Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 75

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

Chapter 75: The Ring

Since the move, Gibbs’ place has been on the way home. It’s only about six minutes, round trip, out of his way.

So, yeah, he’ll be a little late getting home.  And sure, Abby probably knows something is up, ‘cause it’s not like he couldn’t have given Gibbs the coffees at work. But as cover lies go, coffee delivery is plausible.

He knocks (Tim always knocks. Yes, Gibbs has an open door policy, but he always knocks anyway. He doesn’t wait to be let in, but he also doesn’t feel comfortable just walking in unannounced.) and opens Gibbs’ door feeling... nervous? Probably not. There’s no fear here, just a somewhat pleasant buzz of energy. So, excited? Eager? Yeah, probably eager. He wants to show off what’s in the tiny black box in his pocket.

He heads down the steps and waits at the bottom one. Gibbs is doing something with what he thinks is a chisel, concentrating hard, and he’s not going to interrupt.

Finally Gibbs looks up. “McGee?”

Tim steps off the bottom stair. “I have something I wanted to show you.”

He slips the box out of his pocket and puts it on the piece of wood in front of Gibbs. “It’s for Abby, and since you’re practically her dad, and definitely the guy who’ll be giving her away, I wanted to talk to you about this first.”

He doesn’t look up at Gibbs while he says that. He keeps his eyes on the box while he opens it.

The jeweler had looked at Tim’s stones and started playing with them. Eventually, he laid one of the diamonds next to the garnet, fat sides close to it, and the other, on the opposite side and down a bit, creating something that looked like a rose with two black leaves. From there he started to sketch a setting: a delicate vine-like filigree of black titanium. And, once it’s on her, it should look like a red rose with black leaves wrapped around her finger.

Gibbs looks at it for a long time, taking it out of the box so he can see all of it from every angle. Tim’s on the verge of feeling nervous, until he notices a smile creeping onto Gibbs’ face.

Gibbs closes the box and hands it back to Tim. “You did good, Tim.”

“Thanks, Boss.”

They sit there quietly, while Gibbs goes to get the bourbon, pours them both a shot, and hands him a cup.

“I’m glad it’s going to be you.”

McGee is prouder of having earned those words than just about anything else in his life.

“Got any advice for me?”

Gibbs laughs a little at that. “Like I told Palmer, I’m the last person you want to go to for marriage advice.”

Tim shrugs, that’s probably fair enough. He sips his bourbon. “Got any honeymoon advice then? From what I’ve heard, you’ve been on more of them than anyone else I know.”

Gibbs laughs full out at that and takes a drink of his bourbon. Then he smiles, looking quite amused, and maybe a little surprised at Tim’s last comment. Tim realizes Gibbs might be about to make a joke.

“Leave the cuffs at home, cut your ropes twelve to fifteen feet long, thread them under the mattress or box spring if there’s enough room. That’ll give you plenty of room to play, and you won’t have to explain how you broke the bed the next morning.”

Okay, not a joke, but that was definitely good-natured teasing, and after a second’s thought, where Tim contemplated how few of the beds they ran into while traveling had any useful bits to tie things to, he realizes, that was also awfully good advice.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Tim simultaneously shakes his head and laughs. Then he remembers something. “I’ll be back in a sec.”

He sprints up to the car and grabs the brown paper bag. Abby said he should wrap it, but he’s a guy, and wrapping presents for other guys just isn’t something he does. In fact, as a guy, he didn’t even own wrapping paper until he ended up with a half share in Abby’s. Then he runs back down to the basement and hands the bag to Gibbs.

“Here. I don’t know if you’ll like any of them, but when we were traveling I kept thinking you might.”

Because why not?
Gibbs opens it and looks inside, then pours the contents out. Four small vacu-sealed bags of coffee fall out. One is basic coffee with chicory from New Orleans. The next was from a roaster in Austin, he figured something called Black Death was probably a dark enough roast for Gibbs. The other two were from Portland and Seattle. In each city he told the guy at the roaster’s that he wanted the strongest, darkest, most stand up and eat the spoon while you try to stir it coffee, which resulted in these two bags.

“They might be terrible. I don’t know. I don’t like my coffee as strong as you do.”

Gibbs smiles at him. “Thanks, Tim.”

“Okay, I should get home. If Abby asks, I was giving you your coffee.”

Gibbs nods, holding the bag of Black Death in his hand, looking fairly interested in it.

“So...” Tony said.

Tony, Ziva, and Palmer were all waiting at his desk as he walked in the next morning.

“None of you can say anything about this. I’m asking tonight, so no wrecking it!”

“Our lips are sealed,” Ziva answered.

“I’ve been keeping this quiet for eight months, you think one more day is going to break me?” Jimmy said.

“Come on McLovin, show it to us!”

“McLovin?” Tim’s sure it’s a reference to something movie related, but he doesn’t know what.

“Movie trivia later. Get that bad boy out of your pocket and show us!” Palmer said, and then blushed scarlet when Tony began laughing hysterically.

Tim slipped it out of his pocket. He’d ditched the box in favor of the small velvet bag it came with. On the off chance, and by chance he means utter certainty, he ends up hugging Abby, he doesn’t want her wondering what that small, hard, square thing in his pocket is.

He opened the bag and then slipped it onto his own index finger, twisting his hand so they could see it from all angles. “Ta da!”

Ziva did that thing where she inhaled sharply and went quite. Which was the reaction he was hoping for. Tony went oddly quiet, too, just staring at it.

Palmer nodded and took it off his finger, studying it carefully. “This is beautiful, Tim. She’s gonna love it.”

“I really hope so.”

Ziva took it from Palmer, and slipped it onto her right ring finger, seeing how it would look on a hand. “It’s stunning, McGee.”

Ziva was staring at it when Gibbs walked up and gently slapped him upside the back of the head. “Wrong girl, McGee. That one’s waiting for DiNozzo to get his ass in gear.”

Tim laughed so hard he felt like he was going to hurt something while Tony stared at Gibbs like he’d just been stabbed in the back. When he calmed down, he took it back from Ziva, tucked it into the bag, and slipped it back into his pocket.


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