Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 169

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

Chapter 169: But How Do You Get It Out?

The Basement
The whole crew showed up for Bootcamp. Granted, it got moved to Sunday so Tim could have an extra day of laying around and healing (and he's had strict instructions from Ducky that if he starts to feel dizzy or shaky that he is to sit his butt down and not move again) but it seemed like everyone wanted to see/be involved with how boats get moved out of the basement.

Which means this is going to go a whole lot faster than Gibbs anticipated. It's a three day job when he's on his own. This time he's got six other people helping. (With Ducky providing babysitting assistance so Jimmy and Breena can help with the teardown.)

Most of the outside of Gibbs' house is stucco and half timbers. That is, until you head down the driveway to what used to be the garage doors. There's ten foot high wood siding there, and that's the first job of the teardown.

Get the crowbars out and take off that siding. It's not particularly difficult work: set bar, apply pressure, move bar, apply pressure, siding falls off. It just takes a while. Or it would if there weren't seven people doing it.

He's a little wary about Abby helping out, but she seems to want to do it, and Tim's not bothered, and Jimmy just shrugs when he looks to him, with a question on his face, so he hands her a crowbar, and they get to it. And a job that normally takes him a full half day was done in an hour.

Gibbs makes a mental note that the next time he does this he is definitely dragging them all along to help. At this rate they'll have Shannon out by lunch, and might actually have the wall back up by dinner.

The next part is his favorite. It's true that Gibbs values and loves creating. Precision work takes him out of his own head and into the job in front of him and that's often something he needs. But just beating the ever living hell out of something and breaking it to pieces is a lot of fun.

And that's the next step. Sledgehammers out, and rip that wall down.

So, as soon as they had all of the siding tossed into dumpster, he was really grinning, holding a sledgehammer, ready for some fun. Gibbs took a good hard swing at the wall, demonstrating what they're supposed to be doing, and the rest of his crew followed.

Gibbs stare of death.
He turned to watch them and saw something that stopped him cold and made his eyes narrow into the Gibbs stare of death. He took three steps and gently, for the first time ever, smacked Abby upside the back of the head.


Abby gives him a big, innocent smile and says, "What?"

Gibbs shook his head. Prying off siding was one thing; this was something all-together different. "No. Mudding, sanding, laying insulation, you're more than welcome to help with any of that. But I've seen those two fight, and you are not going anywhere near them swinging anything heavy around."

Abby knows bullshit when she hears it. If Tim and Jimmy's aim was really that bad, Ziva and Breena wouldn't be allowed nearby, either. Or more likely, the rest of the group wouldn't have been invited along to help, and they'd be well away from each other, beating on the wall.

"You're afraid I'm going to hurt myself."

Gibbs' expression is a very clear yes.

"I'm not going to get hurt," she says it like it's the most obvious thing ever.

"Because you're going to put that hammer down."

Abby glares at Gibbs.

He looks to Jimmy and asks, "Dr. Palmer, is Abby swinging around a sledgehammer eighteen weeks pregnant a good idea?"

"No. It's not a horrible one or anything, but it's not a great one either." Jimmy turns to Abby. "Come on, you know just as well as I do that if it's something you do regularly it's okay, but no one wants a pregnant woman suddenly adding new strenuous exercise to her routine. Hell, they don't even want you to start jogging if you don't do it regularly, and unless this is way easier than I'm expecting it to be, it's going to be a lot harder than jogging"

She glares at Jimmy and Tim, too. Tim holds up his hands placatingly and says, "I didn't say anything."

"Uh huh. You were thinking it."

"Yes. But you can't prove it." He smiles, takes the hammer from her, and says very quietly, "All your favorite guys doing sweaty, manly stuff. Breena and Ziva'll be too focused on carpentry to enjoy it, but you'll get to watch. It'll be fun."

She thinks about that for a moment, and replies, equally quietly, "True. Take your shirt off?"

He debates that. If it was just the two of them… okay, yeah it's cold out, but if it avoids pouting, he'd do it. But it's not just the two of them, seeing the others staring at them, trying to figure out what he's saying to her, he's suddenly very aware of the fact that Gibbs reads lips. "Not now. Maybe later, if I get hot enough."

She pouts, very well aware of the fact that it's the first weekend of March and the expected high for today is 50. There's literally no chance at all that Tim'll feel so hot he'll take more than his jacket off.

He kisses her ear and whispers against it. "But no matter what, I'll tell you a great story about it tonight."

"Okay." She retreats to Gibbs' car and sits on the hood. "You guys want music with this?"

"We won't be able to hear it," Jimmy says.

"Stop trying to talk that wall down." Gibb picks up his hammer, swings, and starts the tear down.

