Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 68

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

68. Mom and Ben

“I know that look. That’s your I-don’t-know-what-to-do look,” Abby said to Tim as they were packing up, getting ready to get back on the road. Twelve days left to go, and Dallas was up next, and after that... well, they hadn’t yet figured out what came after that. But there’s a whole country with a lot of interesting stuff in it out there.

“I don’t.”

“So what has you pondering?” He’s staring at his bag, open, and all of his stuff spread out around it.

“We don’t have enough room to take the new stuff along with us. Something has to get mailed back. I can keep the kilt and boots with me, but I’ve got to send a pair of jeans and two pairs of shoes back.”

“Hmmm... Or send the kilt and boots back.”

“Exactly. If we go to Austin and Seattle,” they had talked a little about those two cities, “then there will probably be the sorts of places where the kilt might be appropriate. But I’m not exactly swimming in clothing, and not sure if I want to swap out jeans for something I won’t wear everywhere.”

Abby looked at his things, and then looked at hers. She picked up two of her pairs of boots and put them on the mail back pile.

“Bring ‘em. I like you in them.”

“Enough to send your boots back?”


His eyebrows rose. Abby loves her boots, and getting her down to just four pairs of them had taken hours of her debating between them. “Wow.”

She smiles and nods. “I really like you in the kilt.”

As they’re getting closer and closer to his mom’s place, Tim is starting to get nervous. His mom was very pleased at the idea of him having a girlfriend, even more pleased about the idea of this being serious and moving toward married and kids, but he’s never shown her a picture of Abby, and hasn’t exactly mentioned the whole Goth thing. (While the terms “sweet, playful, and brilliant forensic scientist” all got used to describe her, “four years older than me” and “neck tattoo of a spider web” didn’t.)

And he’s wondering if the woman who set fire to his Mad magazines will greet a Goth soon to be daughter-in-law with grace and open arms. Sure, she’s gotten a lot more relaxed and comfortable with life outside proper Navy lines since she divorced his dad sixteen years ago. (She’s gotten a lot more relaxed about everything since they got divorced, and he wonders how much of that is due to the fact that she’s happy now versus how much of that is not trying to keep the specter of his father happy.) And she wasn’t at all bothered by some of Sarah’s more interesting boyfriends, which he hopes is a good sign of a warm welcome for Abby, but still, he’s a little nervous.

He also hasn’t said anything to Abby about this, because if it isn’t an issue, he doesn’t want to make it one, and he doesn’t want her feeling nervous. If his Mom or Ben gets weird about it, they’ll be out of there in a heartbeat and onto the next stop.

But he’s really hoping she’ll like Abby. It’d be nice to have a relationship with at least one of his parents.

"Mom & Ben*"
Tori and Ben Allister, or as Tim knows them, Mom and Ben, live in what he’d call a McMansion, but there’s probably a better word for it. Anyway, it’s big, vastly more room than the two of them need, on an itty-bitty lot with seven hundred other McMansions about ten inches away.

It’s Ben’s development. One of them at least. He’s got properties all over Texas, some of them commercial, some of them residential, and all of them took a pretty hard hit when the market went south. Though by now, things have gotten back to about where they were in ‘04.

Within seconds of getting out of the car, a tall woman with green eyes and graying dirty-blonde hair is hugging Tim.

“Hi Mom.”

She kisses him and then pulls back to give Abby a hug as well, looking her over, a wide smile breaking out on her face. “Oh, Abby! We’ve heard so much about you over the years!” And Tim feels the nervous tension that had been tightening his shoulders release.

Abby flashes Tim a curious look, and he shrugs a little. “So much about you over the years” isn’t how he’d categorize what he’s said to them.

His mom sees the look between them and says, “Tim’s told us some, but you know him, he keeps his cards close to his vest. Sarah on the other hand...” And it occurs to Tim that while he might not have shown his mom any pics, Sarah, who is on his Facebook feed, probably did. “She was so excited when you two started dating again.” Tori takes both of them by the arms. “Come on in, it’s too hot to be standing out here.”

