Thursday, October 3, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 215

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

Chapter 215: Dreams That Never Happened

"Palmer, where's your head at? It's certainly not here," Gibbs asked as Tim swept Jimmy's feet out from under him for the third time in seven minutes.

"Sorry, Jethro," Jimmy said, standing up slowly.

"Focus, Jimmy, get your mind here."

"Yes, Gibbs."

Jimmy's not sounding all that good today, either. Gibbs flashes Tim a quick what's going on? look to Tim, and Tim sends him a quick no clue look back.

"Switch it up, Tim, you defend, Jimmy, go after him, get yourself back into it."

Tim figured out what the problem was halfway through that round. He hadn't been hit that hard, that many times since January, and he's thanking Gibbs that they've been training because he's good enough to at least deflect most of the blows.

Finally, he just stopped, stepped back, held his hands up, and said, "Look, I need some padding. I am not coming home to Abby looking like I got run over by a truck again. Okay?"

Jimmy nods, breathing hard. "Okay."

That's when Gibbs started to figure out what was going on. He did a little math that confirmed his suspicions, so while Tim got into some padding, he leaned against the ropes and said to Jimmy, quietly, "You want to be here?"

"Here, home, doesn't matter. It's gonna be a shit day no matter where I am. At least this way, I get to work some of it out."

"Okay. Breena all right with this?"

"Yeah. She'd be here herself except…" And Jimmy ran headlong into the fact that they aren't telling anyone other than the McGees, Ducky, and Penny that's she's pregnant again.

Gibbs nods, not making him come up with some sort of lame excuse. They all know Breena's pregnant. When pregnancy equals violent, all day long morning sickness from about twenty second after the test comes up positive to about week fifteen, a pregnancy is hard to hide. But they all respect them not saying anything about it, yet. So, if Breena's been looking awfully green, skipping out on most gatherings, and occasionally has to excuse herself when she does attend, no one is saying anything about it.

"You got anything other than this planned?"

Cremation Diamonds
Jimmy looks down, rubs his forehead, might be tearing up, and then gently, almost reverently, stroked his forefinger over the tiny diamond embedded in the medic alert bracelet he wears. Gibbs had noticed he had a new one. That's not true. He noticed Jimmy kept it on. He usually takes it off when they fight. But today he didn't. Gibbs assumed from the fact that he kept it on, and from the way he's touching it now, that it's new.

"There weren't a lot of remains. He was… too small for that. And we didn't have a place to scatter them, no memories of him anywhere. So… there's a company that'll take the ashes and make diamonds out of them. Carbon is carbon. We got them last week and started wearing them today." He wiped at his eyes. "Shit, hate doing this with contacts in." He pretty much ran off.

Tim stood next to Gibbs and said, "Jon's due date, right?"

"Yeah, think so."

"I'll go keep him company. I don't know if we're gonna fight again or not."

Gibbs nods at that, too. "I'll wait."

One of the great things about the NCIS gym is that at 2:00 on a Saturday it's pretty empty. The men's locker room is basically deserted. There's Jimmy and some guy actually showering.

And the great thing about NCIS is that it's small enough, and Jimmy's well-enough known, that if he's sitting on the floor in the back corner of the locker room sobbing, no one is going to ask him any questions or give him a hard time.

Tim sits next to him and puts his arm around his shoulders, not saying anything.

After a while, Jimmy calmed back down. He looked at Tim, eyes bright red, face puffy and wet. "It was supposed to be easier than this."

Tim doesn't know if Jimmy means, life, fatherhood, or loving in general, but it's true for all of them, so he nods. "Yes, it was."

"I'm supposed to be snarking at Breena about how…" his voice broke, and he couldn't finish that sentence.

Tim rubbed his back, saying, "I know, Jimmy. I know."

Several more minutes went by. Tim quiet, holding his friend. Jimmy crying.

