Chapter 221: 3:00 AM At Home
He bolts out of the bed and is in the bathroom before his brain woke up enough to even know he was moving or why.
Once in there, blinding white light searing through sleep dark eyes, he hears Abby cry, and figures that's what got him up and out of bed.
That sounds a whole lot more like emotional distress than pain, and these days emotional distress can be anything from memories of long distance telephone commercials to a bad case.
"What? Are you okay?" he's saying as his eyes slowly adjust to the light.
Abby's standing in front of the mirror, lights on, crying, clutching the sink, and staring at herself.
She sees the fear in his eyes, because he hasn't been able to burn off all of the adrenaline of bolting out of bed, yet, and says, voice shaky and cracking, "It's broken." She tries a reassuring smile, but it doesn't come off at all, and another sob wrenches out of her.
He doesn't know what she's talking about, at all. But there's no blood, no amniotic fluid, so his first two guesses must be wrong. It takes a good thirty seconds before he sees what she means.
Kate's memorial tattoo on her hip. Three stretch marks, ones he didn't remember being there when they went to bed, crossed the tattoo, breaking the wrought iron cross, splitting the roses, cutting the C in half.
He wraps her in his arms, feeling himself relax, and says, "Oh, Abby."
She's crying on his shoulder.
"Shhhh..." He kisses her forehead, and gently strokes her hip.
"My skin was itching, burning, so I went in to rub some of the cocoa butter on it. I turned on the light and..."
"I didn't realize I was so loud until you came bursting in."
"It's okay." He kisses her again. "Kate would laugh at you right now."
She smiles a little. "You think so?"
"Yeah, not in a mean way. She'd be happy your little girl touched how you remember her. She'd like a symbol of life eternal marked by new life forming."
"Yeah, she would. Kelly still needs a middle name."
He knows where she's going with this. "Yeah, she does."
"But not Kate. Kelly Caitlyn sounds wrong. But Kate's middle name was Marie."
"Kelly Marie McGee." That makes him smile. "I like that. I like that a whole lot."
It's something he's wondered about for a while now, something he's never been entirely sure if he wanted to know the answer to, which is why he's never asked. And it's also why, though Kate was a glaringly obvious choice for a middle name, he didn't suggest it.
But, he knows she loves him and will always love him, knows it in his bones, in his soul if he has one, and he's pretty sure enough time has gone by that talking about it won't hurt Abby. And hell, this week has been a whole pile of confronting things he doesn't necessarily want or need to know, so why not just toss one more on top of it?
|Were you in love with Kate?|
"Were you in love with Kate?"
He's spooned up behind her, so he can't see the expression on her face, but her feels her squeeze her hand.
"Does it matter?"
"Probably not. I'm just curious."
"As much as I could let myself love anyone then, yes."
He nods. "Is that part of why you and I didn't work the first time?"
"No. We didn't work because I couldn't handle us working. Same thing with falling for Kate. She was basically my perfect woman, straight, Catholic, in love with someone else… I could have her friendship and the fantasy without any fear of it ever going anywhere."
"In love with someone else?" That had gotten his attention. He didn't remember Kate having any sort of steady guy.
"She had a massive crush on Gibbs."
"Gibbs?" He was stunned. That idea had literally never, ever formed in his mind. Whispers of hints of that idea had never formed. Nothing even remotely related to that idea had even considered forming in his mind. It was completely out of the blue.
"I thought her and Tony…"
Abby laughed a little at the surprise in his voice. "Gibbs did, too. But she didn't like guys who nailed anything that moved. Thought it was a sign of low self-respect, and she didn't think a man could love her the way she wanted to be loved if he didn't love himself properly first. I'm fairly sure Gibbs thought she and Tony would get together because that was a really good way of not having to deal with the fact that he wanted her, too."
Tim smiles at that. "Rule Number 12 exists for a reason. He told me that once."
"Yeah. I think that's one of the reasons why he prefers to work with younger women these days. That way he can just stuff us into the daughter file and not have to worry about it again."
Tim shrugs. "If it works…"
"I don't know if it does, but… I do know he does it."
"What do you think would have happened if she hadn't died?"
"With Kate and I, you mean?"
"Nothing. Which was a big part of loving her. She wasn't hateful about it or anything, but she was very clear on homosexuality being a sin. It wasn't a problem if I wanted to play with girls or boys or both at once. She really was a good Christian, so she wasn't going to judge me or hold it against me, or treat me with anything but love, but it wasn't something she was willing to do."
"You actually talked about it?"
"I kissed her once, and she was cool about it, but very clear."
"When was that?"
"About three months before she died."
"Good kiss?" Okay, yeah, he probably didn't need to sound quite that turned on by the idea, but, well, he really likes that mental image, a whole lot.
Abby shrugs. "Awkward. She was pulling back about two tenths of a second after I touched her." Which squashes turned on flat. Because, yeah, Kate didn't go for it, wouldn't have gone for it.
"I've had kisses like that."
"Yeah, but she was really great about it. Told me she loved me, wanted to be my friend, but really didn't swing that way at all. And I knew that. I really did. But we were a little drunk, and I wanted to try my luck. It wasn't like I got burned. As long as I respected her boundaries, we were cool, and just went from there like nothing happened."
"Yeah, she would have been like that."
"Yeah, she was. How about you? Ever make a move on her?"
|"Not saying I didn't think about it."|
He laughed at that. "No. Not saying I didn't think about it, a lot, but no. She wasn't just out of my league; we weren't even playing the same sport."
Abby laughs at that, thinks it's a very good way to put that. "She thought you were cute and sweet."
"Yeah, like a puppy," he says dryly. "And like I said when you said that to me, no man wants to be thought of as a puppy."
He can feel that's making her smile. "You certainly aren't a puppy anymore."