Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 236

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

Chapter 236: Father, Son, Granddaughter

"Okay, Honey, I know it's not Mom's, but she's really tired, so let's try this and see if it'll do."

Gibbs was holding Kelly as he made up the bottle. She didn't appear to be too thrilled with either of them right now. At two days old she knows where the food comes from, and while both of these two might be good for napping on, they are not the provider of food.

But, since the provider of food is still dead asleep and both of her guys think she needs the rest, they're on mealtime for Kelly.

Not too bad.
He got settled down at one of the kitchen chairs, Kelly in his arms, bottle in hand, nipple in mouth, and she was sucking away, expression on her face indicating that this was not what she was expecting, but it's not entirely unwelcome either.

Honestly, it's really nice. He's liking this, and can see doing it again, actually looking forward to it.

"What are you doing!" Abby shrieked at him.

He was so startled by that he almost dropped Kelly. He did drop the bottle. Which set off Kelly, who had been appreciating the food, and began to cry as a result of it suddenly vanishing.

"Feeding her." The look on Abby's face is terrifying. She is red hot furious at him right now. "You're so tired… I just… wanted you to get some more sleep."

Rug yanked out from under his feet.
"You can't do that! It's bad for her! She has to breastfeed!" Abby's trying to take Kelly away from him, crying, saying something about bonding and allergies, and Tim's feeling like the rug just got yanked out from under his feet.

It takes him a second to get his bearings back. "Okay, okay. Go, sit down, get yourself settled, and I'll bring her over to you." He's flashing Gibbs a help me look, but Gibbs is also looking like he just got the rug yanked out from under him, too. Gibbs just shakes his head a little, acknowledging that backfired spectacularly.

Tim flashes back a, yeah, I guessed that, look.

Abby's sitting on the sofa, sobbing, breast out, rambling about how if you bottle feed, even just once, that some babies never go back to breastfeeding and how bad formula is for them and something about micronutrients and how formula feeding means Kelly won't get the benefit of Abby's immune system. Basically it's a huge, hysterical, teary, snotty fit cumulating in trust issues and how could either of them possibly think it was all right to just decide something that immense without even talking to her about it.

Tim very warily approaches the sofa with Kelly, who is also crying, and gently hands her to Abby.

And Kelly, at least, calmed back down again when she got a hold of a nipple and some milk, but Abby's still on a massive crying jag.

He tries to sit next to her, wrap his arm around her, and she flinched away from him, probably still yelling at him, but she lost pretty much all coherence a few paragraphs ago.

I am very sorry...
So he knelt on the floor in front of her, made sure to wait until she took a breath, and said, slowly, and as calmly as he can manage, "I am very sorry. I didn't know it was that big of a deal. I just wanted you to get some sleep. I will not try to feed her again without talking to you about it first."

That barely made a dent in the crying jag, but he sat there, hands on her knees, looking up at her with an earnest expression, trying to hold his own calm, which very much wants to run away and break into a thousand crying pieces as well, because he's awfully tired and emotional right now too, but that won't help anything, but maybe his touch and just being there can help her find her own calm. Eventually she did calm down a bit, and unfortunately calming down meant she started to see what she had done, and that started another crying jag, this time embarrassed and angry at herself for going off the deep end.

But at least with the second crying jag he could sit next to her, rub her back, and interject occasional comforting sounds along the lines of 'it's okay' and 'this is normal' and 'you're on a lot of drugs.'

The main thrust of the second jag was that, no, he did not need to seek permission to feed his own child. And that it was totally irrational for her to expect that. And that she was a horrible person for even suggesting it, let alone getting mad about it. (He tried to curb that one with extremely limited success.)

When Kelly got done, he was very relieved to hand her over to Gibbs and ask, "What was the last thing you ate?"

Her eyes are bright red, face puffy from crying, and her voice rough. "I don't know."

"Okay, let's deal with that first. Jethro made you a sandwich, and look at all the goodies Jimmy left for you."

"I'm not hungry."

"You've got to eat, baby. Anything you want, at all, I'll get it for you."

"I don't want anything. Just want to sleep. I'm so tired."

"Soon. Just, eat the sandwich, okay. Sandwich, more meds."

"Don't want them, they're making me crazy."

"New meds, not the same stuff you were taking before. This one's an opiate, like morphine."

She just gave up and slumped deeper into the sofa.

"Just a little food, and I'll take you upstairs, you can lay all the way down, and sleep as long as you want."

That got a tiny nod, and she reached for the sandwich.

Tim headed into the kitchen to get a dose of Percocet. Gibbs was walking Kelly around, working on getting a burp out of her.

"Storm over?"

"I don't know." He grabbed a glass and filled it with water and headed back out to the living room. Abby had taken a few bites of the sandwich and was lying against the sofa with her eyes closed.

"Come on, baby, just a bit more food."

She opened her eyes and took another bite, then took the pills and water from him, swallowing them down.

He sat next to her while she silently finished the sandwich. When she did, he asked, "Upstairs?"

She nodded again. He picked her up, carefully, very gently and slowly, and she still winced. "Better walking?"

