Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 248

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

Chapter 248: Friday

They were in the grocery store, and this time Tim was a bit more focused on something besides all the iron he could stack in the little storage area under the seat in the stroller.

Well, maybe focused isn’t really the right word. Not like he’s got any great plan. He’s just looking to grab some things to eat and give Abby some quiet time in the house.

But, for the moment at least, Kelly’s actually awake, eyes wide, staring at everything, so he’s holding her against his chest, pushing the stroller with his foot, ambling forward at about two feet a minute, and more or less showing her everything. A quiet, steady stream of things like, “Look, Kelly, Oreos, you’ll like them when you’re older. I like them, too. Which is why we don’t buy them a lot, because when we have them, I like to eat the whole box,” and other little bits of not exactly riveting conversation. But she seems to like it, so he’s doing it.

Halfway down the housewares aisle, (They need more trash bags, lots more trash bags) his phone chirped at him, so he fished around for it, found it, and saw from Ziva: Just wrapped case. Everyone heading home to rest. Shabbos tonight? Sunset is 8:37.

He sent back. Shopping right now. Abby’s not here. Will ask if she’s up for it when I get home. Will let you know then.

Good. Hope you are coming. Want to see our girls.

What? Not me? ;)

J  We know you’re okay. Want to see the ladies.

Then I shall try to bring the girls.

Good. Though I have the feeling see will be the operative word. $10 says Gibbs doesn’t let anyone else hold Kelly.

Not touching that bet with a ten foot pole. Don’t like setting my money on fire.

J Let me know when you can.

When he got home, Kelly was napping, and so was Abby, but she was downstairs, showered, dressed, and from the looks of it had eaten, too.

All good.

He carefully put Kelly in her crib, begging her, silently, to stay asleep, and this time she did. So he headed down, put the groceries away, and for the first time in ten days felt… normal. Well, tired normal, but this could have just been any other weekend day after a long week.

That was kind of nice.

A few minutes later, Abby wandered in, yawning, rubbing her eyes, then sat at the kitchen table, watching him stow the grocery bags.

“Ziva wants to know if you want to come to Shabbos tonight?”

Abby thought about it for a few seconds. “Yeah. I think so. Haven’t been out in too damn long.”

Amen, Tim thought. “Sunset’s 8:37.”

“So, we’ll aim to get there around eight?”

“Errr…” Kelly eats at seven, takes her about an hour to eat, forty minute drive to Tony and Ziva’s… “Want to try feeding her in the car again, or be late?”

“I’ll text Ziva.”

Or, at 5:15, after the four o’clock feed, burp, and clean up, they can be in the car, heading toward Tony and Ziva’s.

They haven’t attempted to take Kelly anywhere that isn’t baby friendly before, so, by conservative estimate they’ve got enough stuff packed into the diaper bag to last roughly six months. But, you know, if you don’t bring a whole pack of diapers and five clean outfits you end up with a baby with explosive diarrhea and it’ll just be a hideous mess.

Better safe than sorry.

Hugs, kisses, Tony staring at him and saying, “Here, let me get you a wash cloth, you’ve got something on your face,” and Tim wondering for a second if he did have something before realizing Tony meant his facial hair, and then shoving him, maybe a tad harder than was strictly necessary, took care of the first few minutes at their place.

“So, you’re what, growing a beard?” Tony asks while Ziva snuggles Kelly (and suddenly Tim understands why they’re here early, not only is it a bit easier on the transport, but Ziva doesn’t have to wrestle Gibbs for baby cuddle rights.)

“Maybe. See how it looks in a few weeks.”

“I like it, McGee,” Ziva says.

“Easy upkeep. Sure, we’re only talking about saving me fifteen minutes a week, but still—“

“Free time is really important, now,” Abby finishes.

“What do you think Gibbs is gonna say you show up to work with that on your face?”

Tim rubs the eighth of an inch long, scruffy goatee he’s got right now. “If it still looks like this in July when I’m coming back, I’ll shave it off. Don’t need the guys in interrogation laughing at me.”

Ziva chuckles at that, handing Kelly to Tony, who holds her like she’s a bomb with a mercury trigger and if he so much as breathes wrong they’re all going to die. He sees Ziva take the challah dough out of the bowl it’s been rising in, and says, “I’ll get that; you play with Kelly.”

She smiles at him, looking amused and cocky. “I am fine with the bread, Tony. Enjoy some quality time with your niece. She won’t bite you.”

“In fact…” Abby took Kelly from Tony, and he visibly relaxed, and then stiffened back up a second later when he realized she was just draping a spit-up rag over his shoulder, and rearranging Kelly so she was facing his shoulder. “Okay, just hold onto her, and keep rubbing her back, and in about five minutes you’ll have a sleeping baby on your shoulder, and that’s awfully nice.”

