Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 240

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

Chapter 240: The Fifth Day

So, in one of the books he read, and no, at this point Tim has no idea at all which one it was in, there was something about how for the first three days babies more or less sleep all the time, and you get to this point where you’re feeling a little cocky about how easy it is to get them to sleep and that just possibly you’ve got this sleeping thing down and really, it’s not that hard.

And then they wake up.

And the universe laughs long and hard at your idiot-new-parent hubris.

And so, on day four, when Tim was starting to feel like maybe he did have a handle on this baby thing, Kelly woke up.

It amazes Tim how one tiny person, a person smaller than the bags of sugar he used to buy for his coffee, can suck the energy out of the three adults currently devoting their time to managing her.

Even Gibbs keeps falling asleep holding her.

It’s like she’s some sort of energy sink. Like the food and sleep isn’t what’s giving her the energy to grow. Psy Vamp, Psychic Vampire, a term he hadn’t thought about since college, like she’s some sort of tiny Psy Vamp draining them of any and every desire to do anything other than sleep.

Or maybe it’s that she slows down time. The constant buzzing distractions of life fade away when caring for a newborn, and with the distractions that keep your mind busy offline, all you want to do is nap.

He’s worked around the clock many times. Worked flat out, just catching cat naps, subsisting on caffeine and adrenaline for days at a time.

But this is different. He can feel his time sense slipping away, not sure if it’s day or night. The fact that it’s been gray and rainy isn’t helping, no sunrise, no sunset, just gray and darker gray and then occasional thunder storms to liven up the dark or not so dark gray.

Life’s slipping into three hour shifts, long, long, long three hours shifts when he’s awake for a full one, dealing with a tiny person who is now very awake and interested in letting everyone in the universe know that, and much, much, much too short when he’s trying to sleep.

And at least he and Gibbs can share them. Abby’s got to get up for all of them, and he can’t imagine how she’s doing this because he feels wrecked, and he’s not the one who got cut open, he’s not the one healing up from major surgery, and he’s not the one who’s providing food 24/7 for this tiny person.

He crashes most of the day, when Gibbs is there. Gibbs heads home to his own place at night, so Tim is on for those hours, and poor Abby’s got to do them all.

She’d been crashed out, utterly exhausted at four AM, so he’d headed down to get a bottle, let her get some more sleep, which she really, really looks like she needs, and she just about bit his head off, because apparently skipping a feed hurts like a son of a bitch, so while he’s got permission to feed Kelly, apparently it’s not a great plan to actually execute.

“Come on, Kelly, sleeping time. Please, baby, sleep.” He’s pacing around their downstairs, patting her back, begging her to sleep. Done about twenty-five circuits of their floor plan, desperately trying to get her to settle down.  Somehow, Kelly decided that her really-active-let’s-play-with-Dad-time would be from 4:00 to 7:00.

She’s alert, awake, crying, for God alone knows what. She’s fed, changed, burped, comfortably warm, and he’s stripped her down twice to make sure nothing was pinching her or uncomfortable.

If she wasn’t five days old, he’d be thinking she’d doing it just to piss him off.

And honestly, he’s awfully tempted to think she’s doing it just to piss him off even though she is five days old.

“Fuck it.” He headed into the living room, booted up the Playstation, turned on Twisted Metal Black, which he hasn’t played in forever, laid down on the sofa, Kelly on his chest, still complaining about life in general, and started to play.

He’s terrible at it. Hasn’t played in years and completely fried to boot, but the music is loud, the controls are easy, and by some miracle (perhaps putting his DNA together with Abby’s means he’s got a proto gamer on his chest) Kelly shut up and in five minutes fell asleep.

He played for ten more minutes, making sure she’s really asleep, then kissed her forehead, turned off the game, and crept up the stairs to put her in her bed and catch a few more hours of sleep.

He hit their bed, almost asleep, and heard Abby say, “Were you gaming?”

“Yeah. Needed some distraction. I was starting to get pissed at her and that’s not good.”

He feels her nod.

“What were you playing?”

“Twisted Metal Black.”

“Old school.”

“Yep. Were you able to sleep at all?”

He felt another head shake from her. Tim’s better at sleeping through a crying Kelly than Abby is, but neither of them are good at it. He looks up and sees it’s 5:55, an hour before Kelly’s due to eat again. “How about you pump now, and I’ll take the next feed, see if we can get you four solid hours of sleep?”

One more nod, then the feel of her getting, very slowly, out of the bed.

Abby’s silence is disconcerting.

He knows she’s more tired than she’s ever been. (He sure as hell is, too.)

But baby blues (he hopes, please let this be baby blues, please let it get better and soon) are hitting her hard, and she’s not talking much at all. She’s sort of ghosting through the day, sleeping every minute she can, not smiling, not laughing, not speaking.

The pain meds probably aren’t helping her mood or sleepiness all that much. Though she’s starting to take less of them. Just two doses yesterday, so that’s good, right?

But… he doesn’t think she’s actually said more than ten words to him today.

He tried to get her to talk a little, but she just looked at him, so, so tired, and headed for bed, where he tucked her in so she could get another nap.