That got a headshake, so he took her up to their bedroom and laid her on their bed. That got another wince, and it took him a moment but he figured out the problem might be that she hasn't lain flat since… hell, since she was six months pregnant with Kelly, and right now especially that's probably more stretch on her abs than feels good.

"You want pillows to prop up?"

Headshake. The not talking thing is really unnerving to him.

"Can I get you anything?"

Another headshake.

He's flailing around for a question that doesn't have a yes or no answer, but by the time he came up with one her eyes were closed again and she was looking asleep.

So he headed back downstairs.

"That can't be normal! Can it?"

Gibbs shrugged. "Shannon never did that." Tim's getting out his phone. "You got her for a few more minutes?"

"I've got her. Calling Jimmy?"


"Good plan."

He got Breena on the third ring. "Hey, what's up?"

So he explained and wrapped up with, "Is this normal?"

"If it lasts more than a few hours a day or more than a few weeks, no, it's not. Otherwise, welcome to baby blues."

Tim's eyes went wide. "This is baby blues?"

"Yeah, it sounds so cute, right? Oh, you've got baby blues, you'll cry a little and mope. Try full on raving psycho for a little bits of time every day for about two weeks."


"Eloquently said. The first two weeks I was generally okay when anyone else was around, and more or less sobbed uncontrollably during all the night feeds."

Tim sighs.

"It will get better. And if it doesn't they've got medication for it."

"Wonderful. Okay, what are danger signs of not okay?"

"Not sleeping. Crying more than like three hours a day."

He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. "Three hours a day? Three hours a day of this is normal? I really need to read that pamphlet they gave us."

"Yeah, you do."

"Okay, what else do I look out for?"

"If she wants to hurt Kelly or goes the opposite direction and won't let you or anyone else touch her, thinking you're going to hurt her."

"She's not talking."

Breena thought about that. "I'd keep an eye on that."

"And do what with it?"

"Go with her to her post-partum check-ups and make sure the Doc knows about it. When she's a little more healed up, make sure she gets out of the house and some baby free time every day. Right now there's not much you can do, she's exhausted and her body's going bonkers. Just turn the other cheek and deal."

"I can do that."

"Good. She flips out too much, give me a call, and I'll be there. Some things she needs to talk to another mom about."


"What's she doing now?"


"Probably the best thing for her."

When Tim got off the phone, Jethro was looking at him expectantly. "Might be baby blues, might be post-partum depression. Won't know for sure for a while. Got to read up."

Gibbs shook his head. "Not right this second. I've got Kelly. I'll put her down. You go get a nap. Part of why I'm here is so that you can sleep during the day, and then help Abby at night. So, go, sleep. I've got this."

"I should…"

"Go to sleep. You'll have plenty of time to research tonight when you're walking her around trying to coax a burp out of her. Go to sleep."


He woke up to the tiny, cat meow cry of a newborn, took a second to figure out where and when he is, and then hopped up fast, hoping to get her before Abby woke up.

It looked like his mission was successful, he looked back as he headed out of their room and Abby was still asleep.

Two seconds later, he was picking Kelly out of her crib. "So, Pop got you to sleep in here, huh? He made it for you, you know that?" Tim said as he laid her on her back on the changing table. He set about unswaddling and unsnapping her onesie, getting onto diaper maintenance. "I helped, a little, with it. When your eyes can focus more than five inches away, you'll see your mom drew a beautiful picture of our family on the back of it. I didn't help with that." He got her out of the poopy diaper and began the clean-up. It's really not that bad, especially compared to handling one of Molly's diapers. Of course, these days, the biggest challenge with Molly is getting her to stay still long enough to get her clean. (He's seen both Jimmy and Breena chasing a half-naked Molly through the house, clean diaper and wipes in hand.) He's not having that problem with Kelly, she's just laying on her back, kicking around a bit, looking pretty alert and peaceful.

He got her cleaned up, in a fresh diaper, and buttoned back into the onesie. (For her first day home, she had the one that Jimmy and Breena gave them the day after their wedding. The first of the baby presents.)

They usually, if at this point in time anything involving Kelly can said to be usual, feed her right after diaper change, but she's pretty calm, and he hasn't actually had a chance to sit with her in the rocking chair, yet. So he settles down, his baby on his chest, rocking gently, and of course the chair has great action, smooth and easy, and it's very comfortable.

Sitting there, he's feeling very connected to Gibbs, who he just knows is behind him, watching, and this sense of family, and maybe for his line it's not unbroken the way it's supposed to be, but it's his, and it's real, and with Kelly in his hands, breathing gently against his neck, and Gibbs behind him, watching, it stretches through his life to time before him and time after.

"Doing it right?"

He feels the nod, unable to see or hear it, and a second later Gibbs's hand is on his shoulder. Tim squeezes it for a second, then wipes his eyes, and stands up. "Probably a good idea to feed her before she starts crying."

"That's always a good idea."

This time feeding her went without a hitch, and shortly after Jethro sent Tim up for another nap, and since the idea of sleeping during the day when Jethro was there, and then being there for Abby at night struck him as a good plan, he got the nap.