Tim shrugs a little and opens the trunk, grabbing their bags. “Hot doesn’t bother me, Mom.” He didn’t tell any of his family about the freezer incident. Doesn’t think they need to know about it, but he’s never going to complain about it being too hot again.

He hands Abby her bag, as he grabs his and shoulders the computer bag, and then they follow his mom into a combination foyer/great room.

“I’ve got the guest room ready,” Tori says, leading them up the stairs and then down a long hallway situated between a few bedrooms, Ben’s office, his Mom’s office, and  then up one more stairway. The third floor in these houses were designed to either be a game room or in-law suite, and Tori and Ben had gone for the in-law suite set up.

So the “guest room” is actually three rooms, a large bedroom, a sitting room, and a full bath.  He guesses that when Ben’s kids and their families visit, this space is useful. He’s only stayed here twice, and both of those times, he’d been on his own, so he’d gotten one of the second floor bedrooms.

“You two just want to unpack and relax?”

Tim nods. Downtime sounds pretty good to him right now. New Orleans to Dallas is about eight hours, not too bad, but traffic had been pretty insane in Dallas and a little decompressing time would be good.

“Okay. Dinner’s at seven.” 

“Thanks, Mom. Ben going to be here for dinner?”

“Oh yes. He wouldn’t miss it.”


16 year old Tim
The far wall of the sitting room is something of a shrine to all of the combined McGee and Allister kids and grandkids. It’s covered in photographs. And after they get settled, Abby wants to look at them.

She eyes the different shots, a whole lot of them involving kids and people she doesn’t recognize, but she quickly finds one that looks like it’s the key to all the shots around it. It’s a picture from Ben and Tori’s wedding, one with all of the kids in it. He’s standing next to Sarah, his three step-brothers and their wives on the other side of her.

“Who is everyone in this one?”

“You know Sarah and I,” his finger hovered over each person as he named them, “and these are my step-brothers, Michael, Seth, and Wes, and their wives, Jill, Gail, and Sarah.”

“Two Sarahs?”

“Three.” He searches the pictures and then finds one of a little girl, maybe four years old. “She’s Sarah, too.”

“You have nephews and nieces.”

“Sort of. I’ve only ever seen Josh,” he points out a tall boy, maybe twelve years old, “in person. That was at Mom and Ben’s wedding, when he was four. Really, we have the sort of relationship where I send them Christmas cards and they do the same and we’re all on each other’s Facebook feeds. That’s the only reason I can identify the kids.”

“Okay.” Another picture grabs her attention. “Who’s the baby?” It was a picture of Tim, maybe tenish years old, holding a baby.

“That’s Sarah. I’m nine years older than she is.”

She’s looking at the shot. “I knew that, but, I don’t know, it wasn’t really real until looking at this.”
“She was nineteen the first time you met her.”

“Wow.” Her eyes skim to the left. “Oh my God, this is the cutest thing ever!” Abby whips out her phone and takes a quick picture of the shot of Tim in his Wilderness Scout uniform.

“That’s going on your Facebook page, isn’t it?”

“Oh yeah! I’m practically required by law to post this. It’s the girlfriend code, page nine paragraph six, sub paragraph b, ridiculously cute photos of the boyfriend shall be shared with the world.”

He half-rolls his eyes. “Thanks. You know Tony’s going to blow it up, stick it on a cardboard cut-out, and post it behind my desk.”

“Then I’ll take it home and keep it.”

He looks at her disbelievingly. “What’ll you do with it?”

“Hold onto it until our kids are old enough to be embarrassed and then use it to blackmail then into behaving.”

He thinks about that for a second, looking at himself, twelve-years-old, chubby, well-scrubbed, in a uniform with every badge that anyone had ever made for Wilderness Scouting on it, and decides it’ll be good for that.

“I’ve heard worse plans.”

Abby takes a step to the right. “Which graduation is this?”

He stares at the photo for a second, identifying the honors marks on his robe and the building behind him, his mom, and Sarah. “Johns Hopkins. MIT and high school are around here somewhere.”

