Friday, August 30, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 194

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

Chapter 194: My Little Dragons

He was only three minutes early, which was, by Team Gibbs standards, two minutes late.

"Hopin' we'll start without you?" Gibbs asks as he drops his bag by the ring and toes off his shoes.

"By all means, you want to have a go at Jimmy, I'll hang out and watch," Tim says pulling out the tape and getting started on his hands.

Gibbs looks at Jimmy and seems to think about it. Then he nods. "Tim, pay attention. Jimmy, you're on defense."

"Again?" Jimmy's getting bored on defense. It's not playing to his strengths, and he finds it frustrating.

"You're on defense until you can figure out how to read someone's moves. You're so used to doing this with Tim you're getting lazy. No more of that."

"So, I'm on defense until I can read a fight. I finally get to the point where I've got a guy I can read, and you sub him out."

"You're not reading Tim. You've memorized how he fights."

"Tomato, tomahto."

Gibbs gives him the enough sass, get the hell in the ring and let's fight look. "Tim, watch, pay attention. You're getting lazy, too. You've got a routine, and he's got it memorized, so learn some new tricks."

Tim nods, leaning against the ropes, and settles in to watch and learn.

Having done this for two and a half months now, Tim's come to the conclusion that, as exercise goes, he actually likes Bootcamp. It's not boring. He's honing useful skills. The endorphin rush is nice. It's time with Jimmy and Gibbs, which is good, too. And it burns more than enough calories so he can have some sort of sugary treat after.

Just because he didn't use the dark chocolate fudge ice cream topping for the poem doesn't mean he doesn't have some ideas for it for later tonight.

He's thinking the reason he likes Bootcamp now, because it was just as much of a work out when he started at NCIS, is that he's finally doing it with someone who's about evenly matched to him. Or maybe it's the fact that he's relaxed enough with Gibbs now that he's not terrified of looking like an idiot.

Either way, as he, Jimmy, and Gibbs hit the showers, he's soaking wet with sweat, tired, a little sore, and all in all feeling really good.

Really, he doesn't remember what they were talking about. And by they he means he and Jimmy, Gibbs was mostly quietly listening, adding an occasional word.

But he does know that he pulled his shirt over his head, starting to strip off for the showers when he hears Jimmy say, "That's cute."

Which was when he remembered he had a whole lot more skin art than usual. "Yeah, thanks."

Gibbs looked up from unlocking his locker, but by that point Tim's back was to the lockers. One look from Gibbs got him to turn around. When he turned back, now sans pants and towel wrapped around his hips, Gibbs was shaking his head, looking like he was about to roll his eyes.

"It's not real, is it?" Jimmy asks.

"Abby drew it on me this afternoon."

"This is what you do when you're home alone?" Jimmy's got a sort of cocky my god you're such nerds look on his face.

"I wrote a poem for Kelly on her. We got talking skin ink to celebrate the baby. This was her idea for me."

"That supposed to be you and Kelly?" Jimmy asks.

Tim nods.

"You're so not a dragon."

"Uh huh. Okay, what am I?"

"I don't know," Jimmy shrugs, thinks for a moment, then grins, "a koala?"

"You want koalas, look in the mirror. I'm not that cute or fuzzy-"

"Especially not today," Jimmy broke in with smirk. Yes, his body hair is growing back in, and thank all that's good and holy, is past the god-awful itchy phase, but it's still pretty clear he shaved it all off.

"Not ever, really. Cute and fuzzy, that's you and Breena. If Abby thinks I'm a dragon, I get to be a dragon."

"Uh huh…"

Gibbs is still looking at his back. "When Kelly was little she had My Little Ponies." Jimmy's grinning, he knows what they are and where this is going. "That thing on your back is a My Little Dragon."

Jimmy and Gibbs laughed. Tim flashed them a I am so done with you idiots look and headed for the shower.

Twenty minutes later, he's out, drying off (carefully, he doesn't want to smudge the dragons too much). Yeah, they're cute. Sure, he doesn't want them burned into his skin forever. But Abby did spend two hours drawing them on, so he'll do what he can to keep them in good shape for as long as possible.

"So how long would that take?" Jimmy asks.

"Oh, god, no. Not actually getting this tattooed on. Just the outline was two hours with a Sharpie. It'd be even longer with a tattoo gun." He touches the knot on his right arm. "That was four hours and nine minutes, and that was long enough."

Jimmy looks at Gibbs, who is sitting down on the bench, putting his briefs on, and thus, very naked. "Why don't you have any? Getting them is traditional military, right?"

"Nothing I ever wanted burned into my skin."

"Not your unit insignia?" Tim asks.

"Thought about it. Never got drunk enough to do it. Shannon didn't like 'em, either."

"Breena likes them. You ever going to get one?" Tim asks Jimmy, while pulling on his boxers.

"Nope. My body already has a hard time fighting off infections. Last thing I need to do is open myself up to one by getting an intentional flesh wound."

"Good point."

"I liked the way the henna one looked before my skin broke out in hives."

Tim buttoned his shirt. "Sharpies might be an option."

"Got enough on my plate, don't have time for lying around letting her draw on me."

Tim shrugs. "Feels nice. Doesn't have to take hours."

Gibbs is just watching the two of them have this conversation, pretty stunned to see them actually talking about this. It occurs to Tim that this is the first time Jethro's actually worked out hard enough with them to join in on the locker room conversation after.

"How nice?" Jimmy asks, grabbing his jeans from the locker.

"I've got My Little Dragons on my back. How nice do you think?"

Jimmy nods, pulling his pants up. "So, you let her shave you, or you do it yourself?"

"Both of us. And you were right, totally worth it."

Gibbs has a look on his face best described as, mildly surprised but feeling like he should have known Palmer would be into that, too.

Now Jimmy's nodding sagely, slipping on his socks. "You get Abby to tell you what she put in Tony's present?"

Tim smirks, reaching for his wrist cuff, enjoying the memory of that. "Yep."

"Gonna tell?" Jimmy looks up at him, pausing in his dressing to pay attention to the answer.

"Can't. Sworn to secrecy. Breena tell you what she put in?" Tim asks, fastening his wrist cuff.

Big, wide, somewhat condescending but very happy smile on Jimmy's face. "Oh yeah."

"You got sworn to secrecy too, didn't you?" Tim asks as he grabs his jeans out of the locker.


Tim's combing his hair when he notices something, Jimmy's getting ready to leave, with no glasses. Then it hits him, Jimmy wears contacts to fight, and he must have kept them in.

Then something else hit him. "Which do you like better, glasses or contacts?" He wears the glasses at work, but as Tim thinks about it, he's noticed that Jimmy's been wearing the contacts on weekends and off time.

"Why are you asking?"

"Got my eyes checked Friday. Twenty/thirty in the left, twenty/thirty-five in the right. I don't need them yet, but corrective lenses are on the horizon for me."

"Once I could get them in and out fast, I liked the contacts better, but, when I'm at work, I never know what we're going to run into, and I like the extra layer of protection the glasses offer. Plus, I get something on them, and I can get them off in a tenth of a second."

That made sense to Tim. "You don't wear contacts, do you?" he asked Gibbs. They've all seen Gibbs' glasses for close up work, but he's not sure if Gibbs has distance vision issues yet or not.

Gibbs shakes his head and hands Tim his glasses. He squints through them, noticing that Gibbs is awfully farsighted. "They're trifocals. Top does distance. Bottom close up. Middle's plain glass. And I don't usually wear them because anything further than eight feet and closer than fifty is still in sharp focus."

"Add sniper to the list of skills we're replacing."

Gibbs glares a little at that, not enjoying being faced with the fact that he can no longer hit a target at 3000 meters, but nods because it's true. "We're seeing the first of the FLETC candidates Monday, right?"

"Yeah. Karen Howard."

"Can she shoot?"

"Don't think so. Not like that, at least. She's the computer wizard."

"The baby out of CalTech?" Before the wedding the four of them had gone through the five names Tim's contact at FLETC had sent over, and decided on three to get to know better.


Gibbs nods, takes his glasses back from Tim, and says, "See you Monday."

The three of them were dressed by that point, so they headed out of the locker room and went their own ways.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 193

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

Chapter 193: Poems and Dragons

Long, lazy Saturday at home.