There is one tricky bit of tearing this wall down. While it's true it's not load bearing, it's also true that his house doesn't exactly appreciate having one of the walls just vanish. There's supposed to be a supporting beam in what would be the space between the garage doors.

So, the last bit down is that beam. It gets ripped out really fast. Usually he hooks the boat to the hitch on his car, and pulls it out, but with this many people, since she's already on wheels, it'll be faster to just push her out by hand.

And they do.

Then a new one of those beams goes back up again, along with four others to make sure everything is nice and solid.

And they break for lunch.

Framing is when this officially becomes bootcamp for Jimmy and Tim. Sure the last three hours have been good exercise, everyone can feel they've been working and they're nicely warmed up.

The girls and Tony get sent to shop for/start on dinner (chili and cornbread) while Gibbs grabs his framing hammer, two back up ones, and a whole lot of nails. The three of them are going to do this together. He wants Tim and Jimmy to have a lot of room to work, and he wants to be able to watch and focus on what they're doing.

"Here's where precision comes in. I want both of you to sink those nails with two hits. One to set it." And Gibbs gave his nail a little tap, just enough to get the tip into the wood and let it stand up. "And one to drive it home." And then he whacked it dead on, setting it smooth into the wood. He hands both of them hammers and nails. "Show me what you've got."

And they've got the kind of skills you'd expect guys who haven't actually hammered a nail into wood since they took shop in seventh grade to have. Namely, they're bad at it. (Tim's muttering under his breath about why couldn't they be wiring something.)

But Gibbs has time, and patience, and, well, a lot of lumber. He's using a framing hammer and connecting the studs to the headers. They've got siding rescued from the dumpster. He'll secure a stud, hearing the sound of hammers hitting wood, nicking nails, quiet swearing in both Tim and Jimmy's voices, and the occasional sweet sound of a solid, dead-on hit, then circle over to see how they're doing.

Like any other precision work, it's just a matter of form and practice. So he keeps showing them the right way to do it, and letting them do it over and over. Eventually, they'll get it.

He's got the first half of the wall almost finished when he realizes he's hearing a whole lot less hammers hitting wood and a whole lot more solid hits. So he finishes with the stud he was working on, and turns to watch the guys work.

Much better. Sure, he wouldn't want to live in a house built by either of them or anything, but they're creeping up on competent, so it's time to get them working on the wall.

"Time to join the major league." They both look up, and at him, and the large wooden rectangle on the basement floor. "First thing first, we pick this one up, and screw it into the floor, nail it into the ceiling. Then we frame the second half."

It's heavy. Not insanely heavy, but not easy to move around either, and it's half a wall so it's not exactly conveniently shaped for easy maneuverability, but between the three of them getting it manhandled into place isn't a problem. Tim's keeping it steady (because he's the tallest) while Gibbs nails it to the ceiling and Jimmy screws it to the floor.

"How do you do this by yourself?" Jimmy asks Gibbs.

"Build 'em in smaller sections on my own."

"So why is Tony up with the girls? He already know how to drive a nail?" Jimmy asks as he places another screw.

"Keeping an eye on two of you is enough. Plus he and Ziva make really good chili."

"Good point," Tim says. "Also, good for us. I talked to my cousin, so I can get us last minute March Madness Tickets, and apparently they've even got a game that's being hosted by Ohio State this year, and one at UNC which is closer to us. What we can't do is get tickets to the final four games because they're April 6th and 7th and Ziva would be really pissed if we pre-empted their honeymoon for his bachelor party."

Jimmy's nodding at that. Gibbs is staring at them, still a step behind.

Jimmy sees the stare. "Breena noticed that Ohio State made March Madness this year and suggested that if we could get tickets to one of the games, preferably one they were playing in, Tony would probably like that."

"And since we're kind of out of non-sex bachelor party ideas that he'd like, I jumped on that as soon as Jimmy mentioned it."

"What dates do you have?" Jimmy asks.

"UNC and Ohio State are both on the 20th. So… it's just a matter of guessing where his team might be, if they make it, or deciding to just go for Ohio State and spend a night with Tony reliving his glory days?"

Gibbs answered that one. "No. I almost strangled him the first time he was going on and on about spring break and college. Get the North Carolina tickets."

Tim took out his phone and started texting.

"You know…" Jimmy said, "Chapel Hill is actually under our jurisdiction. If there were a fictional dead sailor down there, he'd believe it. I bet Vance would let you take the van for the night, especially if there wasn't an actual active case. I could meet you guys there. He wouldn't know what was going on until we got there. Might be a cool surprise."

Tim smiles, he likes that, but he's not sure about Gibbs. Gibbs just nods, looking satisfied. Which was when they heard the car pull back into the driveway. Tony and the girls were back with ingredients and ready to get cooking. Meanwhile, they had half a wall left to frame.

