Friday, April 5, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 49

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

49. Good Advice, Gibbs' Style

"McGee." Gibbs' voice from behind the partition next to his desk.

"Yeah?" He looks up at Gibbs, sees him standing there, jacket on, ready to go home. Another long day of paperwork in the can.

"Waiting for Abby?"

"Yeah." It's late, NCIS is almost empty, and Tim's actually up to date on his paperwork. Abby's wrapping up a test and will be up in a few minutes, so with a little time to kill, he's looking at beds online.

Lots of curlicues.
Gibbs sees what's on his screen, a wrought iron bedframe, the sort with an arched headboard and lots of posts to tie things to, and then looks at Tim, who realizes that three weeks ago Gibbs helped Abby move their bed, so he knows how very unlikely it is they would have moved that bed if they had been thinking about getting a new one. Gibbs eyes flick from the screen and settle on the shoulder he supposedly hurt by tripping on the stairs up to their place. (Which Tony has been teasing him mercilessly about. "Super-stealthy McNinja" being the least of the jibes.) His gaze switches to Tim's wrists, which he's been very carefully keeping his cuffs over all day. Last thing he wants to do is explain to Tony, after that long conversation about nothing being rapey, how he ended up with two bruised wrists and a sprained shoulder.

But Gibbs is looking at his wrists. And he's suddenly wondering if he managed to keep his cuffs down all day.

Tim can feel that gaze on him and begins to blush.

Gibbs shrugs, comes around his desk, half-sitting, half-leaning against the corner closest to Tim, and takes out his pad.

"Wood, McGee. You want wood. Metal's only as strong as its welds, and for furniture that's not all that strong. My daughter and one of her friends managed to break a metal bed by jumping on it. Look" he begins to sketch. "You want the headboard to end in a flange like this. That flange goes into a slot in the post. They get glued, sandwiched together, and then pegs get driven through it. Same thing on the cross pieces. You build a bed like that, and you can drop it out of a tenth story window and it'll still be in one piece after it lands."

"Uh... thanks, Boss."

Gibbs writes three names on the bottom of the page. "They make good furniture. The sort of thing that'll last forever. No matter what you might do to it."

"Okay. They make your bed?"

"No. I made it. Wedding present for Shannon. You could hit it with a truck, and it won't break."

"Good to know."

Gibbs reaches across Tim and takes his right hand in his. Tim jerks a little at the contact, but Gibbs holds on. He turns it, wrist side up, pulls back the cuff of his sleeve, and pushes his watch up a little. Tim blushes furiously as he does that.

"Pad the cuffs.  Wrap your wrists before you put them on. Washcloth folded in thirds. Everyone you work with knows what sorts of marks struggling against handcuffs leave." He lets go of Tim's right hand and then checks his left. "Your watch is doing an okay job of hiding your right, but borrow one of Abby's wrist cuffs and wear it on your left until you heal. The last thing any of us want is DiNozzo harassing Abby for hurting you."

The idea that that could happen leaves Tim stunned. That it would screw things with him and DiNozzo he gets; the idea that it would make him treat Abby differently was nothing he'd ever thought. He made some sort of noise that certainly could have been ascent, but probably sounded mostly like "Urgh."

"Don't ever leave a bruise on her that shows. You show up bruised, and people'll think you two got carried away. She shows up bruised, and even if you don't end up in jail, no one will ever look at you, or her, the same way again."

In a flash Tim gets that. No matter what either of them might say, a bruise on Abby says she's a victim and he's an abuser. That idea, that he could hurt her, or that she'd be the woman who stays with a man who does that, completely short circuits Tim's brain and a long flustered string of half started sentences flow out of him. The content boiled down to 'I've never hurt her, and I'm not going to."

Gibbs doesn't smile, but his voice is warm, and Tim can feel there's real affection and likely a tinge of fear in this warning. "I know, Tim. I know you, and I know her. But some things other people, and that includes DiNozzo and Ducky, cannot ever see, no matter what."

"Yes, Boss." 


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