Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 110

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

Chapter 110: Getting Ready

Saturday Noon:

Gibbs helped Palmer lug what felt like six hundred pounds of wedding apparel into the suite the girls’ team had claimed, and then got the hell out of there. 

Breena had walked in, taken two minutes, checked out both rooms, and claimed the bedroom as the one “with the good light,” and started to get set up for hair and makeup and God alone knew what else. And it made him feel, honestly, a little claustrophobic. Snipers, death squads, terrorists, and drug dealers, bring ‘em all on, Gibbs is willing and ready. Three girls doing hair and makeup for a wedding, two of them pregnant, even if one of them is only barely, and Palmer hanging around being a modern, sensitive version of Ducky, and well, that scares Gibbs.

So he volunteered to go get snacks, check on the set up, and check on the guys.

He headed down from the suite and poked a head into the ballroom. It looked the way he supposes it should look. Dance floor, five tables, lots of flowers, unlit candles all over the place, cupcakes over on a table on the far side with even more flowers. He heads over and inspects the cupcakes a little closer. Right after they had picked them out, he ended up with one of the coffee ones on his desk, a present from Tim, and well, he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but that was awfully tasty, and he was pleased to see a decent number of them were waiting for tonight.

He checked the ballroom off his list.

Running Errands
Go see the church next. It’s not exactly between The Adam’s House and McGee’s but it’s close enough. He pulled in, noticed the McGee-Sciuto Wedding signs were easy to spot. Not that there were going to be a ton of guests who were likely to get lost, but still, signs help.

He headed in, and again everything looked right. Basket with pamphlets on the wedding, check. (He knows they’re got some other name for them, but it’s not coming to mind.) Flowers on the pews, check. He stopped and looked at them a little longer, realizing that yeah, one flower is more or less the same as any other flower to him, but Abby wanted specific flowers, and if he comes back saying they’re fine and they’re not, he’ll be in trouble. He takes a moment to remember what they’re supposed to be: white roses with red edges, mixed with a few red ones and a few black ones. Yep, they are. Flowers, check.

Priest, and there he was, at the altar, doing something, waving at Gibbs, check.

He headed over and said hello.

“Everything in order?” Father John asked Gibbs.

“Think so. Just checking up.”

Father John smiled. “Getting away from the Bridal party for a few minutes?”

Gibbs laughed. “That, too.”

“Well, tell Abby the sisters and I have done right by her. Everything is ready to go on our end.”


Heading over to the guys was up next. They’re at McGee’s. Only a twenty minute drive from St. Sebastian’s. He’ll head over, get any snack orders they may have, and then get everything in one fell swoop.

He pulled up and noticed both Tony and Ducky’s cars in addition to Tim’s. Looked like Team Groom had managed to assemble on time.

It’s a good house: sturdy, well built, large enough you won’t always be in each other’s way, small enough you can’t get lost in it, extra bedrooms for future small people, and a small, tidy yard. He’d call the style sort of Victorian-ish. Victorian as built by someone who had heard about it, but never seen it.

He walked into Tim and Abby’s, noticing they also seem to always keep the door unlocked. Ducky and Tony were sitting in the living room, highlights from the night before’s World Series game on the TV, no Tim in sight.


Ducky nodded toward a closed door. Tim’s office. “Timothy is taking a few moments for quiet contemplation.”

“Can I go in?”

“Yes. I think he’d appreciate a visit from you, Jethro,” Ducky said.

Gibbs knocked and heard, “Yeah?”

He poked his head in and saw Tim sitting at his desk, typewriter pushed to the side, paper in front of him, and from the looks of it, writing away. “Can I come in?”

“Sure, Boss.” He was tapping the back of the pen against the page.

Gibbs leaned against the desk, in front of Tim, and looked at the paper. He could see the first two words: For Abby, and decided he doesn’t need to know what’s on the rest of that page.

“You doing okay, Tim?”

Tim looked up at him and sort of smiled. “Yeah. It’s just... you know... big day.”

Gibbs smiled back. “Yeah, it is.”

Eyes wide and earnest, impossibly young.
Tim stared at him, eyes wide and earnest, looking impossibly young, ran his fingers through his hair, took a deep breath, and said, “I became a father yesterday,” he half-laughed, half-shook his head, looking entirely like he can’t wrap his head around that. “In...” he looked for a clock, “three hours and twenty four minutes, I’ll be a husband, and it’s all just sort of... big, ya know?”

