Friday, May 17, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 92

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

Chapter 92:  May 2014

“How was the shopping trip?” Tim called out when he heard the door shut.

He was in his office, jazz playing loud, staring at the proof version of The Traitor Within. He hated this part of it. Writing the story in the first place, lot of fun. Editing, that was pretty good, too; it was always interesting to see what another set of eyes thought was happening. Proofreading? He’d rather watch paint dry. Tim had already seen the book so many times he could barely see what was on the page, and when things did jump out at him, they were usually the sort of change that was so big he couldn’t make it.

This point in the journey there were no real rewrites, it was just fine tuning, like spelling issues or turning a comma into a semi-colon.

He also didn’t much like this phase because he was fifty thousand words into Deep Six part five and he really didn’t like stopping that dead to go back to Deep Six part four.

“A lot of fun!” Abby said as she came in. “Tony’s got really good taste in jewelry.”

She sat on the edge of the desk, one foot resting between his legs on the seat of his chair, turning him away from the proof and toward her.

“Glad to hear it.” He bent forward and kissed her knee, resting his chin on it, looking up at her. “Good to know one of us had a fun afternoon. Ziva going to be happy?”

“I think so. Unless she was lying about loving sapphires.”

“What’s it look like?”

Abby took her phone out of her pocket. “He made me promise to delete this after you saw it. Doesn’t want her running into it by accident or by snooping on my phone.”

“He thinks she might snoop?”

“I get the sense he didn’t come up with a great excuse for why the three of us were out this afternoon.”

“Why were you three out?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask what our cover story was.”

Tim shook his head. “Amateurs.”

“Breena and I are bad liars to begin with. Everyone is better off if we don’t get asked, than if we end up having to try and cover.” She finished flipping through the images on her phone and showed him the ring.

He stared at it, smiling. “It’s beautiful.”


He looked at it for another minute. Round cut white diamond, some sort of white setting metal, a ring of sapphires around the diamond, and a small, round, white diamond at either side.

“What’s the setting?”

“White gold.”

He nodded, then shook his head a little, wry amusement on his face. “How big is it?”

Abby held up her fingers about a quarter of an inch apart. “Why are you shaking your head?”

“One of his goals was to outspend me on an engagement ring. I think he might have.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Really?”

“That’s what he told me. Ziva went with me to buy the stones, so that was his absolute minimum price.”

Abby rolled her eyes a little. “That’s silly.”

“I told him that, too.”

She looked at the ring on her finger. Then thought about what Tony spent. “Do I want to know how much this cost?”

“Depends,” Tim said with a smile. “Are you going to slap me upside the back of the head if I went a little bonkers on it?”

“No. But by ‘a little bonkers’ do you mean ‘a little’ or ‘full blown insane?’”

He leaned back in his chair, fingers tracing down her leg. “Probably closer to ‘full blown insane’ than a ‘little.’ You like it?”

“I love it.”

He grinned. “Then ‘full blown insane’ was exactly what I needed to do.”

She smiled at him and looked at her ring again.

“Do you want to know?”


She shifted her gaze to his proof copy and the very few red marks on the page. “How’s it going?”

“Slow.” He stuck out his tongue and rolled his eyes. “Two hundred more pages to go.”

“Yippiee!” Tim truly appreciated the amount of sarcasm she managed to work into that one word.

“Exactly. What’s on for the rest of your day?”

“What’s your deadline for that?”

“Nine on Monday.”

Abby looked disappointed. “So you actually need to finish it?”

“Yeah.” The whole paying for the wedding thing would be significantly easier with a pile of cash, and they weren’t going to send him any more of it until the proof was marked up and sent back.

“In that case, Bioshock 3.”

Yeah, it came out months ago, but their game backlog is pretty steep these days. They only got into it a week earlier and it was awesome! He stared at her for a minute, images of sitting next to her, playing it with her in his head. “You’re killing me.”