Tim sat as his desk, paper in front of him, pen in hand and started writing.

For Kelly:

You are:
love made breath
desire given form
ecstasy set free to walk the earth
From joy you came
and joy you return

He’s staring at it, tapping his pen against the paper. Not really loving the last bit. It’s the right idea, the circle of joy, how it was their joy that made her and how she brings joy to them… but it’s still clunky.

It also doesn’t look right.

He crossed out You are… and spent another moment staring at it.  Better.

And joy you bring


He snagged a new page, wrote Kelly at the top of it, and circled the other lines around it. 

Okay, that looked good. Began and ended with Kelly. He’s still not loving the last bit.

There needs to be something about joy in there. But it needs to be parallel construction with the first four lines.

love made breath
desire given form
ecstasy set free
hope made joy

He stares at that, nodding. Then grabs another piece of paper and writes it in a circle. Yep. Much better. Still not right. Too many mades.

love into breath
desire into flesh
ecstasy into mind
joy into life

Nope. Maybe not enough mades…

love made breath
desire made heart
ecstasy made mind
joy made life

Closer.  Not mind… But mind is important. Yeah, but not for this. Breath, heart, life are intangibles. So’s mind. Not the same sort of intangible. Really, heart is less tangible than mind… Okay, not intangible… feeling type things. They’re all feelings into physical representations of feelings.

Ecstasy made soul…

love made breath
desire made heart
ecstasy made soul
joy made life

He wrote that in a circle and looked at it for a long minute, almost… not quite there.

love made breath
desire made heart
ecstasy made soul
joy made Kelly

He circled that around, looked at it, tapped his pen on the side of the paper, and decided he liked that a whole lot.

He found a paintbrush, warmed up the dark chocolate fudge with sea salt ice cream topping, and found Abby.

“Can I borrow your tummy for a few minutes?”

She looked up from the Journal of Chemical Forensics. “Okay. Do you need the rest of me as well?”

“Wouldn’t hurt, but you can keep reading if you like. Really just need Kelly.”

Abby eyeballs the small paintbrush and the ice cream topping in his hand.

“What are you doing?”


“In fudge on my tummy?”

“I could do ink if you like. Thought the clean up on this might be more fun.”

She smiled at that. “You got it on paper or in your head?”


“Tell it to me. I might want it on my skin for more than a few minutes.”

He sat next to her, lifted up her t-shirt and laid his fingers three inches above her belly button. “It’ll go in a circle, here.” He traced the circle on her skin. “love made breath/desire made heart/ecstasy made soul/joy made Kelly. Once written on there, I figured I’d get some pictures.”

That made Abby smile. “Get a Sharpie. I want to keep that. Can I add to it?”

“What do you want to add?”

“Not sure. Let me see how it looks, might be inspired.”

He’s nodding as he heads off in search of the Sharpies.

It’s true that Abby has a five by eight by three jade box that lives on her dresser. It’s true that in that box is a collection of poems Tim has written her. It’s also true that the majority of those poems are words on paper written by hand from him to her. But not all of them. Some of those poems are photos of his words written across her skin.

Some in ink.

Some in chocolate.

But if it’s a photo, the actual poem is also written on the back, pen on paper.

Since they got back together again in October of ’12, he’s written forty-six of them.

They’re overwhelmingly blank verse, though there is the occasional haiku, and one sonnet. They range from very good to okay and sincere to silly. Some have made her laugh, others cry, and they’ve all made her smile.

She loves all of them. And though Tim doesn’t know this, there is only one thing she wants to be buried with, and it’s those poems.

If the house is on fire, the baby and the poems are the two things she’s carrying out.

So, a while back, he’s not sure how far, Tim saw The Pillow Book. He doesn’t even remember why he saw it. But somehow, he ended up watching it.

And it turns out that it was a good choice.

He really liked that movie.

No, he couldn’t tell you what the plot was or the names of any of the characters (though he vaguely remembers Ewan McGregor was in it). What he does remember was how hard the idea of slowly, carefully stroking someone with a calligraphy brush made him, and how much he really wanted to do that/have it done to him.

So, in 2001 he finally had a real girlfriend, someone who was willing to play with him, and he wanted to try it out. Which was when he found out that if you do not, in fact, actually know how to write with a calligraphy brush, you end up with a VERY big mess, and an extremely irate girlfriend who is monumentally less than thrilled by the black ink you got all over her bed.

Eleven years later, he tried it with Abby, this time on the receiving end, and yeah, he liked it, a whole lot.

But Abby can paint. She can draw. She’s good with a brush or a pen or a marker. And if the scene she drew from his ankle to the nape of his neck was a little smudged in some spots when he wriggled because it tickled, well, she didn’t mind.

When he tried it on her, he made a mess.

Which was a problem, because for him, it’s not just the application of ink to skin, but of words to flesh. For him, the words mattered, and a drippy, spotty, streaky illegible mess wasn’t the end goal he was looking for.

So the next time he tried, he subbed out ink for liquid chocolate, which had the advantage of being tasty and thick enough that he didn’t drip it all over the place. He can’t make the letters as small as he might like, but still, it worked pretty well, and everyone was happy with the result.

The time after that, he wanted the words to snake across her whole front. Which was when Abby reminded him that chocolate might be tasty, but yeast infections aren’t, so anything with sugar doesn’t go anywhere near her pussy.

But she did have markers.

And markers were good, too. He had better control. His letters were small enough he could get a whole poem on her. Tidy enough they could both read the words. All in all for anything with more than 100 characters they would do the job just fine.

Which is why they own one of those massive, every color they make, Sharpie packs.

He snagged it, drug all 100 markers back to the sofa where Abby was reading, and spent a while contemplating colors.

And, like always, he went with black.

Sometimes, rarely, (okay, once) if he’s feeling really into the work, he might add red highlights. He’s seen enough pictures of illuminated letters to know how that works. And it looked okay.

But really, it’s the words. And they’re clearest, easiest to read in black.

So, the ninety-nine other colors hang out in the pack, and he takes the lid off the black one, kneels in front of Abby, and contemplates the easiest way to do this.

“Think you can lay on your back for a few minutes?”

Last week she started feeling like it was hard to breathe and heartburn-y on her back. According to Breena being able to lie on your back for twenty-one weeks is something of a record, but since it’s the position that feels best for her back after a long day standing, having to say goodbye to it was not making Abby happy.

“How many is a few?”

“I think I can have this done in less than two.”

“I can do that.”

He held the marker between his teeth and gave her a hand getting horizontal. Yes, she can still lie down and get back up again without help, but it’s nice, and makes things easier for her, so he might as well do it. Especially since she’s going out of her way and doing something uncomfortable to humor him.

Once she was down, he got writing, fast. Sure, he’d like this to be a sensual experience, but he’d also like to get it done and let her breathe. So he wrote as fast as he could, while keeping his letters clear, shifting around her to get the angles right, and in less than a minute he had a perfect circle of legible black words slipping around her belly building on each other.

He helped her back up and she looked down, nodding.

“You feeling inspired to add to it?”

She shook her head. “It’s done.”

He pulled out his cell and began to take pictures of her.

“How are you going to give it to her?” Abby asks, looking at the markers.

“No idea. Are we going to do baby books?”

“Uh…” Abby looks alarmed by that thought. “Are you expecting either of us to have time for something like that?”

Tim sighs. “Not really. But we will give it to her, when she’s old enough to understand it. Maybe when we become grandparents?” He grins as he says that and sees Abby start to tear up. “Oh no. Nononononono! We’re not crying about that.” He kisses her, petting her tummy and face. “That’s a happy thought.”

“They’re happy tears.” Abby sniffles a little, kissing his hand which is resting against her cheek. “Thirty years from now, we might be showing her this.”

“Yeah, we might.” His thumb strokes over her cheek, wiping away a tear. He smiles again, and scoots back a few inches. “Let me get a few more shots, make sure it’s clear.”

She nods. “You want to get some new ink to commemorate this?”

Tim looks up from her tummy. “Hadn’t thought about that, really. Like what?”

“Not sure.” She’s playing with the sharpies. “We got tattoos when we got serious, got another when we got married, seems like having a baby would warrant some new ink.”

