Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 162

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

Chapter 162: Monday?

He's guessing it's Monday (though it's dark out, so it could be late Sunday) when Abby says to him, "Tim, we've got a case. I've got to go into work. You going to be okay on your own?"


"I'll be home soon as I can. You've still got a fever so you need to keep taking Tylenol every four hours."

"Okay." He's feeling really sleepy and doesn't want to do anything besides nap. He doesn't cough, hurt, or shiver when he's asleep, or if he does, he's not aware of it, so asleep is currently his favorite thing.

"Your phone is going to buzz every four hours; that's why it's doing it. There's Tylenol and a six pack of water on your nightstand." He looks over and, yes, there is.


"You want me to call and remind you?"

The crabby part of his mind is pretty much ready to snap at her to leave him alone and just let him sleep. The rational part of his mind is realizing that he's likely to forget why his phone is buzzing or sleep through it, so yeah, reminders might be a good plan.


"Okay. You start to feel worse, you call me, okay?"


It was light, so it had to be Monday now.

Tim was firmly convinced that if Hell does exist, and if he ends up there, it'll be cold. He hates cold. Cold is the enemy to be fought at every and any opportunity and as soon as he's feeling better they're both resigning and moving to Savannah where, on a really brutal day, it gets into the low 50s.

And then they're never leaving again.

He might be a bit on the delirious side again, because it's possible he was telling Abby about their new place in Savannah, he was definitely thinking about it, laying out on a recliner in the backyard, letting hot, humid air and sunshine beat down on him, when Ziva came in with something that smelled good and said, "McGee?"


"Abby wanted me to check in on you. I brought you some food. Chicken soup. Who were you talking to?"

"Abby isn't here?"

"No…" She's got a very concerned look on her face, and rests a hand on his forehead to see how high his fever is, and then actually takes his temperature, and from there seems to decide he's still on the right side of 103. (He has managed to drag himself awake enough to take his Tylenol every time Abby's called.) So she says, "Abby went to work ten hours ago. She's running trace. I was on my way to question a suspect, and she asked me to check in on you. Are you okay?"

"Apparently not." He thought about sitting up, but that seemed like way too much effort.

"Do you need anything?"

"I don't think so."

"Okay. The soup is on your bedside table. Try to eat some."

"Is it hot?"

"Yes. Very."

The encouraged him to sit up, because you can't eat chicken soup through a straw, and he decided very, very quickly that sitting up was the most intensely stupid thing he's ever done because parts of his body that had been under the blankets had to get out from under those blankets to get to the soup.

Ziva saw him looking miserable, shaking, shoulders, arms, and chest flushed and covered in goosebumps.

"Would you like a sweatshirt or sweater?"


"Where are they?"

He pointed to his dresser. "Bottom drawer."

She grabbed him a MIT t-shirt and a NCIS sweatshirt and helped him get both of them on. The shock of cold clothing on his skin was worse than coming out from under the blankets, and he winced and cursed quietly as she got him dressed. Once dressed, he pulled the blankets up further, over his right arm and shoulder, and began to slowly eat the soup, being extra careful not to spill it. (A good ninety percent of it ended up in his mouth, but he's still pretty shivery, so some of it isn't quite getting to his mouth.)

"It's really good." By which he means it's really hot. He's honestly not with it enough to have much of an opinion on how it tastes.

"I'm glad you like it, McGee."

He nodded and took another spoonful.

Ziva petted his hair affectionately. "Abby will be home soon. I will tell her you're sitting up and taking nourishment."

Gibbs headed up the stairs quietly. Everyone else was taking a dinner break. Abby asked him to check in on Tim, because if she worked through dinner she'd get home that much sooner, and until she did her magic, they were stuck at square two.

So she was in the lab.

And Gibbs was walking up the steps, bag with more chicken soup, some crackers, and a toasted bagel in his hand.

Sunset meant there was still enough light to see in Tim's room, so he could see him lying, curled into a ball, shivering, but dead-to-the-world asleep.

He put the bag on the table, picked up the empty bowl from Ziva's delivery, and tossed it out. The water bottles were empty, so he took them downstairs and refilled them, bringing more water up for him. The Tylenol bottle looked to be three quarters full, so that was fine.

Gibbs sat on the edge of the bed, stroked Tim's hair, and fought the urge to go get some more blankets for him. It was obvious the poor boy was frozen, but it was also obvious that his fever still hadn't broken. And from what Abby had told him, wrapping Tim in every blanket in the house had almost cooked him once, so no matter how much Gibbs wanted to tuck him in further, it wasn't going to happen.

