Friday, August 16, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 161

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

Chapter 161: I Meant To

Tim usually wakes up pretty easily. There's a sort of moment where he switches from dreaming to just lying in bed, and from there a fairly gentle slide into fully awake. And for the most part it's a pretty quick transition, usually a matter of two or three minutes.

Some mornings, and those are mornings he very much appreciates, Abby gives him a hand on sliding from dreaming into fully awake. Occasionally he returns the favor, but most of the time she wakes up before he does, so she's in charge of morning sex. However it happens, making love is definitely his favorite way to go from asleep to awake.

Other mornings, his phone or Gibbs jerks him from dreaming into full on awake. Those mornings he transitions in a matter of seconds. He's significantly less happy about those mornings, but well, it's all part of the job.

So, for the most part, he's pretty good at not getting stuck between dreaming and awake.

But today he can't shake it. The little awake part of his mind knows he's at home, in bed, but the sleeping part of his mind is stuck in the freezer again. He's cold. So cold. Somehow colder than he was when he was there for real, and like when it really happened every single part of his body aches. And to make it worse, Abby's there too, and he's clinging to her, trying to keep her warm, but she's already icy cold, and he can't warm her up, can't warm up at all. He's shivering, hurting, and panicking because he can't get out of it.

"God, Tim…" Abby's trying to shove him off of her, and he's gripping onto her tighter. She had been sleeping pretty comfortably, but suddenly Tim turned into a scalding hot boa constrictor, and she feels like she's going to suffocate or possibly drown in sweat. "Tim! Wake up." She shakes him while trying to scoot further away. "God, baby, you're on fire. Come, on wake up."

That finally brakes through the dream, and he's fully back in bed. But he's still bone-deep cold, hurts all over, tired, weak, and wet.

"Tim?" Abby feels him loosen his grip and assumes that means he's awake. She carefully gets up, tucking the blankets around him tighter while rejoicing at no longer being two seconds away from over-heating.


His eyes are glassy and not tracking well. His skin is flushed and sweaty. And she's not sure why she asked, because it's obvious he's sick, but she did anyway. "Are you feeling okay?"

"No." He starts shivering and begins to cough.

"Did you get a flu shot this year?"

He coughs, hard. "I meant to." More coughing. He thinks about it and comes to the conclusion that he'd planned on doing it and ended up getting wedding rings instead, and from there it pretty much slipped his mind.

She heads off for a second and comes back with more blankets, tucking him in further, stroking his shoulders. He curls into a ball, hugging his knees to his chest, and tries to get warm.

"What's your doctor's name?" He opens his eyes. She has his phone in hand.

He thinks about that for a good long minute. He hasn't seen the guy since Jethro tried to eat him alive, and right now he can't come up with his name. "I don't know."

"How can you not know?"

"Besides going to the emergency room, I haven't needed one in years."

"Great." She taps the screen of his phone, and a minute later he hears, "Hey Ducky, sorry to get you up on a Sunday morning… Oh good… Look, I think Tim has the flu, and he's in no condition to get out of bed to go to a doctor's office. Would you be willing to make a house call? Thanks, Ducky."

Time goes wonky for Tim after that, but eventually he notices that she's gotten dressed, a shower, and is snuggled up behind him on the outside of the blankets. And with that, something else occurs to him. "If I have the flu, you should get out of here."

"I got my shot this year."

"Doesn't always work. Don't want you getting sick, too."

"I'll risk it."

He tries to roll over to face her, and manages to get, well, his head turned in her general direction, the rest of his body had no interest whatsoever in getting out of the fetal position it was wrapped into. "Get the fuck out of here, now! I do not want you getting sick!"

She smiles in a gently condescending way, pets his hair, and says, "That would have been way more impressive if your teeth hadn't been chattering." He groans, coughs, and shivers some more. She kisses the top of his head. "But it's good to know your fever is so high you've lost the ability to think clearly. I can add that to the list of symptoms to tell Ducky about. Tim, you spent the last…" she checks the clock… "eleven hours breathing on me. And last night I had your tongue, fingers, and cock in my mouth. (Turns out make up sex was a whole lot of fun.) And you spent a good twenty minutes licking all of me, too. Either the vaccine'll work or it won't, but the me-not-getting-sick-from-you ship sailed the day before yesterday." She pets him again, hoping gentle stroking feels good on aching muscles, and finishes with, "Ducky'll be here soon, and if you've got the flu, he can give you, and maybe me, I'll have to go look that up, some Tamiflu, and that will help. I'm going to go make some breakfast, do you want to eat anything?"