“Probably right about that. Granted, having a new baby also probably precludes spending hours in a tattoo studio or dealing with the upkeep they need as they heal up.”

“Good point.” She’s picking out the green sharpies, the black one, and a few blues.

“You look like you might be getting an idea.”

“Maybe. It’d be really big.”

“How big is really big?”

“Your whole back.”

“You want me to wander off for twenty hours when we’ve got a new baby and spend a month rubbing lotion on me while it heals up?”

“You could get it before she’s born.”

“Huh.” Somehow that hadn’t occurred to him. “What is it?”

“Get naked, lay down on the sofa, and you can see what I’m thinking,” Abby’s grinning now, looking like this’ll be fun, and well, he’ll happily be a canvas for her anytime she likes. Not like he’s got to be anywhere in the next three hours.

He pulls his shirt over his head while asking, “So, how big are you thinking? Am I getting naked because this’ll be on my legs, too?” He’s got three tattoos now, so he can pretty definitively say he doesn’t want one on his ass or the backs of his thighs. Anything he’s got to sit on is staying ink free.

“Nah. Just want that inch or two of your back below your waistband.”

“Okay.” His pants and boxers hit the floor next to the shirt.

He lays down, and she drapes a blanket over his legs and tush, which he appreciates because it’s a little cool out. April is rapidly warming up, and real spring seems to have come to DC, but that’s still about twenty degrees cooler than what he considers comfortable hanging out naked weather.

They spend two hours chatting, her drawing, him relaxing. He dozes a little, when she’s concentrating hard, enjoying the feel of the markers on his back. Some of it is a little ticklish, but mostly it’s just a very pleasant tingly sensation. She started the drawing up by his right shoulder and finished it by his right hip.

He started to get up but Abby said, “Stay put, just a little longer. Want to make sure it’s good and dry before you go scooting around.”

“Okay. Take a picture, let me see it.”

She did, showing him his back a second later.

Tim's idea of himself as a dragon
It’s a dragon. European style, wings and claws and longer front legs than back ones. The drawing is a cartoon outline type of thing, no shading or shadows, no scales or real details. It’s mostly light green, with darker green eyes and darker green wings. The head is on his right shoulder, and the tail starts on the left side of his back, curling around the dragon’s legs and ending on the right hip. The wings are down, relaxed, and if a dragon can smile, it’s smiling, looking down, at the very small, mostly light blue (she’s got little green wings) dragon sleeping, head on the big dragon’s tail.

He’s propped on his elbows, expanding the picture so he can see it better, and smiling at it.

“I left room for other baby dragons,” Abby says, sitting on the sofa next to him.

Tim nods, seeing that there was extra tail space, room on the neck, and a spot between the front legs where other babies could be added.

“I love it,” he says kissing her. Then adds, “But I thought I was an Asian style dragon.” She’s been working on the headboard for Kelly’s crib, and there’s a sort of stylized family portrait on there. The guys are all dragons, and he’s a jade-green, Asian-style one.

She touches his face, looking into his eyes. “Your eyes are the color of jade. So they make me think of the carved jade dragons. But your back works better with an European dragon shape. More room for baby dragons to play, too. Either way, you’re still green.”

“Am I dry enough to get up and see it in a mirror?”

She tentatively swiped her finger over one of the spines on the dragon’s neck. “Yep.”

“Good.” He heads into their bedroom, opens her closet door, and hops onto the dresser. One other good thing about the mirrors being set for sex is that no matter what part of yourself you want to look at, there’s a way to set the mirrors in their room to do it.

Up close, personal, and a lot bigger, he still likes it. But it’s not something he necessarily wants on his back for the rest of his life. It’s cute, really cute.  And big. It does cover his whole back, and that’s just the outline version, colored in and shaded and this would be literally days of tattooing. A few hours is one thing. Days of ink work, something else all-together.

Mostly though, it’s really cute. It’s vastly cuter than anything he wants burned into his skin for the rest of his life.

Abby's version of Dragon Tim

“Will you hate me if I say that’s way more work than I want done?” Which is both true and doesn’t hurt her feelings about how cute it is and how he just can’t take that much cute on his skin.


“Thank you.” He kisses her. “But if that ever found its way to paper. I’d happily mount and frame it and put it up in Kelly’s nursery.”

“I like that.” Abby glances at the clock. “Don’t you have bootcamp in forty minutes?”

He looked over, jumping off the dresser. “Yeah. Gotta get dressed and go!”  


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 192

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

Chapter 192: Shopping

Grocery shopping is traditionally a team sport for the McGee family. There is a very good reason for this: impulse control.

Non-pregnant Abby generally has no problems going into the grocery store, getting what she needs and leaving. Pregnant Abby is a somewhat different story. She has a very difficult time walking past the frozen food aisle and not buying every flavor of Ben and Jerry’s. As for Tim, well, a big part of his staying in good shape diet strategy is not being around large quantities of delicious, fatty, sugary foods.

Once again, it is vastly easier to not eat a pack of Nutterbutters if there is no pack of Nutterbutters to eat.

Plus, it’s a lot faster to split the list, which Tim has organized by aisle, grab everything on the list, and get out of there.

So, he handles the food on the outside ring of the store, meat, veg, bakery, dairy. She gets the inside area.

Then they meet back up, take the stuff out of each other’s carts that they don’t actually need, make sure they got everything on each other’s list, and out they go, all the food they need for the next week.

It takes about an hour.

It also happens, traditionally, on Saturday morning after breakfast (or lunch, if they had a lay in) when neither of them are hungry.

So, it is with a sense of trepidation that Tim is entering the grocery store, alone, on a Tuesday night, not yet having eaten anything.

With all of the wedding stuff this weekend, they didn’t get any shopping done, and while it’s true they’re not unused to eating out, they’re also down to a quarter inch of milk, one serving of decaf coffee, no fruit, and no breakfast food.

So, shopping really does have to happen.

And Abby’s got about another hour of work to go. (The upside of long-term surveillance is regular hours. Eight to five for two more days, they’ll be sitting in a van.)

So he’s grabbing a cart and checking the list, hoping he doesn’t go too far off the reservation with this.

An hour and a half later he pulled into the Navy Yard parking lot, and Abby hopped into the car. She kissed him, buckled in, and then looked around in confusion.

“Thought you said you were going to get groceries.”

“I did.”

Traditionally I-got-groceries in her roadster means grocery bags in the tiny little back seat. She looks behind her to make sure she didn’t somehow miss them.


“Not exactly.”

And suddenly she knew exactly why he’s twenty minutes late getting to her. He’d gotten the groceries and taken them home. “Did you get five hundred dollars worth of groceries again?”

“No.” He’s staring, very resolutely, at the road in front of him.


“Four eighty-six.”

He can feel her roll her eyes. “Oh, Lord.”

“You’ll like them.”

“Not liking the groceries has never been the problem. Not eating all of them over the course of two days is the issue.”

“It’s mostly organic and healthy.”

“Yeah, I remember you shopping organic and healthy last time. Just because it’s organic, responsibly sourced dark chocolate-fudge with sea salt ice cream topping doesn’t mean we need a ton of it.”

He shrugs. They’d run out of that two weeks ago, and yeah, he did get more.  No ice cream, though. They don’t eat it with ice cream.  

When he’d gotten home with the groceries he’d done two things. A: he put some rice on to cook. B: he tossed the cold stuff in the fridge and freezer, and then, having freed up enough space in her car to pick her up, back to the Navy Yard he went.

So, all of the grocery bags were still on the kitchen table when they walked in.

It was an awfully impressive mound of grocery bags.

Abby took one look at it and said, “Oh, God, Tim! What did you get?”

“Stuff we need.”

She’s staring at the mountain of bags on the table as he grabbed oil, steak, salt, pepper, ginger, and broccoli, and started on dinner.

“What could we possibly need this much of?”

Traditionally, he lugs the groceries in and then gets making whatever they’re going to eat next. She puts them away.

He was cutting the steak into small pieces for the stir fry when he heard her open the first bag.


He looked over at her and grinned.

Apparently there are ways to sublimate the desire to buy every snack food in the entire grocery store.