The difference between the night before and the day of. Gibbs remembered that well. “Yeah, Tim. I know.”

Tim sighed. “But, yeah, I’m okay. I really am.”

Gibbs stared at him. He figured that by now he’d seen every emotion Tim has, and, yeah, he is okay. This is intense and scary for him, but not in a bad way. “Can I suggest something?”


“Tell Tony about the baby before he figures it out for himself and ends up pouting about no one telling him anything.”

That made Tim chuckle. “When we get back from the honeymoon. We’ll tell him and Ziva and Jimmy and Breena. Then no one else until the second trimester. And he’ll crack a joke about me knocking her up on the honeymoon, and I’ll smile and say something like ‘Not on the honeymoon’, and he’ll get that disturbed look on his face.” Tim took another deep breath, looking slightly to the left and behind Gibbs. “It’s real, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, Tim, it is.”

He closed his eyes and shook his head a little. “I kind of want to jump around,” he looked at the pen tapping against the paper, seeming to notice for the first time that he was doing that. “Or jitter like crazy.”

“It’s normal. Been married four times, felt that way before each wedding.”

“No offense, Boss, but I really hope I won’t be doing this again.”

“I hope you never do, either.” Gibbs stood up. “You need anything? I’m going on a snack run.”

“Would you read something for me?”


“My vows.”

Gibbs felt a little uncomfortable about that. Vows aren’t his specialty. “You really want me to read them? I don’t have a great record with marriage vows.”

Tim nodded. “Yeah. I want... Just... If you knew your time with Shannon was going to be short, is this what you would have said to her?” He removed a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it, smoothing it out carefully before handing it over.

Gibbs read, eyes scanning the page quickly, and then, for what felt like a long time he just held the paper, not really seeing it. He remembered his own wedding, feeling so nervous and so happy and having a hard time standing still, and then seeing her walk toward him and how the entire world narrowed down to her, and how right, how amazingly perfect hearing those words come out of her mouth felt. He remembered her smile, and the way she looked up at him as he said his vows.

He touched his ring, and, God, he wished he’d had the sense to say something like what he just read to her, let alone live it with her. 

Tim was looking up at him, expectantly. So he nodded. “It’s close enough.”

“So, they’re good.”

“Yeah.” His voice was a lot rougher than normal as he said that, so he cleared his throat. Time to get into more comfortable territory. “So, anyway, snacks?”

“Nope, but, if you’d wait a minute or two, I’ll finish this, and you can give it to Abby.”

“Take your time.”

“Thanks, Boss.”



“You can call me Jethro. Or Gibbs, like Abby does.”

Tim nodded. And the next thing Gibbs knew, he had two arms full of Tim hugging him. He was shaking a little, so Gibbs patted his back. “You’re okay, Tim.”

After a minute, Tim pulled back, but Gibbs still had one hand on his shoulder, steadying him, and Tim seemed to appreciate the contact. Tim wiped his eyes, and said, “Yeah, I am. Really. It’s just...”

“Big. I know. Trust me, I know. I remember getting married the first time. I was so nervous I almost threw up, so excited I couldn’t stand still. I remember the day Shannon told me she was pregnant.  I wanted to run and jump around telling everyone, and I was so scared that...” He let that go because his worst fears for Kelly did come true, and today is supposed to be a happy day. “I can’t imagine wrapping both of those things into one day. You’re doing fine, really. Just, don’t lock your knees when you’re up in front of everyone, and make sure you’ve got a handkerchief in your suit, and you’ll be fine.”

“What happens if you lock your knees?”

“You pass out mid-vows and feel really stupid when you come to.” Gibbs smiled dryly, remembering one of his best buddy’s weddings.

“Okay, yeah, thanks... Jethro.” It sounded a little awkward, but felt very right. “Let me get this wrapped up, and then...”

“I’ll give it to her. What is it?”

Tim smiled a little, looking amused. “Something even Tony would consider romantic.”

“Ahhh...”  And with that, Gibbs headed out, grabbing the pad he’s got in his jeans pocket as well as his pen, and began asking what Ducky and Tony want.

For Abby: Four Hours To Go

In our living room, there’s a small pyramid of boutonnieres in boxes
and our suits are hanging from the bathroom door,
the rings are in my pocket
(I’ll give them to Tony after we get changed.)
the shoes are shined.

