Chapter 152: Treats
"Am I imagining it, or is he talking a whole lot more?" Jimmy asks Tim as they get out of the showers.
"He's talking more. I mean, he does talk when he's trying to teach you something, but he's also talking more in general."
"I think that's the most I've ever heard him say."
Tim nods, beyond their one on one conversations that's definitely one of the longest stretches of Gibbs talking he can remember.
"Heading home after this?" he asks as he gets dressed.
"Yeah, want to get back to my girls." Jimmy's been spending more time closer to home, wanting to keep Breena and Molly near, and Tim doesn't blame him at all for that. "You?" he asks as he slips on his shoes.
"Groceries. It's Abby's bowling day, so she's out 'til dinner."
When they get out of the locker room, Gibbs is waiting for them, two cups in hand. He hands one to each of them and says to Jimmy, "You did good, Palmer. Next week you're gonna do better."
"Thanks." Jimmy smiles briefly at the praise.
Tim stands there, amazed that Gibbs is saying that to him. He and Ziva sorted through rotting vomit to find a bullet and got less than that. Then he sees the look Gibbs is giving Jimmy and realizes that Gibbs really meant it when he said he was going to be a good Dad for both of them, and right now, Jimmy needs kid gloves and petting, and Gibbs is willing to do it.
Gibbs nods. "Between now and then, get some contacts, and wear them next week. I want you to be able to see what you're aiming at."
"Okay." Jimmy heads off, sipping his drink.
Tim takes a sip of his, expecting coffee, and very surprised to find it's hot chocolate. His eyebrows shoot up. Hot chocolate is a treat; what he rewards himself with when he's done a good job and it's cold out.
"You did good, too." Though Tim understands Gibbs is talking about taking care of Jimmy rather than fighting, because honestly, that was pretty sad.
Gibbs heads them to one of the tables in the café area. "And you'll do better next week, too. Tell me about Jimmy. What does he like?"
"You've got to narrow that down some, because it's a really long list."
"Got you hot chocolate. Got him coffee because I don't know what he considers a treat."
"When it's cold: one half coffee, one half hot milk, and a shot of sugar free hazelnut or almond syrup. Chai with no sugar is also always a good choice for him. When it's hot: seltzer, ice, sugar free vanilla syrup."
"Like a cream soda?"
"Pretty much. Breena makes it for him, uses vanilla beans and stevia. It's really good. But anywhere with a half decent coffee bar should be able to make one up."
"Where's his dad?" It's true that Gibbs hasn't paid all that much attention to Palmer over the years, but he did notice his dad wasn't at his wedding, Molly's christening, or Jon's funeral.
"Dead. Ten years now."
"Enough. Jimmy loved him. Like Jimmy he had diabetes, but unlike Jimmy he didn't take care of himself and was dead at fifty-two. I know Jimmy holds that against him. Didn't love them enough to exercise or lay off the sugar."
Gibbs nods, getting a better idea of who Jimmy is and why he's in such good shape. "Brothers, sisters?" Gibbs had seen Jimmy's mom a few times, so she was obviously still part of his life.
"Younger brother, he lives in Tokyo. Gets back here once a blue moon."
"He and Breena gonna make it?" Yeah, it's early on, but in Gibbs' experience how you handle the first few weeks is a pretty good predictor of how the rest of mourning is going to go.
"I think so. They've been doing really well on pulling together."
"Married by blood."
That's more metaphorical than Tim ever expects Gibbs to be, but that wraps it up nicely. "Yeah."
"You're doing a good job with him, but if he gets in deeper than you can help, starts drinking or chasing pain, you let me know."
"Good. We're not gonna let him fall."