See, Tim has always been vaguely aware of the fact that diapers, bottles, pacifiers, etc. had to come from somewhere. He’s even put together the idea that people buy these things and grocery stores sell them. But since he’s the guy who does the outside ring of shopping, he’d never actually been in the aisle with the baby stuff before.

And yes, he did get more snacks than were strictly necessary. (They don't actually need five kinds of Pepridge Farms cookies.) But he didn’t buy every snack food in the store. He did, however, go a bit bonkers in the baby aisle.

And by a bit bonkers, well, he bought basically two of everything a newborn could possibly need.

He did leave most of it in the bags for her to open up and discover. But there was one thing he had in his pocket, and he wanted to show her special.


Abby looked up from a package of preemie diapers. (Because, just in case, you know. And if they don’t need them, they can return them.)

He crooked his finger at her, signaling come here. So she did, big, wide smile on her face.

“I thought you’d like this.”

“Like what?”

“It’s in my pocket. Don’t want to touch it with raw steak on my hands.”

So she reached into his pocket, petted him a bit more than was strictly necessary, but he enjoyed it, and pulled it out, and, well, squeed, is probably the right word. It was a loud, very excited, and very cute, joyful shriek of a sound.

He laughed and kissed her forehead as she looked at the tiny, sparkly, pink pacifier with a skull with a bow on it.

“Saw that and couldn’t not buy it.”

She kissed him, grinning, bouncing. “Looks like you saw that and bought out the baby aisle.”

He nods, little sheepish. They probably don’t need three different kinds of diaper rash ointment or both baby Tylenol and baby Motrin. But, still, the basics are all in there. “We really will need most of it sooner or later.”

“I know. Just, wow, that’s a lot of stuff.”



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 191

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

Chapter 191: Surveillance

Having half of your team gone means you spend a lot of time on rotation. Tim and Gibbs are playing backup for the other teams or doing paperwork until Tony and Ziva get back.

In the van.
And backup means they're sitting in a van on stakeout.

And stakeout is boring enough normally, but today it's god awful torture because it's not interesting enough to distract Tim.

Okay, so by this point in his life, Tim should know that endorphins make him do stupid things. They certainly shoot his ability to determine if immediate pleasure is worth longer term consequences to hell and gone. But, God the shaving was so worth it, and they are definitely doing that again.

But apparently he's squirming because Gibbs finally says to him, "You go roll around in poison ivy again?"

Actually that's a pretty accurate comparison. The last time he felt like this he did have that case of extremely unfortunately located poison ivy. Though best he can figure baking soda paste won't help this. (Though if he was at the Navy Yard instead of in a van listening in on a smuggling ring, he'd try just to see if it would help.)


"Gotta use the head?"

He's staring at Gibbs like he's insane for asking. "No!"

"Then quit squirming like a barely potty-trained kid."

And for what he thought was a good half hour, he focused on the case, kept an ear on the stuff they were recording, but, well, it's boring. Really boring. Yes, this is important intel. Collin's team has been working on this smuggling ring for eight months, slowly building up a mountain of evidence to take at least twenty-five people down, and they're all thrilled to have two extra bodies to keep an eye on things and get them a bit of down time, but God, it's boring!

So, he starts squirming again because he can swear he can feel it growing back in. Every single hair, and by now he's pretty well convinced he's got fifteen million of them on his balls alone, and they are all razor sharp and slowly creeping through his skin.

He felt the hand connect with the back of his head a split second before he hear Gibbs say, "Focus."

"Focusing, Boss."

Unfortunately he was focusing on the hair growing back in.

Jimmy was dead right, this is like wearing a coat of liquid sandpaper. Sharp sandpaper.

But he's trying. He's keeping at least a quarter of an ear on the discussion the mic is picking up, but right now they're talking about getting groceries. Nothing even remotely interesting. Though it does remind him they're getting low on tea (in addition to everything else, they didn't do their usual Saturday morning grocery run this weekend), so he flashes Abby a quick text about that.

So, all in all, there was a good forty-five seconds he wasn't thinking about it, but as soon as the text was done, there was nothing else to pay attention to, so the scratchy, irritated, squirmy sensation came back.

Three minutes later, Gibbs stood up, kicked the swivel chair Tim was in so he was facing him, and leaned down toward him, hands on the arms of the chair, more or less the only position where Gibbs can tower over him.

"What the fuck did you do?"

Okay, Tim knows that's the Fear of Dad coming out, but he's got no clue why. Okay, yeah, him squirming around is probably annoying, but he doesn't think he needs this.


"There's only one reason a guy squirms like that, and it's a fresh case of crabs. What did you do!"

"Woah! No!" He's pushing the chair back, but can't get any further away from Gibbs because the chair is back against the desk, and waving his hands in front of him in a don't attack gesture. "Nothing like that, at all! Shaved all my hair off."

Gibbs stepped back, looking really confused. "What?"

Tim rubs his eyes, looking horrendously embarrassed, though he'll take this over Gibbs killing him for fooling around on Abby.

"We like to really celebrate weddings, so, Abby and I shaved it all off." He pulled up his pant leg a few inches, showing off a very smooth calf.

"Why would you do that?" Gibbs is somewhere between horrified, stupefied, and Tim thinks there might be a hint of titillated curious in there, too.

"It felt really good." He shrugs a little. "You know how her skin feels really good right after she shaves or waxes?" Gibbs nods. "Well, yours does, too. It's… um… really soft and smooth, and girls really like soft and smooth, too, so… yeah… anyway… Good weekend." Tim sighs. "This part now, growing back in, not so much fun."

Gibbs nods at that, too. "Save it for the beginning of the long weekend next time."

"Yes, Boss."

Another minute passes, and with it the adrenaline edge of Gibbs about to attack. And when that passed, Tim starts to get pissed. He looks at Gibbs and says, "Crabs? Why the hell would you go there? You really think I'd fuck around on Abby?"

Gibbs looks embarrassed, and Tim thinks that's the first time he's ever seen that expression on Jethro's face. "This is why you don't assume. Seen the way you're squirming more than a few times back on active duty, and it was always the same thing. First two guesses were wrong, so…"

"Well, not this time." His eyes are narrowed and he's feeling really insulted. "I love her, you know that, right?"



"Guys do dumb things when they're scared. Even guys in love. Kid on the way, less sex at home, wife's changing. It can be scary."

"I'm fine. Not scared, at all. I love the way she looks right now, and judging by the fact you won't let me be alone with her for more than three minutes when we're at work, I figured you had noticed that, too. As for sex, I'm the most-fucked guy you know. Got laid seven times over the weekend. Friday morning, Saturday night, Sunday morning, at the wedding, and three times yesterday. Tony, who is on his honeymoon with enough Viagra to put him into a coma, doesn't have those kind of numbers. When would I have even had time fuck someone else? Been a bit busy this weekend."

Gibbs nods.

Tim thinks about it. "Did you fuck around on Shannon when she was pregnant? Is that why you thought that?"

That got the Gibbs glare of death aimed at him.

"And me even asking it is pissing you off, isn't it?"

Gibbs nods.

"Back at ya."

"I'm sorry I asked."

"Damn right."

They were sitting in the van, staring at the monitors, listening to more random chatter.

"Why'd you become a cop?"

"Huh?" Tim wasn't paying attention to Gibbs so he missed the question the first time he asked.

So Gibbs asked again. "Why'd you become a cop? You didn't train for it. No one in your family is a cop. You had options that paid better and would have been a lot easier."

"Jethro?" He doesn't know why Gibbs is wondering this. Seems pretty random given where they are and what they're doing. Granted stakeouts tend to lead to pretty random conversations.

"Fornell asked me a while back, and I realized I didn't know. I know why Tony's a cop. I know why Ziva is. I know why Abby's in her lab, and why Ducky's in Autopsy. I know why I'm here. But I don't know why you are, or Jimmy for that matter."

"Jimmy's here because he really likes it. When he started here, it was a gig to help pay for med school. He stayed when he graduated because he likes it here."


"I'm here because I didn't have the balls to break the law."


"I figured out really quick that what I liked about computers was the fact that I was better at them than almost anyone else. It was the first time in my life that was true about anything. And at my level, you don't keep score by money, it's about what systems you can crack, who you can take down. You've got two options, you can be Anonymous, breaking into other people's systems, blowing secrets away, or you can be me, keeping the secrets safe, going after guys like Anonymous.