The second half of the wall went faster than the first. Even with Tim and Jimmy not being expert carpenters by any stretch of anyone's imagination, three men framing is still faster than one.

Once they got the studs up Tony and Breena joined them for putting up the particle board. Tim enjoys watching Gibbs' face as he sees that Breena actually knows what to do with a drill and is better than any of the guys with one.

Because she's so cute and traditionally feminine it's easy to miss that Breena Palmer was a tomboy. Sure she liked dresses and long hair and cute makeup and pretty nails, but she also liked spending time with her daddy hunting, building things, and eventually working the family business. And while it's true that Ed's not much fun to be around, it's also true that he has three daughters and he was bound and determined that they'd be able to do anything they ever needed to do for themselves. So his girls can do everything from sew on a button to change the oil in their cars, to cook a tasty meal to rewire a fuse box.

She's screwing the particle board to the studs, hands sure and steady, and Gibbs just watches and smiles, a very pleased look on his face. Tim realizes that Breena looks a little like Kelly might have if she had grown up, and was about the right age, a little young, but not too much. He wonders if Kelly had a similar personality to Breena.

They'd just about gotten the particle board up when Gibbs asks her, "You know how to put up drywall?"



"Sure. Maybe if Vance ever lets all of you out of DC again, you can come to the Outer Banks with us and see the house I helped build."

"Your dad built that house?" Tim asks, stunned.

"My dad, my mom, my grandparents, two uncles, their wives, me, my sisters Amy, Beth, and Jill, my cousins Seth, Wes, Ben, and John, whole family did it. Did the same thing with the place in Tennessee and the one in Maine. My dad and uncles bought land in their favorite vacation spots, and then they helped each other build houses on them. All three of them use the houses, but the Outer Banks one is Dad's, the Knoxville one is Uncle Todd's, and the one in Maine is Uncle Alvin's."

Gibbs nods, looking like his estimation of Ed Slater and the rest of his family just hopped up about six notches. "Good, take Tony, grab Abby and Ziva, and head in. I'll get these two finishing up out here and join you in a few minutes."

Finishing up meant tacking up Tyvek sheeting. Tim took a bit longer on it than was strictly necessary.

"It doesn't take that long to staple up insulation," Jimmy said, noticing the lack of speed on Tim's half of the job.

"I know. But have you ever put up insulation before?"


"Not fun. Unless you enjoy picking hundreds of tiny glass splinters out of your skin, take a little longer and let them do it."

"Good point."

"I think Jethro just fell in love with your wife."

Jimmy smiles. "I was noticing that. I don't think I've ever seen him look so happy as he did when he handed her the drill and didn't have to explain how to use it."

Tim laughs a little, very slowly and carefully places the staple gun, and finishes the Tyvek.

"And we've taken as long as we can on this."

So they headed inside. Inside Gibbs' house smelled great: warm, meaty, spicy. Tim doesn't even really like chili, and his mouth is watering at the smell.

"I hope they made a ton of that," Jimmy says as they head to the basement.

"Oh yeah."

Five people make really fast work of insulating a twenty foot wall. They were done with it and putting up the drywall by the time Tim and Jimmy joined them.

Gibbs and Tony are holding the drywall in place, and the girls are on screw driving duty. Gibbs looks over his shoulder at them and flashes his, took you long enough look at Tim and Jimmy. Jimmy shrugs. Tim smiles.

They both head over and get to work.

"So, once you get her done, what are you going to do with her?" Breena asks Jethro as they all sit down for dinner.

Jethro shrugs. His original plan was to use Shannon as a way to deal with retirement. Hand in his badge and get off land for a few months, but retirement starts in January, and he's fairly sure he's not going to want to be away for months at a time.

"No set plans, yet."

"Island hopping? New beach every week?" Abby asks.

"Maybe." Gibbs nods at that, beaches sound good.

"Be a good way to get out of the cold and snow," Tim adds.

He nods at that, too, he's not exactly a fan of winter these days. But finding a beach somewhere with a little shack and a cantina within easy walking distance brings back too many memories of Mike. He's good with alone, but that's not something he wants to do alone. And it's hitting him that he doesn't want to be alone, not for months or weeks at a time.

"Might look for a place on the Potomac, maybe the James, or the Chesapeake."

"Closer to home," Ducky says with a smile. His own post-retirement plans have shifted with the addition of Molly to his life.

"Yeah, Duck." He stroked Molly's cheek. She was happily tearing through the corn bread. Then he turned to Abby and gently laid his hand on her belly. "Got some girls who might want to learn to sail. And since it turns out you lot aren't hopeless with carpentry, maybe getting a place on the water is something we could do..."


No comments:

Post a Comment