He headed downstairs, to where Gibbs is, and said, “This’ll get better, right?”

Gibbs nods. “Only been five days. And she’s still on meds. Go get a nap yourself.”

Abby and Kelly are, for the moment, sleeping. He should probably be sleeping, too. He’s certainly tired. Really tired. Amazingly tired.

But he’s also pretty smelly. Hasn’t gotten a shower in… Two days? Three? He rubs his face, like that could tell him, but he hasn’t shaved since the morning before Kelly was born, so it’s not like the length of his whiskers is illuminating on this particular subject.

He knows it’s been longer than he likes. A lot longer than he likes. Mostly because, for the last five days, if given the chance, he sleeps, which means he hasn’t been in the shower a whole lot.  And Kelly hasn’t exactly been kind when it comes to keeping him smelling good.

So, yeah, he needs to get a shower before he wants to rip his own skin off or knocks Abby out with his funk.

Hot water felt good. Felt really good. Even woke him up a little, helped to shake the sort of round the clock, no sense of time, Zombie shuffle he’s been living in for the last however long.

Soaping up, thoroughly, because it has been a while and he really does prefer to be clean, reminded him that part of his body had certainly wanted some attention lately and he’d just been too tired and preoccupied to deal with it.

But, in that it’s standing at attention, and his hand is curled around it, he’s thinking that maybe he’s awake enough to take care of this, and the whole you-can’t-get-off-I-can’t-get-off-thing is over, so…


Oh, that’s...

And done.

He’s honestly kind of relieved that Abby wasn’t there for that, because at no time did he ever want her to get to enjoy a re-play of his first time with the glorious fun of got off before it was all the way in.

And it did feel pretty good, though mostly in a he’d probably been one day, maybe two, tops from another wet dream, so just dealing with the backed-up, swollen, really dude, get off and do it soon, sort of sensation was awfully nice.

But more than that, just being clean and warm felt good, and getting out, toweling off quickly, and then crashing into their bed for another cat nap, was okay, too. Sure, hours of sleep would have been better yet, but, well, like with jerking off, these days he’ll take what he can get.

When he headed back downstairs, Gibbs was nowhere to be found. Abby was sleeping on their sofa. And Tony was sitting at the kitchen table, initialing his way through a stack of paperwork while Kelly cooed and kicked her feet in the bouncy chair.

He was a bit surprised to see Tony there, and Tony read it on his face. “Gibbs and Ziva are off killing Palmer at bootcamp.”

That gets a little smile out of Tim. He picks up Kelly and tilts his head toward the back porch. For once, it’s not raining: really warm and humid, lots of wind, the sky is still gray, and it looks like another thunder storm is probably due in the next hour. But him and Tony and Kelly on the back porch means more quiet for Abby, so outside they go.

“Working hard?” Tim asked, sitting next to Tony on the bench that’s tucked against the back of their house.

“Signing all my stuff. Signing all his stuff. Forgot how much more paperwork goes along with Team Leader. Looks like you’re napping on the job,” he says with a grin and a little shove.

Tim laughed. He knows exactly how black the circles under his eyes are right now.

“So, how is it?” Tony asked Tim.

“Tiring. Like… running a marathon.”

“When have you ever run a marathon?”

Tim flashed him his exasperated look, and Tony grinned at him, enjoying joking with him. Tim rolled his eyes. “Just go with me. Any given step of it isn’t a big deal. It’s just moving forward. One step. Another step. Two more. And on and on. But you don’t get to stop. And you don’t get enough down time. Gibbs and I can at least swap, but Abby’s on all the time, and she’s so fried.”

Tony nodded at that. When he and Ziva came over to fetch Gibbs and make sure Tim and Abby had someone else in the house, Abby was feeding Kelly, and he’d never even imagined that she could possibly look that tired. His little Energizer Lab Bunny needs new batteries.

“None of this is hard. Some of it’s pretty gross. Been a dad…” he had to think, figure out what day it is, and then count, twice, to figure out how long he’s been doing this, “five days, six if you want to count Tuesday, and I know vastly more than I ever wanted to about all sorts of fluids that I’d really prefer stay located inside Kelly or Abby’s bodies, but it’s not hard. It’s just… twenty-six miles of steps, and that’s hard.”

Tony nodded at that. “Still think it was a good idea?”

Tim kissed the top of Kelly’s head. He was holding her back to his chest, so she can see the leaves waving around. (Well, really, for her, it’s just a dark gray blur, but it’s new and moving, so she’s fascinated.) “Oh yeah. Whether or not Abby still thinks that is up for debate, but assuming she ever gets six hours of sleep in a row again, I think she’ll come around. How about you? How’s team leader?”

Tony smiled a little. “Any given step of it isn’t hard, but all together…”

Tim nodded back.

“I’m ready for it. I know what I’m doing. Draga’s slipping into the groove pretty easily. He’s working really well with Ziva. He still thinks I’m the idiot who’s been promoted above his station, but that’ll get settled eventually, and he’s not actively challenging my control.

“Three instead of four is a little more of a challenge, but not too much more. We’re just a little slower because I’ve got one fewer guy to put on different leads.