"Hey, Tim."

He grunted and tried to curl into an even tighter ball.

"Wake up." He was gently petting Tim's shoulder. "You need to take more meds."

Tim jerked a little at that, and uncurled some. "Jethro?" He looked really confused, like he wasn't entirely sure Gibbs was real or not.

"Yeah. Abby's still working; she sent me to check in on you."


"Take your pills and you can go back to sleep."

Tim felt around, grabbed two more Tylenol, and dry swallowed them. Gibbs handed him a bottle of water. "Drink some, too."

He had to sit up for that. So he did, with a little help from Gibbs, draining the bottle fast, and flopped back onto the mattress and into a tight ball. It was amazing how tiny of a ball a guy as tall as Tim could make.

There was no point to trying to tuck Tim in, he had the blankets wrapped around him as tightly as possible. So Gibbs just leaned down, kissed Tim on the forehead, ruffled his hair, and said, "Get some sleep."

Tim opened one eye and looked up at him, pretty bleary. "Did you really just" cough "do that?"

Gibbs smiled and did it again. "Don't talk. Go to sleep."

Tim squeezed Gibbs' hand, and went back to sleep.

Running trace went way longer than Abby was expecting. Of course, when your crime scene was a garbage dump, and your team was one man down, you end up with multiple vast piles of crap to sort through, and one less person to help sort. So, while it is true that her general rule is to not actually engage in the sorting through crap, she broke that rule today in an effort to help get things done faster. (Hell, once the Autopsy was done, even Jimmy pitched in on the sorting.) And done faster it was. Given the pile of trace she had to deal with, she set records far above and beyond her own already Olympic-level standards. And now, she was done, and with any luck done for at least the next day or two, as well.

Which was why it was well past midnight when Gibbs dropped her off (He took one look at her closing up the lab, snagged her keys and steered her toward his car, the expression on his face indicating that if he let her drive that tired Tim would get up out of bed and beat the snot out of him, and he'd deserve it.) at home, i.e. twenty hours since she got the call out.

She's tired, sore from all the bending down to sort through stuff, and awfully smelly.

So, first stop, the laundry room to deposit her clothing. Yes, she wore coveralls for the sorting, but the smell clung to her skin, and from her skin to her clothing, and honestly, at this point she's about two minutes from cutting her hair off and burning the clothing in an effort to get free of the smell.

Next stop, shower.

A long, thorough scrubbing took care of the smell issue (and the desire to chop her hair off.)

Next step, check on sleeping husband. He was still way hotter than he should be, but he didn't jerk away when she touched him, so he's probably getting better. From what she can feel, he didn't even wake up when her hand rested on his forehead. He certainly didn't say anything.

Next: food. And while it's true Abby isn't a big midnight snacker, between pregnant and dinner seven hours ago, she's ravenous right now.

Once she had some food in her, she began to feel human again. Well, fairly human. Mostly tired. Not the bone-deep-I-cannot-possibly-move-a-muscle-just-let -me-lie-here-and-die tired of the first trimester, this is just the basic too many hours and no caffeine tired, but right now sleep sounds like a really good idea.

So, back up to bed she went, hanging her kimono on the back of the bedroom door, and very carefully slipped into the bed next to Tim.

He shrieked when she spooned him. She'd been so careful to get in without raising a draft, and he hadn't stirred at all when she slipped under the covers, but as she pressed her body to his, he shrieked and practically levitated off the bed.

This was when it occurred to her, that while it's true that her internal temperature is 98ish, she's been up and about and moving all around, wearing only a light silk robe, so her skin temperature, especially her on her legs and feet, is probably in the mid-eighties and must feel like being hugged by an ice cube on his fever-flushed skin.

This is when it also occurred to her that when she checked his temperature, she was right out of a hot shower, so her body's sense of hot was off.

She jumped back fast, got out of the bed, put a pair of pajama bottoms on along with socks and one of his long sleeve t-shirts, got the thermometer, checked, he's at 102.3, better, but still hot, snagged a blanket for her, and then spooned up behind him, on top of the other blankets with one over just her.

Fortunately none of that seemed to actually wake him up. He muttered something, grumbled a bit, coughed some, and settled back into what looked like deep sleep.

This time when she spooned him, giving him something solid, and maybe not warm, but not icy cold either, to snuggle into, he did, sighing, sounding fairly content. He even unclenched from the little ball he had been in. Not a whole lot, he's still curled in on himself, but his knees aren't right under his chin anymore.

She kissed his shoulder, noticing that somewhere along the line he got a t-shirt and sweatshirt on, and held him close.


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