Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 150

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

Chapter 150: Call Out

Sunday morning, Gibbs eased the door to the McGee house open. It's unlocked, and right now he was wishing those two hadn't decided to mimic him on that. Tim and Abby's cell phones are both on the little table near the door, and he can see Tim's showing the four calls they've given him.

Gun out, he scans the downstairs, looking right and left for signs of trouble, but he's not seeing anything. Gibbs holsters his gun. He's rapidly coming to the conclusion that phone on the front table, and Tim and Abby upstairs in bed probably means Tim didn't hear the call.

Now what? Part of him just wants to find a convenient chunk of wall and pound on it until Tim shows up. Part of him knows that if Tim's sleeping, Abby is too, and while she will have to show up at the lab, she doesn't need to get there for at least three hours, and he doesn't want to cut into her sleep. She's tired enough as is without him waking her up early.

They're all tired. He doesn't think anyone on his team has slept well for almost two weeks now. But the rest of the team is still holding themselves together pretty well because they don't have tsunami-sized waves of hormones sloshing around their systems.

Tired, pregnant, mood-swingy Abby sobbing in her lab because something reminded her of Jonathon is something he'd really prefer to avoid.

Which means he needs to go upstairs.

To their bedroom. With them in it. I.E. the last place on earth he wants to be at this particular moment in time.


He heads up quietly. Last thing he wants to do is get shot by Tim because he thinks the footfalls on his steps are a burglar. Gibbs was up there right before the wedding, so he knows which room is theirs. Top of the steps all the way down the hall on the right.

The door is open. Makes sense, not much reason to close it when it's just the two of you.

He pokes his head in fast, if too much of Abby is visible, he's going back downstairs, getting Tim's phone, tossing it in the room, and then calling.

But they're under the blanket, spooned together, Tim on the outside, wrapped around her, their legs tangled together.

He eases in quietly and pokes what he's hoping is Tim's foot.

Tim jerks, looks around fast, sees Gibbs and relaxes, though Gibbs tenses up when his brain realizes what he's seeing on Tim.

"What are you doing in my bedroom?" he asks quietly, sounding confused.

"Call out. You didn't answer your phone."

Tim rubs his face and then winces when he does it. "Okay, I'm up."

Gibbs stands there, waiting, eyes wide, wondering what the hell happened to Tim. Tim doesn't move. This last for about thirty seconds before Tim says, still quietly, "Remember that peep show comment from Lejeune?" Gibbs turns and heads out of their room. He's halfway out the door when Tim adds, "Put some coffee on when you're down there."

Gibbs nods and heads downstairs, shaking his head. Why it is out of all his team members only Kate could be relied on to wear pajamas?

As he's rummaging around in their kitchen, he wonders why Tim's got a black eye and some really ugly fresh bruises on his shoulders, arms, and chest. He's really hoping Tim didn't flip out and beat the hell out of someone, because judging by how bad he's looking, that someone is really likely to press charges.

But that can't be it, because there's no way Abby wouldn't have called him if something like that had happened. And for that matter, he really doubts Tim wouldn't have called him if that had been up.

No way to know now, so he lets it go, and finds the coffee, scoffs at the decaf in his hands, there's no point to coffee if it's decaf, and then sets up Tim's machine to brew.

Seven minutes later, Tim is downstairs, dressed, shaved, and except for the black-eye, looking fairly professional. His hair's a bit messier than normal, but not unreasonable. He takes the coffee from Gibbs, sucking it down fast.

"Sorry, Jethro, looks like we can't hear the phone from the upstairs. It'll go on my dresser from now on."

Gibbs nods.

"What are we called out for?"

"Dead Marine outside of Quantico."

Tim grabs a bagel, writes a quick note for Abby on the whiteboard on the fridge, and says, "Let's go."

They're in the car when Tim says, "Thanks for not waking her up."

Gibbs nods. "Do I want to know how bad the other guy looks?"


Really, you're gonna play dumb with me? Gibbs' look said.

"Jimmy'll be fine."

That shocks Gibbs badly enough that he pulls the car over, stops it, and turns toward Tim. "You got into a fight with Palmer? What the hell happened?"

Tim holds up a placating hand. "Nothing like that. He was telling me about how angry he was, and how there was nothing to be angry at, nothing to hit."

"So you volunteered to let him hit you?" Gibbs is so shocked he's sounding almost flustered. "I know you don't spend a lot of time in the gym, but the large bags hanging from the ceiling are there so people can hit them!"

Tim rolls his eyes. "He'd get bored with a punching bag, or his mind would wander because it wouldn't hold his attention. He needed something to get himself out of his head. Actually fighting does that. Otherwise, I would have suggested using a punching bag, I mean, this isn't precisely comfortable, and getting like this was a hell of a lot less comfortable."