Mom and Tim John's Hopkins Graduation
Abby took two steps over, and smiled gently at another of the photos from Ben and Tori’s wedding. It’s Tim, in a tux, standing next to his mom, walking her down the aisle.

“You gave away the bride?”

“Yeah. Sarah was her maid of honor. Kind of trippy when the Minister asked, ‘Who gives this woman,’ but it was cool.”

“Good wedding?”

“I’ve had better times at weddings, but yeah, it was good.”

She looks at him curiously.

He grins. “Not saying it wasn’t fun. Just saying I had a better time at Jimmy’s.” That makes her smile.

She looks through all of the pictures quickly. “No date?”

“June, 2005. Wasn’t seeing anyone often enough to travel to Dallas with for a family wedding.”

Grad school shot taken by Sarah in 2000.
“Am I the first girlfriend you’ve brought home?”

“Since high school. And in those days... well, every girlfriend got brought home because I lived there.”

“You had more than one girlfriend in high school?”

“Yeah. Not a ton more than one, but I wasn’t completely anti-social. Here.” He starts to look over the wall, half-hoping it’s not up there but pretty sure it is, somewhere. And yeah, it was. “Senior prom.” He grabs her hand before she can get her phone up to snap a picture of that, as well. “I don’t care if there is girlfriend law, that one doesn’t go anywhere.”

“You’re so cute!”

“Thanks,” he says dryly, “nothing a man loves hearing better than he’s ‘cute.’“

She’s grinning. “You’re what, seventeen in that picture?”

“Yeah. Though the reason for pointing it out is, you’ll notice there’s a girl standing next to me in that shot. Actual proof of a high school girlfriend.”

She laughs. “And let me guess, the reason that this is proof of a girlfriend as opposed to just a date is that there is no way in hell you’d have on a pink bow tie and vest unless said girlfriend demanded it to match her dress.”

“It’s salmon, not pink, and exactly!”

She smiles and raises an eyebrow. “And did that work out well for you?”

He laughs. “Hadn’t thought about that in a long time, but yeah, it did.”

“Just not quite as well as you had hoped.”

“True, condom stayed in my wallet, but I was pretty happy by the time I got home.”

They spent the next fifteen minutes looking at different pictures, Tim giving her little snippets of who was who and what they were doing. By then he was feeling like the last of the nervous tension from wondering how his mom would react to Abby and Dallas traffic was gone.

“So, want to head down and see if we can help with dinner?”


So, steaks on the gill, baked potatoes, and salad for their first dinner in Texas might be a cliché, but from the way the steaks smell, it’s going to be an awfully tasty one.

Tim, Abby, and his mom are standing on the small back porch, waiting to flip the steaks when Ben came through the sliding glass door to meet them. He’s not a huge man, he’s shorter than Tim, but he’s wide and round, and has a big, drawling, Texas sort of voice.

When he steps onto the porch, he kisses Tori first. “Hey, baby.”

“Hi.” She smiles and kisses him back.

“You were right, they made it!” He gives Tim a warm hand shake. “Good driving, Tim?”

“Yes. The trip was a little over eight hours,” Tim says while Ben wraps Abby in an enthusiastic hug.

“Hello!” He kisses her cheek. “He told his mama you were brilliant, but left out you’re beautiful! Don’t ever leave that out when you describe a woman, son.”

Abby grins at Ben, liking him very much.

“How did you two meet?” Abby asks a few minutes later when they’re sitting down to eat.

“I was working as a regional sales manager for Lansom Properties. Covering the whole south-west,” Tori started.

Ben grinned, he had the sort of face that seemed made to grin. “And one of the reasons I’m good at what I do is that I’ve got no problem swiping the best talent I can find. So, I heard through the grapevine that Lansom’s sales are way up over the last two years, which means it was time to go headhunting.”

“He walked in, pretending to be a property tax auditor for Texas, wanting to see our records.”

“Mostly just wanted to see how she’d handle it.”

“And I checked him up and down, booted him out of our office when he wasn’t the real deal, and ended up with a job offer before he was out of the parking lot.”

“Which she accepted. And from there we got to know each other. I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, my wife had died a little more than two years earlier, just a manager who could handle anything our work threw at her.”

