They got the call from Gibbs a little after nine. "I know you don't want to hear this, but one of the two of you has to show up. I've got a ton of evidence and no one to run it."
"But…" Tim's really not feeling like doing anything beyond watching Molly, and right now his duty to Jimmy and Breena and Molly trumps everything else.
"I know, Tim, but Molly doesn't need both of you watching her, and Palmer and Breena don't know or care if you're both there or not. Vance has someone coming up from Norfolk tomorrow, but we need someone to run the lab today. I don't care which of you does it. I don't care if you show up and it's slow, or Abby comes and gets it done, but it has to happen because I cannot tell Wallen's widow that we are doing nothing to catch her husband's killer. She's grieving too, and it's our job to help."
Abby was listening to the call, so she said, "I'll come in. The faster this gets done, the faster we can both be back here."
Molly was getting fussy. She's got no idea what's wrong, but something is. Her schedule is off, she didn't get to nurse in the morning, she's not playing with the ladies at daycare, which seems to happen on a pretty regular basis, but when that happens she's with her mom and dad, and they aren't here, either.
Tim feels like he's a wits end. He's already only about two seconds away from bursting into tears, because whenever he's not actively thinking about anything else, he can see the look on Jimmy and Breena's faces as they left this morning and each time he sees it, it rips him apart. A crabby baby on top of that isn't helping his control.
And of course the fact that he's close to bursting into tears just makes Molly crabbier.
It's like the most perfect vicious circle he's ever seen.
So he bundles both of them up, pops her into her stroller, and realizes that trying to take her for a walk when there's four inches of snow on all the sidewalks is futile.
She's fussing even more, now. Apparently she was in favor of a walk and considered him getting her ready for a walk, stepping outside, and then turning back around immediately to be cruel teasing. So he takes her out of the stroller, pops her into her car seat, and heads toward Jimmy's car.
"Come on. Let's go for a drive. Maybe, if I'm lucky, you'll fall asleep, and I'll get some lunch for us."
She seemed to approve of that. So off they went.
Ducky came by at dinnertime, food in hand, looking haggard.
"News?" Tim asked.
Ducky opened the bag and laid out Chipotle for both of them, putting a bit of carnitas, rice, and guacamole in front of Molly. She grinned and tucked into it. Apparently rice and guacamole is her idea of very tasty and also a lot of fun to play with.
"Breena was at seven centimeters when I left. They think everything will be done by morning. She'll stay there for at least a day to make sure the infection doesn't get too bad and that she doesn't have any adverse reactions to the antibiotics—"
Ducky sees Tim's look. What infection? is pretty clear on his face.
"Apparently the last time she could remember feeling him move was two days ago. So, they are assuming that's when he died. In cases like this, they automatically administer large doses of antibiotics because—"
Tim's nodding, he doesn't want to hear the end of that sentence. He's seen enough dead bodies to know what happens to one if it spends two days in a warm, wet, bacteria-rich environment.
He looks at his burrito and wraps it back up.
"When was the last time you ate something, Timothy?"
"Lunch. When was the last time you slept, Ducky?"
"The night before last."
"You want to crash here?"
"No. Ed has been on his best behavior, or is just too sad to talk, either way, I want to make sure Jimmy has someone to shield him."
Tim nods at that. "I understand. You safe to drive?"
"Yes. Part of training for both medical school and the military involved going long periods of time without sleep. As long as I eat, rest when I can, and maintain a steady intake of tea, I'll be fine for two days."
"Okay. So, you're going back after dinner."
"Yes, I wanted to check in on you, spend some time with Molly, and then I'll be able to report back to Jimmy and Breena that she's fine."
"She is. Little crabby and unhappy because everything is upside down right now. But we're doing okay."
Tim's phone buzzed. He glanced at it, and said to Ducky, "That's Abby, she's done with the evidence."
"Then she'll be here soon."
The official time of birth and death for Jonathon Christopher Palmer was 4:06 AM January 8, 2015.
Jimmy and Ducky came home a bit after dinner. Jimmy didn't say anything, just took Molly and held her close, crying the whole time.
When she started sobbing in response to him, Tim gently took her away, got her calmed down and put to bed.
Once that was done, he headed out of Molly's room. The door to Jimmy and Breena's was open a few inches, and he could hear soft crying and Abby's voice murmuring something. He figured it being open was an invitation to go in, but wanted to check in with Ducky first, so he headed downstairs.
Ducky was sitting on the sofa, a plate with some dinner on it on his lap, eating with a sort of mechanical precision that looked significantly more like a man fueling a machine than one savoring a meal.
"Yes. Breena's sleeping. Between the pain medication and her exhaustion they don't expect her to wake up until the morning. Her sisters are with her right now. They sent Jimmy and the rest of us home to get some rest, too."
"You think he'll sleep?"
"I put a mild sedative in the coffee I gave him before we left. Between that and how tired he is, it should knock him out."
"When can she come home?"
"Tomorrow, maybe the next day. It was as 'easy'," his voice goes sharp with scorn on that word, "as such things can be, which is to say beyond utter horror, but she'll heal. Given enough time, they both will."
"Did they get to hold him?"
Ducky's eyes tear up, and he nods. He wipes them, sniffs, and says, "We all did. He was ten inches long and weighed fifteen ounces. He had perfect little fingernails."
Tim's crying and nodding. "What happens now?"
"Breena's parents took him for cremation. There'll be a service on Saturday."
"Okay. Are you staying tonight? I can move our stuff out of the guestroom if you want it."
"I am staying. And I am fine on the sofa. I'm a going to finish this, get a long, hot shower, and then go to sleep. In the morning, I'll take Jimmy back to the hospital. Abby, too if you're okay with Molly on your own."
"We'll be fine."
Tim headed upstairs, eased the door open to Jimmy's room, and found both of them on the bed, Abby holding Jimmy. He wasn't crying anymore. Tim wasn't entirely sure if he was still awake, so he crept up quietly.
Jimmy looked up at him, so much for being asleep. "You want me to stay?"
Jimmy nodded, so Tim sat next to him, and wrapped his arms around both of them.
And that's how Jimmy spent his first night home, sleeping fitfully, held by his two best friends.
Breena came home a little after dinner the next day, and Tim and Abby stayed with them until the service after the funeral was cleaned up and everyone else had left.