"There was five minutes this morning where I didn't remember. Woke up, snuggled with Breena, Molly started fussing, so I got her, and we all piled into bed, together, and it was good, you know? It was really good. Then Breena had to get up, because she was feeling sick, and I turned on the TV, watch some of the Sunrise show with Molly, and every morning they do the time, the day, and the date, and for a second there it still didn't click, and Molly's giggling, watching that little squeaky bird, and then they did the 'Who's having a birthday today?' thing and it did click, and I lost it.

"Molly's scared because I'm crying, so she starts crying, and the last thing Breena needs is both of us sobbing, but that's still what she walked in on."

"Tomorrow'll be better."

Jimmy took a deep breath and exhaled slow, head back against the locker behind him, looking up at the ceiling. "Yeah."

"You two want to come over tonight? Don't have to talk or anything, just, not be alone? Snuggle on the sofa, get lots of Abby hugs, eat take out, watch some sort of dumb movie?"


"Or we can take Molly, and you can really be alone."

Jimmy was shaking his head. "I don't know. The only thing I want is to not feel like this."

Tim nodded.

When they got out, Gibbs had packed everything up.

"Tim, you're done. Go home. Jimmy, with me."

Tim's a bit surprised by that, so's Jimmy really.

Gibbs flashes both of them a it'll be okay look.

Tim checks with Jimmy, and he nods. So Tim heads off, reminding Jimmy that if he wants to come over later, or wants them to watch Molly, to let them know.

Jimmy turns to Gibbs. "I'm with you?"

"Yeah. He's not in a good place for this right now. He doesn't need any extra reminders that it doesn't always work out, not right now, otherwise he'd come, too. We're going to my house."

"You gonna tell me what we're going to do there?"

"Say goodbye to dreams that never happened."

That's way more poetic than Jimmy expects Gibbs to be, so for a second he just stands there staring. Gibbs starts off, and Jimmy quickly follows a few heartbeats later.

"What do you drink?" Gibbs asks when they get to his basement. It's empty right now. Kelly's crib got taken to Tim's Tuesday night. He'd been seriously debating opening the basement back up and lugging the Shannon back in, but it's summertime so anything he wants to do he can do outside, and, he's feeling awfully sure he's going to have another project down here in the very near future.

"Girly mixed drinks that actually taste good. Stuff you'd find horrifying."

Gibbs shrugs, that's a pretty accurate read, though he reminds himself he's trying not to be the guy who winces at other guys drinking a… whatever those fruity things are. "And when you don't get a mixed drink?"

"Rum, Gin. Is absinthe a mixed drink? It's just poured over a sugar cube and water."

Gibbs closes his eyes and opens them slowly. Absinthe, trust Jimmy to come up with something like that. "Don't have any of that." Though at the rate this is going, he's going to end up with a small bar down here.

Jimmy sits on one of the stools. "You don't need it. I don't need to be drugged to talk. I actually prefer to enjoy myself when I'm drinking."

Gibbs pours himself a bourbon and gestures to the two bottles, but Jimmy shakes his head.

"Traditional to do this at least
a little drunk."
"Maybe one day you'll come down here and drink with me when you're enjoying yourself?"

Jimmy smiles at that. "I hope so."

"Traditional to do this at least a little drunk," Gibbs says, taking a sip.

"What tradition are we upholding?"

"It's a wake. Back a bit after Molly was born, Tim dragged me down here and poured enough bourbon in me to get me talking. It… helped."

"Been talking, Jethro. I don't bottle things up."

"Yeah, I know. You're… you and Breena… are doing a lot better than I thought you would."

Jimmy nods at that. They're doing better than he thought they would be, too. But there are still bad days, and likely will be for a long time, though he's thinking today, and maybe, January 8th next year, will be the worst.

Though maybe, since Nikki (what they're calling the new baby when talking to each other) is due at Christmas time, they'll be too busy to even notice January 8th when it rolls around.

He can hope, at least. Jimmy takes one of the mugs and pours himself a little of the Scotch, sips some, winces a little. "How does Tim drink this stuff?"

Gibbs shrugs at that, too.

Jimmy takes another sip. "So, are we talking for me, or for you?"