“But we got on.” Tori reached out to touch his hand. “And I noticed I was wandering into his office more often than I needed to.”

“And I was giving her more and more jobs, just to be able to talk to her while I did it.”

“And eventually we were on an out of town trip…”

“Los Angeles,” Ben added.

“And we just decided to stop dancing around each other and see what would happen if we dated.”

“A year later we were married. How about you two?”

 Abby looks at Tim, and then at Tori and Ben, “It was a bit over ten years ago...”

He’s sitting on the sofa next to his mom, waiting for Ben and Abby to come back with what has been promised to be the best ice cream ever made, let alone that he’s ever tasted.

Tori spends a good minute just looking at him, a warm smile on her face. “You’re going to marry her?”

“Yeah, Mom.” He gets out his phone. He’d finally gotten the email saying the ring was done, with photos, yesterday. “Here. Take a look.” He’s certain about one thing, no matter what, no matter how amazing the final ring is in person, they are not getting their wedding rings from this guy.

She inhales sharply when she sees it, and Tim grins. That’s exactly the kind of reactions he wants from Abby’s ring.

“Oh, Tim! That’s perfect for Abby.”

“Thanks. We’ll be engaged a day or two after getting home.”

“So, are you ready for this?”

“Yes. I am.”

She puts her arm around him. “Good. I always worried about you being alone.”

“I was never really alone.” His mom looks skeptical about that, and he thinks that she’d never really get the whole team vibe, but it’s true. Since he’s been at NCIS, he hasn’t been alone.

“Okay, worried that your dad and I scared you off of loving someone.”

“Scared me cautious, that’s certainly true. But no, not scared me off love.”

“Good.” They sit for another minute. Tim’s eyes on the mantle covered with pictures of Ben and Tori, their kids and grandkids.



“Why did you marry him?”

His mom smiled a little. “He was brilliant, and funny…” She sees the disbelief on Tim’s face. “He had this sharp, dry humor, and a wicked tongue when it came to the sly sarcastic remark.”

Tim nodded, that he knew all about, unfortunately because that tongue had been used against him all too often. But he supposed it could be funny if you weren’t the target.

“He was driven. Going to save the world, or die trying. And that’s appealing. Nothing sexier than a man with a purpose. But in the end, it turns out if you’re off saving the world, you’re not at home. When your scale of ‘important’ is global, the people waiting for you don’t matter all that much. And when they’re determined to be ‘important’ too, you start to resent them. And that killed anything we might have had.”

“You deserved to be important, Mom.”

“So did you, Tim.” She kisses his forehead. “So, tell me, are you going to learn from the mistakes your father and I made.”

“I certainly intend to.”

“You have a good talk with your mom?” Abby asks as they settle into bed that night. He’s lying on his back, hands behind his head, and she sits, back against the headboard, arms around her knees.

“Yeah. Thanks for the alone time.”

She nods. “No problem.”

“How are you liking Ben?”

“He’s nice. Why don’t you talk about him all that much?”

Tim shrugs. He’s got nothing against his step-dad, he just doesn’t know him all that well. “Probably because I’ve spent about three days with him since he’s been in my mom’s life. He makes her happy, which is great, but it’s not like I know him.”

She seems to be thinking about something, not sure how to bring it up.

“What are you thinking about?” he asks.

She shrugs a little. So he waits, knowing she’ll talk eventually.

“My next Depo shot was due for the week after we get home.”

“Okay.” He keeps waiting, seeing where she’ll take this.

“Just… looking at all the wedding pictures, and baby pictures, and... Will you hate me if I want to wait some more?”

He shakes his head. “No. I don’t want to rush you into anything. And I don’t want fear to rush either of us into anything.”

She smiles at him, pleased with that answer. “I want to be married before we have kids.”

“Okay. But if you want, I’ll marry you tomorrow, or the day after if you want to do it in Vegas.”

“Vegas?” She thinks about it, and then grins and shakes her head. “Rumor has it, you’ve got something planned for me, and I want to see what that is.”

“You really are hooked into a different rumor mill than I am.”

She laughs.

