Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 203

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

Chapter 203: Quandary

Gibbs very rarely finds himself in a situation where he doesn't know what to do. Knowing what to do is his job. It's part of his core identity. He's the guy who knows. But this one…

His first instinct is to find John McGee, a nice vantage point a klick or so away from him, and put a bullet through his brain. Then shoot him a few times just to blow off some more steam, and maybe, if he's far enough away from everyone else, piss on the corpse and kick him until his feet ache.

It's not even rage, not the way it usually feels, it's just this cold lump in his heart and mind that wants to wipe that man from the face of the planet, destroy every cell of his body.

But Tim didn't say he wanted his dad dead. And if he suddenly turns up dead, shot in the head by a sniper, not only will their team have to investigate it (unless this happens on the west coast) but Tim will know, without a doubt, what happened.

And he's not sure if John McGee suddenly ending up dead would be a good thing for Tim or not.

He does know going to jail for killing him would very much not be a good thing, for anyone. Of course, if John McGee were to end up mysteriously dead on the east coast, his team would investigate it. And yeah, Tim would have to stay out of it, but he and Abby could make sure it was done clean.

It's a really satisfying fantasy. Maybe set fire to him after kicking him until his toes break. Or acid. Acid does horrible things to a body.

But he's fairly sure it'll have to stay a fantasy. Because Tim has a gun, the computer skills to track where the Admiral will be when, and a forensic scientists to make sure he gets away with it clean, and his dad is still breathing, and if he didn't want him breathing, he could take care of it himself.

But he's still not sure what to do with this. Tim's angry, but he kept himself under control, so Gibbs did, too. But he doesn't want to stay under control. He really, really wants to break John McGee. Not treating your kids properly is a hot button issue for him anyway, add in it happening to Tim…

He's not even sure who he could talk to about this. Tim never mentioned it to him before, which probably means he hasn't said anything to anyone else about it, besides Abby, and the way she refers to John as that man suddenly makes a whole lot more sense.

A thought hits him, and it's not exactly comfortable, but… If there was anyone he could talk to that wouldn't be a violation of Tim's privacy and make it worse…

He finds his cellphone and calls Ducky.


"Yeah Duck, can you give me Penny's number?"

"You want to talk to Penny? Jethro, have…" Gibbs is fairly sure Ducky was about to say something like, have you two even had a conversation before, when the light flicked on, and Ducky got it.

"555-028-1863. Would I be correct in assuming you wish to speak to her about Timothy?"

"Yeah, Duck."

He's fairly sure Ducky is nodding on the other end of the phone, thinking about what to say next. "Timothy was my patient not all that long ago, and anything I learned about as a result of that will always be kept in confidence. However, if you were thinking that talking to someone about how to help a survivor of abuse, or how to handle your own feelings about something horrible happening to someone you love, I'm always available to listen."

Gibbs appreciates how delicate that answer is, but he's also frustrated by it, because this isn't delicate and he's not in a delicate sort of mood. "Thanks, Duck, but I'd rather not talk in hypotheticals, and I don't want to put you in an awkward position."

"You'd rather call Penny and yell at her."

"I'd rather shoot John McGee and do violent things to his corpse. I'll settle for yelling at her."

"He doesn't blame her and neither does Abby."

"Someone should."

"Someone does. She blames herself, and his mother, and his other two grandparents, and most of all, John. You could yell at him."

"If I get within yelling distance, I'll kill him."

"Then avoid him, because killing him won't help anything."

"It'd feel good."

"Yes, it would." And the tone in Ducky's voice, icy and dark, makes Gibbs realize that he's probably got a much more detailed understanding of what happened to Tim than he does, and much more detailed makes this even harder to deal with.

"What do I do?"

"Exactly what you have been doing. Be a good father to him. Let him know that if he wants to talk, you will listen. Don't kill John unless he tells you it's okay, and if he does, let the rest of us know, because John McGee is a high enough power target that it'll take all of us to do it clean."

"If we ever do anything, what happens with you and Penny?"

"If we ever do anything, I will never breathe a word of it to anyone, including her. She is deeply conflicted about this. He's her son, Jethro, and she loves him. And she feels like she should have done a better job protecting Tim. He's her grandson, and she loves him, too. She adores both of them and is utterly horrified by the idea that she raised a monster. So, if there is ever a need for me to support her while she mourns her son, I will stand next to her and be her shoulder to cry on. And if there is ever an opportunity to avenge our Timothy, I will happily take it. But, I think this is a moot point, because he does not appear to want that, and if he does not want it, we are not going to do anything about it."