“The fact that I’m not actually the team leader and have to keep getting Gibbs’ approval for some things is kind of annoying, and I can see he feels that, too. ‘What’re you calling me for, DiNozzo? You know what to do. Just go do it.’ But I’ve still got to whip it past him, so I do call.”

Tim’s noticed Gibbs wandering off to take the occasional call.

“How’s he doing?” Tony asked.

Tim smiled at that, too. “He’s happy. In a way you’ve never seen him happy. I know he’s going back to work tomorrow, and you’ll have him back again, and he’ll go back to being Gibbs, but, well, he’ll be back for dinner tonight, stick around, see for yourself.” He paused for a second, and then said, “Stick around and meet Pop.”


“That’s what Kelly’s gonna call him.”

Tony had an especially satisfied looking smile on his face at that. “Happy Gibbs… You mean that smiley, goofy guy we got back from Mexico with the mustache?”

Tim laughed a little. “Times six. He’ll walk her around, singing her Elvis songs, with a big grin on his face. And yeah, I don’t think he’s touched a razor since Kelly was born.”

“Hmm… That some sort of new dad dress code?”

Tim rubbed his own, rather whiskery, face. “I’d cut the hell out of myself if I tried it. You know the biggest difference to life with a kid?”


“A week ago, a lot of little shit mattered. Stupid, little, niggly things that don’t have any real importance, like shaving or putting the laundry away, mattered last Monday. And today, they just don’t. In some ways, it’s really liberating. The dishes don’t get put away, what happens? Oh, nothing. We take them out of the dishwasher and eat off of them.

“And really focusing. Kelly, Abby, food, sleep, diapers, enough clean clothing to keep us somewhat dressed, and that one might get dropped when Jethro goes back to work, and that’s it. Nothing else, at all, matters.” He laughs a little at that. “Right now, my whole job is keeping Abby rested enough to maintain a fingernail hold on sane. Everything that doesn’t contribute to that isn’t important.”

“How’s she doing?”

“I don’t really know. We get little glimpses of her, so she’s not totally gone, but… She’s had major surgery, so she’s healing up from that, she’s still bleeding—“ Tony looks alarmed at that, so Tim adds, “It’s normal, after you have a baby, you bleed for like a month. Kelly eats every three hours, and it takes almost an hour to feed her. I try to take some of the feeds but not nursing really hurts, so I might get her a few more hours of sleep, but then her boobs start to scream at her. She’s on pain meds, and they make her sleepy, which can’t be good on top of how tired she is. It’ll be another week at least before her hormones even out...

“I’m worried. Breena’s saying this is still normalish, but to keep an eye on it. On Tuesday we’ve got a doctor’s appointments. A final wound check for Abby, so I’ll bring it up then, and see what Dr. Draz has to say about it.”

“Okay.” Tony looks at Kelly, hanging out on her daddy’s chest, watching the oncoming storm clouds, looking pretty calm. “You think you’re gonna do this again?”

“I would, in a heartbeat. Yeah, I’m exhausted, but…” Tim’s got a tired, but soul deep smile on his face. “Nothing else is like this, at all. We made a person. I mean, look at her…” He stroked her face, and she turned toward his hand, sucking on his finger. “This is love turned to life, and my life devoted to nurturing and protecting that. This is… all the purpose I’ve ever wanted or needed.

“But, I’ve got the easy job. So, I think Kelly having a little brother or sister is Abby’s decision.” He looks up from Kelly to Tony, thinking, hard. “Okay, I know my short-term memory is shot right now, but have you actually held her, yet?”

Tony shrugged a little, not signaling that he didn’t know, more an admission that he’s not really comfortable with babies.  

“Come on. She’s not gonna bite you. Here.” Tim put the spit up diaper over Tony’s shoulder, and then handed Kelly over.

“Now, be nice. Uncle Tony’s a little nervous,” he said to Kelly. She looked up at her Uncle, that mildly confused look on her face.

Tony looked from her to Tim and back to her. “You look at me like this, sometimes.”

“Abby’s said that, too. Besides the lips, I think she looks like Abby. Jethro does, too.”

“Was he wearing his glasses when he was looking at her?”

“Don’t think so.”

Tony nods at him, reminding him that Gibbs’ up close vision isn’t exactly what most people would call good. “So now what?”

“Just hold her. Hang out. She likes being sung to. ‘Bout five minutes her eyes’ll get droopy, and I’ll take her to her crib and devoutly pray to any and every god listening that I can successfully lay her in the crib and get her to actually close her eyes and sleep in there.”

Tony laughed at that. “Didn’t know you were a praying man.”

Tim smiled back at him, then leaned back against the house and closed his eyes. “I’m usually not. Poke me in three minutes.”

“Not a problem.” He looked at Kelly, and said to Tim, “I’m a bad singer.”

“Neither of us care.”  

Ton stood up, Kelly snuggled on his shoulder and sang quietly while pacing, “I can only say these things to you while you’re sleeping/I hear the hum from the wire as the sounds of the morning creep in/I lie awake and pretend you can hear me…”

And Tim caught a three minute cat nap listening to Tony butcher the Airborne Toxic Event. 


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