Chapter 136: Help!
He went to Gibbs’ place after dinner that night.
“Tim?” He looked up, a bit surprised to see Tim in his living room.
“I need help, Jethro.”
“He calls you Jethro now?” Fornell appeared deeply amused by that.
Gibbs shrugged a little, while Tim said, “I do for calls like this.”
Taking a seat at the table, and shaking his head at the pro-offered manicotti, Tim explained what happened that afternoon and wrapped up with, “Look, I don’t want to be the jerk who has a fit each time his wife talks to someone else. Help!”
Fornell laughed, bite of his dinner forgotten on his fork. “You want help from him? He beat the ever living shit out of me after Diane.”
Gibbs stared at Fornell long and… honestly Tim’s not entirely sure what that look means. Then he quietly said, “You got her pregnant while I was married to her.”
Fornell shrugged. “I didn’t say I didn’t deserve it. Just saying you might not be the best guy to ask about how to hold your temper.”
Tim’s eyes went wide and he stared at both of them for a very long minute. Well, that was the answer to what happened with the three of them. Abby was going to be so happy to get that information. Abby. That got him back to his own problem. “Look, I’m fine with Abby. I can see she’s completely not interested in this guy. But I can see that he is. And I don’t want to go to jail because I lose it and hit him for looking. Got it?”
“Make him throw the first punch,” Gibbs said.
“Huh?” Gibbs can see that was an idea that had literally never occurred to Tim, and without him voicing it, never would occur to Tim.
“If you can’t control it, control him. Get him to start the fight. Tony and I’ll help if need be. Then you can be the bigger man and not press charges. We’ve got your six.”
“Oh.” Gibbs watched Tim think about it for a while. And for a while, he it looked like he really liked it. Then something a bit colder dawned on him. “Abby probably wouldn’t like that.”
“Ya think, Tim?” Gibbs smiled.
“Then you’ll have to come up with something she’ll like.”
“I understand woodworking is soothing,” Fornell added with a smirk.
Tim rested his head in his hands. “How did you deal with this? You’ve both had kids. You did the pregnant wife thing. Palmer said it was insane, but...”
“The guy who is dumb enough to hit on the pregnant wife of a twenty-four-year-old Marine while he’s with her deserves what’s coming to him. Back in ‘81 and ‘82, when Shannon was pregnant, there wasn’t a cop alive who would have disagreed with that. Hell, back then most cops would have whacked the guy a few times just to make sure he understood how things worked. When I was with Shannon, everyone was properly respectful.”
“Antacids and a lot of time at the gym or firing range. Diane thrived on having guys look adoringly at her. And the more pregnant she got, the better she looked, the more attention she wanted. By the time Emily showed up, I was in the best shape of my life.”
Gibbs looked at Tim, knowing he spends at least an hour or two a week at the range, but isn’t much for the gym, and tries to come up with something useful for Tim. “That yoga stuff you’re doing with Abby and Jimmy might be good, or you can murder him in your next book.”
Tim hadn’t realized that Gibbs knew about the yoga. “I do that with Abby, was just talking with Jimmy, and it’s… just not good for this.” He was getting better at the stretching and the poses. The calm, mellow mindset, on the other hand, was already horrifically illusive and trying to add seething, insane rage to the mix wasn’t going to help. “Writing about it, though...” A really nasty smile spread across Tim’s face. “He can be the first red herring, the guy who looks promising but turns up dead in chapter five.”
“There you go.”
“Might be a lot of red herrings in the next book.”
“Write one about a serial killer who frames each victim for the murder before.”
Tim nodded, a very disturbing smile on his face.
Gibbs was looking at Tim, hoping that’ll do it. But if it didn’t... The fact that Tim probably didn’t have a lot of experience at feeling like he wanted to hurt someone just for the sake of doing it, let alone handling that feeling, hit Gibbs.
“You need us, we’ve got you. Me and Tony, anytime, just call.”
“Thanks. Okay. I should get home.”
Fornell watched him leave, and then asked, “How did he ever become a cop?”
“You know, I don’t know that.” And Gibbs realized he didn’t. He’d never asked why Tim became a cop, let alone a field agent. Probably a good question for the next time they’re on a stakeout.
“I know he’s good at it, but that’s the gentlest kid I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah. Tim and killer instinct don’t exactly go hand in hand.”
Fornell stared at Gibbs for a moment. “You actually behave when Shannon was pregnant?”
Gibbs shook his head. “The MP who got called in was one of my buddies. He slapped that idiot upside the head, too. You?”
“After I beat the snot out of the first guy for ogling Diane when she was pregnant, I joined the gym.” Fornell remembered that for a moment. “You should have told her you’d had a vasectomy.”
“Didn’t see a need to. She would have asked why, and I would have had to go into how difficult Kelly’s birth was...” Gibbs shook his head. “I would have had to tell her who Kelly was. She knew I didn’t want any more kids when we got married. That should have been enough.”
“It wasn’t. I didn’t know she was pregnant when she wrote you.”
“You weren’t supposed to. I think she thought a baby might have saved our marriage.” Gibbs shrugged, and Fornell knew him well enough to know that if he hadn’t had that vasectomy, if there had been any chance at all that Emily was his, he would have stayed. And he knew that because Fornell was the guy he called after he got that letter, and the guy who suggested he made sure that his vasectomy still worked before doing anything rash, and Fornell was the guy who heard the excitement in Gibbs’ voice when he recognized that it might have healed was a possibility. And Fornell was the guy who wanted to shoot himself in the head after he hung up, knowing he’d just, literally, fucked things up beyond all belief.
“And I was around and convenient.”
Fornell shook his head. “Lord, that woman is a piece of work.”
“You got a beautiful daughter out of it, Tobias.”
“Yeah, and I don’t regret that at all. But you were right, I shouldn’t have married her. Not sure how I would have done as a single dad with a newborn, but...”
“Water under a lot of bridges there.”