I can't do that to save my life."

Tony looks very pleased by that, then looks away and grabs one more box. "I think this is ready to go."

Tim nods. "Yep. Service elevator is down the hall on the left." He tosses Tony a set of keys. "It's the Ryder truck right next to the loading bay."

"So, how did last night go?" Tim asks an hour later. They're disassembling his workbench, which is too big to get out of the door in one piece.

Yesterday had been Tony and Ziva's first official date. He had been expecting Tony to talk about nothing else today, he'd talked about the planning for it almost non-stop yesterday, and his silence on it seemed off. Tony's also not behaving with his usual, I-just-got-laid attitude, but Tim's well aware that there's a huge difference between 'laid' and 'just slept with the love of my life for the first time.'

Hunting Ilan broke the wall between Tony and Ziva; Tim could see that. But he could also see that while there was a new intimacy between them, (Of course, that was true for the rest of the group, too. You can't do something like that and not completely have each others' backs.) nothing romantic appeared to be happening until about two weeks ago when Tony started planning last night's date.


He doesn't elaborate, which Tim takes to mean that things were either so incredible that Tony hasn't been able to get his head around it, or she slapped him silly and left before dessert.

"You got a Phillips head?" Tony asks.

Tim looks around on the floor—"Yeah"—and hands it over.

They continue disassembling. Tim waits. Tony will start talking about something soon. And if the date is still too personal to talk about, he's not gonna press.

"She slept over."
Definitely, a bigger bed.

Tim nods, getting how big of a deal this is to Tony. "At your place, you mean?"


"First time you've had someone do that?"

"Since Wendy."

"You like it?"

Tony nods. "I need a bigger bed."

Tim smiles, feeling really, really happy for Tony. "Good."

"So, this forever thing, what happens if it doesn't work?"

Tim looks confused at that as he puts his end of the dresser on the pallet. "What do you mean? Like, I get bored and leave? Not gonna happen."

"No." And then it hits Tim, and he feels intensely stupid for not putting this together sooner. Tony's mom died. The first woman Tony ever loved left him. Suddenly he gets something else, Wendy left Tony. He just knows that. Kate left him. Jeanne left. EJ just vanished one day. All the women Tony's ever really loved have left.

Tony's standing, forearms on the top of his dresser, leaning into it, not really looking at Tim. "She was sleeping next to me, spooned up close, 'cause there's not really enough room in my bed for any other position, and all I could think about was what the hell was I ever going to do with myself if something happens to her?" Tony's staring at the wall behind Tim. "Lonely might be better than this. I'm so scared of something happening to her. I don't know if I can even work with her anymore, 'cause if she's in danger, I'll do something stupid to try and help, put everyone at risk."

Tim doesn't know what to say to that. He awkwardly pats Tony on the shoulder.

"You know... Gibbs might be really good to talk to about this."

"Yeah." Tony shrugs. "Or he might tell me that that's a big part of why Rule Number 12 exists. That getting stupidly in love with Jenny made him decide dating his partner was a really bad idea."

"Maybe. But, the worst happened to him, and he's still here."

"Yeah. You ever wonder what he was like, you know, before?"

"Yes. Sometimes." Tim's going to assume that Tony only read the first Deep Six book all the way through because the final version of Black Rock had a really long Tibbs flashback which covered exactly what Tim thought Gibbs might have been like before.

"I don't think he's really still here. Sure, there's a guy named Gibbs, and he's got a lot of history with the guy he used to be, but I wonder if Shannon's husband and Kelly's dad crawled into the ground with them and never came out."

Tim shrugs at that. It certainly could be true. Though he thinks there's still a lot of the old Gibbs left, probably more of him each year as time goes by, but he doesn't know. None of them do.

"Maybe the next time Jackson is in town, you could talk to him."

"Yeah... Maybe." Tony shakes his head. "But it wouldn't help. It won't keep her safe." Tony sighs. "Come on, it's not gonna move itself... Tim?" Tony's staring right at him, making sure he knows that he's dead serious.


"When we're out there, if it's ever me or her, the right answer is her."

"I know, Tony."

Two hours later, they're doing the one last sweep through his apartment, making sure nothing's been left. It's as empty as it was the day, almost ten years ago now, when he moved in.

"I think you're set to go."

"Looks like it. Just gotta hand in my keys. Meet you at the truck?"


They've been on the road for about two minutes, pulling up to a light, when Tony says, very carefully not looking at Tim, "So, if I wanted to learn more about ropes and... things... What would you suggest?"

Tim almost rear ended the car in front of them he was so surprised by that. Once he had the van fully stopped he said, "Why do you want to learn?"

"I think Ziva's tastes might be broader than mine."

"Ahhh..." Tim smiles at that. "Okay. You already trust her with your life, so trust her with this, let her know you don't know everything, and just ask her what she likes. You'll have a much better time playing with her than you will trolling online."

"I keep hearing about this book that they're making into a movie soon—"

"NO! Do not go read Fifty Shades of Gray. It's not an instruction manual. It's not even particularly good smut. I can hook you up with better stuff than that if you want it, but not until after you talk to her and get something more specific than 'ropes and things' for what you might want to do."

Tony finally looks at Tim, curiosity in his eyes. "How do you know it isn't good smut?"