Yes, that's rational. But that doesn't mean he has to like it. So he sounds a little sulky when he says, "No."


That gets his attention. A drink means he can get something hot into him, maybe warm up a little. "Hot. Don't care what it is. Hot."

"One steaming hot something will be up in a minute."

It may have been a minute. Could have been an hour. He's got no idea. The only thing he's paying attention to is the way muscles he didn't even know he had were aching and how much he absolutely loathes being cold. When she came back with the cup of… hot chocolate he thinks, (It smells sweet and chocolate-y.) he doesn't want to get out from under the blankets enough to drink it, but he also doesn't want to have something so wonderfully hot sitting so close to him, and not drink it.

It's likely he's sort of pouting at the drink.

He's kind of aware of the fact that Abby must have brought it up, because he can see it on his bedside table, but she didn't appear to be in their room.

Then he feels the bed dip, (which is when it occurs to him that his eyes are probably closed, which brought up another troubling thought, namely, how is he looking at the hot chocolate if his eyes are closed?) and a straw presses against his lips, and then glorious hot, hot, hot liquid slips into his body, and no it doesn't help the shivers, and he's still bone deep cold, but at least there's a little warmth in the world, and by that point nothing else in the universe mattered.

She's petting his forehead and cheek, and he really wants to rest against her hand, take comfort in her skin on his, but right now her hand feels like ice.

"Abby, you're so cold."

She jerks her hand back. "It doesn't feel good?"

"Not right now."

"Sorry." She gets up, and he hears the sound of water running. A minute later, she's back. "Here."

It's a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel; it's snuggly and warm, so it's beyond brilliant right this second. He purrs at it and unclenches from the little ball he's curled into just enough to be able to hug it, and from there he pretty much checks out.

"Timothy." A soft and once again, really cold, hand on his forehead went with his name. Tim opened an eye, saw Ducky looking at Abby. "Abigail, do you have a thermometer?"

"Yeah." She headed over to her side of the bed and got it. Ducky looked at it curiously. Tim's vaguely amused by the idea that Ducky probably hasn't seen one jerry-rigged with duct tape and electronics the way theirs is. Abby saw the way Ducky was looking at it. "We were using it for getting pregnant. Tim modified it so it automatically uploads my temperatures to a program that keeps track of everything."

"Ah. Let's get your temperature, Timothy." He more or less just let Ducky manhandle him. A few seconds later Ducky said, "104.2, that's awfully high. Can you sit up?"

He managed it. He really didn't want to do it, most of his body was sending him, What the hell is wrong with you? Do not try to move. Just lay here and shiver signals, but he eventually got his arms unlocked from around his legs, his legs away from his chest, and his body into a somewhat upright position, but once he did that, waves of scalding cold hit him because getting upright meant the blankets were no longer wrapped around him.

So, he was sitting up (noticing that Abby's keeping him upright, and he was suddenly suspicious that without her help he'd be lying down again) and utterly miserable, shaking, flushed, cursing quietly, and wishing he was dead.

And yeah, he did shriek and jump when Ducky pressed the stethoscope against this chest. There is no way he doesn't keep that thing stored in a vat of liquid nitrogen. It's so cold he's expecting to see his skin come off, stuck to it, when Ducky pulled it away. But once he pulled it away, Abby gently eased him back to lying down, Ducky wrapped two of the blankets around him, and took the other ones away.

That involved cursing on Tim's part, as well. At least, he thought he was cursing. Ducky and Abby were talking to each other, not really paying attention to him. In retrospect, he may have been moaning in a pitiful manner.

Then Ducky knelt down on the floor in front of their bed, making sure he was eye to eye with Tim and said, slowly and carefully, "Timothy, you have a very high fever. I know you don't like the way this feels, but bundling you up further just exacerbates the problem. You're at 104.2 and 104 is when I usually suggest people go to the emergency room. I believe Abigail is right, and that you do have the flu. My hope is that in an effort to avoid chill, you've bundled yourself up so thoroughly that you're cooking yourself. So we are going to see if we can get your temperature down here at home. Which means there will be regular doses of Tylenol or Advil, no more huddling under every blanket in the house, and Abby's going to rub you down with a lukewarm wash cloth."

"No." And sure, he may not have been cursing out loud, but he was awfully sure that came out loud and clear. Just the idea of a cold, wet wash cloth made him want to curl into a defensive ball and die.

"Look at me, Timothy. If your temperature isn't at under 103.5 in an hour, you are going to the hospital. If it's not under 103 in two hours, you are going to the hospital. Because if you stay as hot as you are for much longer than that the proteins in your body will start to unravel in response to the heat. That will cripple or kill you."