So, I guess that means this is real.
Tony’s trying to talk to me,
but Ducky’s pulled him away.
“I think Anthony, that Timothy needs time for quiet contemplation.”
I love him so much right now.

I wonder what you’re doing.
Time’s inching by, moments per second.
And I want to see you.

Funny, huh?
It’s been less than two hours since you
vanished into Palmer’s van while Breena tutted about seeing each other before the wedding.
Like we need luck when we’ve got love.
And Palmer saw her before the wedding, and look, two and a half years later,
happy as larks, and a second baby due in the spring.
(Think they’ll be surprised when ours shows up in the summer?)

God, I still can’t quite wrap my head around that.

Right now, you’re probably starting to get ready for our wedding,
and right now, there’s a tiny person, the size of a grain of rice
(Okay, smaller, really)
that’s you and me,
growing inside you.

Blows my mind.

Abby McGee
That’s blowing my mind, too.

Feels so good.

Maybe it’s some sort of weird possessive kink,
but I love the idea of marking you with my name.
Maybe it’s just a Y chromosome thing,
but right now, you with my name
my child—

God, Abby!

Can’t even begin to turn that feeling into words.

Gibbs is here.
I can hear him talking to Ducky.


Back again.
He popped in, wanted to know if I was okay.
Top of the world, Boss!
Getting married today!
Became a father yesterday!
Good day!

I think he’s worried I’m about to freak out and star hyperventilating.
Or maybe he just remembers what this feels like,
and how hard it is to hold it in.
(Okay, I might have cried on him
a little.)
Anyway, he’s getting ready to go see you.
So I’ll wrap this, and give it to him to give to you.

3:17 now.

Love you, Mrs. McGee.

Saturday:  1:30

Gibbs headed back to the hotel rooms the girls had claimed, and found himself in the middle of an impromptu make-over party.

The female McGees, (well, McGee, Allister, and Langston) had joined Team Bride, and were enjoying the pre-wedding fun.

Tori and Sarah were cooing over the dresses, and flowers, showing off their own costumes. Penny and Palmer were talking about something science-y. And Breena appeared to be in charge of the whole thing, directing traffic while setting Ziva’s hair in curlers.

Abby looked up at him as soon as he came in and smiled at him. Everyone was being pretty loud, and she had some of her music going, so the chance of being heard was pretty slim. He signed to her, Got a present for you.


From Tim.

She smiled and headed over to him. He passed off the envelope while unloading a bag filled with snacks. He figured he had everything covered: salty, sweet, hot, vegetable, chocolate, and crunchy. It’d been a while since he’d fed a room filled with women, especially pregnant ones, but like riding a bike, it came back pretty easy.

He also had, as per his instructions from Abby, two super big Caf-Pows, each with a half-caff, half-decaf mix.

He’d been a little surprised when she asked for that, back when Shannon was pregnant caffeine wasn’t on the forbidden list, hell, cigarettes were barely on the forbidden list. But she had asked, so he provided, and she looked awfully happy to be getting at least some caffeine into her system.

“Doing better?” he asked as she sucked down a long slurp, a look akin to ecstasy on her face.

“Oh, God, yes. Quitting this is going to kill me.”

Gibbs smiled. “You’ll make it.”

She nodded, put the Caf-Pow down, and headed to find a quiet corner to read Tim’s note. And with this party, quiet corner didn’t seem to really be an option, because two seconds after she opened it, Sarah was by her side, asking about it.

She said something, shooed Sarah off, and sat down to read, her eyes going soft and a warm smile spreading across her face.  Then she folded the paper and tucked it into her pocket.

“Okay, Ziva, you’re done for the time being. Abby, you’re up next,” Breena had spoken, so Abby headed over to the chair in front of the mirror.

Gibbs drifted over to Palmer and Penny, who appeared to be doing the least girly thing in this room, but he watched as Breena did something that put red streaks into Abby’s hair.

Penny offered her hand and he shook it. “Have you met Tori, yet?”

“Yes, last night, briefly. Tim introduced us.” They had talked for a few minutes at the rehearsal before Gibbs got called in to do his part.

Penny nodded and then looked at Gibbs for a long moment. “You’re calling him Tim now?”

Gibbs smiled.

