Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 111

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

Chapter 111: A Wedding

St. Sebastian's
A formal Catholic wedding wasn’t anything that mattered to Tim. But it did matter to Abby, and so he’s standing there, on the front steps of St. Sebastian’s, chatting with Father John, who he rather likes, greeting the guests as they wander in.

Getting married at St. Sebastian’s had required two things, first for him to be Catholic, and, at least on paper, that’s true. And six weeks of pre-marital counseling, which he hadn’t been thrilled about, but at least it gave him a chance to get to know the man marrying them. And, as an added bonus, Father John took a very gentle approach to trying to bring Tim back into the fold. 

He thinks Father John took one look at him, and decided that if there was any shot of turning Tim back into a believer, brow beating him about the need for eternal salvation wasn’t the way to do it.

And he agreed with Tim that if he didn’t feel he could take Communion, that he shouldn’t. He’d serve Abby, not make a big deal of Tim just sitting there, and then offer the rest of the guests the opportunity to partake.

Tim’s honestly somewhat curious to see how that’ll work. This isn’t a very Catholic intensive group. Luca, Harper, Melody, Abby, and her pet nuns, maybe Fornell and his daughter? Maybe not, Fornell’s divorced. This time last year, Tony would have taken Communion, but since he’s Jewish now, that’s not going to happen. Tony’s dad? Like Fornell, he’s divorced, a whole bunch of times over. Tim doesn’t mind the idea of the Mass part of the ceremony being short, and less than a third of the guests taking communion will speed it up.

Honestly, he’d happily skip all of the ceremony but the vows.

Tony joined them. “Just got the text from Ziva. They’re five minutes out.”

“Almost show time. I’ll go meet them, get your lady into the bride’s chamber, and soon we’ll get you married,” Father John said, heading through the entryway.

Tim smiled. “Soon.”

Vance and his kids showed up a few seconds later, and Ducky swooped in, wrapping Kayla’s arm around his, washing her in a stream of gentle words about how lovely she was looking in her costume, while leading her to their seats.

Sister Rosita showed up a minute later, kissed him on the cheek and wished him well.

And a few minutes after that Kyle and his girlfriend came in, and by Tim’s count, that meant the whole party was there.

Father John came back a few seconds later. “Is that everyone?”

“Yeah,” Tony answered.

“Okay then.” He turned to Tim. “Got a handkerchief in your suit?” Tim nodded. Then to Tony he said, “Got the rings?”

Tony patted his jacket. “Got the rings.”

“Doctor Mallard, do you have the readings you’ve selected?”

Ducky touched his breast pocket. “Song of Songs is ready to go.”

“Well then, gentlemen, I think it’s time for you to line up, and head on in. You know where you’re supposed to stand, so get over there.”

Tim took a deep breath, let it out, and forced his hands to stop jittering. Go time!

Tony saw him do it, grinned, and then gently squeezed his shoulder.

And then he walked to the front of the Church, turned to face the aisle, and waited for the first glimpse of his bride.

Tim and Abby had decided on a family-only wedding. It amuses Gibbs to see who qualifies as family. His dad is there, in full on Western gambler wear, as is Tony’s, in perfect bespoke cutaway, ascot, top hat, and silver-tipped cane. Tim’s dad isn’t. But his sister, sister’s boyfriend, mother, step-father, and grandmother are. Luca’s family is here, and so is Kyle and his girlfriend. Vance and his kids are here. Fornell is here, with his daughter as his plus one. There are a few cousins that Gibbs doesn’t recognize, half a dozen nuns, and that’s it. Thirty people, tops.

He’s supposed to be hiding out in the Bride’s chamber, but the photographer wants shots of the girls together, so he drifts over to Fornell, looking at a very plain, almost military style uniform in navy blue topped off with a buckskin duster and a something he’d call an 1880s style cavalry hat with goggles and gears on the band.

Fornell looks him over and smiles, vastly amused. “What are you supposed to be?”

“Father of the bride. I should ask you the same thing.”

“I have no idea. Ever since Christmas she’s been messing around with this costume, doing research, sketching, sewing. She kept muttering about dirigibles and aeronauts, and sketching more and tossing sketches away and starting over, bossing me around and nagging about buying more fabric and things to stick on the costume.” Fornell sighs. “As soon as I said yes to her and Abby, I lost any control I had over this.” Gibbs looks over at Emily Fornell. She’s sitting in a pew, playing with her phone, taking pictures of everything, and chatting with Kayla Vance and Harper Sciuto. Emily and Kayla are in outfits he’d call dance hall-girl-wear designed by someone who had to get her father’s permission to leave the house in it. Harper’s in leggings and a corset covered with a knee-length gold brocade coat. All three of them appear to be having a blast.

