Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 147

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

Chapter 147: Comforting Words

"How are you doing?" Yesterday had been Jimmy's first day back, and also the last day of a hot case, so beyond a quick visit, Tim hadn't had time to get down to Autopsy.

Today they're filling out paperwork, and no one is going to say anything if he and Jimmy take an extra-long lunch. So they did.

Jimmy shrugged a little, his voice is pretty flat. "Not so bad. Everyone here has lost someone and knows what this feels like, sort of, at least. Tony's made some dumb jokes, but that's it, they're dumb jokes, designed to try and make me laugh. Ziva's brought food for us every day since you and Abby left. But 'well-meaning' assholes out there in the rest of the world keep saying horrible things to us.

"Why would you say, 'You'll have other children'? Yeah, it's true. We will, and if the genetic testing says we shouldn't try naturally, we'll adopt more kids, but why would you say that?" Flat is very rapidly being replaced by anger steeped in stupefaction. "If I told you my best friend died, you wouldn't say to me, 'You'll have other best friends.'" Jimmy stabbed the one of the pieces of chicken in his salad over and over with his fork. "One of the ladies at church said, 'Well, at least Molly's healthy.' You wouldn't tell someone who's mom just died, 'Well, at least your dad is healthy.'

"One of them said to us, 'You've got to trust that God knows what He's doing, and this is for the best.'" He shook his head, looking so tired. "No, I don't have to trust in that. I don't have to trust in anything. Trusting in a God who builds your hopes up and crushes them just for kicks is really damn low on my to-do list right now, thank you."

The stupefaction in his voice vanished, replaced by all anger. "I almost hit the woman who said it'd make us stronger. Would have done it if she had been a guy. I was perfectly fine being a cream puff, married to a cream puff, raising a little cream puff, dreaming about a new little cream puff, and I would have very happily lived my entire life never dealing with anything harder than being annoyed with Ed. The idea that it'll make me tougher isn't any comfort." He closed his eyes for a second, made himself calm down, and then looked at Tim again, who was pretty much just sitting there, across the booth from him, hoping to be useful by giving Jimmy a shot to say whatever he wanted or needed to.

"You know why they tell you not to tell anyone you're pregnant at first?"

Tim shook his head. Sure, he's familiar with the whole so-you-won't-have-to-tell-everyone-if-you-miscarry thing, but he's also sure that's not where Jimmy is going with this.

"It's so the rest of the world doesn't have to deal with your grief. If you don't tell anyone, then when you lose a baby you're just sad on your own, and if someone asks, you wave it away, force a grin on your face, and pretend to be all right. Every single one of those thoughtless 'comforting' words has been about only one thing only, shutting us down. 'You'll have other babies, so don't make me have to deal with you in mourning.' 'It's God's will, so stop making me uncomfortable by being sad.'"

"I'm so sorry."

"I know." Jimmy shook his head. "How hard was that? I'm sorry. I wish this didn't happen to you. I know it hurts, and it's not going to be better anytime soon, but I hope you heal quickly. And then shut the fuck up! How hard is that?" He wiped a tear away.

Tim shrugged. I'm sorry and then shut-the-fuck-up has always been his way of dealing with grieving people. "How's Breena doing with it?"

"Angry, frustrated, sad… We both are… At least I can go to work and deal with the fact that what I do puts killers away. She's just surrounded by dead people."

"She went back to work?"

"For about an hour. Then one of the suppliers asked how the pregnancy was going, so she told him, and he said something about us having other babies, and Ed blew up at him. Apparently ripped him a new asshole, twice." Ed had been at their place when he got home, and seemed to really enjoy giving Jimmy the full play by play on what exactly he had said to that idiot. And for the first time ever, Jimmy completely approved of something Ed had done. "How bad at tact are you when Ed's schooling you in how to behave? Then she went home and spent the rest of the day snuggling with Molly. The only good thing about working for Ed is that he'll let her take as long off as she likes, and if she never wants to see a dead body again, he'll support her in that, too." There are a lot of things that are true about Ed Slater, that he doesn't like Jimmy, has no filter between his mouth and his brain, and values money and the security it buys too highly are all on the list. Him being a bad dad isn't.

"Tim. I really appreciated what you did for us, and for me."

"Jimmy, you're living my worst fear. Whatever you and Breena need, I'm here for."

"Thanks." Jimmy sat there, ate the piece of chicken he'd been mauling with his fork, and thought for a minute.

"You guys had the nuchal fold testing, right?"

"Yeah, Wednesday."


Tim hadn't been sure how to handle this. My baby's healthy and yours just died is way out of his depth, so he figured this would be another good shut-the-fuck-up topic, so he hadn't mentioned it. But if Jimmy's going to out and out ask, he's not going to lie about it. "And it came up clear. Everything's good, as best we can tell."

"I'm really happy for you." Jimmy looks like he's on the verge of crying again. "Do you have new ultrasound pics?"

"Yeah, four of them. I wasn't sure…"

"I'd like to see them."

"Okay." Tim pulls them up on his phone. Kelly's still too little to tell if she's a boy or a girl, but she's looking a whole lot more like a baby and less like a shrimp.

Jimmy just stared at the first shot, his finger tracing along the curve of Kelly's spine.

"You sure you want to see this?"

"Yeah." Jimmy closes his eyes, and then opens them again, looking at Tim. "It hurts, but… I'm still really glad for you guys. And I still can't wait to meet your little girl. And I don't want you feeling like you can't be happy around me. I need all the happy I can get these days. Breena does, too."

"Okay." So he points out toe buds and finger buds, and how she's about the size of a golf ball, all stuff Jimmy knows, but it's still a big deal for Tim. He shows Jimmy the shot of the two tiny feet, and Jimmy smiled a little at them.

And then he started crying.

Tim put his phone back into his pocket and switched seats, sitting next to Jimmy and rubbing his back.

"It's just so fucking unfair!" Jimmy bites out, staring at the ceiling.

"I know."

"And I'm so angry," he won't look at Tim as he says this, because he's having an easier time keeping himself under some semblance of control by staring at the seat across from him. "And there's nothing, no one to be angry at. There's nothing to hit, and screaming at fate is useless."

Anything you need. There's nothing to hit. Tim thinks about that for a second before saying, "I'll fight you if you think it would help."

That got Jimmy to turn and look at Tim, surprised him enough it broke some of the sorrow. "Tim?"

Tim shrugs at Jimmy. He doesn't much like fighting, but if it might help, he's game. "There's a boxing ring in the gym. Having something solid to fight might help."

"I don't want to beat the shit out of you."

"I'm not volunteering to be a punching bag; you'd get bored with that too soon. A real fight would hold your attention and give you a shot to work out a lot of the fight or flight chemicals in your system. Won't help with sad, might help with angry. Ziva'd be game, too, if you wanted to go up against someone who's actually good at hand to hand."

Jimmy thought about that for a moment. "That's part of why she started training again when her father was killed."

"Maybe. Needing to be in good shape for what came after was a lot of it, too. We're made to run, physically run, away from the things that scare us, or turn around and try to kill them. You can't run from this, and you can't fight it, but you can fight me or Ziva or Tony, or hell, I'll run with you if you like. It certainly can't make things worse, and it might make you feel a little better."

Jimmy thought about it. "What are you doing after work?"

"Dinner with Abby, eventually. Tony and Ziva were going to do Shabbat, but they didn't think the case would get wrapped in time, so that's not on for tonight. You want to do something?"


"Run or fight?"



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