“Good. He needs more male friends.” Though Gibbs caught that what she meant was she was very pleased to see him step into the long vacant father role for Tim.

Jimmy added, “There’s Gibbs and I, and two more of them over at Tim’s.”

“Good, that’s really good.” She thought about that. “Two more? Is Ducky over there?”

“Yeah. He and Tony are standing up with Tim.”

Penny smiled.

Saturday 2:45

“You know, this isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be,” Tony says, standing in front of the mirror in Tim and Abby’s room.

“Did you think Abby and I would pick something that made you look like a dork?”

Tony doesn’t answer that, he just looks at Tim in the mirror, and grins, then goes back to messing with his hair.

Tim’s honestly a little surprised at how well Tony was doing with this. Not that he’d think Tony would look bad in Steampunk, sure Tim’s not particularly interested in men as objects of beauty, but he’s spent more than enough time watching women react to Tony to know that he’s objectively attractive. So he didn’t think Tony would look bad in a black suit, high cut crimson vest, squared off collar, white dress shirt, and black cravat, he just didn’t think Tony would look so comfortable in it.

Tony looked at himself in the mirror, fussing with his cravat.  “Why couldn’t you have just done a tux like everyone else?”

“Because I want to be able to tell my wedding pictures from yours at a glance.”

“Ha ha.”

“You look fine.” Tim finished righting his gloves. For the ceremony, he’d gone for the full on morning suit. The coat was dove gray, trousers charcoal with a dove pinstripe, and he finished the look off with a crimson waistcoat and charcoal ascot. “Scoot over.” Tim looked himself over in the mirror. From his spats to his tie pin he looked good. He looked ready. “Got the rings?”

“Just like the last seven times you asked, I’ve got the rings. They’re in my right breast pocket.” He pulled them out and showed Tim. “See, not going to lose the rings.”

“Good.” Tim opened his boutonniere, and began to pin on the red tipped white rose.

“So, last chance to back out. We gonna run?”

“What?” Tim cannot believe Tony would say that.

“Wedding’s in less than two hours, my tank’s full of gas, and I can have us to Philadelphia before they notice we’re missing. This is our last chance to get out of here. We running?”

Tim stared at Tony in horrified stupefaction. “You’re my best man, it’s your job to nail my ass to the ground if I try to run.”

Tony winked at him. “You’re ready.”

Tim rolled his eyes, and threw the box with Tony’s boutonniere in it at him.

Gibbs came in a moment later, while Tim was fussing with his hair. He’d let it grow out a bit, and was in the process of slicking it back. Nothing looked less steampunk than very short hair.

Tony looked at Gibbs. It was less than an hour and a half to wedding time, and Gibbs was still in his usual off work jeans, t-shirt, and flannel shirt. “Okay, I know you told us you were going to keep what you were wearing a secret, and I know McGee said we didn’t need to be completely formal, but I didn’t think you’d go this casual.”

He shot Tony his, ‘very funny’ look.  “You two ready?”

“Once Marty McFly gets done with his time travel hair, we’ll head off.”

“You got the rings?”

“Why do you all assume I’m going to lose the rings? They’re right” he pulled them out of his pocket, “here.”


Ducky came out of the bathroom, resplendent in kilted glory. Gibbs’ eyes went wide. “That’s one hell of a look, Duck.”

Ducky adjusted his sporran slightly. “A morning suit with kilt is the traditional formal Scottish wedding attire. The Mallard tartan has been worn proudly through four hundred years of Mallard weddings. Why my mother...” And off Ducky went on the history of weddings, family tartans, honeymoons, and love in general. Tim didn’t pay much attention to his words, though he found the gentle burr of lightly Scottish accented noise soothing. He wasn’t nervous, buzzing with excitement, yes. He wanted to pace, or maybe go for a quick jog, something to burn off the energy. But not nervous. Not anymore. He’d watched Gibbs read the vows, and if they choked him up, they were ready to go.

Gibbs caught his eye and smiled at him. A look that said, ‘I know how you’re feeling, and it’s normal.’

“Tony, Ziva gave this to me, wanted you to have it.”

Gibbs handed Tony a small, rectangular, white box. Tony took it and just looked at it. “What is it?”

“How would I know? I’m just on delivery service today. And Tim, whatever you wrote for Abby, it was a big hit. I’m supposed to give you a kiss in return—“

“Not necessary.”