Tim moaned, which wasn't exactly ascent, but was about all the response he could muster. Then Abby was holding two pills for him, and he took them. He thought he said something about just seeing if the fewer blankets and Tylenol would do the trick but next thing he knew she was rubbing something cold and wet down his arm and he was expressing monumental displeasure at that, because right that second, he'd rather have his brain melt than be wiped down with a cool washcloth.

He wasn't sure if Ducky stuck around for the sponge bath. He does know it took about seventeen weeks, and that Abby was way more thorough than she needed to be. For example, he really didn't need the area between his toes wiped, let alone any other part of his body. Let alone twice. Or maybe three times. It felt like three times. Whatever it was, it was god awful cold and wet and took forever and he hated every second of it.

It's true that as a general principal Tim's all in favor of nice, new, crisp, clean sheets, but not today. He thought the cold, wet torture was over, (Abby blotted him dry with a towel) and then next thing he knew he was being rolled around a bit and found himself, slightly damp, on cool, clean sheets.

But it was also true that his head felt a little clearer, and while he wanted to pout about being cold, he at least now understood why they were doing it to him, which meant there was significantly less cursing coming out of him as Abby draped a light blanket over him, so he supposed that was a step in the right direction.

She took his temperature again, and Ducky appeared out of nowhere (maybe he had stuck around for the sponge bath?) and declared him at 103.6, which pleased both of them, and probably would have pleased Tim, but in that getting sponged off and yelling about it had completely exhausted him, he fell asleep before she got the read out.

He woke up again, cold, shivery, aching, miserable in every possible definition of the word. It took him a minute to figure out why he was awake, but then it registered that Abby was trying to get him to sit up some to take more pills.

He pulled himself up, thought about taking the cup from her, but decided he'd just slosh whatever was in it all over the place, and let her feed him the pills and orange juice.

And then he went back to sleep again.

The next time he woke up, he woke on his own. The light was on the other side of the room, so it had to be afternoon. He just lay there for a while. One of the weird things about being sick is that it completely fries his time sense. He had no idea how long he lay there.

He was still awfully cold, and was working up the energy to lift up his head and look for another blanket when he remembered why he only had two of them. The thermometer was still on his bedside table, so he very carefully reached for it, keeping as much of his arm under the blankets for as long as he could, and checked for himself. 102.9. That's still higher than any fever he remembers having before, but it's lower than it was, and he's not feeling so horrendously loopy.

No, not loopy. Embarrassed as hell, because he was starting to remember what he thinks he might have been saying when he was getting wiped down, and well, he might not like his dad by any stretch of the imagination, but years of living with the man meant that when he put his mind to it, he can really curse up a blue streak.


"Abby." This was when he noticed she was lying on her side of the bed, on top of the blankets, reading, and he reassessed how loopy he was. Obviously, he still wasn't all there if he missed that.

"You feeling any better?"

"I think so." Talking was a bad plan, that made him cough. She saw the thermometer in his hand and checked his temperature.

"It's down, good. You had Ducky and I pretty scared for a little while there. What do you remember?"

"Cold, wet," cough, cough, "saying terrible things," cough, "really cold," cough, "still cold," cough.

"Okay, you've got to stop talking. Ducky's still here, he wanted to talk to you once you were awake enough to follow a conversation. Think you can do that?"

Tim nodded.

She headed out and a bit later Ducky was back.

He smiled at Tim, touched his head, and nodded a bit. "Better. Not good, but better. I want you to listen to me."

Tim nodded again.

"I believe Abby is right and that you have the flu. You've already gotten your first dose of Tamiflu. In an effort to keep your fever down, she's giving you Tylenol every four hours, and making sure you don't burrow under every blanket in the house. Your job is to take your pills, lie in this bed, drink plenty of fluids, and rest.

"If I see you at NCIS at any time in the next week, I will not only tell the Director that you are unfit to work, I will also personally slap you upside the head for going in, and Jethro for not immediately sending you home. If you get up too soon, you risk coming down with pneumonia. If you get pneumonia, you can give that to Abby. We can treat the flu and keep her from getting sick with it. If you come down with pneumonia, the only way to keep her from getting it is to have her go stay with Jimmy and Breena. Do you understand?"


"Are you going to stay in bed and rest?"


"Good." Ducky stood back up and faced Abby, which was when Tim checked out again. He was vaguely aware of the fact that Ducky was still talking to Abby, but he missed most of it. Actually, he missed most of the rest of Sunday. The main thing he remembers are periods of being very cold and shivery interspersed with taking more Tylenol and sleeping.


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