Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 148

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

Chapter 148: Too Stupid To Live

There is a term that Tim's come in contact with on several occasions. He's never seen it outside of discussions of writing or characters, so he's not sure how common it is outside the writer/reader community, but right now, as he's fighting with Jimmy, it's springing to mind.

That term is Too Stupid To Live. It's used when the character in a story does something so ridiculously stupid that you, the reader, start rooting for them to die.

There are times when Tim is pretty firmly convinced that he is indeed too stupid to live. Usually, he tries to avoid that, but, well, as the title implies, he's too damn stupid to figure out where the problem is ahead of time.

But, as Jimmy's fist goes crashing into his eye, he's rapidly coming to the conclusion that yes, today he is indeed too damn stupid to live.

The idea of helping Jimmy to fight out his aggression seemed like a really good one until the actual fighting started. And then it dawned on Tim that A: he carries a gun for a reason. B: that reason is to avoid having to get into fist fights. C: this really, really hurts.

Part of the issue is that, while Tim has been trying to avoid hurting Jimmy, and it's true that for the first two or three minutes Jimmy was also trying to avoid hurting him, as the fight got going and the adrenaline got pumping, Jimmy's control vanished.

What's also true is that Jimmy has no technique, can't really see because he's not wearing his glasses, is angry on an existential level, hurts worse than anyone has ever hurt, is high as a kite on endorphins right now, and is way stronger than anyone his size has any right to be.

So, to put it nicely, Tim's getting his ass handed to him on a silver platter.

He's also vaguely aware of the fact that there were probably preparations they could have taken besides just changing into sweats. Like, he's thinking that head gear might have been a good plan. (Very good plan, Jimmy just dodged into one of Tim's punches, and Tim's not entirely sure how much of the blood dripping off his hand is from Jimmy's now split lip or his now split knuckles. This is also when the idea of taping up their hands occurs to him.) But, as he manages to sweep Jimmy's legs out from under him, he's fairly pleased that they were at least smart enough to take their shoes off.

Jimmy gets up slowly, and Tim stands there, open, waiting, breathing hard.

"One more round?" Jimmy asks. They're calling a round fighting until one of them goes down. That was, he thinks, the end of number five.

"As many as you need." And yeah, that's probably stupid too, but fight aside, Jimmy actually seems a little calmer now, well, maybe calmer isn't the right word. Less angry? Yeah, that's probably better. Of course, he's also, like Tim, pretty close to exhausted, too, so he might just not have enough energy to be angry.

Jimmy nods and charges him. Tim managed a decent sidestep and got him in the back with his elbow, but Jimmy was already whipping around and punched him in the ribs.

Part of fighting is that it goes by way faster than you think it should. If he was doing this with a game controller, hitting buttons, he'd be able to do it fast enough to react to Jimmy and think a few moves ahead. But as it is, doing this live means he feels like he's constantly playing catch up.

But the good thing about this going faster than expected is that it's probably less than three minutes later that he's on his back, staring up at the ceiling of the gym, aching from his hair to the soles of his feet, gasping to get his breath back.

Jimmy gives him a hand up, pulling him back into standing up.

"You okay?"

Tim nods, finally able to inhale again.

"More?" he asks Jimmy.

"I'm done."


"Tim," Jimmy's looking at him, eyes wide open and earnest. "Thank you."

"Anytime." And as they head for the locker room, Tim knows he means it. As often as Jimmy needs to do this, he'll be there for.

They peel off sweat and blood soaked clothing, ready to hit the showers, which right now sounds really, really good to Tim. He looks at himself as he hangs his towel outside the shower stall and moans softly. He's covered in bruises, and since he knows a little something about how this works, he also knows that they're all going to get worse before they get better.

"Tim." Jimmy's in the next stall over, and likely doing a pretty similar inspection of his body.


"Cold water. Hot'll feel better, but it'll make the bruising and swelling worse."

"Great." He hates cold showers. Hated them before he almost froze to death and absolutely abhors them now. And right this second the idea of putting his extremely tender, hurts to look at wrong body into icy cold water seems like getting to enjoy a sneak preview of Hell.

He still cranks the water all the way to the cold side because Jimmy is right. He remembers enough of his wrestling days to know that if you put hot on bruised, battered flesh you end up even more swollen, stiff, and sore.

"Did you tell Abby what we were doing?"

"Told her we were working out. What'd you tell Breena?"

"You were helping me deal with my anger."

"They're going to flip out when they see us." See, this is part of the too stupid to live thing. Coming home to a pregnant wife beaten to a pulp is a bad plan. She's going to take one look at him and freak out.

"Yeah." Jimmy sighs. "She's going to yell at me for being stupid."

Tim nods, steps into the water, shrieks when it hits his skin, because God, icy cold water beating down on bruised skin is every sort of horrible he can think of, and says, "Abby's going to do that, too."

He hears a low moan from Jimmy, so he assumes that means he's stepped into the water as well.

"Did it help?"

"Yeah. It did. I may just be too tired and sore to feel it, but I'm not angry right now."


The human body is a wonderfully designed machine. For example, when it experiences pain, it produces chemicals that fight that pain. Those chemicals are called endorphins. They act as a pain reliever and mild euphoric.

The fact that Tim knows that was part of suggesting fighting to Jimmy. Endorphins make you feel better, they lift your mood, and that effect can last for hours, days even. That's why they suggest you exercise if you're depressed.

However, the pain fighting aspect of endorphins wears off pretty quickly after you stop doing whatever it was that caused the pain in the first place. And while Tim is well aware of how this works when it comes to certain amounts of discomfort he's experienced chasing an especially good orgasm, he wasn't aware of how fast it was going to wear off in relation to a fight.

Basically, he was only a few blocks away from the Navy Yard when his seatbelt started to really hurt his shoulder. Which was not to say everything else about him didn't hurt, too, but as per the Gate Theory of Pain, you really only feel what hurts worst, and the belt pressing into his very tender, very bruised left shoulder really hurt.

He was at a stop light, about ten minutes from home, debating sending Abby a text to warn her that he wasn't in quite the same shape as he had been when she last saw him two hours earlier. He could either send that text, and then have her worried about him from now until he got home, or not send it and shock the hell out of her when he got in the door.

He sent the text.

Two seconds later his phone was ringing. He set it on speaker and put it in the cup holder.

"You got into a fight with Jimmy!? What the hell were you thinking? Jimmy's so fragile right now; how could you possibly start a fight with him?" She continued on that vein for a bit, and he was thinking that texting: Got into fight with Jimmy, look pretty bad, home soon, explain then was yet another sign of being too stupid to live.

"What could he have possibly have said to piss you off so much, especially right now, that would make you fight him?"

She actually paused for breath after that one, so he replied, "'I'm so angry, and there's nothing to do with it, nothing to hit, and screaming at fate doesn't help.' So I volunteered to fight him to help get the angry out."

"Oh." Dead silence. "You couldn't have put that in your text?"

"I should have."

"How bad are you?"

"Lots of Advil and ice packs when I get home."



"Did it help him?"

"I think so."

"I'll have the frozen peas ready to go."

"Thanks. Should be home in three minutes."


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