“Didn’t think you’d want it.” Gibbs checked the clock. “An hour twelve ‘til showtime. I’m gonna go meet back up with the girls. See you at the church.”

Tony opened the box and grinned, then he pulled out a pair of red sunglasses with round lenses. He pushed his hair back a little, and slipped them on.

“Oh my!” Ducky grabbed his camera. “We must have pictures of this.” He arranged Tim and Tony together and began snapping away.

Saturday 2:55

“I have never been more glad to live in the present than I am now,” Ziva said as Jimmy pulled on her corset strings. “Why are we wearing corsets?”

“Realism Ziva. The dresses won’t look right if you aren’t properly laced into them.”

Okay, sure she didn’t have to be wearing a dress with a corset. In fact, with the exception of Abby, who was already laced into hers, and currently in the other room, having Breena work on her makeup, no one else was wearing a real corset. And Ziva wasn’t planning on wearing this for very long, just for the ceremony. See, the thing she didn’t much like admitting was how, well, pretty all of this lacy, fluffy girly stuff was. And she really wanted to wear some of that pretty. Just for a little while, at least. So like Abby, she had a ceremony dress and a reception costume, happily letting both halves of herself play.

“I can’t breathe in this.” Jimmy let the strings out a bit. “Palmer, how did you get the job of ladies’ maid? Isn’t that supposed to be something another woman does?”

“Usually,” he said as he tied the strings. “But Breena’s doing Abby’s hair and makeup, and I’ve got more upper body strength than any of you.”

“Are you sure about that?” Ziva asked.

“I can bench 180.”

Ziva looked over her shoulder at Jimmy, shocked. “Why can you do that?”

“I move corpses around for a living. There’s no magic fairy that moves them from the ground to the gurney and from the gurney to the table and the table to the cooler. That’s mostly me, and that takes strength.”

“Okay, you have more upper body strength.”

“So, as man of honor, I’m on corset lacing and dress lugging duty. Now stay still, I’ve got to finish getting this tied.”

When Ziva looked in the mirror, she had to admit the effect looked amazing, looked as good as she had hoped it would. Her posture was perfect, and her torso was shaped into a perfect hourglass. It felt like crap, and all she wanted to do was slouch, but it looked fabulous. She couldn’t wait to see Tony react to this, couldn’t wait to see him react to the reception costume, too. And in order to get to enjoy his reaction in full, both outfits had been kept top secret.

“Okay, petticoat next.” Jimmy held it open, and she stepped into it. She could tie it herself and did so while he got the hoop ready.

Of course, liking the idea of how this looked and coming face to face with all seventy layers of clothing was a somewhat different thing. “You had to suggest Steampunk.”

Jimmy smiled. “Steampunk is a lot of fun. Have you seen what Breena’s gonna be wearing?”

Ziva nodded. Breena hadn’t gotten dressed yet, since she was on makeup and hair duty and she didn’t want to risk getting anything spilled on her dress, but Ziva and Abby had been there for her last fitting, so they had seen that she had gone for a long flow of silk, asymmetrically falling from her right shoulder to just above her knees, color bleeding from white to crimson with every shade of pink in between, cinched tight (ish, she’s two months pregnant after all) with a black corset. A crimson choker, black stockings, and crimson ankle boots finished a look more or less designed to make Jimmy swallow his tongue when he saw it.

“At least I won’t be in this too long.” For the reception, Ziva had gone for a long black leather coat, fawn colored leggings, black boots, a crimson blouse, and black leather vest, holster slung low on her hips, tied down gun fighter style (she had asked Gibbs for help with the costume) and a replica Colt.

“Not too long. Okay, let’s get this set.” He tied the hoops around her waist and then added the bustle. “Shirtwaist next.”

“Did they really use so many buttons? There has to be thirty of them.”

“If it’s going to be properly tight, and you live in a world that doesn’t have elastic, you end up with lots of buttons. I can help if you want.”

“I can button my own shirt.”

And Ziva did, until she realized the four buttons at each wrist. As Palmer was closing the last button, Ziva realized there was absolutely no way she’d be able to do up her own shoes. 

“I think shoe buttoner just got added to your to-do list, Jimmy.”

“Not a problem. I’ve got the little hook they used to make that easier.”

“They had special hooks for buttoning shoes?”