"I'm a realist. I'm good. I'm damn good. I'm probably in the top 1000 hackers on the planet. And if I did it full time, I'd probably be in the top hundred. But that meant there'd still be plenty other guys who could catch me.

"And catching each other is also how to keep score. The guy who takes out Anonymous wins the big prize. And I didn't have the balls for it. But stick a badge in my pocket, and suddenly I can do what I like, and not have to worry about going to prison for it. Sure, there's still a target on my back, but it's pretty small because no one knows who Tim McGee is. But since I've been at NCIS, the number of times our systems get hit has gone way up because they have noticed that someone at NCIS knows what he's doing. Eventually someone will take me down, count coup on me. But I've got a badge, so I'm on the side of the angels."

Gibbs just stares at him, amazed.

Tim shrugged a little. "Eventually, once I got out in the field, started working with you guys, it became about saving people. Originally, it was about not going to jail for doing what I liked to do. That's probably true for a lot of the guys down in Cybercrime."

He smiled at Gibbs. "Like in the westerns. The guy who puts on the badge doesn't much care about law, he just doesn't want to hang for his crimes. And eventually he decides that justice thing is important, and the badge changes him, but that's not why he got it in the first place."

Two more hours creep by. Tim's back with fresh coffee for both of them. He's been wondering something, and since Gibbs just asked him about his life…

"Why didn't the shaving thing freak you out?"


"If I told Tony that, he'd be cracking jokes right and left, watching me out of the corner of his eyes like I'm radioactive, and almost as squirmy as I am. It just rolls off of you. I get the fact that nothing I do bugs Jimmy, nothing bugs him period, but… why doesn't it bug you?"

Gibbs shrugs. The look on his face saying, It just doesn't.

"Would have bugged my dad."

Gibbs shrugs at that, too.

He touched the cuff on his wrist. "Those bruises didn't bug you, either."

"Wouldn't say that."

"You know what I mean. You were concerned, not disgusted. Only time I've seen you disgusted when it comes to sex was Tony using those girls."

"That's disgusting." Gibbs takes a sip of the coffee, gives Tim a pay better attention look, and hands the cup back to him, taking the one Tim was about to drink from.

"Not disagreeing. But get a hundred guys together, ask them which is gross, taking all the hair below your eyelashes off or having sex with a fourteen-year-old who wants to have sex with you and snuck into a frat party to do it, and my guess is eighty or more of them will side with taking all the hair off over the girl."

"Tim, what are you actually asking me?"

Tim thought about that; he is kind of beating around the bush here. But he's also having a kind of hard time figuring out how to get closer to what he's wondering about. "I'm not sure if I really am."

"Try it. I don't like the question, I won't answer."

"How did you know about padding the cuffs?" Okay, still not on target, but a lot closer.

Gibbs smiles at that. "Became a cop in '91. Worked with guys who came up in the '70s and '80s. Rules were a bit different then, but one thing stays the same, leave no bruises."


"Expecting something else?"


"Didn't even own my own cuffs until after Shannon passed. The thing with the ropes I learned with her."

Tim raised an eyebrow.

"Her parents had a place in the mountains. We had some good weekends up there. Bed was metal, tended to squeak if you pulled on it too hard, wasn't as sturdy as I would have liked. We tried a few things, and she figured that if you put the rope under the mattress, that worked just fine."

Tim chuckles at that, smiling. "That why you don't get freaked out? Been there, done that?"

Gibbs and Matheson
Gibbs shrugs at that, too. It's probably related to why it doesn't bug him, though he suspects he's been there and done that because it doesn't bother him, not the other way around. "Always figured bodies were bodies and it didn't matter what you did with them as long as you got the job done. Back in basic, I had a friend, Matheson, and she—"

"She?" Tim's eye's shoot up. Best he knows Gibbs was in basic back in '76-'77, before there were women on active duty.

"Yes. One of the first female Marines. She was a damn good Marine, fast, strong, knew what she was doing, took a ton of shit from the other guys and just kept going. She didn't much like me at first, either, thought I was hitting on her, just being subtle about it—"

"Were you?"

Gibbs shrugs at that, too. "Already loved Shannon. Knew I was going to marry her. But she was far away and letters didn't come every day, and Mattheson was there. I just… liked talking to her." There's a soft look on Gibbs' face as he remembers his friend.

"Liked the fact she was there and not a guy?"

Gibbs nods.

"I get that." And Tim does. For as much of his life as he's spent in male-oriented activities, he genuinely likes women, and just having them near is nice.

"But, point is, she was a good Marine. And it didn't matter that she didn't have the same kind of body I did. And ever since then, guy, girl, gay, straight, whatever, just didn't matter if you did your job the way it needed to be done."

"What happened with her? She a general somewhere?"

Liked talking to her.
Gibbs shook his head sadly. "No. KIA."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"I was, too. Got the news two days before leave. Couldn't even tell Shannon why I was so down. My other girlfriend got killed? Finally told her a buddy bit it, never told her the buddy's first name."

"Would it have bugged her?"

"I don't know. Didn't want to risk it. Things were going so good; I wasn't about to do anything that might have messed that up."

Tim thinks there's some warning in that sentence, maybe his conversation with Abby last night has him primed for that, or maybe Gibbs really does know and see all that happens to those he cares about.

"You still talking about you and Shannon?"

"Mostly." For once Tim's having a hard time reading the look on Gibbs' face.

"You talking about me and Abby, too?"

"Am I?" And Tim gets the sense that he can't read the look on Gibbs' face, because Gibbs also isn't entirely sure what's going on.

"This part of why you were thinking crabs?"

"No. Just a feeling."

Keep talking, Tim's expression says.

Gibbs shrugs.

"Okay, this won't work if neither of us talks. What's the gut sensing?"

"Just, not blind. I know you" And Tim understands he means him and Abby, not just him personally, "and the Palmers get on well. Get on a whole lot better than most couples ever will. Saw the way you and Jimmy watch the girls. Saw the way the four of you dance."

Tim nods, drinks some of his coffee, realizes at the wedding was probably the first time Gibbs ever saw the four of them play with each other, and goes back to listening to the feed. Lots to process all right.

One of the reasons he loves Gibbs is that Gibbs just lets him think. Sure he'll pressure Tim for answers, fast, if it's about a case. On the case he's Scotty, Gibbs is Kirk, and it's his job to get the Enterprise flying in three minutes flat. But if it's personal, he doesn't have to come up with snap opinions and decisions, he can take the time to weigh out what's happening and try to really wrap his head around it.

More than two years ago, when he was getting ready to start courting Abby, Tim hunted down advice to do a good job of it.

And he's not done processing. Lots of thoughts still bopping around. But maybe some advice would be a good thing, too.

"We do get on well. I love Jimmy and Breena and they love us. And I love Abby. She's my world. And we don't want to mess it up. This is beyond really good. It's excellent. Living the dream. Got the happily ever after, you know?"

Gibbs nods.

"We talk about it… you know?  With them." Tim's expression silently asks if Gibbs is getting what he's saying.

The look on Gibbs face lets Tim know he's following along without Tim having to be more explicit.

"And until yesterday that was just a game. Hot stories for each other. But, it turns out that Abby and Breena talk about it, too. In a maybe-we'll-actually-do-it sort of way."

Gibbs' eyes widen a little at that, and Tim nods.

"And look, I've got everything, I mean everything, I could have ever possibly wanted. And more than that, I know I have it. I've got the cake, the ice cream, the whipped cream on top, with the cherry and sprinkles, but, it looks like there might be a possibility of coffee to go with it.

"And I do not want to fuck this up. At all. I mean, how often do we get called in because some moron couldn't just be happy with what he had?"

Gibbs nods at that, too.

"But I'd be lying if I said I don't want it. It's my two favorite women on earth, together… What guy doesn't want that? And if it works… I mean… amazing sex with two gloriously beautiful women who love me… But if it doesn't…" Tim's shaking his head. "You got any advice?"

Gibbs' turn to think, and he does. Tim gets the sense that this is miles beyond the sort of providing fatherly advice he ever expected he'd have to deal with.

But after about ten minutes he asks, "This wouldn't just be sex, would it? There's a big difference between the girls do something special for your birthday, and making this a real relationship."