This was the part where Tim was not about to say that Palmer had given him a copy after Breena read it to him, and suggested he and Abby might enjoy it, as well. He and Abby had read it, and enjoyed it, but probably not the way Palmer and Breena had. They'd read chapters and ended up rolling around laughing so hard they couldn't breathe. "I read Tony."

"You're grinning."

"Abby and I read it, and that was fun, but the book's terrible."

Tony looks perplexed by this. "How can it be fun and terrible?"

Tim rolls his eyes a little. "It's supposed to be sexy, and we ended up laughing so hard we almost hurt ourselves."


"And it's bad. It's bad on a general level, and it's bad in specific for you because you aren't dating a 21-year-old-submissive who's never so much as touched herself, let alone kissed a guy. It's bad because if I understand you and Ziva right, you're not the dominant one." Tony looks bothered by that. Tim shakes his head. "Oh, come on, it's not like I've just met either of you. And I'm not saying she's a Dom and you're a sub, you're probably both switches, just she leans more Dom than you do."

Tony's just staring at Tim. He finally says, looking a little disturbed, "You really do read, don't you?"

"Oh yeah. Anyway, and more importantly for Fifty Shades, unless I'm really mistaken, neither of you gets off on pain."

Tony nods.

Nipple clamps
"So, anyway, bad book. Spanking and nipple clamps do not equal orgasms unless you're with someone who's wired that way. Hell, maybe Ziva is, I don't know, and I'm not ever going to know. But you're better off flat out asking her than just trying it one day with no warning." He thinks about that. "Okay, if you think she might like stuff like that, you could suggest reading it with her... But really, if you're gonna do that, tell me, and I'll find you something that's actually worth reading."

"Is a nipple clamp what I think it is?"

"Probably." Tim nods with a little smile on his face.

Tony winces. "Yuck."

Tim says, "Yep."

The light turns green and they continue toward his new place.

The new place is in Arlington. It's closer to work than either of their previous places, and should such days arise as they'd be reliably home by midnight, it's right near a Metro stop.

It is also on the third floor, and there is no elevator.

"Trust you to get a third floor walk-up." Tony says as he's helping Tim get his dresser up the stairs.

"Think of it this way, we kept Abby's sofa, not mine, so the five of them moved that."

"Good point. You kept her bed, too."

"Right. Palmer, Gibbs, Abby and Ziva got to lug that." Abby's bed is a huge four poster. It's beautiful, but, and this is Tim guessing facetiously here, weighs two thousand pounds. "Dressers, mirrors, two desks, a workbench, which is in pieces, a recliner, four book cases, and a ton of computer equipment and tools, and that's all of my stuff."

"So, you're saying we got off easy?"

"Let's put it this way, I'm working on convincing myself of that, and if I'm lucky, I'll get you to believe it, too."

They got up the second flight of stairs and started to hear familiar voices coming from an open door down the hall.

"So, you gonna kiss her?" Tim asks.


"You know, when you walk in and see her for the first time since this morning. You gonna kiss her?"

That stops Tony. "Thanks, McGee, now I've got to think about that."

Tim grins. "I'm gonna kiss mine."

"You always kiss Abby. You're practically weasels in heat the way you two go at each other."

"Weasels in heat? You've been spending way too long with Ziva."

Tony's looking thoughtful. "Yes."

"Yes?" Tim didn't follow where that yes went in the conversation and looked alarmed. "No, not too much time with Ziva! More time with Ziva is the idea."

"No. Yes, I'm going to kiss her."

"Oh. Good."

By dinnertime, all of the furniture, boxes, and various home accoutrements had migrated from Abby's home and Tim's home into their home.

And, by dinnertime, a good third of them had found new homes. All of the furniture had been reassembled and put into place.

And, by dinnertime, no one wanted to do any more unpacking or moving, which meant it was time to fire up that grill, open some beer, and sit back and relax.

Gibbs took one look at Tim and the grill and shook his head. "You've got good steaks, McGee, let's not kill them." He started rearranging the charcoal into a tidy pile up against the one side of the grill. "Pile it up like this." He pointed to the deepest part. "This part'll be real hot. Steaks start off here, get a nice sear on 'em." He points to where the coals are only one deep. "Then they go here to finish off. Cook 'em gently."

"Thanks, Boss."

He's standing next to Gibbs, both of them on the patio, dousing the charcoal with lighter fluid, ("Not so much, McGee. No need to torch the place.) and watching Tony and Ziva tease each other.

"They look really happy," Tim says.

Gibbs nods.

"Is this cool?"


"He's really scared."

"I know." Gibbs lights the coals and they burst into a huge ball of flame. He shoots Tim a See, way too much lighter fluid look, and Tim nods.

"Less lighter fluid next time," Tim says, watching the flames dance.


"Is she?"

Gibbs watches them. Ziva's sitting in Tony's lap on one of the kitchen table chairs. (They've only got four of them, and since Ducky's over now, they've got eight people in their place.) He's gently stroking the back of her neck with two fingers, and she's smiling as she talks to Abby, who's slicing up cucumbers for the salad.

"Not anymore."

It was so late that it counted as early when Tim collapsed into bed next to Abby. For a while they just lay there, neither of them moving or wanting to move. After their friends left, they spent the next four hours unboxing their stuff and finding new homes for it.

Then he rolled to his side and kissed her gently. "We're home."

She kissed back. "Yeah we are."


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