“So, what else does rumor have to say about that?”

“That I’ll be extremely pleased when I see what it is.”

“Uh huh... And in this case would your rumor mill be Ziva or Jimmy.”

“I’m not telling.”

He smiles, and she lays down next to him, on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, kissing him gently.

“You really okay with putting McSciutos off a bit longer?”

“Yeah, I am. Just you and me is a lot of fun. But I won’t lie, I really want to see what sort of baby we’ll make.”

“Me too.”

“So, where to next?” he asks. They’ve gotten stop one and two on the list done, which meant they’d run out of planned activities and had hit the wing it part of their trip.

“Austin?” she says. “Good music scene. Clubs we’d both like. Kilt friendly territory.”

“Sounds good.”

“I was wondering,” Abby asks, “You got to see some of my old haunts, is there anywhere like that for you? A place that matters?”

He thinks about it. He’s not really a place person. “I guess. But we’ve got to head a few thousand miles east to get to them. There are a few spots in Boston I’ve got some history with.”

“Nothing in California?” He lived there for thirteen years.

“My grandparent’s house is there, but without them in it, it’s just wood and stone. Nothing I want to go 1500 miles out of my way for.”

“I was hoping to see Seattle, never been out there before, and yeah, Vegas sounds good to me.”

He reaches for his phone and starts to plot that out. “They lived in Redding, and from Vegas to Seattle, that’s sort of on the way.”

“Anywhere out there you do want to see?”


“‘The dream of the nineties is still alive?’“

“Cute. Just never been there, it’s supposed to be cool, and two of my college buddies ended up teaching at Reed, wouldn’t mind catching up if you wouldn’t mind a night with a bunch of hardcore math/computer geeks.”

“I like math and computers geeks.”

“Good.” He’s fiddling with Mapquest. “So, say, Austin to Vegas is eighteen hours. Could stop somewhere in between or just drive hard. Vegas to Redding is another ten, Redding to Portland is only another six, and Portland to Seattle is only three. From there we can figure out how to head east.”

She’s nodding. “Sounds good.” 

He puts the phone down, and rolls onto his side, facing her. “One more day here, and then onto the real vacation part of it?”

“I think so.” She kisses him again, soft and sweet. “You know what I’ve never done?”

“Skydiving with Elvis impersonators?”

“That too. But I was thinking, I’ve never had sex in my boyfriend’s parent’s house.”



“And were you hoping to do something about remedying that?”

“I was hoping to.” She flashes him a huge grin and kisses him again. Her hand fell to his waist then slid to cup his dick. “If I could find a boyfriend willing to give me a hand on that.”

“Well, that’s not my hand, but I could probably overlook your appallingly bad grasp of my anatomy to help you in your time of need.”

“Appallingly bad grasp of anatomy?” She looks mock insulted.

“That’s still not my hand.” He laughs.

“Yeah, but I thought you liked my grasp.” She pulls gently, letting her hand slide over him.

“Yes.” He sighs as she plays with him a little more. “So good.” He pulls her tighter to him and kisses her deeply, tongue and lips sliding over her. Then between soft wet kisses says,  “Okay, very good grasp.  Liking that grasp a whole lot. Appallingly inaccurate grasp of my anatomy.”

She lets go, rolls him onto his back, and lifts his hands over his head, and twines her fingers with his, and leans her weight into his hands.

“Hey, don’t let go!”

“If you’re going to complain about lack of attention to your hands, I’m going to pay attention to your hands.”


“You know you love it!” She scoots up a bit, so she’s straddling his chest, using her left knee to keep his right arm pinned, and then take his left hand in both of hers.

She settles back, holding his hand gently, and began lightly stroking her fingers over it. And yeah, it’s nice, kind of sharp and tickly in places, but, well, he’s a guy. This isn’t going to get him off. Hell, it’s not going to get him hard for that matter, not by itself.

Of course, the view, her sitting across his chest, naked, legs wide, so her knee can press into his bicep, that’ll do the trick. Yes, that is indeed doing the trick.