She smiled widely at him. “You got to play for three hours on Friday while I was trapped in the lab.”

“True.” And because of that she’d be mostly going through bits he’d already done, still… Bioshock!

“You going to be able to break for dinner?”

He checked the clock, four hours until they usually ate. Two hundred pages of careful reading to go. “Yeah. This goes well, we might be able to play together after dinner.”


Being on the other side of the your-buddy-is-getting-engaged thing was pretty cool. First off, it’s always easier to be the sounding board than it is to be the guy coming up with the ideas in the first place. Second of all, and granted, it wasn’t like Abby was going to say no, but still, when you’re the buddy, there’s no risk involved, and that’s pretty nice. Thirdly, he is really, genuinely pleased that Tony’s feeling ready to take this step, and he’s happy about it.

Really happy.

Like having a hard time keeping a straight face happy.

Which might be why Ziva’s a bit suspicious when he more or less wrestled the keys away from her and drove them, very slowly, back from gathering evidence on May 22, 2014.

She “knew” Tony had made reservations to take them out for their anniversary, and Tim, very carefully driving ten miles an hour below the speed limit, making them later and later for that dinner was driving her crazy.

What she didn’t know, and Tim did, and why he was driving so slow, is that Tony, as soon as possible, had booked home and was getting their real dinner set up. Sure it was take out, but it was really good take out, and though Tony hadn’t been too specific about his plans with Tim, he’s fairly sure the whole apartment will be decked out in flowers and candles and all the rest of the traditional Hallmark card/Valentine’s Day style romance that Tony seems to do so well.

So, Tim’s job, as soon to be best man, is to deliver Ziva to Tony’s place as slowly as possible, making sure he’s had time to get everything set up.

And Tim’s doing a good job of it. Even though at this point she’s getting awfully close to threatening to shoot him.

“McGee, if you do not speed up I will… That’s the exit! Why are you driving me past our exit? I have to get back to my car, home, and changed, and Tony’s going to be there in less than half an hour.”

“Relax. Check your go bag.”

She’s glaring at him, but digs through her bag. He looks away from traffic for a second and sees her come up with a pink envelope. She slits it with the knife Tony had made for her, unfolds the paper inside, and reads it quickly.

“It says, ‘Don’t kill McGee.’ Why is Tony giving me a piece of paper with instructions not to kill you?”

Tim shrugged. When Tony told him that once Ziva started asking questions to let her know about the note, he had certainly expected there to be something more than “Don’t kill McGee” in there as well.

“Where are you taking me?”


“And why are you doing that?”

“He asked me to.”

“And did he ask you to drive at this infuriatingly slow pace?”

“Actually, yes, he did.”

She sighed and glared at him again. He grinned at her.

“And what is going to happen when I get there.”

“I don’t actually know.” Sure he could hazard an extremely accurate guess, but he doesn’t, as a matter of fact, know.

She’s watching him carefully, and really listening to what he’s said. “Then what do you think will happen?”

“Not telling. It’s a surprise.”

“Hmmm… And would this surprise have something to do with Abby, Tony, and Breena all vanishing together on Saturday?”

“That’s entirely possible.” And with that Ziva smiled, and began talking about the case.

Mr. Romance in action.
Fifteen minutes later he dropped her off at Tony’s and as she shut the door he fired off a quick text to Tony. She’s two minutes away.  Hope you’re ready.

A second later he got a shot of Tony’s apartment, picnic dinner laid out in the center of the living room floor, candles lighting everything gold, along with Look good?

Yeah, looks good. Have fun.

No ‘Good luck’?

You don’t need it.

On Friday, May 23rd, he and Abby headed to the Bullpen, waiting for Tony and Ziva to get in. And yeah, seeing both of them glowing with happiness was a very good thing. Seeing Gibbs kiss Ziva’s cheek while hugging her, and then pull Tony into the hug as well, that was even better.


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