That's a better question than Gibbs was expecting, and he realizes that they are here for both of them.

"Both of us."

Jimmy nods. "The dads sans kids club?"

"Something like that."

"But not exactly. I've got Molly and we're calling the new one Nikki for now, and you've got Tim and Abby and Ziva and Tony."

"And you and Breena."

Jimmy looks curiously at him. "Didn't realize you were that attached to me."

Gibbs shrugs. "Breena's a package deal. Love her, gotta love you." Then he smiles to show he's kidding, that it's not just fondness for Breena that's binding him to Jimmy, and maybe to underscore exactly how much he isn't Ed Slater.

Jimmy laughs at that. Then he sobers. "So tell me what dream you miss most."

"Shannon and Kelly"
"I was going to teach Kelly how to drive. Had been looking forward to it for years. Already started a little. Her sitting on my lap, steering, while I worked the pedals. We were going to get some sort of old junker when she was fourteen and rebuild it. That's the one I still dream about. Kelly, sixteen, seventeen, she'd look like Shannon did when we first met, but brown hair instead of red. Old Mustang or Impala all fixed up. Check the mirrors, put the key in, turn in on, look around, foot off the break, okay, let's go!"

Jimmy smiles at that, nods, doesn't say anything for a long minute, then finally gets out. "That's a good one."

Teen Kelly
Gibbs reaches for a few sheets of paper and one of his pencils. He starts sketching while Jimmy says, "We didn't know if he was a boy or a girl yet, so, not much in the way of dreams yet, not really. Just, images, you know? But… the clearest one was Molly seeing him for the first time. Tim and Abby would have taken her while we were in the hospital, and brought her to see him. I had this image, Tim holding her, putting her on the bed next to us. I'd be holding Jon so that she could snuggle in with Breena, all four of us together, kind of cramped because those hospital beds are pretty small. But, I'd be the one who got to say, 'Molly, this is your little brother.'"

Gibbs looks up and smiles gently at Jimmy. "Had one kind of like that myself, once."

"What happened to it?"

"Shannon had preeclampsia. Bed rest at 32 weeks. Trying to keep Kelly in long enough for her lungs to get strong. Moved into the hospital at 34 weeks. And at 35 and one day her blood pressure spiked so high she couldn't see. They got Kelly out in an emergency c-section, but they had to do it so fast there wasn't time for anesthesia. I helped them hold her down while they did it, and both of them came out fine, but before they were home from the hospital, I'd had a vasectomy. Just, couldn't do that again. Couldn't risk it."

"No wonder you were white as a sheet when you heard about Abby."

"Didn't help. But before that, before we got Kelly, we'd both been hoping for more than one."

"Never thought of adopting?"

"No." He shakes his head, not looking up from the paper. "Don't know if that was a blessing or not." He erases a line and re-does it. "Jimmy, that story's not for Tim, not now. He doesn't need that image in his head."

Jimmy nods. "I get that."

Then Gibbs looks at him, and takes another drink. "Ducky and I, walks in the park with Molly, Jon, and Kelly. Thought he was going to be a boy, and was looking forward to taking him shooting with you and Tim and Tony."

Jimmy's crying at that but eventually says, "We're not taking the girls shooting?"

"We are, but it'll be different. Gotta have some things we do as guys, right?"

"Yeah. Camping."

Gibbs laughs at that. "Is that gonna be just you and me and the kids? Don't see Duck, Tim, Tony on that trip."

"Tim likes camping."

"I've heard him say that, but he can't seem to figure out what the hell poison ivy looks like, and best I know hasn't been out in the wood for fun the entire time I've known him."

Jimmy wipes his eyes. "Good point."

Jethro hands Jimmy a sketch of a crib. It's all square corners, somewhat plain, but there's room for change.

"Early Christmas present, say, at your place 'round about Tim and Abby's anniversary. We'll talk more about it when you and Breena know more about Nikki."

Jimmy looks at it, fingers ghosting over the lines of slats and legs. He sniffs a little, and nods. "Yeah."


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