“Have you seen the buttons on those shoes? They’re miniscule.”

“And are you planning on being around to help get me out of this?”

“I think Tony can figure that out on his own, but if he’s having trouble, feel free to call me.” It occurs to Ziva that only Jimmy could say that without any hint of salacious intent. “Okay, I’ve got your skirt set. Arms up.”

Getting the skirt on took close to three minutes. It wasn’t just that you had have it draped over you, and then tie it closed, it was getting it arranged and draped over the bustle properly.

They had just about gotten it set when Abby and Breena stepped out of the next room.

Both Jimmy and Ziva stopped dead and stared.

Abby’s dress was white, mostly. Pure, pristine white. Practically the mathematical ideal of white, but like the roses in her hair and bouquet, that perfect pristine white was edged in deep, beautiful red. At her wrists, and at the edge of each flounce on her skirt was a line of crimson. And on her neck, resting just above the dip of her collarbone was a pearl choker with a black on red cameo.

The bodice clung to her exactly the way it should, not a hint of gap or wrinkling as it skimmed down her upper body before flaring into a collection of ruffles over a hoopskirt. Her posture was straight and regal. Breena had started her hair by clipping in several red streaks, and then set her hair in perfect Gibson girl style, mostly black with occasional red curls piled atop her head, accented with pearls and miniature roses. The makeup was fresh, glowing, playing up the natural contrast between the white dress and Abby’s dark hair and lashes.

“You’re beautiful,” Ziva and Palmer said in almost perfect concert.

“My best work, ever,” Breena said, arm around Abby. “You know, it’s a lot different doing the makeup on a live person.” Jimmy nodded and kissed his wife, feeling very proud of her at that moment. Then he kissed Abby’s cheek.

“He’s so going to cry when he sees you,” Jimmy said with a laugh.

Abby smiled, enjoying the way they were looking at her.

Gibbs took that moment to come in and felt his breath catch in his chest. He forced himself to exhale. “Oh, Abby.” If he’d ever been on the verge of tears, this was it. He remembered Tim crying on him, and damn if he didn’t feel like he might cry, too. His beautiful girl, one of them, anyway, was getting married today. And, like Palmer a minute before, he kissed her cheek, carefully, not wanting to smudge anything, and held her close, feeling swamped with how much he loved her right that moment.

“I told you, you’d like it.” She squeezed him back.

He kissed her again, and went to hug Ziva. “You’re beautiful, too.” And she was, her own dress, a deep blue-red ruby trimmed in black, went perfectly with her skin and hair.

Breena got a hug and a kiss as well.

“Palmer.” He nodded at Jimmy.

“It’s okay, I don’t need a hug.” Gibbs gave him that somewhat bewildered look, the sort he often ends up sending to Jimmy when he says something so far outside what’d he consider the rules of normal behavior that he doesn’t know what to do.

That got Gibbs back on track. “We’re due downstairs in twenty-seven minutes. The guys sent me to make sure Jimmy and I were dressed in time.”

Jimmy looked down, seeming to realize for the first time that he was still in a button-down, jeans, and sneakers. And Gibbs, of course, was still in jeans, t-shirt, and flannel.

“You’re right, we should get changed. Let me just help Ziva get the bodice on. The sleeves are designed so the girls can’t move their arms much.”

“Still think this was a good idea, Abbs?” Gibbs asked the bride fondly.

She was staring at herself in the mirror, almost like she can’t believe this is really her. “Tim’s gonna cry when he sees me. Oh yeah, this was a good idea.”

Gibbs kissed her one more time, for some reason he can’t seem to stop doing that. “Yeah, he is.”  

Jimmy smoothed the sleeves of the bodice down Ziva’s arms. “You got the buttons for yourself?”

“Sure. And if not, Breena or Abby can help me with them.”

“Okay, I’ll be on shoe duty in a few minutes.”

Gibbs looked at Palmer, curious. “Shoe duty?”

“You try putting on shoes with twenty buttons when you can’t bend at the waist.”

Gibbs nodded. That didn’t sound too easy.

Saturday 3:07

The girls headed into the “good light room,” giving Jimmy and Gibbs a little privacy for getting dressed. Okay, giving Gibbs some privacy for getting dressed, at this point all three of them know Jimmy well enough that seeing him in boxers isn’t an issue.