"I don't know. But, I kind of feel like if we could do it once, then we'd probably want to do it a whole lot. And I feel like if we could do it… then yeah, it'd be more than just a way to blow off steam on the weekends."

Gibbs smiles at that, sighs, and says, "Go slow. You guys become a foursome, none of us are going to care. Have fun, enjoy it. If it blows up, we're all gonna care. It goes sour, and you might rip our whole family apart. And if it goes great, we'll be happy for you.

"Wait until after Kelly's on the outside and you're settled into being parents, and Jimmy and Breena know the new baby is healthy."

Tim's eyebrows shoot up.

"Any of the girls suddenly stop drinking at celebrations and the gig is up. I take it they aren't telling anyone yet?"

"Just us, Ducky, and Penny. If things aren't right, and they have to terminate; they don't want to have to tell everyone."

Gibbs nods, that makes sense to him. "When'll they know?"

Tim does some quick math. "Middle to late June."

Gibbs seems to file that information and gets back on target. "Biggest problem I can see is you flip out when Abby flirts with someone else, and she does it for you. I can see you're generally okay with her snuggling with him. And I can see she doesn't mind Breena cuddling on you. And I could see both of you were happy as clams at the idea of the girls with each other."

Tim nods at that. He and Jimmy had spent a good five minutes just watching them dance with each other at the wedding, enjoying it a whole lot. Anyone who was watching could have seen that, and apparently Gibbs did.

"So, if you're gonna do this, have him kiss Abby, really kiss her, and you watch. You don't want to deck him; you kiss Breena. He doesn't want to hit you; maybe you can do it. Same for the girls. Make them watch. And then take the time to really think about it. Make sure you're really okay."

Tim gives him a self-depreciating look. "Good to get input from someone who can think about it with his brain."

Gibbs snorts a short laugh at that. "Tim, whatever you do, take your time and don't be stupid about it. You've got good instincts, trust 'em."



Monday, August 26, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 190

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

Chapter 190: Date Night

By the time he was up, showered, and more or less himself again, dinner was looming on the horizon, so instead of a second round, getting dressed and going out became the next thing on the list.

When the idea of romantic Monday started to solidify in his mind, he hadn't had anything planned beyond lots of naked skin and sex. But when Abby started talking about the suit/kilt combo something beyond just playing at home went on the menu.

And before Abby left to go out, before he cleaned up or fired up the trimmers, he had made reservations for them to go out to dinner. After all, a good chunk of the fun of getting dressed up is going out wearing whatever it is you just put on.

So, out of the shower, towel around his hips, he's feeling very relaxed, very, very good, and awfully sassy. Kilt and top half of the suit are a must. Rock and roll vibe was definitely going to be part of this, too.

So, first things first, nail polish. He wishes there was a faster way to do this. Or given that it takes him a good fifteen minutes to get it on and properly dry, that he could wear it for more than a day at a time. But, while he's willing to push the edge on the NCIS dress code with his wrist cuff, showing up with nail polish on is a step too far.

Though it occurs to him, when he's head of his own department, he might be able to get some more wiggle room on the whole dress code thing.

Abby's putting her hair up while he waits for his nails to dry, so he asks, "How'd you go about getting out of the dress code?"

She turned to him. "What has you thinking about that?"

"If I'm going to take this much time to get polish on my nails, it'd be nice to keep it there for more than two hours."

"Ahhh… I told Jenny that khaki makes me break out in hives and cried on her until I got a life-long dress code exemption."

He laughs at that. "Somehow I don't see that approach working for me."

"Vance might believe you're allergic to office casual."

"Yes, but he won't care."


Once the polish was set, came dressing.

He never wears underwear with the kilt. That's just not how you wear them. So, he's got an idea of how a kilt is supposed to feel, and today it's a rather different sensation. Rough, slightly nubby, it's not bad, but it's not normal either. He's a hell of a lot more aware of the fabric than usual.

Shirt, vest, he was looking for a tie. The black one that came with the suit is fine, but he's got a hunter green one that goes with the tartan really well. He was figuring he'd tie it loosely, leave the top button undone and then have Abby do his makeup when he noticed she wasn't wearing a collar yet and another idea hit.

On her dresser she's got a t-shaped stand that all the collars, bracelets, and cuffs live on. He spent a moment sorting through them and found the collar that goes with his cuff. She saw what he was doing and grinned.

"Oh… I like that idea."

"Thanks. Let's see if it looks as good for real as it does in my head." He handed it to her. "Put it on me?"

She kissed the nape of his neck. "Anytime you want, baby."

He's always liked the way it feels when she puts one of her collars on him. Sure, he knows what it's supposed to be about, and for them it's not really, but there's still the soft weight of it, and the smooth sensation of leather drawing tight on his throat. It's just… nice, in a tingly sort of way.

The collar's fairly subtle. Like the cuff, it's just a strap of black leather embossed with an arabesque. Black on black. It's under his shirt collar, so all anyone can see is an inch or so of a band of black at the base of his throat.


"Yeah, it is." She looked him up and down. "You still have Ducky's hat?"

"Uh… yeah, I think so. Why?" Okay, yeah, he still doesn't love himself in hats, but she'd certainly enjoyed him in the fedora. And a decent dose of enthusiastic compliments and petting as a result of the hat was softening his opinion of how he looked in them. (To the point where he kept it on all night after the signing of the Ketubah.)

"Where would it be?"

"Downstairs, closet."

"Okay. Put the jacket on and push the sleeves up a bit."

"All right."

He's still messing with his sleeves when she gets back up with the fedora. They look good scrunched up a bit, but it's hard to make them stay that way.

It's just a basic black hat, lighter gray hat band. Abby sets it on his head and steps back. "Oh yeah."

He checks himself in the mirror, polished black leather boots, McGee tartan, white dress shirt, top three buttons undone, black leather collar visible under it, black vest, buttoned up, black tux jacket, sleeves pushed up enough so his wrist cuff is visible, black nail polish, and a black fedora.

Oh yeah. Is certainly right.

"Eye makeup?" he asks Abby. He's liking this look a whole lot, and doesn't want to venture into overkill land.

She's nodding. "Yeah. Sit down; I'll do it subtle."

He's sitting on the bed and notices the eyeliner in her hand isn't his usual one.

"What's that?"


"I thought you said subtle."

"It will be. Look up."

He does, and feels her color his waterline. A second later she's done the other eye. This is usually when she's finished, but she turns and grabs another pencil and a little brush.

"Okay, what are you doing?"

"It'll look good. Hold still." He can feel the pencil smoothing under his eyelashes, and then the brush slipping back and forth.

"What color is it." It's too close to his eye to focus on, and all he can see is a gray blur.

"Medium gray."

"My eyes aren't going to swell shut, are they?"

"Nope. Bought these for you."

He hadn't known that. "Thank you."

"No problem. Okay, almost done, mascara."

"This really doesn't sound subtle."

"It will be; it's brown."

Tim's eyelashes, like his eyebrows, aren't actually black; they're dark brown. So when he wears black eyeliner or mascara it's not subtle at all. It's very clear that something is different. Meanwhile, dark brown does draw more attention to his eyes without making a clear "Look, I've Got On Eye Makeup!" kind of statement.

He holds perfectly still for another minute while she finishes up.

"All pretty?" he asks, something of a wry smile on his face.

She kisses the tip of his nose. "You're lovely." Then gets up from his lap. "Go look."

Okay, she was right, it's subtle, and he's surprised at this, not very girly, either. His eyes just look bigger and greener.

She's standing behind him with her chin on his shoulder. "You like it?"

He's nodding. "Yeah, I do. It's cool."

"Yes, it is. Now, out of here. I'm going to get dressed and want it to be a surprise."

He whistled when she stepped into his office, eyes tracing her body from head to toe. "Oh Abby!"

A surprise was a black cheongsam with green and silver dragons worked over the… it can't be silk, it's stretchy over her belly, but it's got a silk sheen and looks silky. Her hair's up in a bun, and she's got black lacquered chop sticks in it. She's done something with her eye makeup so they look more almond shaped than normal. And to top it all off, (bottom it all under?) is a pair of dainty, little, black silk slippers.

