Chapter 219: Aftermath
It took Ducky an hour to get all the glass out. And though there were long cuts, none of them were deep enough to warrant stitches. An entire box of butterfly bandages and half a roll of surgical tape, but no stitches.
Abby took him home, held onto him until morning. He may have slept. Mostly he remembers just hurting all over. Mental pain that hurts so bad your body aches along with it.
They both took that next day off and rested. And he worked on trying to heal.
The problem with a big, messy more or less public hissy fit is that it's big and messy and public. And if you do get out of it looking like you got into a fight with a ream of paper and got seventy million paper cuts, and you don't want everyone to know why you ended up in that shape, you need some sort of cover lie.
And it's not even so much that he doesn't want everyone to know… well, that's part of it.
And not everyone. It's just… He's sensitive to the fact that Ziva's dad makes his look like a good guy, and 'Hey your Dad dropped you in the middle of the desert to be tortured and raped and left you for dead,' and 'Mine said mean things to me, and I'm handling it with less than a quarter of the grace you did,' just feels really nasty.
So he doesn't want to get into that with Tony and Ziva. It's not even that he thinks they wouldn't understand or sympathize, it just feels like he's complaining about a sprained ankle to a double amputee.
And part of it is just not wanting to say it. Not wanting to keep talking about it. Gibbs' quiet seems like a really good plan now. He's liking quiet. Quiet is his friend. It's warm and comfortable and maybe this is a response to not being quiet and then really not liking what talking got him, but right now he's not in a big let's-talk-about-this sort of place.
He took two days off to let the worst of the swelling go down and the cuts start to heal.
But Abby went back to work, because officially he was putting up a mirror, accidently dropped it, and cut the hell out of himself. And she wouldn't stay home with him for something like that.
Officially that's a plausible lie.
Officially no one like Vance is going to say anything or question it. Tony and Ziva might wonder how he got his face cut up by dropping a mirror, but they aren't asking about it. They're probably assuming he was doing some sort of stupid sex thing, like trying to install it on the ceiling or something, and got hurt like that.
It'll hold until they actually see him, and since that's all it's got to do, he's fine with that.
Or he was until Jimmy came over.
Jimmy hadn't been in the house long enough to get through his first sentence. "Ducky wanted me to—" And then he saw Tim and stopped dead. "Oh God, what the hell happened to you? No way you did that by dropping a mirror."
Tim, who'd been sitting on the sofa, watching the second to last episode of Supernatural, stopped it, looking surprised to see Jimmy in his house. The don't-talk-about-it plan was a whole lot trickier to pull off if people who love you can see how damaged you are. "Why'd Ducky send you?"
"Supposedly to do a wound check, but I'm getting the sense it's not your cuts he wants me looking at. What happened?" Jimmy says as he sits down.
"Long damn story, and I promise, one day I'll tell you, but right now I don't want to talk."
Jimmy's looking him over, voice worried, nervous expression on his face. "Okay. Let me check your cuts."
"I'm fine. Abby's already doused me in Neosporin and changed the band-aids this morning. She'll probably do it again tonight. Neither of us want any of this to scar."
"Good." He pauses, looking at the cuts. "Did you do this to yourself?"
Jimmy gently touched his jaw, tilting his head a little to see the long cut across his cheek better. "Might want to see a plastic surgeon on that one if you don't want it to scar."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"Ducky and Abby know the full story of what happened?"
His hands are gentle and competent as he looks over Tim's cuts. Tim can tell part of what he's doing is making sure Ducky didn't miss any glass. His eyes aren't as good as they used to be and glass can be awfully easy to miss. "None of them are very deep. That's good. I'm fairly sure Ducky's sent me over to just be here with you."
"Yeah. He and Abby are sort of keeping watch on me."
Jimmy nods at that, looking pretty disturbed. "You at least want to tell me how you did this to yourself?"
"Broke six beakers by throwing them as hard as I could at a wall less than four feet away from me."
Jimmy's eyes go wide. "You are so lucky you didn't lose an eye."
"Abby put safety goggles on me."
"Oh." Jimmy thinks about that for a moment. "When I needed to do something stupid and violent you were there for me. I am here for you. You need this, you pick up your fucking phone and you call me! You can't/won't talk, fine, I won't press, but you get off your ass and call me, okay?"
Tim nods. "I thought about it. Didn't want to wake you up."