“She’s taking lessons from her mom?”

“I think she’s teaching them.”

Gibbs shakes his head. “Dirigibles?”

“Like the Hindenburg.”

“Uh huh.”


Vance joins them. He’d gone for the Western Sherriff look, and was, with the exception of a cobalt vest and tie, and his Texas Ranger style badge, in head to toe black. He looks Gibbs over and smiles, and then says to Fornell, “Why are there gears on your hat?”

“I have no idea about that, either. But I’ve got them on my gloves, too.” Fornell shows both of them a pair of cavalry gloves he has folded and tucked over his belt, also bedecked with gears on the cuffs. “Almost everyone here has commented on how ‘cool’ I look. I’ve got nuns telling me I’m cool. I’m not sure I like being cool.”

“Your cross to bear, Tobias,” Gibbs says dryly.

“You ready to do your part?” Vance asks Gibbs.

Gibbs nods and checks his watch. “Yeah. I should get back over there.”


How many photographs does one wedding need?

Gibbs is fairly sure that the guy with the camera has taken more shots of him with Abby and Ziva than were taken of him as the groom in all four of his weddings combined.

Fortunately Father John came in and put a stop to that. “Everyone is here, and the guys are in place. It’s wedding time.”

Gibbs silently thanks God, and the photographer heads off to set up in the Church somewhere to get seventeen million more shots.

They’re waiting in the front hall, lined up, ready to go. Ziva’s going in first, then Breena, followed by Jimmy, and then the two of them.

The doors open, and some pleasant, mostly piano, music echoes out. Ziva smiles at them, looks forward, and takes her first step down the aisle.

And suddenly Gibbs is really hoping the photographer got a shot of Tony’s face as he saw Ziva because the utter shock at Ziva in a concoction of fluffy, lacy red, combined with the look of a man so deeply in love he doesn’t know what to do with himself was priceless.

With Ziva halfway down the aisle, Breena gives Jimmy a quick kiss, and she’s off. Then he turns to Abby, kisses her cheek again, squeezes he hand, whispers, “I love you” in her ear, and follows his wife down the aisle.

It should only be thirty seconds before they go, but it feels longer.

“You doing okay?” Gibbs asks as they wait to walk down the aisle. Palmer’s almost all the way down. He was expecting Abby to be bouncing around all over the place right now, but she’s not, she’s beautifully calm, composed, and radiant.

“Yeah. I am.” She takes a deep breath. “I think this is the difference between happiness and joy.”

Gibbs smiles, gives her a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. The music changes, her bridal march. They wait for a beat longer, as everyone stands up. “You ready?”

She squeezes his hand, and he wraps her arm around his. “Yeah, Gibbs, I am. Let’s go.”

He found himself grinning. “Let’s go.”

Tim didn’t cry when he saw her. He was actually pretty proud of that.

He couldn’t have named the emotion going through him as he watched Abby walk towards him, radiant in white and red, Gibbs at her side, with a week’s worth of time and every thesaurus ever written.

But, if you were to ask him to describe it, the best he’d be able to do would be this: it was like every good feeling, every great feeling, love and hope and joy and bliss and contentment and peace and ecstasy and more love on top of that, all jumping around trying to burst out of every pore.

So, instead of crying, he stood there, beaming, huge smile plastered on his face, forcing himself not to fidget, watching her smile back at him, burning every detail of this into his memory.

They stood there, just a few feet away, and Tim wanted to reach for her, take her from Gibbs, but it wasn’t quite time for that yet.

The Priest began his part, and Tim waited, willing it to go faster.

“Who gives this woman...”

“Her brothers and I do.” Gibbs hugged Abby for a long minute, then kissed her cheek, and gave her hand to Tim, squeezing both of their hands as he did it and headed to his seat, next to Luca.

Tim held Abby’s hand. She was so excited she was trembling, and he was too, and he had no idea what Father John was saying, couldn’t care less. The perfection of this moment, of Abby in front of him, hands in his, washed everything else away.