He more or less leapt to his feet, closing on her fast, licking his lips, wrapping his hands around her waist.

"God, you're so beautiful."

She grins widely at that, the gasps when he picked her up and set her on his desk.

"Tim?" she asks as he's kneeling in front of her, pushing the skirt of the dress up.

"Dinner can wait; this can't! Look so good, got to taste you."

So, they were running fifteen minutes late as they walked, (both of them looking awfully relaxed, slightly rumpled, and very sassy) from the Metro stop to the restaurant.

They had paused at the door, waiting for the people inside to come out. Tim was barely paying any attention to them, he's looking at Abby. But she was, so she saw who was coming out before he did.


Tim's sister looked away from her friend, saw Abby, saw Abby's tummy and said, "Abby, oh my God! Look at you! Tim posts pics, but…" Her hand is hovering over Abby's tummy, waiting for permission. Abby nods. "She's really in there," Sarah says as she feels Kelly moving.

Abby and Tim are grinning at this. "Yeah, she really is," Abby answers.

Sarah's still looking at Abby's tummy as she says, "I can feel her kicking! That's so cool." Then she seems to notice there are other people with them. "Abby McGee, this is Amber Greenwalt, my editor. Amber, this is my sister-in-law." Abby offers her hand and shakes, wondering why Sarah didn't introduce Tim, but that question is very rapidly answered as Sarah says, still focusing on Kelly, "You going to introduce your friend?"

Tim laughs at that, and the sound of his voice causes Sarah to jerk, looking up and really seeing him. "You've known me your whole life, Sarah."

"Holy shit, Tim!" Granted the lighting isn't too bright, and he is wearing a hat, and she didn't really pay all that much attention to the guy next to Abby, having homed in on the pregnant belly, but still, not recognizing her brother felt really weird. "Are you wearing a kilt?"

"Yes. I do get dressed up for date night, you know."

"Oh my god!" Her eyes are on the verge of falling out of her head they're so wide open right now, and he's smiling, a second from laughing.

"Good oh-my-god or the whole-world-is-about-to-implode oh-my-god?"

"Who the hell are you and what did you do with Tim?"

"It's really me."

"No, it's not. Tim tries to be cool and ends up looking like a dork who's trying too hard. Pseudo Tim or whoever you are actually looks cool, thus, who the hell are you?"

He laughs at that. "So, where's that man of yours?"

She smiles. "At home, this was a working dinner for me."

"Working how?"

"Oh God, sorry. Amber, Tim McGee, my brother. You know him as Thom Gemcity."

He shakes Amber's hand. "Final edits?"

Sarah shook her head. "Super top secret writer stuff. If it works, I'll tell you about it."

"Uh huh… And when will you know if it worked?"

"Round about Christmas-time. This works out, and I'll have a big announcement for all of you."


She steps back and really looks at him again, nodding. "Looks good."


They're tucking into some really delicious miso soup when Tim asks, "So, what did you add to the honeymoon pack?"

Abby grins. "Not sure I should tell you."

"Really?" Tim's grinning and very intrigued, soup forgotten.

"Yeah, I'm fairly sure that's not the sort of thing Ziva told Breena and I about to have it blabbed around."

He sighs, exaggeratedly loud. "Well, if you shouldn't tell… You shouldn't tell… But you know, he is the guy who picked the lock to my apartment, heard us having sex, and still walked in on us so he could see the action. He's got a lot of bad privacy karma to work off, you know…"

Her smile widens. "Yeah. I do. Okay, you cannot say anything about this."

He's grinning. "I never do. What was it?"

She takes another sip of the soup, then says, "Everything you ever wanted to know about oral sex. You said it had to fit into the bag, so it's three mini books of basic, intermediate, and advanced technique. He, like a lot of guys, isn't nearly as good at it as he thinks he is."

Tim laughs, really, really hard at that. He's practically crying by the time he calms down. "Tony Motormouth DiNozzo's not all that hot with oral?"

Abby nods.

Tim starts laughing again.

"It's not that uncommon of a problem, lots of guys think they're a lot better at it than they actually are."

That stops Tim cold. He's staring at her, voice sounding very wary as he asks, "What do you mean by lots of guys?"

That makes her laugh. "Not you."

His look is questioning.

"Really, not you."

"But you'd tell me, right, if it was me?"

That makes her laugh even harder. "Have I ever had any trouble telling you how to get me off?"


They stop talking for a few seconds as the server clears away the soup and puts several sushi rolls in front of them. Abby takes that break to switch from sitting across from Tim to next to him. Not only is it easier to share food that way, but they can talk a little more quietly.

Once settled, she says, "Look, back the first time we dated, you mainly had enthusiasm and a willingness to take orders going for you. And that'll get you pretty far. I've yet to meet a woman who wasn't thrilled by a guy who'll dive in and eat pussy like he's starving and it's every favorite meal he's ever had, and who doesn't act like it's a fatal insult to his masculinity to be told that he needs to adjust his technique. But, you might remember, I was telling you a lot of left, right, harder, up, use fingers, sorts of things, too."

He nods, chewing. He does remember the first few times he went down on her that yep, she did give him a lot of directions, and he was more than cool with that, because the idea was get-Abby-off, and anything that made that more likely was something he was in favor of.

"Am I still doing that?"


She picks up a piece of their Tokyo roll. "Between then and the second time we got together, you got some technique to go with enthusiasm, and baby, you give head like a woman… Like a lesbian."

He thinks about that for a second, taking a sip of his sake. "That's a compliment, right?"

"Oh yeah." She grins and nods.

That got both of them thinking, which meant they both started their questions at the same time, followed by a few seconds of you-go-first-no-you, finally they settled on Abby going first.

"So, you didn't really date, not a whole lot, how did you get that good?"

"I didn't get a lot of hands… mouth on practice, but I did research the hell out of it."


"I'm not a woman, and when I wrote the T.M. Gee books I needed to convincingly write one, so… I watched and read a ton of porn by and for women. Lots and lots and lots of it. For a few years there, I had a lesbian porn collection that would have made Tony jealous. Or maybe not, cause it was real lesbian porn, not lesbian porn for men, which is, well, not really the same at all."

She's laughing at that. "And you would know."

He's nodding, grinning. "Oh yeah, I would know! Anyway, lots and lots of lesbian porn and the main thing I learned about oral was: your tongue isn't a dick, so don't use it like one; no woman ever got off from tongue thrusting. If you're a guy, and you're doing that, it's because it gets you off. Also, there's a whole lot more to a pussy than just a clit, so play with all of it, and don't narrow focus until you've hit endgame. Once I had the theory down, practice kind of took care of itself."

"Ah… So, what did you want to ask me?"

He's looking a little sheepish at this, but he is curious, and he's never actually asked… He eats another bite of their dinner, putting it off for another few seconds.

So, the thing is, Tim knows Abby likes girls, at least on a theoretical level. They occasionally check out the same girl at a club, and tag team story telling sometimes involves other women. (Like Breena for example, or the girl they're both checking out at the club, especially if they happen to be at the club while telling the story.) But he's never flat out asked if she's had sex with another woman, and she's never flat out said.

So he smiles, hopes learning the answer to this isn't going to bite him in the ass, and asks, "How do you know?"

"How do I know what?" She licks a drop of the sauce off the tip of her chopstick.

"That I give head like a lesbian."

Her eyebrows shoot up, and she looks shocked. "Did you not know that?"

He rolls his eyes a little. "Would I be asking if I knew?"

"Practical experience."

He nods, noticing a complete and utter lack of jealousy, files that under interesting things he'll think about later, and says, "So you've had girlfriends, too?"

"Never with one of them long enough to qualify as a girlfriend. Not that I was ever great with relationships before you, but… basically, I like sex with girls and boys, but do friendships better with girls and relationships better with guys."

"So, you really are bi?"

"I couldn't care less about the label. It's just skin, you know? And it feels good rubbing against mine, so if I like the person inside the skin, we're good. And about one out of five times that skin was shaped like mine. I guess whatever you are is your default idea of normal, because, like, I can see you don't like guys, but I can't figure out why."

"Just don't."

"Yeah I know." She'll looking a little perplexed by this, but settled at the same time. Like she's talking about a puzzle she's come to terms with never solving. "You love Jimmy. He's objectively attractive. You're both good at and very enthusiastic about sex. And, nothing, from either of you."