Gibbs stares at him, and Tim's not sure if that look is admiration for stepping up for his friend or scorn for being so stupid about it. He does know that once he got Abby calmed down, which took some doing, (having told her he was in bad shape, and her actually seeing him were two very different things) and explained (again) what had happened (and why) she had an awfully similar look on her face.

"What do you do when you're really angry, Jethro? One of three things, right? Drink, fuck, or fight. He can't drink, not enough. Diabetes means getting more than buzzed is a bad plan for him. Even if he felt like it, and I really doubt he does, fucking's out for at least the next two-three weeks, maybe longer. But I could fight with him. So we went six rounds, and by the time we were done a lot of his anger was burned off. Maybe not the best way to handle it, but we'll both heal up, and at least as of Friday night, he seemed to be doing a little better."

Gibbs takes Tim's left hand and turns it so he can see how bad he hurt himself, purple-green bruises decorated split knuckles. "No gloves?"

"This isn't something either of us ever does. We don't have gloves. And no, we didn't have tape, either. Or face gear."

"You can see okay out of that eye?"

"I'm fine. Just sore."

"Jimmy's okay?"

"The only things you can see are the split lip and his hands."

"You split his lip?"

Tim's really tempted to roll his eyes again. "I wasn't trying to. I'm not Ziva. This isn't something I'm very good at. I meant to get his shoulder, he dodged into my hand, and I couldn't pull it in time. I think that's how he got my eye, too. We weren't trying to hurt each other. He just needed someone to fight it out with, so I did it."

Gibbs nods at that. "You've been a good friend to Jimmy. And now I'm going to be a good dad, to both of you. Every Sunday from now until your daughter is on the outside, both of you are spending an hour training with me. It's been eight years since I've seen you in the gym for any combat training, and if you're accidently splitting Jimmy's lip, you're too rusty. If he's accidentally hitting you in the eye, same thing."

"Errr…" Ending up with even less free time was not how Tim had hoped this would work out.

"Both of you need to be in good enough shape to put the Fear of Dad into future boyfriends, so training starts on Sunday. And you're spending an hour with him at the range every week until he's as good as you are with a pistol."

"Ever since he got kidnapped, he hasn't wanted to have anything to do with a real gun."

"He might feel differently about it now. And even if he doesn't, he still needs to know how to use one."

Tim shrugs, and winces, his ribs are pretty sore and that motion hurts. "Could we maybe start this the Sunday after next, when Jimmy and I won't still be eating handfuls of Advil every four hours?"

Gibbs shakes his head. "I'll take it easy on you the first week."


"McGee, are you all right?"

"What on earth happened to you!" Ziva sounded really concerned, while Tony sounded shocked.

"I'm fine." Which was as far as he got before Jimmy and Ducky showed up with the gurney.

"Palmer did you…" Tony was probably going to ask something like, 'see what happened to McGee,' but he turned to look at Jimmy, saw the split lip, his chin and jaw had bruised up to go with it, as well as bruised hands and said, "Did both of you go out, get drunk, and beat the hell out of someone at a bar?"

"No, Tony, they didn't." Ziva walked over to Jimmy, stared at the bruises on his face, her finger just ghosting over it. "That was done by someone's left hand." And then went to Tim and stared at his eye, looking like she knew exactly how tall the person who hit him was just from the bruise. "Do you want to explain this?"

Tim shrugged and looked to Jimmy, his expression letting Jimmy know that he'll keep this as private as Jimmy wants. (Gibbs excepted. Tim's personal rule number one means Gibbs is always excepted.)

Jimmy shrugged, too. "Tim let me fight out my anger. I needed it. He was there. Do you need more than that?"

"Nope," Tony said very quickly. He knows that expression, knows that tone of voice, and knows that's a man who doesn't want to get into whatever it is.

Ziva nodded at him. "If you ever need it, I am here, too."

Jimmy closed his eyes and manages a bit of a smile for her. "Thanks, but Ziva, I can't hit you. I know you're tough. I know you're a better fighter than I am. I know you can kill a man with a bar of soap. But you're still a girl, and I can't hit you."

She smiled at him, hoping a little gentle kidding goes over well. "Jimmy, the reason you cannot hit me is because I'm too fast for you."

"That too."

"Seriously, though. I'm good enough at this neither of us will get hurt, and you'll still get a good work out." She stepped closer to him, and said quietly, "And if you do need to hit, to land the punches, and to take them in return, I know how to do that and not visibly harm you, and how to not let you hit anything important. Neither you nor McGee can afford to damage your hands or eyes."

"Thanks." He hugged Ziva quickly before hurrying after Ducky.

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