He tuned in just enough so he didn’t mess up. Father John was going to ask some questions, and he can’t just sit there, staring at Abby, memorizing how the red strands entwine with the black of her hair, or the curve of her ear, or the luscious slip of the pearls of her choker against her throat each time she breathes.

“Do you Tim take Abby to be your wife – to live together after God’s ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon her your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?”

Time to talk. “I do.”

She smiled, eyes so happy, whole being suffused with joy as he said that, and he felt all lit up, seeing her respond to two simple words.

“And, do you Abby take Tim to be your husband – to live together after God’s ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him as long as you both shall live?”

“I do.” He heard her say that and knew how she felt half a moment earlier, the intense high of words that feel better than almost anything else in the world.

“What token of your love do you offer?” Tony got the rings out of his pocket. “Would you place the rings in my hand?” and handed them to Father John.

John held the rings in his upturned palm. “May these rings be blessed as the symbol of this affectionate unity. These two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Wherever they go – may they always return to one another. May these two find in each other the love for which all men and women yearn. May they grow in understanding and in compassion. May the home which they establish together be such a place that many will find there a friend. May these rings on their fingers symbolize the touch of the spirit of love in their hearts.”

He handed Abby’s ring to Tim. “Tim and Abby wanted to expand on those ideas, add something more personal to them, so they’ve written their own vows to go along with the exchange of rings. Tim...”

Tim held the ring in his right hand. He took a half-step closer to Abby, raising his left hand, realizing he’s got the glove on and taking it off quickly, this touch needs to be skin to skin, and then rested his palm against her jaw, fingers by her ear, thumb gently stroking her cheek.

He held her gaze, reveling in the green of her eyes, the black of her lashes, and the sublime beauty of her smiling at him. He took a deep breath and began to speak. “Every day, we go out, fight the bad guys, and make the world a better place. We use our time and our energy to do important things.” He was smiling, but he could feel the tears starting, and hoped his voice would hold for this. “And I promise, from today until I take my last breath, to remember that you and our children are a world unto yourselves, filled with important things, one that I am privileged to belong to. Today, I pledge my life to putting that world first.

“I love you, Abby, that’s my bedrock. It’s the foundation of my life.

“Above and beyond anything else, I am the man who loves you.

“I love you. That’s the catalyst of my life becoming our life.

“I love you. And from that love, and from our life, comes new lives.

“I love you, and from this breath to my last, I will live that love in everything I do, valuing it above and beyond all other commitments, knowing that it’s both my honor and my duty to do so.”

He swept away her tears with his thumbs, and felt his own on his cheek, and it didn’t matter that the priest hadn’t said he could do it, words like that need to be sealed with an action, so he leaned in and kissed her.

For a good ten seconds there was nothing but silence while they kissed, her lips sweet and warm on his. Then the priest cleared his throat, causing Tim to pull back.

Father John made some sort of half-hearted joke about getting an early start in, which caused the guests to giggle a little, but mostly served to tone down the intimacy of his words and dull the force of them on those who had assembled to witness this.

Tim quickly wiped the tears off his cheek, took her left hand in his, grinned at her, and slipped her wedding ring onto her finger.

“And now for Abby’s vows.”

She smiled at him, already holding his hands, but he felt her give him a little extra squeeze, and then took his hand, lifted it to her lips, and kissed the palm.

“You told me once, that symbols should matter. And you live that. You wear me on your skin,” her hand caressed his arm where the tattoo was, and brushed over the wrist cuff he only took off to shower, “and carry me in your heart. And today is a symbol of that, but it’s more than just the symbol; it’s also action. It’s ideas made real. It’s a promise, and a hope, and the first step of something familiar, yet new. Today is both of us taking on a new symbol, and pledging to live up to it, to make it matter. I love you, Tim, and I promise to be worthy of this symbol. I will be worthy of your life, your heart, and your name. I will treat you with care and respect, with love, and with the joy having you near brings me. From now until you lay me to rest, I will be at your side, traveling through this world with you, and anywhere with you will be my home.”

She slipped the ring over his finger, holding his hands, thumb stroking over it, grinning brilliantly at him. He was starting to lean in to kiss her again when Father John started talking, reminding him they weren’t alone.

Tim tuned back out again, focusing on Abby and not what Father John had to say. But since he was focused on her, he caught the slight shift in her expression which meant start paying attention.

So he noticed when Father John said, "You may now kiss the bride."

And so he did.


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