Chapter 245: Scattered
Tim McGee with a plan is a much happier guy than Tim McGee without a plan.
It doesn’t even have to be a good plan. Though he certainly prefers good plans to bad plans. But the here’s what’s-going-to-happen, here’s-why, here’s-how, and when thing provides him with a very nice and secure safety net.
So, driving home, prescription in his pocket, grocery list on his phone, step by step plan to put into action on Operation: Getting Abby Feeling Like Abby Again he’s feeling a whole lot better than he was a few hours ago.
Abby on the other hand, is just really tired.
Right now, for her, everything else is just drowned in joint-gluing tired.
So, he dropped her home, got her settled on the sofa for a nap, hoping that being home alone will let her sleep, and decided today was the day he was going to attempt to run errands, on his own, with Kelly.
There’s a story Jimmy has told both Gibbs and Tim, but not Breena, (and certainly not Abby or Ziva, though, should Tony join the Dad club, he will eventually get this story, as well) mostly because he’d appreciate not having his wife think he is a complete and utter idiot when it comes to caring for their children.
But, after Molly was a week old, and Breena’s parents had returned to their own home, he found himself in the house with an exhausted spouse and (because this was before the discovery of Mylicon) an extremely crabby baby who had been crying for, basically, every single second she’d been awake that day.
So, in an effort to get Breena a little sleep, he packed up Molly, got in the car, and went to get some groceries.
While driving to the grocery store, Molly did, finally, fall asleep.
Now, at this point in the story, Jimmy always stresses the fact that he had gotten, maybe, six hours of sleep in the previous four days, and he also stresses the fact that it was February, so it wasn’t too hot out.
And by the time he’s finished stressing these things, most people (by which we mean both Gibbs and Tim, since they are the only ones who have heard this story) have figured out what happened next.
Namely, that with a sort of single-minded determination that only comes from being so tired you can’t remember your name, Jimmy got out of the car, carefully shut the door (didn’t want to wake Molly), quietly opened the trunk, got the stroller out, set it up, and was three quarters of the way through the parking lot, toward the grocery store when it occurred to him that he did not, in fact, actually have Molly with him, and she was, technically, still located in the car.
Gibbs does not have a story like that. And not because he was so amazingly on top of everything that he just did everything right.
No, he does not have a story like that because he did not, in fact, go out alone with Kelly until she was eight months old.
Now, part of that was being deployed from the time she was four to eight months old. Part of that was they lived on base, so there wasn’t a huge need to really go places. And part of it was it was 1982, and people didn’t much expect dads to be off, on their own, with brand new babies.
But, by the time he did go off on his own with his Kelly, he was well past the stumbling, blind tired newborn in the house part of the experience, and thus, that first trip to the park with just the two of them went awfully smooth.
So, Tim’s not exactly feeling like he’s got much of a hurdle to jump to do better on his first solo outing. Just doing it in the first place, and then successfully getting her out of the car will rank him above Jimmy and Jethro on this.
He does get her out of the car, into the stroller, and from there into the grocery store. She’s cooperating with this endeavor by sleeping.
Which he’s thinking sounds like an awfully good plan, get home, grab a nap…
He can’t get a nap when he gets home. Pharmacy says it’ll be half an hour to get the prescription ready, then check out, fifteenish more minutes to get home again and…
He’ll get them home, and it’ll be nursing time for Kelly again. And while Kelly eats, he’ll need to get food for him and Abby. (He makes a bee-line to the meat counter and stacks as many steaks as he can in the little storage area under the stroller. Then puts half a dozen of them back because he needs to get Abby more than just piles of beef.) Once that’s done, maybe he can get a little rest until the ten feed, and driving Abby to Breena and Jimmy’s. (That reminds him. He checks his phone. Yep, message from Breena, asking what’s going on. He flashes her a quick text back.) So, he and Kelly will probably be home around 11:30, and maybe he can catch another quick nap then, but really, he’s not looking at any solid sleep until… shit… 2:00.
There’s a Starbucks attached to their grocery store, and he’s staring at it as he heads toward the frozen veggies, planning on getting spinach, kale, broccoli… Is broccoli high in iron? He googles that on his phone and finds that, well, no it’s not great, but it’s got lots of vitamin C which makes it easier to absorb iron from your other food, so he tosses a few bags on top of the steaks, next to the spinach. Then he checked the spinach, saw it had even less iron than broccoli, and decided that he probably needed to recalibrate what he considers a ‘good source of iron.’ After a minute of that, while another shopper, gently, pushed by him, it occurred to him that he’d completely lost track of what he’d been doing.
Which was not supposed to be standing in the grocery store, thinking that if you can get 6% of your daily iron requirement from a serving of broccoli and 41% of it from a serving of beef that calling broccoli an iron-rich food is insane.
No, he had been pondering applying a dose of caffeine to his system in an effort to get to 2:00 AM. But, as he looks back in the direction of the Starbucks (no longer visible behind the frozen food) it occurs to him that if he does have a real coffee, he’s not going to be able to sleep, even though he’d like to be sleeping, for any of those little bits of downtime he might get.