The next time he woke up he didn't hear anything. For a minute he just lay there enjoying not feeling horrendously tired and the fact that he didn't need to leap up and do anything right this second.

But after a few seconds of that, his inborn Dad skills perked up and decided he needed to investigate. Gibbs is down there. Everything is probably fine. But he can't just trust that. So, after checking Abby, seeing she was still asleep, and this time looking fairly peaceful, like she might have dropped out of exhausted sleep and into restful sleep. He got up and headed to the nursery.

No Kelly.


He found Gibbs on the sofa, stretched out, bare feet, t-shirt and jeans, his usual off work summertime outfit, gently humming something as he stroked Kelly's back while she slept.

He remembered vaguely that he'd had some sort of father's day present planned for Gibbs. (Pictures were put together, wrapped, and delivered to Tony and Ziva, who were not expecting to take a brand new baby home on Father's Day and thus could be trusted to deliver the present to Gibbs without forgetting about it.) And that, if there was time, he wanted to add a shot of Gibbs with the baby girls to it. So he backtracked a few steps, grabbed his phone, and shot Gibbs cuddling Kelly.

Gibbs looked up at him as he did that.

"Hope that's not a' take a picture and die, McGee' moment."

Gibbs shook his head as Tim headed to sit on the end of the sofa. "Want a copy of it."

"You'll get one."

"Good." Gibbs kissed the top of her head. "Shouldn't let her get to used to sleeping on people."

"It's okay."

"You might not think that when the only place she wants to sleep is your chest and you want to do something besides be a pillow."

Tim smiles. "I'll call you. You're good for pillow duty."

Gibbs laughed at that, then checked the clock. "Should get started on dinner."

"I got it; you be a pillow."

Gibbs shook his head and slowly started up. "I'll go back to work soon enough. Let me take care of you guys while I can."

And like speaking of the devil is supposed to bring him near, Gibbs's phone began to ring. So Tim took Kelly, and Gibbs got the phone call. He can tell by Gibbs' posture that it's a work call, likely Tony. He hears the traditional Gibbs on the phone routine of "Yes… Uh huh... Ya think? Go do it..."

Gibbs tucked the phone back into his pocket, and headed into Tim's kitchen. "How fast does your grill heat up?"

"For burgers, about ten minutes."

Gibbs headed out and turned it on, and was back a minute later. "Nice grill."

"Jimmy and Breena got it for us."

Kelly shifted for a few seconds, stretching, and both of them went silent and still, not wanting to wake her up, but she seemed to settle deeper into sleep, so Gibbs got the ground beef, and Tim sat at the table, holding her against his chest, enjoying this.

"Jethro, don't you need to be at work?"

Gibbs looked up from mixing hamburger with A1 sauce, salt, and pepper. "Don't want the help?"

"God! No! Love the help, very happy to have you here, just… It's an active case. I've never seen you take off in the middle of an active case before."

Gibbs shrugs. The reason behind it is… well, kind of touchy-feely, not the sort of thing he's comfortable really saying, but this is Tim, and he does better with words than looks, so…

"It's Tony's team, Tim. I'm just making sure the transition goes smooth. He doesn't need me hanging around, too much..." That's part of it, but there's more. "There's got to be life after NCIS. Can't just lay on a beach drinking cervezas."

"Like Mike."

"Mike had more irons in the fire than anyone knew about, even me. Yeah, there was a lot of booze and senoritas, but he wasn't just lying around."


"More to life means having a life outside of work. This," and Gibbs look filled in that he means this family, "is a lot of it. It'll be the anchor. And there'll be other stuff, too. Has to. Don't want you and Abby and Tony and Ziva and Jimmy and Breena getting sick of me. Don't want to be that guy who just hangs on."

"You're not."

Getting to where you 
need to go.
"Try that again when I've been retired for a year." He shakes his head, he's getting close to it, but not getting to the heart of it. He can feel the presence of Shannon and his Kelly very strongly, and closes his eyes, because seeing them here would be disconcerting

"Jethro?" Tim sounds concerned.

He opens his eyes, goes back to working on the hamburger patties. "I was supposed to be a dad. Supposed to be a granddad." He looks at the ring Tim got him to put back on. The ring he thinks he's getting closer to ready to take off again. "I'm getting back to being the man I was supposed to be. This, being here, for you and Abby and for Tony and Ziva when they have their babies, providing back up support for Ducky with Jimmy and Breena's, this is being the man I was meant to be."

Tim smiled at that. Over Tim's shoulder he catches a quick glimpse of Shannon smiling at him, too.

A/N: So, those of you who are serious Sean Murray fans are probably at least vaguely aware of the fact that there are pics of him with his kids floating around out there. Like the one of him in a rocking chair holding his baby daughter. So, why have I not posted that, and why am I not going to post pictures like them? Because he's gone online and flat out said those pictures were stolen, and while it's true he's a public person, his kids aren't, so please respect their privacy and don't post those shots. So, while I will search high and low for shots I can use to illustrate Shards, none of those are going into this story line. 

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