So, he’s not exactly paying too much attention to what she’s doing with his hand. He’s paying significantly more attention to the view, and vaguely wondering how good the sound-proofing is on these rooms. He hasn’t heard anything from downstairs, but he doesn’t know if that’s because Ben and Tori are being quiet or because he just can’t hear them.

And yeah, he’s fairly sure his mom knows he’s not a virgin, let alone suspects that he has sex with Abby on a pretty regular basis, but they’ve never talked about it specifically, and there’s a difference between knowing intellectually and hearing it happen ten feet above your head.

She bites the ball of his thumb, and he refocuses on her. “Something more interesting to you?”

“Just wondering how good the soundproofing is.”

“Oh.” That appears to be an acceptable reason for his mind to wander.


“You don’t want them to hear?”

He nods. “Pretty much. There’s kinky and there’s way out of bounds, and letting your mom and step-dad listen in strikes me as way out of bounds.”

She nibbles her way to the tip of his index finger and then sucks it and his middle finger into her mouth. She licks them, swirling her tongue over the pads of his fingers. That has his attention. Then she slowly pulls back, tongue leaving soft wet licks as her lips release.

“Then we’ll just have to see how quiet we can be.”

He nods, grinning, eyes warm and flirty.

She trails his wet fingers down her chest, down her stomach, and slips them between her lips, while shifting her leg off of his arm.

He knows what to do with his fingers now, and she sighs quietly, leaning down to his ear. “How’s that for giving me a hand?”

He kisses her. “Scoot up a bit, and I’ll give you some tongue, too.”

She laughs. “Might have a hard time staying quiet if you do that. Got anything to help muffle me?”

He’s probably grinning like a dope, but he’s just enjoying this so much. “I just might. Scoot up and flip around and we can find out.”

He was already licking her gently when he heard her say, “Oh, yes, this will do nicely,” then felt her hand wrap about the base of his dick while her lips wrapped around the tip.

And yeah, he would have liked to moan. Her pussy on his lips, his tongue pressed against her clit, while she’s swallowing him, yeah, that’s the sort of thing that makes him moan, loudly, but he kept quiet, and just sighed a little, squeezing her hip with his right hand, hoping that got across a silent I love this! So good!

And as he licked fast, while his fingers push-pulled in and out gently and slowly, he felt the vibrations from her throat, and knew, that in any other circumstance, that would have been a loud moan out of her, as well.  
And since they were doing such a good job of being quiet it seemed horrendously loud when he thrust fairly hard and the bed creaked in a way beds only creak when someone is having sex in them. They both went still for a second, and then broke apart in giggles. A minute later, he kissed her thigh and said, “Okay, this isn’t going to work, where next?”

She scanned the room quickly. Hardwood floors might be nice from an appearance point of view, but not so much fun for sex. Overstuffed comfy looking chair in the corner should work.

She nodded toward it, and he stood up, taking her hand in his and sat in the chair. She settled herself in his lap, and that was awfully good, too.

And like the bed, that was fine, as long as they kept their movements soft and gentle. As soon as they got really going it became abundantly clear that this chair rocked as it banged with a loud thwack into the wall behind it and the legs hit the hardwood floor with a sharp crack.

Once again, they stopped, laughed, and Abby said, “Your mom is evil, you know that?”

“I’m getting that idea.” He pulled her tight to his hips, wrapped his hands around her hips and stood up, still inside her.

She crossed her feet on the small of his back and held onto his shoulders.

It was the first time they had tried this for more than a few seconds without a wall or something to brace against. But by that point he was pretty close and she was, too. And all of the walls had picture frames on them, and with the way they’d been going they’d rattle or fall off and break or something.

So they tried standing freeform and found that it worked pretty well. (Holding her up long enough to get both of them off was a kick for him. Nothing he’d ever mention, but yeah, that felt good. And judging by the way she kept petting his arms as they fell asleep, she liked it, too.) And his tongue on hers (or vice versa) did a pretty good job of keeping them both fairly quiet.

And if Tori or Ben heard anything, they didn’t let on come breakfast the next morning.

* "Mom and Ben" are Vivianne and Donald Bellisario, Sean Murray's real life mom and step-dad.


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