"Yep." Tim's nodding away at that, because, well, yeah, he agrees with it. He's never felt even the slightest desire to do anything sexual with Jimmy even though he does A: love him, and B: as guys go, Jimmy's in really good shape.

"You'd rather watch Breena and I make out, no touching on your part, just frustrated watching, than have him get you off, even though that would actually result in an orgasm."

"Again, yep."

"And somehow that makes sense to you," she says sipping her tea.

Tim shrugs. "I'm not sure it makes sense. It's probably not logical. It just is how it is. I mean, I read things, back in college, about how we're born bisexual, and get shaped into straight or gay, but if that's true, I can't ever remember a time where I felt that way. I can; however, remember being three and having a crush on one of the girls in my preschool."

Abby smiles at that.

"So, yeah, like girls. Love girls." He stroked her face. "Love you. And yeah, I'm well aware of what we did this afternoon and the fact that I've got on eyeliner, nail polish, no body hair below my eyelashes, and am wearing a skirt as I say this, which means I'm probably the swishiest straight guy you know. I'm certainly the swishiest straight guy I know. But, yeah, no interest in guys. Just, none. And given how my first semester of college went, if I had had any interest in guys, at all, I probably would have been sleeping with them just to piss my dad off."

That makes her chuckle, and he kisses her gently, enjoying this conversation.

"But you don't think it's icky?" Abby asks.

He thought about that. "Not sure what you mean."

"You got a really uncomfortable look on your face when the idea of putting my clothing on came up."

"Okay, yeah." That does it for him. He knows what she means by icky. "And honestly, I don't know. If I've ever been hit on by a guy, it was subtle enough I didn't notice it."

"You got felt up by one when we were in New Orleans."

"Okay, true, and yeah, I remember that feeling weird. Mostly because it took me so damn long to figure out it wasn't you doing it. But I was also kind of drunk, insanely turned on, and in a serious party mood. Hit me with that sober, and I might not be so cool about it." He thought about that some more. "Okay, honestly, it was about on par with hugging Diane."

"Gibbs' Diane?"

Someone I didn't want in my personal space.
"Yeah. It was just weird. Someone I didn't want in my personal space pressed against my body. Not fun. It wasn't gross or anything. Like, I think Tony threw up after he kissed that guy, and there was nothing like that. I just didn't like it."

"Fair enough. I'm just glad you don't think it's icky that I like girls."

"You know, I don't think that's ever going to be a problem for me. Not sure I want you bringing any real live ones home…" He thinks about that and the fantasies they tell each other. "Okay, yeah, I want you to do that… But when my dick isn't doing the thinking, I realize that might end up being a lot messier than I'd like."

Abby nods and smiles. "I love you. That's never, ever going to change. If just us is what makes you happy and comfortable, then just us is fine. But, the offer for more is always open. It's just got to be a two way street. Any time you're willing to play with a guy; I'm all for bringing home a girl. Or both at once: Jimmy and Breena would be willing to play with us."

His eyebrows shot up. He's not entirely sure what that feeling surging through him is. A whole lot of surprise, but there's something else there, too, and he doesn't know what it is. Finally he pulls himself together enough to say, "You know that for a fact?"

She wiggles her hand a little, signaling sort of. "Breena's interested. Like you, I'm not sure if Jimmy's cool with it. We've talked about it, but I don't think she's talked to him about it."

"Oh." That idea, Breena and Abby talking about the four of them having sex together makes his mouth go dry and his dick twitch. "You two talk about us…" He's not sure what the right word is, not even sure what precisely they're talking about, so he tries a few. "Foursoming? Swapping? Swinging?"

"A few times. And as a foursome. Either all of us or none of us."

The flash of that image, all four of them tangled together in bed is simultaneous very sexy and terrifying. "Like just messing around talking, or like talking?"

Abby's eyebrows furrow, and she eats another bite of her sushi. "I don't understand what you're asking."

"Are you guys serious about it?"

"Enough to have figured out that it would have to be all four of us together. If it's all four of us, well… On the good side, we all get to see and touch and play. On avoiding the bad side: no jealousy, no wondering, we'd all know exactly what the others are doing."

Tim swallows hard, takes a drink of his water, swallows again. He's honestly not sure if he's so turned on he's going to fuck her through the wall here and now, or if he's so scared he's going to wet his kilt.

Abby strokes his face. "What's going on? I have no idea what that expression on your face means."

"Probably because I don't, either. You two really talk about this?" There's a hefty dose of amazement in his voice.

"We talk about lots of stuff."

"Yeah, but… Do you talk with Ziva about stuff like that?"

Abby smiles at that. "No. Though she's the one who got the conversation between Breena and I started. She saw how we were playing with each other to wind you guys up and asked if the four of us were sleeping together."

"When was that?"

"Remember the girl scout fantasy?"

He nods. Yes he remembers that, fondly.

"Remember how we were dancing with each other before that?"

He nods at that, too. Yep, he liked that a lot, as well. All three girls all close up and rubbing against each other. He could be dead, and he'd still like that.

"So, we're dancing, you're looking like you want to eat us alive, and she asked."


"Next day Breena and I got talking with each other about it."

"Huh. That was almost a year ago. You're just mentioning it now?"

"Didn't come up before now. Not like there's any rush, is there?"

"What? No… At least, I don't think so… No. Shit..." He spends a long minute just looking at her, kind of confused, partially wondering if this is a game to wind him up. "Really, you two talk about this?"

"Yeah, we do. Last time was when we were getting Tony's presents. You look really confused."

"That's probably a good word for it." He feels like, maybe, if he could get some more rules in place, some more of an idea of exactly what's going on, he can find his footing again. "So, like a one off thing, or regular, like, just playing or… what, becoming a…" he flounders around for a word that would cover this, "quadruple?"

"We were talking about it as a one off thing, with an understanding that if it was fun, we'd probably do it again."

The fact that Abby and Breena have it this far planned out stuns him. Then he realizes what she said, and he's able to identify part of why this scares the hell out of him. "What if it's not fun?"

She smiles, and he can see that's a concern for her, as well. "And that's why we're not in any rush. That's why we talk about it. Do you think it'd be fun?"

"God, I don't know! Yes? Have your best, hottest fantasy come true, sure, that's good. Assuming Jimmy or I didn't freak out. Big fucking assumption there. I mean, you and Breena and… But Jimmy'd be there too… Really, I don't feel any need, at all, to have sex with him watching. Joking around about it or talking is one thing, doing it with him… I don't know. I mean, yeah, I love Breena and… but…" He's gesturing with his hands like they can somehow fill in the blanks in his sentences. "Okay, the night before we got married, he was joking about sleeping with you, and I almost hit him. Seriously, my hand was in a fist, and I was going to punch the shit out of him. And, I'm not feeling that right now, but he's also not actually here."

Abby nods. "I think when they lost Jon, something shifted with you two."

Tim thinks about that, remembering holding Jimmy as he cried, and realized that that's the most intimate he's ever been with another guy, and not only did it not freak him out, but it felt really right. Same thing with sleeping with him and Breena when they got home. Someone he loved was hurting, and touch is comfort, so it didn't matter that the body in question was male. "I think you're right about that, but… still… that's a huge leap."

"I know. And look, nothing we do is going to upset this. We love them. They love us. We love each other. They love each other. Anything ever happens it'll be because of that love, not in spite of it." She touched his face again. "You okay?"

"Yeah. I am. Just, lots to process."

"Well, don't think about it too hard. Still got stuff to do tonight." Her hand slipped up his leg. "Oh. Hard might be the operative word. Seems like at least part of you likes this idea."

"Yeah, well that part of me isn't in charge for a good reason. It likes lots of stuff that might not be great ideas."

That got a laugh out of Abby. She leaned in close, licked his ear lobe, and said, "And it really likes the idea of me and Breena, sitting on the sofa, talking about sex with each other and our favorite guys, doesn't it."

He groaned at the idea of that. "Oh, fuck yes!"

"Wanna hear more about it?"

"Yes, but not right this second. We took the metro here, and I'm wearing a kilt. Everyone in DC doesn't need to see me with a hard on."