"I want to do something about it."

"Then tell Timothy that, and ask what he wants you to do. But don't just go off and do it. This is enough of a burden without you adding to it. Keep this in mind, too, John McGee is still his father. Timothy may be done with him, but there are still going to be a lot of complicated lingering feelings there. He still loves his father. Penny tells me that as late as '11 he was still trying to fix things. He still wants his father's approval, even though he's resigned himself to never getting it."

"He never talks about it."

"Jethro, you of all people should understand burying the unpleasant aspects of your life."

"Yeah, Duck, I know."

"And am I correct in assuming he has now told you about it?"

"Enough. No real details. I was stupidly suggesting he try to patch things up with his dad, and didn't take the first three hints he gave me to back off."

"You've just lost your father. It's natural you'd want to see Timothy get as much time with his father as he can. I'm sure he understands that."

"I know. Still…"

"You feel bad for pushing."

"I feel bad for not figuring it out! Think about all the crap he took from Tony, and Kate, and hell, me, and he just kept on going, smiling at us, doing the job, taking more of it. How bad did it have to be that he stopped talking to John? When I found out they weren't talking that should have been a red flag."

"But it wasn't."

"No. I worked with him for eight years, spent every Christmas and Thanksgiving with him, and it never occurred to me that this kid has two living parents and never spends any time with them. Didn't even know he wasn't speaking to John until Penny showed up. I saw the way John looked at Tim back when we caught that case with him, and besides being pissed off at him for not respecting Tim, the idea there was more than that never touched me. How did I miss it?"

"Because Jethro, phenomenal gut aside, you are not, in fact, psychic. He did not tell you. You never saw any bruises. You only saw the two of them in the same room for less than twenty minutes. You knew they had issues, and that's all you could have known."

"I knew about Ziva. I took the time to really see her. I just, didn't, with Tim."

Thom E. Gemcity
"I think, if you were to study how Timothy behaved before he and Abby started dating again, and since, you'll notice one of the biggest changes is that he is no longer hiding. For the first nine years we worked with him, he had an amazing talent for blending into the background, quietly doing whatever was necessary, rarely drawing attention to himself. Penny believes that's one of his defense mechanism. He's brilliant, Jethro, but he doesn't show it. Even his writing is under another name, and the picture on his book jackets is in profile and looking away, hiding his full face. It's only been since he's been with Abby, and even with that it's really only the last year we've seen the real Timothy come out regularly. Those kilts of his are as much a fashion statement as they are a way of signaling that he's finally comfortable enough with us to be himself.

"Ziva however, saw you, saw a kindred spirit, and let you see the real her. She did not hide from you.

"I think, if Timothy had been less rebellious, he would have ended up a version of Ziva. Their fathers are, from what I can tell, very similar men. Powerful, controlling, focused on a goal and willing to use anything at their disposal to achieve it. Ziva was a tool in her father's box, a tool he spent her whole life honing. Timothy was supposed to be that for his father. He chose not to be, and has been dealing with the fall out of that for thirty years, if not longer."

"Fascinating Duck." And while that's not entirely sarcastic, Gibbs is a little frustrated with Ducky waxing psychological on his kids' birth dads.

"Jethro, what I want you to remember, why I am bringing this up, is the look on Ziva's face when she saw her father dead. Eli David was not a good man, and he was an appalling father. He sent her to die in the desert. He left her in the hands of men who tortured and raped her for four months. He destroyed any sort of 'real' childhood she should have had. He ordered her to kill her brother. He tried to make her a sociopath. And when he died she had not spoken to him in months, not seen him in years, and she had just learned he had murdered a man.

that image...
"I want that image, Ziva collapsed on the floor, cuddling her father's body, crying over him, burned into your mind when you feel the desire to hurt John McGee. Talk to Timothy, but no matter what he says, keep that image in your mind, and be aware that under that anger, no matter how well-deserved, there is anguish, disappointment, and a broken heart that loves and wants to be loved in return."

That got through. "Thanks, Duck."

"Are you still going to call Penny? She'll be home in an hour or so."

"Not right this second, but eventually."


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