And, more importantly, it’s not going to help him focus. He might not feel so tired, but he’s not going to be any less scattered.
Still, coffee, black, rich, strong coffee with lots of milk and sugar. He’s got the image of coffee beans, the ones dipped in dark chocolate in mind…
Wait… is chocolate a good source of iron? More googling. Fuck! Yes it is, well, maybe not fabulous, but twice as good as broccoli, so, off to the candy section he goes.
He’s shoving bars of dark chocolate next to the steaks when something about beans (coffee beans, cocoa beans) triggers a faint memory.
He googles edamame, which Abby not only will eat, but actually likes, and bingo!
And off he headed for more frozen veggies.
Tossing them under the stroller, he’s pulling up the number of their favorite Pan-Asian place, ordering beef and broccoli, roasted edamame, and beef lo mein, he can grab that en route home, and have dinner done that much faster.
Okay. So, game plan on.
He’s in line, waiting to pay for his food, pretty out of it, kind of just staring into the distance, when he noticed the lady behind him had said something.
She smiled kindly at him, looking pretty amused. “Babysitting?”
He thinks about that for a moment. Jeans, ratty t-shirt, black circles under his eyes, hasn’t shaved in a week, or gotten a shower in two days (he’s suddenly aware of the fact that he forgot deodorant after his last shower, and isn’t sure if he brushed his teeth this morning, so he grabs a pack of gum, popping a piece in his mouth, putting the pack on the checkout belt), God alone knows what his hair looks like (well, God, and everyone else at the market, but he doesn’t.), the bottom of his bicep cuff tattoo is visible, so’s his wrist cuff, and he’s got a black leather diaper bag over his shoulder.
He knows he wouldn’t pay anyone who looked like him to take care of a child.
“No. She’s mine.”
He gets the sense that he’s missed some of the context of what the lady behind him had said, because it looks like that wasn’t the response she was expecting, but she regrouped and said, “She’s beautiful. How old is she?”
“Letting Mom get some rest?”
Then the cashier was ringing up his purchases, so he grabbed his wallet, dropped it, tried to pick it up, dropped it again, and finally managed to locate his credit card and pay.
Driving home, he thinks he might have the context for what the lady behind him at the grocery store was saying, namely, “This isn’t really your job, is it? You’re just helping out, so here’s a cookie for trying.”
That pissed him off enough he wanted to turn around and go find her and yell at her.
This is his job; he’s not just helping out, and any bitch who wants to act like he’s not really a fucking parent because he’s the dad can just go straight to Hell, and God help the next woman who calls him a babysitter, especially if it happens before he gets some real sleep.
Home again home again.
He leaves Kelly in the car while he takes the groceries in. She’s sleeping, though probably not for all that much longer, so he doesn’t want to disturb her until the last possible moment.
Abby’s on the sofa, eyes closed, and… yes, fluttering, good. He’s making sure to look really carefully when it comes to checking if she’s actually sleeping, because he’d certainly thought she’d been sleeping before.
The food he’d put next to her before sleeping, however, was un-touched, so that didn’t thrill him.
Food, sleep, medication. It really shouldn’t be that hard, should it?
He brought dinner in. Then carefully got Kelly out of her car seat, but carefully wasn’t good enough, she did wake up, and by that point it was close enough to her next meal he didn’t think she was going to be going back to sleep until after she ate.
“Okay, sweetie, let’s get you cleaned up. Then dinnertime. Sound good?”
Kelly kept fussing.
To change her diaper outside, or take her in…
He circled to the other side of the car, laid out a blanket on the seat, and took care of it in there. Maybe
Abby was already awake, but if she wasn’t, buying her three more minutes of sleep seemed worth it.
He made a mental note to restock the diaper bag. They’d been out a whole lot longer than expected and were down to one diaper and no wipes.
When they came in, Abby was sitting up, looking awfully sleepy, and rubbing her eyes.
He sat next to her, Kelly in his arms. “Feeling any better?”
“Good. I’ve got food. And you know what?”
“Dark chocolate has lots of iron in it!”
That got a smile. A real smile. Sure, not a light up the room, everything feels better smile, but there was actual, genuine pleasure in her look, and it lit him up.
He kissed her. “I love you.”
She nodded at that, and squeezed his hand, and said, “Sounds like Kelly’s hungry, too.”
Abby rearranged the pillows and got into nursing position. Tim handed Kelly over.
“I got us beef and broccoli, beef lo mein, and roasted edamame.”
“Let me get the groceries put away, and I’ll get us dinner, too.”
Three minutes later, he was on the sofa, next to her, feeding both of them bites of dinner (Yes, Abby will eventually learn how to nurse one handed, but it hasn’t happened, yet.) when Abby asked how the trip had gone, and looked interested in his answer.
And right that second he’s just so happy he can barely stand it.