Gibbs hadn’t gone for the Stetson. In fact, with the exception of Jimmy, who was absolutely rocking the ever-living snot out of a bowler--who looked like he’d been waiting his entire life to wear one, who for all practical purposes appeared to have been born for the 1880s and the combination of the double breasted black frock coat and vest he was wearing along with the bowler and a crimson cravat--none of the guys opted for hats. Sure it wasn’t precisely in tune with the style, but they’re modern guys.

And Gibbs hadn’t gone for the western sheriff look, no matter how fitting it might have been.

Ready to go.
He had, like Tim, gone for a morning suit. To mark himself as father of the bride, his waistcoat and tie were white, and matched with a white rose boutonniere. It occurred to him that he has never, ever dressed up so fancy in his life. Not even for his own weddings did he don clothing like this. The things you’ll do for your kids. He thought while shaking his head, pinning the flower into place.

He drew the line at the gloves, though he noticed Tim had been wearing them. Kind of silly, he’ll be taking the damn things off about ten minutes into the wedding to put the rings on. He’ll figure that out soon enough.

He’s pulling on his shoes, listening to Jimmy natter away, marveling at how much Jimmy is turning into a junior version of Ducky, and also how, in costume, dressed one hundred and thirty years out of time, Jimmy looks completely comfortable. Like, somehow a costume lets him be his real self.

He straightens the pin that goes through his ascot, and thinks about how he’ll be doing this again, though in a regular tux, thank you DiNozzo!, in five months.

And he thinks about a third wedding, one that will never happen, and how he had, from the day she was born, dreamed of giving that bride away. He focuses on the present and enjoying the people he has, and trying to not miss the ones he’s lost, too badly.

He’s here, alive, and getting ready to give the bride away. Soon, he’ll be a grandpa, or close enough it won’t matter. Which boggles his mind, and not only because of how much he’s looking forward to holding Tim and Abby’s baby.

The dreams you build with the people in your life don’t die when those people do. That’s the horror of dreams, they linger and taunt you with a future that’s gone. But, given time, some awfully sweet new dreams could come along, and they could quiet some of the pain of missing the old ones.

Jimmy’s still talking, but he’s finished tying his cravat, so he looks done to Gibbs. “Come on, let’s let the girls know we’re ready.”

Saturday 3:16

When the girls return to the main room, Ziva’ s hair is out of the curlers, pulled toward the back of her head and allowed to cascade down her back in a long flow of gentle curls, and like Abby, her makeup is light and glowy.

Palmer doffs the hat, bows low, offering the three of them a courtly gesture and kissing hands. That he would do it, and look natural at it, has Gibbs flabbergasted.

Breena’s still not dressed. “Jimmy?”


“I need some help.”

Jimmy grins, looking like he was really going to enjoy ‘helping.’ “And help is on its way, my lady.” He picks the shoe hook off of the dresser and tosses it to Gibbs. “Looks like you’re on shoe duty.”

Gibbs looked at the hook in his hand and said, “Who’s up first?”

Abby pulled up her skirt. “Mine are already on. I put them on before the corset.”

“Good thinking,” Ziva said.

“I’ve worn a corset before. I’m guessing you haven’t.”


“Well, let’s get you in your shoes.” Gibbs waited for a beat, expecting Ziva to sit down, and then another thought occurred to him. “Can you sit in this?”

Abby smiled. “Yes, it just takes some practice.” She carefully sat on the edge of the bed, showing them how to move to make it work.

Ziva sat down, and a minute later, Gibbs started on shoe buttoning.  He expected more chattering out of Abby, but she seemed happy with quiet. So a long minute stretched in comfortable, content quiet while he wrestled with Ziva’s shoes.

They could hear Palmer and Breena softly giggling in the other room.

Another minute passed, and he finished up with Ziva’s shoes.

As he was standing up, both of his girls hugged him. Both of them, so different, so perfect, so his, in his arms, broke Gibbs, and he felt the tears slide down his cheek and the grin he just couldn’t stop spread across his face. He kissed both of them again.

Abby smiled brilliantly at him. “I love you, too, Gibbs.”

He kissed her forehead one more time.

Palmer and Breena came out and joined the hug, after a minute Jimmy pulled back and wiped his own eyes. “So, we ready to head off and get you married?”

Abby nodded. “Yeah, Jimmy, we are.”

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