Jimmy raised his hand, like he was about to headslap Tim, looks at all the cuts, and drops it. "Wake me up! If there's ever a next time, you wake me up!"
"I really hope there won't be a next time."
"Good." Jimmy sits next to him for a moment, not moving or saying anything. He looks like he's trying to figure out how to say whatever's in his mind.
"Are you… hell… I don't know what to ask. I'm scared. And angry. Something hurt you bad enough or pissed you off so hard you did that. I don't want to make it worse by demanding you talk, but I don't know what's wrong, so I don't know how to be comforting, and I'm worried."
"You're here, so that means it's a paperwork day, right?"
"Call Gibbs and pour me a scotch. Big one. I don't want to do this twice."
Jimmy was back two minutes later with a much smaller scotch than Tim would have liked. "That's a big scotch?"
"You're on pain meds, right?"
"So, yes, that's a big scotch. Much more than that and all Jethro and I'll be doing is tucking you into bed for a nap."
"Might like a nap."
"We don't have to do this. I mean, I want to know, but…"
"I know. Just… might as well." He blows out a frustrated breath. "'Course, 'might as well do it now' is why I'm in this shape, so maybe that's not a great plan."
Jimmy's looking at him, eyes wide and earnest, pain for his friend clear on his face. "Tim, talk to me."
He drank half of the scotch down. "This should be fully kicked in by the time Gibbs is here. I'll give both of you the whole story."
Gibbs got to his place in eighteen minutes, which means he was channeling Ziva behind the wheel. Like Jimmy he checks the cuts, hands gentle and careful on Tim's skin. Abby'd already told him why Tim was in the shape he was in, but actually seeing it made his eyes go wide, and then narrow in anger.
"You've both offered to listen, so here's the story…"
He finished up by telling both of them about talking with his mom and how he'd spent basically his whole life blaming his dad, pretending his mom had been outside of it… "But she wasn't. Maybe he made the rules, but he was gone all the time, so she upheld them. She knew. She might not have approved of every tactic he used, but she was with him on the general plan of verbally beat the living shit out of Tim until he's tough enough. Though God alone knows what the fuck tough enough is. I couldn't get it together enough to ask, and I'm honestly not sure I want to know."
Tim shakes his head. "In a lot of ways, this is worse than what actually happened. That was anger and pain and rage, and this is… betrayal."
Jimmy and Jethro are just looking at him. There's nothing either of them can do to change or help this, so they sit there, trying to be comforting, and let him talk.
"I don't even know what to do with this. Since… Annapolis… she's been nothing but supportive and encouraging of me. She's not the one who called me names or belittled me. She never was. It was like good cop/bad cop from Hell.
"The Admiral didn't go to any of my graduations. He was pissed about turning down Annapolis, so even though he got home the day before, he skipped the high school one. Mom and Penny were nervous enough about us being together that the day after graduation I was on the other side of the country. He was afloat for Johns Hopkins and MIT. Hated the idea of me at NCIS so he refused to attend FLETC. She was at all of them. She's got a wall covered in pictures of us kids… I mean, how the fuck do you do that? I get him. I wasn't who he wanted me to be and disappointed the shit out of him, fine. I get it.
"But… I mean, what the hell did she think she was doing?"
Unfortunately, Jimmy and Gibbs don't have the answer to that. And right now, the one thing Tim knows he doesn't want to do is get on the phone and talk to the person who does.
After Jenny died, Ziva had explained the idea of sitting Shiva to them. She had told them, that after everything had gone wrong, after God had ruined Job's life, his friends came to comfort him. They didn't say anything. They didn't try to fill the air with useless words. They just came, saw Job in pain, and sat with him, sharing his pain in silence, only talking when he was ready.
And thus Jews sit Shiva. They go to the home of the one who mourns, sit with him, and only speak when he wants, about what he wants.
When Jimmy told him about the "comforting words" people kept abusing him and Breena with after they lost Jon, he thought he got the idea. He thought he understood the power and value of comfortable silence.
But now, sitting on his sofa, between Jethro and Jimmy, both of whom aren't saying anything, because there's nothing to say, because right now words would be hollow, meaningless, almost an insult to the gravity of this pain, he gets it. He truly, deeply understands the gift of silence. Words might make this easier for Jimmy or Gibbs, but it won't for him, and they're respecting that.
Sitting on the sofa, Gibbs' arm around him, they are allowing him the space he needs to grieve, and providing him the safety and love he needs to do it.