Okay, Tony’s never going to admit this to anyone other than Ziva, but yeah, small person sleeping on his shoulder is kind of nice. It’s restful and sort of lulling. He could easily see doing this, popping a game on the TV, and just quietly zoning out into a nap.

But, as he knows from that afternoon he was at Tim’s place, and all the time with Molly, who will be over in less than an hour, babies don’t sleep all the time.

They get loud, and erratic, and sticky, and messy, and… And he’s still really skittish about this. Sure, this part right now is going well, and yeah, he’ll play with Molly, she likes getting tossed around, and will just light up when he starts to chase her around the apartment. And, yeah, if pressed, he’ll say he enjoys it, but…

But it’s still freaking scary.

They’ve been talking about a baby of their own more. The kind of talking that’s supposed to have a plan attached to it, not just a ‘sure, sooner or later’ sort of thing.

And tentatively, they’re thinking of starting on baby making in January, when Gibbs leaves. That way he’ll have close to a year as team leader to let that get settled in. Draga will have had over a year on the team. Tim’ll be… probably gone by then. So with any luck they’ll’ve had their new fourth for at least six months. Draga and the fourth will have had time to learn each other. Ziva will be able to take the time she needs, and he’ll be able to take a few weeks at least…

Sort of.

Kind of…

God, it’s a mess. If he could get his staffing taken care of… If he knew when Tim’s leaving… If he could get his team fully sorted… But if they wait that long, he is going to be seventy when this child goes to college.

Not that sixty-nine is much better.

He’s wanted his own team, with his own people, for ten years now. But, of course, as soon as it looks like he’s going to have his team, half of it leaves, and the other quarter is talking about having babies, and tearing him between her and it.

Okay, gotta stop thinking about this, because Ziva, and Abby, and Tim are noticing he hasn’t said anything in a few minutes, and they’re going to start asking what’s up soon.

So he hops back into the conversation with, “Abby, did Ziva tell you about what happened in the lab yesterday?”

And Abby, all but visibly leaping to defend her territory, was on that story in a heartbeat.

Gibbs pulled into the parking garage under Tony and Ziva’s apartment building, and was pleased to see the McGee’s Highlander there. He’d purposely come a bit early, hoping they’d also be early, hoping to have a little more time with his kids and grandkid.

He smiles at that, locking up, and heading for the elevator.

It’s been a long, long time since he got done with a day at work (Tony and Ziva went home, he and Draga stuck around and waded through the paperwork) and found himself looking forward to going home. Okay, technically not home, technically Tony and Ziva’s home, but really, home is where your family is, and tonight the family’ll be at Tony and Ziva’s.

There’s this… sensation… right now and he sort of, kind of, vaguely remembers feeling something like this when he’d get home from deployment and have off time. It might be satisfaction. Job’s done, bad guy’s in jail, all the major paperwork is done. It could be peace. He’s not feeling any need to run back to work to hunt down the next bad guy.

He’s actually pleased to have down time. Down time means he can have a good dinner, play with the kids, go home, sleep some, probably time to go get the wood for baby Palmer’s crib, they’ll know if it’s a boy or girl soon, right? Maybe see if Jimmy and Breena want to come over at some point tomorrow and talk about designs for it. Definitely going to make sure he gets over to Tim and Abby’s for at least some of Saturday and Sunday. And Sunday means bootcamp, got Jimmy and Ziva for that, though maybe if Breena feels like spending some time with Abby, he can get Tim along on that, maybe not, got to see how tired he is…

And as he’s thinking that, as he’s planning his weekend, it hit’s him this is the first time in… really, since Shannon and his Kelly died, that he’s not focused on the next case. First time he’s not chasing retribution. First time he feels like he can really rest.

He thinks about Mexico with Mike, and about how whenever he called, Mike came back, and he feels the difference. When he was in Mexico he bounced from one project to the next to keep himself busy. Yeah, he liked the work, but he wasn’t doing it because he liked it, he was doing it to shut his mind up.

And Mike came back every time Gibbs called for the same reason. Sure cervesa and senoritas made Mike happy, but the work gave him purpose. And he needed that purpose. But when the work wasn’t right anymore, he couldn’t do it. But family comes first, and you always go in when your family needs you, and if Gibbs calling gave him that loophole, he jumped on it.

The door to the elevator opens and Gibbs realizes that his purpose is shifting, he’s moving from cop to grandpa, and the need to shut down the bad guys will always be there, that this job is good and useful and… just… right. But it’s not his whole life anymore.  

And more than that, he's thinking he might like this new life.

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